The subject matter of this book should have been fascinating - it deals with the way in which certain Egyptologists have tried to prevent an alternative picture of the ancient history of Egypt from being developed. The reputation of Zahi Hawass in particular is systematically trashed; he appears as an incompetent, bombastic bully who is more interested in lining his own pockets and defending the "birthright" of modern Egyptians as the descendants of ancient Egypt than in doing any serious archaeology. Any suggestion that monuments like the Sphynx or the Osirion may be much older than previously thought, meaning that instead of being built by the ancient Egyptians they may have been constructed by a much older civilisation, is taken by Hawass as an insult to the Egyptian people. He is accused of preventing any dissenting voices from having access to archaeological sites which might allow them to gather the evidence which could confirm their heretical ideas. Even those archaeologists who are allowed to dig have to share their discoveries with Hawass and may find that he takes the credit for them. The authors paint a fascinating and disturbing picture of a megalomaniac who has managed to climb to the top of the archaeological tree, making friends with the rich and influential despite a minimal talent for archaeology and a complete inability to entertain any ideas other than his own.
So why do I give this apparently fascinating book a two-star review? Because of the enormous amount of padding in the book, consisting of an interminable history of modern Egypt which I am afraid I found unreadable and simply skipped over. And because of the repeated references to Hawass in the "Indiana Jones hat". This was fair enough once or twice but after the first twenty times I began to wonder if the authors thought their book was so boring that the only way they could spice it up was by invoking the spirit of Indy.
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