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Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologistby Donald P. Ryan
Synopses & Reviews
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 Geographiccollection, 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 Egyptis the extraordinary story of a man who has spent a lifetime embracing adventure whenever — and wherever — he finds it.
"For prominent American archeologist Ryan, Egypt's famed Valley of the Kings, a royal cemetery from 1500 to 1000 B.C.E., was a gift that kept on giving. Ryan rediscovered a small, undecorated tomb in 1989 that had been found and dismissed in 1903 by Howard Carter (later celebrated for discovering King Tut's tomb). In this simple tomb, Ryan found a mummy lying on the floor whose bent left arm and clenched left fist suggested an Eighteenth Dynasty royal female grasping a scepter or other ceremonial object. Her identity became a media sensation in 2007 when Egypt's most prominent archeologist, Zahi Hawass, provided compelling evidence that she was the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, whose father, Thutmose I, was the first pharaoh buried in the Valley of the Kings 3,400 years ago. Ryan also recounts his collaboration with the controversial and celebrated Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his long journey to becoming an archeologist, including graduate school fieldwork mapping petroglyphs in Hawaiian lava fields and studying ancient Egyptian cordage in the British Museum. Ryan's observations are intimate, frank, and perceptive, and his spirited adventures in underappreciated avenues of exploration are a boon for armchair and budding archeologists. 32 b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information)
"A compelling memoir by a guy who’s as much an adventurer as an archaeologist." Providence Journal
"An entertaining, illuminating adventure story by a modern-day explorer." Kirkus Reviews
"An enthusiastically written book for readers from YA to armchair adventure lovers who dream of being archaeologists or Egyptologists." Library Journal
"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." Booklist
Book News Annotation:
Ryan, an archaeologist, Egyptologist, and writer who teaches in the humanities division at Pacific Lutheran U., provides a memoir of his experiences excavating sites in Egypt, including his rediscovery of Egypt's famous female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, in the Valley of the Kings. He recounts his adventures from his first trip in 1981 as a graduate student to his discovery of Hatshepsut in 1989 and subsequent discoveries, as well as his education and experiences in Egyptology, the process of becoming an archaeologist, working with eccentric colleagues, and presenting archeology to the public. B&w photos are included. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Donald P. Ryan is an Egyptologist and archaeologist who has spent more than twenty years excavating in the Valley of the Kings. He lives in Tacoma, Washington.
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