Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Book Review: In the Valley of the Kings

Decatur Daily (Review by John Davis)

In the Valley of the Kings.
By Daniel Meyerson.
Ballantine, 230 pages

Daniel Meyerson, Ellis Fellow at Columbia University, is a professor of writing. I can only envy his students. This is doubtless the most readable account of that long ago series of de­cades that began the last century. What could well be dry going, as was Egyptian archaeology at that time, is brought to vivid life by Meyerson, whose mastery of the well-chosen bon mot, anecdote and insight is a wonder in itself. Character sketches are not to be forgotten.

We meet Carter as the skilled draftsman who comes under the wing of that recognized founder of modern archaeology, the charmingly named W. Flin­ders Petrie. Petrie came to the attention of European scholars because of his scientific appreciation of simple pottery shards to tell a story of developments in pottery but also, by inference, civilization.

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