Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt

Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt

by Barbara Mertz


$17.09 $18.99 Save 10% Current price is $17.09, Original price is $18.99. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Get it by Friday, September 21 ,  Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.
    Same Day shipping in Manhattan. 
    See Details


Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz

World-renowned Egyptologist Barbara Mertz explores the reality behind the bestselling fiction she writes (as Elizabeth Peters) and casts a dazzling light on a remarkable civilization.

Afascinating chronicle of an extraordinary people—from the first Stone Age settlements through the reign of Cleopatra and the Roman invasions—Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs brings ancient Egypt to life as never before. Lavishly illustrated with pictures, maps, and photographs, it offers tantalizing glimpses into Egyptian society; amazing stories of the pharaohs and the rise and fall of great dynasties; a sampling of culture, religion, and folklore; stories of explorers, scientists, and scoundrels who sought to unravel or exploit the ageless mysteries; and new insights into the architectural wonders that were raised along the banks of the Nile.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061252778
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/24/2009
Edition description: Second
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 473,960
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Barbara Mertz is a New York Times bestselling author who writes the popular Amelia Peabody mystery series under the pen name Elizabeth Peters and romantic suspense novels as Barbara Michaels. She was born and brought up in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. Named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998, she lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland.

Read an Excerpt

Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs
A Popular History of Ancient Egypt

Chapter One

The Two Lands Geb the Hunter

One bright summer afternoon in the year 5263 B.C., a man stood on the cliffs high above the Nile Valley. He was slightly built and only a few inches over five feet in height; his brown body was naked except for a kilt of tanned hide. But he held himself proudly, for he was a tall man among his people, and a leader of men. The people he led clustered about him—women peering timidly out from a tangle of black hair, hushing the children in their arms; men bearing their weapons, bow and arrow and stone ax. The wind blew hot behind them; they had turned their backs on the desert. Once it had not been desert. Once, in the time of their ancestors, there had been water, and green growing things, and animals to kill for food. Now the god had withdrawn his hand from their homeland. And so they looked with bright apprehensive eyes into the new land below, a green slash of life cutting through the growing desolation all around. The leader's keen vision saw the gleam of water and the flicker of birds' wings; his hunter's ears caught the far-off bellow of a hippopotamus. There was food below, and water; yet still the leader of the tribe hesitated. He knew the old life, with all its perils. Could he face the more chilling peril of the unknown and, unaware of destiny, take the first step toward the pyramids?

It is a pity that this picturesque episode must belong to fiction rather than history. Some of the details may be true. The first prehistoric cultures in Egypt are dated to around 5500 B.C., but not eventhe miracle of carbon 14 could give a date so specific as the one mentioned above. At some point in the remote past, man came out of the desert into the valley of the Nile and settled into small villages. He may have looked something like the leader of the tribe who, in a historical novel, would be christened Geb or Ab, or something equally monosyllabic and prehistoric. But it is unlikely that a single man with a vision initiated the transition from nomadic hunters to village farmers. The change took place over long centuries.

Admittedly, the signs of the great change are not dramatic when they are seen in dusty museum cases—flint knife blades and arrowheads, not very different at a casual glance from the crude tools of the hunters; tattered scraps of a woven basket that once held grain; the bones of a dog, appearing, to an untrained eye, like the bones of any wild beast. Yet the transition is more important than the pyramids and more exciting, in its implications, than the golden treasure of a Tutankhamon. We find ourselves here at the beginning of a long and momentous chapter in the great book of man. As the pages turn, we will meet kings and conquerors, poets and inventors. We will conjure up visions of treasure unsurpassed by the most luxuriant forms of imaginative fiction; we will encounter the darker aspects of the human spirit as well as its bright triumphs. Yet never again, perhaps, will we see the human animal take a step so gigantic as this first one, little known and poorly recorded as it is.

Scholars usually place the first "revolution" in man's way of life between the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. These terms, which mean "Old Stone Age" and "New Stone Age," were coined to describe a change in the techniques of working stone implements, but it is the least significant of the differences between the two periods. The wandering hunters of the Old Stone Age became the farmers and shepherds of the Neolithic. The permanent settlement of a tribe implies agriculture and domesticated animals, and perhaps pottery—though there is considerable variation from place to place—and people continued hunting and fishing even after other means of food production were developed. The evidence of the transitional period in the Nile Valley is almost nonexistent—so far. One suspects that something is bound to turn up eventually, but perhaps not in the Nile Valley itself; there were hunter-gatherers wandering around the Western Desert, and possible signs of at least semipermanent habitation there as early as nine thousand years ago. For our purposes, however, the oldest known predynastic cultures of Egypt date from approximately 5400 B.C.

Life in the early village cultures was not exactly luxurious. The houses were built of mud and sticks and consisted of a single dark room, unfloored and unventilated except for a smoke hole in the roof. The bodies of the dead were laid in shallow holes scooped in the sand, with no covering except straw mats or skins. But in the goods buried with them we may see the groping of the human spirit toward the concept of immortality. They could only postulate a continuance of the life they knew; so the hunter has his spear, the woman her beads (vanitas vanitatum, against the fleshless skull), and the pitiful child bones sometimes huddle against the dust of a once-cherished toy.

The bones and their belongings can speak to us, sometimes with poignant clarity. And the mute stone and baked clay can speak as well, to those who know how to listen. So meager are the remains from this distant time, before the dawn of history, that archaeologists have developed ingenious techniques for wringing the greatest possible amount of information from each scrap. They rely upon the skills of many specialists—biologists, who can identify the species of the gnawed bones in the kitchen middens, geochemists, who analyze pottery, and paleobotanists, who ponder the withered grains left in the bottom of the granary basket by a thriftless ancient housewife. (Contrary to popular report, none of the "mummy seeds" found in Egypt has ever produced a living plant; there is a limit to the preservative qualities of even Egyptian soil.)

Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs
A Popular History of Ancient Egypt
. Copyright © by Barbara Mertz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the First Edition     xi
Foreword to the Second Edition     xv
A Note on Names     xvii
Ancient Egyptian Chronology     xix
List of Black-and-White Illustrations     xxiii
List of Color Illustrations in Photograph Insert     xxv
List of Maps     xxvii
The Two Lands     1
Geb the Hunter     1
The Wagon or the Mountain     16
Troubles with Time     24
Wearers of the Double Crown     33
Wars of Religion?     41
Houses of Eternity     46
King Djoser's Magician     46
Good King Snefru     54
The Missing Queen     64
Children of Re     75
The Good Shepherd     95
Despair and Deliverance     95
Binder of the Two Lands     107
The Eight for Freedom     126
Invasion     126
Liberation     132
The Woman Who was King     142
Hatshepsut the Queen     142
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt     145
The Hatshepsut Problem     162
The Other Hatshepsut Problem     164
The Conqueror     168
The Power and the Glory     190
Amenhotep II     190
Amenhotep the Magnificent     198
The Great Heresy     205
The Broken Reed     240
Look on My Works!     240
Ramses II     244
Peoples of the Sea     257
The Long Dying     269
Adventures of a Man of No Consequence     269
The Quick and the Dead     274
Tomb Robbers and Royal Mummies     277
Mummy Musical Chairs     282
The Third Intermediate Period     283
Horsemen from the Holy Mountain     286
Back to the Drawing Board     295
Additional Reading     309
Sources of Quotes     313
Index     315

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A joyful intellectual excitement permeates the book." —-The New York Times

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
See above Barbara Mertz is the real name of Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters meaning that not only is this book informative but an excellent read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If u love hieroglyphs u will love this!!!!!!