Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs

Written by Barbara Mertz
Review by Patrika Salmon

Publishers used to describe this type of book as one ‘written for the intelligent reader’, and this is exactly what the updated, revised edition of Barbara Mertz’s book is. For people without a degree in Egyptology, but an interest in learning about those fascinating people, Ms. Mertz’s cheerful, chatty and thoroughly knowledgeable writing style is perfect. She takes the reader through the long history of Egypt’s Dynasties, examining the scholarly differences of opinion, talking about personalities and discoveries which affected the way historians look at certain pharaohs. She makes the reader understand how important certain basics are (Petrie and pottery) through well told stories. Her own admiration for the scholars who opened up new avenues of research, or lines of thought, is infectious and imbues her writing with lively excitement. She’s a scholar herself, possessing a Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago.

The best teachers are those who love their subject, enthuse about it with knowledge, and impart that knowledge with skill. Ms. Mertz does all this. Readers who want a good general overview of ancient Egyptian history, which will give them a solid foundation of the basics, will find this book exactly what they need. It may come as no surprise to savvy readers that Ms. Mertz writes the Amelia Peabody series as Elizabeth Peters!