THE PYRAMIDS by Miroslav Verner

THE PYRAMIDS

The Mystery, Culture, and Science of Egypt’s Great Monuments
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Czech professor (Egyptology/Charles Univ.) summarizes the latest research on the design and construction of pyramids, leads a guided tour of virtually all of them, and smacks the naughty hands of those who believe that extraterrestrials were behind them.

Richly illustrated, Verner’s volume displays both a deep respect for the research of Egyptologists and a comprehensive knowledge of it. He reveals that even today debates rage over some of the most fundamental issues in his discipline—and that there are pyramids remaining to be discovered. Beginning with a swift history of the European interest in pyramids (properly crediting Napoleon for his role in studying and preserving the structures), he offers an engaging, lucid account of Egyptian religion, which conceived “earthly life [as] merely an episode on the way to eternity.” He describes in precise, graphic detail the preparation of mummies, the mortuary process, and the construction of the pyramids, noting the Egyptians’ impressive knowledge of engineering and mathematics and concluding that moving such huge stones to such heights involved ramps, lifting devices, oxen, and many men—though nowhere near as many as have often been suggested. His longest discussion is reserved for a description of each pyramid, beginning with the Third Dynasty (ca. 2680 bce) and concluding with the Thirteenth (about 1,000 years later). Pyramid junkies will no doubt find all of this riveting; general readers, like slave laborers, will weary after a few centuries. Still, Verner occasionally drops entertaining tidbits amid the dry estimates of pyramid height and quality of stone, as when a fight among family dogs estranges early-20th-century experts Cecil Firth and Battiscomb Gunn, and when Verner discusses the Great Sphinx and eviscerates pseudo-scientific “pyramidologists.” (Alas, there’s no map of Egypt with the principal sites marked.)

An important, comprehensive resource for the study of those most mysteriously, enduringly impressive structures. (b&w illustrations throughout)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8021-1703-1
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2001




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