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Pharaoh's Flowers the Botanical Treasures of Tutankamun 03/27/10
Pharaoh's Flowers the Botanical Treasures of Tutankhamun by F. Nigel Hepper was published when I was at the peak of my fascination with Tutankhamen and more broadly the Eighteenth Dynasty but somehow I completely missed this book during my frenzy of reading and book collecting.
Now as a kid I had certainly heard of "King Tut" (who hasn't?) and even knew an old novelty song that dates to the time when his tomb was first discovered by Howard Carter. Beyond that I didn't know much until I took AP Art History as a Junior. When the teacher first put the slide up of Tutankhamen's mummy I recoiled. He's such an important figure in history that I would be spending the next couple of weeks seeing that photograph.
I had to get over my visceral reaction. To do that I checked out every single book my then local library had on him. Somewhere along the way I went from squeamish to fan-girl. No longer satisfied by what was on offer at the local library I convinced my grandmother to take me down to Hillcrest where the best used book stores in San Diego are. I started collecting by getting Dover imprints of classic volumes of Egyptology and then a later edition Howard Carter's account of the work at the site. In the end I amassed about two dozen books which I read cover to cover two or three times each. Beyond that I also read another dozen or so books first from my local library, my school library and later my college library. And yet with all that reading I missed F. Nigel Hepper's book.
Hepper's taken an approach to cataloguing Tutankhamen's treasures in a way I haven't seen before. He talks exclusively of what can be learned about the flora of Egypt from the plant materials entombed with him and the plants and flowers depicted in the artworks. Not being a botanist I found some of the more technical aspects of the book over my head but it was still a fascinating and novel approach to a subject I've read so much about.
Included with Hepper's analysis of the flora are many excellent photographs and illustrations. Of course many of the photographs are ones that show up in most of the Tutankhamen books but his captions are completely different than the typical descriptions that go with the photographs.
If you haven't heard "Old King Tut" before, click play and have a listen.
Comment #1: Sunday, March, 28, 2010 at 20:43:46
This book sounds interesting. Not my usual read but worth a look!
Comment #2: Monday, March 29, 2010 at 10:58:04
It is interesting in the context of the typical Tutankhamen books. I'm not sure how it would stand up by itself.