A very concise, informative addition to the discipline of Egyptology which will be welcomed by both professional and amateur alike. Tyldesley skilfully condenses the presently understood history of the Pharaohs into a fluent narrative which relies on scientific evaluation and discoveries. She goes further to describe the lives of the pyramid and mausoleum construction workers and their families with material gleaned from the same sources. The logic of engineering techniques are placed within a believable, logical context together with the social complexities involved in employing thousands of workers. The reader is taken from these vast building sites to an appreciation of the terrible damage and theft to their fabric, the deceased and their possessions. This has occurred on the grand scale over several millennia and is still prevalent. The author rarely lapses into speculation but when doing so, avoids the consequences. No doubt pharaohs were responsible for saving their mummified ancestors from grave robbers by moving them en masse to safer sites, but this sits uneasily with recycling their valuables, the grave goods necessary for their comfort, through the Royal Treasury. It indicates a cynicism at odds with their professed religious beliefs. Tyldesley makes no comment on this but describing the scientific analysis of Asru, a Temple chantress of the Middle Period, remarks on the idealised illustrations of a pristine, beautiful life on tomb walls in comparison with the evidence of excruciating diseases and parasites found in the vocalist's mummified remains. It is clear what little we know of the ancient Egyptians is less than half the story. The exquisite photographic plates included are a joy and the text a very superior accompaniment to the frequently tiresomely presented television production.
THis book is perfect for anyone interested in Egyptology. It takes you through the pyramids, the 18th dynasty and the blue lotus flower which was thought to have magical powers. I found the section on the 18th dynasty very interesting. It mainly tells of Akhenaten and Tutankhamen who were the last two Pharoahs of the 18th dynasty. It coveres the concept of inbreeding which was thought why that dynasty died out with Tutankhamen. Just more recently the tombs of the pryamid builders were found and it goes on to explain that the builder were not slaves at all. I found this very easy to read and would recommend it to anyone.