The Pyramid Builder: Cheops, the Pharaoh Behind the Great PyramidHardback
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- Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
- Format: Hardback | 352 pages
- Dimensions: 154mm x 234mm x 34mm | 662g
- Publication date: 7 July 2003
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 075531008X
- ISBN 13: 9780755310081
- Illustrations note: 8 colour photos, line drawings
Four and a half thousand years ago, the largest of the wonders of the ancient world was built. The Great Pyramid at Giza has fascinated and intrigued scholars ever since and it is the only one of the wonders listed by the Greeks to have survived intact to this day. By the time Tutankhamen ruled Egypt it was already 1500 years old; to Cleopatra it was an antiquity. But how was it built? Why and by whom? The Great Pyramid, thought to be evidence of a slave-culture on a truly despotic scale, has fascinated travellers and archaelogists since the 19th-century revival of interest in antiquities. And with it a fascination with the pharoah who built it: Cheops. This book takes a look at the man behind the monument - the life and times of Cheops, the greatest pyramid-builder of them all.
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Christine El Mahdy is a widely renowned Egyptologist whose interest in the subject started as a child (she taught herself to read hieroglyphics aged nine). She has worked in the Egyptian departments of Bolton Museum and Liverpool University Museum and, in 1988, she founded the British Centre for Egyptian Studies which she now runs. She has previously written three internationally bestselling books on ancient Egypt.
For too many years we have all accepted the theory - originally mooted by Greek historian Herodotus - that the Great Pyramid at Giza was built on the back of an enslaved nation. So says Christine El Mahdy, a well-known Egyptologist who broadcasts and lectures widely on all things Egyptian and counts this publication as her fourth on the subject. Her aim in this readable book is to get to grips with the man responsible for this wonder of the ancient world, but she acknowledges the difficulty in studying a subject where, as often as not, the experts fail to agree on the basic principles and key dates are disputed. The ruler in question, Cheops - and apparently even his very name is debatable - is described by the author as 'arguably the greatest of the kings of the Fourth Dynasty' and is deserving of a revisionist approach. First, she wonders why he bothered erecting such a vast, and seemingly pointless, burial place at all and asks if the enormous project was an early example of capitalism, fascism, communism or organised religion. By throwing in references to popular cultural icons like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, the author manages to ensure her writing is sufficiently accessible to ensure an easy and pleasant read, enhanced and complemented by colour photographs and Valerie Baker's line drawings. She succeeds, too, in painting a convincing and expertly crafted portrait of an Egpyt that existed before Cairo, where the only recognizable landmark was the timeless Nile. But despite El Mahdy's best attempts, we will probably never know much about the reclusive and secretive ruler, for little or no evidence remains to flesh him out. And as for all those slaves, the author dismisses the accepted theory, putting forward instead the idea that the project was a giant civil engineering project in which everyone received pay. While it?s not as compelling as the notion of an enslaved nation, it shows that there?s plenty of room left for new ideas on this fascinating subject. (Kirkus UK)