Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist [NOOK Book]

Overview

From the known to the unknown . . .

With its spectacular temples, tombs, monuments, and mummies, as well as esoteric metaphysics, legendary historical characters, and connections to the Bible, ancient Egypt has enticed the human imagination for centuries. This search for understanding and drive to uncover a lost civilization has also been the life work of archaeologist Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D. In Beneath the Sands of Egypt, he offers an intriguing personal account of a career ...

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Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist

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Overview

From the known to the unknown . . .

With its spectacular temples, tombs, monuments, and mummies, as well as esoteric metaphysics, legendary historical characters, and connections to the Bible, ancient Egypt has enticed the human imagination for centuries. This search for understanding and drive to uncover a lost civilization has also been the life work of archaeologist Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D. In Beneath the Sands of Egypt, he offers an intriguing personal account of a career spent researching the remains of Egypt's past—including his headline-making rediscovery of a lost tomb in the Valley of the Kings containing the mummy of the famous female pharaoh Hatshepsut.

Since his early childhood, Ryan dreamed of exploration and adventure. Inspired by his plastic dinosaurs, his books—including Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki—and his father's National Geographic collection, Ryan was determined to become an archaeologist. It is a quest that has taken him from harsh desert digs to the modern comforts of Europe's finest museums to treacherous Alpine peaks—and into the lives of his archaeological predecessors, gathering insight from obscure documents and, literally, digging in their wake.

Beneath the Sands of Egypt interweaves Ryan's captivating tales from the field with reflections into the arcane world of Egyptology, from the writings of Herodotus to the tools of the trade, the intricacies of obtaining a digging permit to the thrall of popular myths. In addition, Ryan introduces a diverse cast of eccentric colleagues, helpful locals, wily entrepreneurs, and enlightened benefactors who have touched his life, including the legendary Thor Heyerdahl, Ryan's childhood hero who eventually became his friend, mentor, and boss. Throughout, Ryan adds his unique touch, reminding us how an artifact as seemingly insignificant as a piece of rope can unlock invaluable insights and offer its own wonderful tale.

Infused with the irrepressible curiosity that has fueled Ryan's journey, Beneath the Sands of Egypt is the extraordinary story of a man who has spent a lifetime embracing adventure whenever—and wherever—he finds it.

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Editorial Reviews

St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Any writer who can make you interested in old rope is worth reading."
Booklist
"This wonderful adventure story should be must reading for anyone aspiring to become an archaeologist, but even those of us who harbor no such dreams will be aching to get a little dirt under our fingernails."
a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters - Barbara Mertz
"Don Ryan is a rare bird – a field archaeologist who can write with verve and immediacy. I heartily recommend his book to all Egyptology buffs."
Booklist (starred review)
“This wonderful adventure story should be must reading for anyone aspiring to become an archaeologist, but even those of us who harbor no such dreams will be aching to get a little dirt under our fingernails.”
Library Journal
American archaeologist Ryan (Faculty Fellow in Humanities, Pacific Lutheran Univ.) is best known for his projects in Egypt, most recently in the Valley of the Kings, Thebes. In this action-packed memoir, Ryan's aim is to "share the adventure and perhaps educate, entertain, and even inspire." He accomplishes this with evocative writing and excellent, detailed descriptions of fieldwork in Egypt, be it clearing mud brick in the Fayyum or excavating a series of tombs in the Valley of the Kings. He captures well the joys and hazards involved in fieldwork, as well as the rapport that develops with colleagues and workers. He acknowledges the hospitality of Egyptian villagers along with the renowned epigraphic surveys conducted by the University of Chicago and Chicago House in Luxor and literally follows in the steps of Howard Carter, the discoverer of Tutankhamen's tomb, doing full justice to Carter's life and work. He also takes the surprising stance of speaking up for Giovanni Belzoni, the 19th-century adventurer whose name and exploits in Egypt are traditionally viewed as anathema in the history of Egyptology. Unfortunately, there are no footnotes or bibliography to guide the reader to additional sources. VERDICT An enthusiastically written book for readers from YA to armchair adventure lovers who dream of being archaeologists or Egyptologists.—Joan W. Gartland, Macomb Community Coll. Lib., Warren, MI
Kirkus Reviews
The memoir of a world-renowned archaeologist and Egyptologist. Ryan (The Complete Idiot's Guide to Lost Civilizations, 2007, etc.) takes the reader behind the scenes of the life of a typical archaeologist, who leads anything but the "dangerous, swashbuckling life" of characters like Indiana Jones. While many of his expeditions involve the excitement of discovery, he writes, most of his time is spent meticulously sifting through sand to rescue and piece together buried artifacts and then trying to puzzle out their meaning. Ryan's first love was mountaineering, but he became fascinated with Egyptology and archaeology during his senior year in college, when he saw the travelling exhibit of King Tut ("a blockbuster exhibition that has yet to be surpassed") and switched from a major in political science to the study of anthropology and archaeology. During the following years, while he received grants which paid the bills for his explorations in Egypt, he also supported himself, his wife and son by teaching and lecturing, writing books and consulting on BBC specials. On one occasion during filming, he jumped through a cleft in the rocks to rescue a member of the cast caught on a ledge and was almost killed when a dislodged rock hit his head. In 1989, he made the exciting discovery of a mummified body that was later identified as controversial female pharaoh Hatshepsut. Though Ryan made it clear that he was not officially labeling the find as such, the discovery received a premature banner headline in a British paper that read "Ancient Egypt's Lost Queen Found in Humble Tomb." In 1995, the author began a seven-year collaboration with Thor Heyerdahl to gather evidence for Heyerdahl's contention that ancient cultures made contact through ocean voyages. Ryan continues to work diligently at his craft, noting that "each time we come across something new, whether artifacts from the past or ideas from the mind, it's a discovery."An entertaining, illuminating adventure story by a modern-day explorer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062002808
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/29/2010
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 336,074
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D., is a specialist in Egyptian archaeology, Polynesian archaeology, and ancient languages and scripts. He is best known for his research in Egypt, including excavations in the Valley of the Kings, where he has discovered lost tombs and controversial mummies. The author of several books and numerous articles on archaeological subjects, he is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society and worked closely with world-renowned Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 15, 2011

    Interesting read, but...

    Much more about the life and adventures of the author than it is about Egypt...I was disapointed at how little there actually was about Egypt. I found myself skipping ahead over rambling sections looking for more about the V of the Kings and/or tombs or any other egyption history. Not worth the cost to me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Fascinating Man And His Life

    Readers interested in Egypt and archeology will be fascinated by the life and career of Donald Ryan in his book Beneath The Sands Of Egypt. Ryan was fascinated by ancient cultures and exploration from his childhood; the kind of kid whose favorite magazine was The National Geographic. After he finished his education he found work and made significant discoveries in Egypt.

    There are several points that I'd not really considered prior to reading this book that were quite interesting. One was the day to day danger and tedium of an archeologist's life. Those who work in the Valley of the Kings are exposed to grueling heat, nerve-wracking climbs down steep cliffs and crawls through narrow underground passages. They endure this to find shards and pieces of the past, which then must be painstakingly put back together. The modern archaeologist in Egypt is getting to tombs after the early discoveries by scientists who didn't have advanced methods of protecting the finds and after repeated predations by graverobbers. They battle bureaucracies, both in their home country and in the country where the work is done. Disease is common from the dust and animals found in the sites. A common enemy of their work is water. Egyptian tombs are located in such a way that they are often repeatedly flooded over the years, destroying much of the evidence the scientist is looking for.

    Another interesting point is how common objects are as precious to the scientist as the big, showy items that make it into museum showcases. Ryan had a fascinating chapter on the rope used during the era of the Pharaohs, and his scholarship is displayed as he researches how it was constructed and used. Another common object is papyrus, and he discusses those who have brought this art back from extinction.

    A point most hobbyists don't consider but that Ryan discusses is how few career jobs there are in archeology and how hard it is to make a living in this field. Ryan spent years patching together a career from teaching in several colleges, lecturing on cruise ships, being a consultant to TV productions about Egypt and serving on different site digs. The life is one of constant scrambling for funds, and those not comfortable with a career outside the box need not apply.

    Although Ryan focuses mainly on his work in Egypt, he also discusses the seven years he spent as an assistant to the great Thor Heyerdahl. Heyerdahl burst onto the archaeological scene with his theories about how primitive men were able to transverse oceans, and his replication of such a journey on his raft, the Kon-tiki. Ryan had grown up with Heyerdahl as his childhood hero and the opportunity to work with him as an adult was a dream come true.

    This book is recommended for history readers, and those interested in archeology. Ryan is a fascinating man, and he has covered his career in an interesting fashion.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    Inspiring Read.

    My interest in archeology has been piqued for decades, especially during the periods of the ancient Egyptians and the Mayans. This book served to pique my interest even more. I found it to be unconventionally written, although at times I felt it to wonder in different directions from what I assumed would be only on Egyptian archeology. But I found the side tracks to be equally fascinating and equally intriguing. I very much enjoyed it .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2014

    To epicness

    This was great, it had true detail to the game. Aj means animal jam, correct? Where would that be found?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    Sinnoh Pokemon Adventure: Prologue

    ((Exactly what the title says. I'm ditching the AJ fanfic for now while writing this fanfic, which takes place after Pokemon Platinum and has no relation to the anime whatsoever. You'll see why. Hope you like it.))<p>There was a building in Veilstone City said to be the former headquarters of Team Galactic. Or so they thought they were. But in reality there was a pep ralley in there.<p>A silloheutted figure, with hair that was clearly spiky, stood on a high platform, above the Galactic grunts and admins. The figure promises that this time, they will succeed in their goals.<p>And nobody will be able to stop them this time.<p>((Oh, and for people who ha<_>te self-inserts, there's going to be one in here. But it feels easier for me to do so, since I played Pokemon Platinum with my own name for the female character, whose default name is Dawn. Don't worry, it won't be like the last time I did it...(shudders). Epicness, out!))

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2010

    Excellent

    This book was amazing!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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