- Turtleback: 564 pages
- Publisher: White Star (17 Mar. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8854400335
- ISBN-13: 978-8854400337
- Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 3.1 x 21.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Treasures of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings (Art Guides) Turtleback – 17 Mar 2005
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About the Author
Kent Weeks has conducted archaeological work in Egypt since 1983 and has worked for over 30 years in Thebes and the Valley of the Kings. He is Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo and Director of the Theban Mapping Project.
Top customer reviews
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We spent a week sightseeing around Luxor with this book and would walk around the sites reading the chapter on each site in the book as we walked around. By doing so we saw things that we would have missed otherwise and were able to thoroughly enjoy the stories behind each carving or painted tomb. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in really exploring the sites of Luxor in depth!
It is one of the few books to cover the tombs of kings, queens, and nobles, and the funerary temples too. There is also a short piece on Luxor museum, which is well worth a visit.
If you are going to the Valley of the Kings, or the Valley of the Queens, buy this before you go so you can choose which tombs to see before you arrive, though they are not all open all of the time, so have a list of the ones you want to see and be prepared for some not to be open.
If you have been to Luxor, buy this as a souvenir, as it covers all of the ancient sites in the area, and has photos of inside the tombs, where you are not allowed to take photos yourself.
This book is on sale in Egypt, but will have to haggle for it and the prices started at £E300 (about £30 UK) in March this year.
I would love to have the photos in a larger format book as they are so interesting, but this is designed to be a field guide and to be easily carried about in a bag.
The book has also been published by the American University in Cairo Press with a different title: "The Illustrated Guide to Luxor: Tombs, Temples, and Museums."
The book begins with an introduction which presents the geography and the history of ancient Thebes (modern Luxor). There is also a brief section about Egyptian religion and religious festivals. The main text is divided into six chapters. Here is a brief overview:
* Chapter 1 - Monuments of the East Bank
* Chapter 2 - Memorial Temples
* Chapter 3 - The Valley of the Kings
* Chapter 4 - The Valley of the Queens
* Chapter 5 - The Tombs of the Nobles
* Chapter 6 - Temples outside Thebes
The book concludes with a glossary, a bibliography and an index. The book is fully illustrated with beautiful colour photos and useful maps which show the layout of the tombs and the temples.
If you go to Egypt, you are not allowed to use your camera inside the tombs and the museums. In the book there are photos from these "forbidden" places. These photos are taken by a professional photographer who had a special permit to use his camera in these places.
The author knows his topic very well. His presentations and explanations are much more extensive than the ones you find in a traditional guidebook which covers all of Egypt. Let me give you a few examples:
* The Temples at Karnak: Lonely Planet's guidebook about Egypt has six pages about this place; while Weeks has 46.
* The Luxor Temple: Lonely Planet has five pages; while Weeks has 20.
* The Memorial Temple for Hatshepsut. Lonely Planet has two pages; while Weeks has 16.
* The tombs of Nefertari and Rameses VI. In each case Lonely Planet has less than one page; while Weeks has 16 about the former and 30 about the latter.
This book is great and not too expensive. I like it, but I have to mention a few minor flaws (see also my comment to this review):
(1) On pp. 166-169 Weeks describes the Memorial Temple of Amenhotep III and the Colossi of Memnon. On page 168 he says: "Both colossi are covered with hundreds of Greek and Latin graffiti left by grateful visitors."
It is good that he mentions the ancient graffiti. But it is a shame that he does not elaborate a bit. There is a lot more to say about this topic. Let me explain:
Two French scholars - André and Etienne Bernand - made a careful study of the statues more than 50 years ago. They discovered and recorded 107 texts - some very short, some a bit longer, some in Greek, some in Latin. The results of their study can be found in a book published in 1960: "Les inscriptions grecques et latines du colosse de Memnon."
Today, these 107 texts can be found on the internet: "PHI Greek Inscriptions - Colosse de Memnon." In 2001 André Bernand wrote a brief summary of his old book which was posted on the internet: "Les statues chantantes d'Aménophis III."
In several cases we know who wrote the ancient graffiti. Perhaps the most famous author is Julia Balbilla, a companion of Vibia Sabina, wife of Hadrian (who ruled 117-138). Together they visited the monument in November 130. The visit took place just a few weeks after Hadrian's "friend" - the young man Antinous - had drowned in the Nile under mysterious circumstances. Julia wrote four poems, which were inscribed on the right (i.e. the northern) statue. They are translated into English in Ian Michael Plant (editor), Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology, pp. 151-154.
[Read about Julia Balbilla in Emily A. Hemelrijk, Matrona Docta Educated Women: Educated Women in the Roman Elite from Cornelia to Julia Domna, pp. 164-170. Read about Hadrian and the visit to the ancient monument in Elisabeth Speller, Following Hadrian: A Second-Century Journey through the Roman Empire, pp. 131-150. Read about Antinous in Royston Lambert, Beloved & God: The Story of Hadrian and Antinous.]
(2) On pp. 540-547 Weeks describes the Temple of Edfu. On page 540 he says: "For tourists it is the sense of mystery and drama the temple offers that are the big rewards... it is not uncommon that visitors cut short their tour of Edfu because they find its dark and silent interior so evocative of ancient rites that they become unnerved."
This is nonsense. The temple of Edfu is impressive, but there is absolutely no reason to be scared or "unnerved" when you visit this place. I do not understand why a scholar like Weeks would write something as silly as this.
Apart from these minor flaws this book is highly recommended.
PS. The author hopes his readers will visit all the sites mentioned here. But he realises that this is wishful thinking. Most readers do not have the time, the money or indeed the desire to visit all the temples and all the tombs presented here. Use this excellent book to plan your visit to Luxor and - once you are in Egypt - to make the most of your visit.
I bought the book because I was planning to go on a tourist jolly. I still am, but for a tourist who has never been to the Valleys of either Kings or Queens, surely it would have been wise either to list the tomb descriptions numerically or at least provide an index so that a particular tomb number could be located quickly in the hundreds of lavishly illustrated pages.
Perhaps when I actually get there, it will all make complete sense.
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