TEMPLES, TOMBS AND HIEROGLYPHS, by Barbara Mertz (Gollancz, 30s.).
Reviewed by LAURENCE COTTERELL
ON those flattering occasions when people have mixed me up with Leonard Cottrell I have had to point out that the only thing I know for sure about pyramids is that the sharp bit is at the top. I am therefore very well qualified to review the present book because it is written for the likes of me.
The author holds a doctorate in Egyptology at the University of Chicago, but her obvious enthusiasm transcends the purely academic. Some readers may feel that she becomes slightly selfconsciously over-jolly here and there, but I think that most of us tyros will find the kind of introduction to the subject that we want, and one which will lend us some of Dr. Mertz's quite breathless excitement over what has been discovered (or halfdiscovered) so far, and what remains to be discovered.
Egyptology is a subject which has been somewhat over-written in a popular idiom, although obviously there cannot be too many works of scholarship on such a topic. But there is ample room for Dr. Mertz's book because the general reader can he completely satisfied about her knowledge and authority, and because her interpretation. mortalised by wit and genuine affection. show us remarkable people and their works rather than stylised marionettes and gods on temple walls.
It is no mean achievement to present an evocative and memorable picture of more than 30 centuries of history and culture and everyday life in some 350 pages (which also contain glossary, foreword, table of chronology. index. and an imaginative guide to further reading), but this is what Dr. Mertz has done.
She has also provided us with a very handsome set of maps and photographic illustrations. Whether other expert Egyptologists will like the book is another matter. I only know that it is likely to make keen amateur Egyptologists out of a lot of fairly casual readers.