This has got to be one of the reference books you have in your rucksack when you visit any of the pyramids. I would actually rate this book as “best value” for the wide spectrum of information, photographs and diagrams at your disposal. If you are on a budget or need a starter book this is the one to go for; read it and move on from there.
Mark Lehner has hit the right spot with me with this cracking all round winner. I particularly like the format of “The Complete…” series such as Complete Valley of the Kings and The Complete Tutankhamum because the sections are almost stand alone and allow you to drop in and out at your leisure. This one really is a stormer with approximately 550 illustrations with about 80 in colour.
Mark Lehner was a proponent of alternative theories and was inspired by the sleeping prophet Edgar Cayce. However, Mark found out that linking Atlantis to the Pyramids did not stand up to scientific scrutiny but continued his work with a new found scientific method and joined the ranks of mainstream Egyptologists. The rest is history because this book is written by an accepted academic but readable. I would strongly recommend this book for any readers who enjoy alternative theories regarding the pyramids. You can use this book to form a baseline of generally established facts before accepting the latest interpretation without a point of reference. At the end of the day you are still the judge but at least you have compared it work that has generally undergone peer review.
There book has five main sections: Introduction, Tomb and Temple, Explorers and Scientists, The Whole Pyramid Catalogue and The Living Pyramid. The introduction is a short section providing an overview of pyramid statistics, chronology of Pyramid builders, locations, pyramid profiles and standard pyramid complex.
Tomb and Temple is relatively short and introduces Ka, Ba, burial rituals, the netherworld, pyramid texts, akhet, duat and ben ben stone. This is a brief but sound trip into the myths and rituals of the underworld.
Explorers and Scientists is a relatively short summary of the famous names such as: Herodotus, Manetho, al-Mamum, Abd al-Latif, John Greaves, Benoit de Maillet, Pococke & Norden, Davidson, Napoleon, Belzoni, Caviglia, Vyse, Lepsius, Mariette, Petrie, Symth, Reisner, Borchardt, Emery, Lauer, Firth, and Quibell. A detailed breakdown of recent explorations 1887-1997 is provided along with a summary of recent discoveries.
The Whole Pyramid Catalogue is the largest section in the book and this is where the book opens up in front of you, literally. Some pages are folded back on themselves in order to allow the reader to unfold a four page panoramic view and better experience visually the author’s viewpoints. A combination of maps, line drawings and photographs provides the budding explorer with an armchair experience of the pyramids. From the pictures and diagrams the reader should be better able to construct a minds-eye 3-D image of the major pyramids and have a feel for the layout of passages and chambers.
The living Pyramid explores the possible methods by which the pyramids may have been built, but with emphasis on objective evidence such as tomb relief’s, ramps, ancient tools and NOVA experiments. There is a guidance section offering advise on visiting the pyramids to help the researcher or tourist optimise there time in Giza, Saqqara, Abusir and Meidum. In the closing pages of the book there is an excellent guide to further reading and references to the sources, quotations and illustrations used throughout the book.