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The Lost Tomb Paperback – Oct 28 1999

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (Oct. 28 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688172245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688172244
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,894,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Working for the American university in Cairo in 1988, Kent Weeks embarked on an archeological dig into KV5, the sparsely explored fifth tomb in the Valley of the Kings, burial ground of Egypt's major Pharaohs. In 1995, he discovered the T-shaped burial complex of Ramses II's 50 sons--arguably the most significant discovery since Howard Carter unearthed King Tut's tomb in 1922. Weeks's account of this historic event is filled with a sense of awe and wonder. "[I]n my imagination," he writes, recalling a vision of the statue of Osiris, god of the afterlife, "I could see the ancient funerals that took place three thousand years ago. I could hear ancient priests chanting prayers and shaking tambourines ... I could smell incense and feel priestly robes brush my arm as the funeral procession moved slowly past. For an instant I felt transported back in time: it was 1275 BCE and this was ancient Thebes."

Weeks also points out what his discovery may tell us about the powerful, redhaired pharoah who ruled ancient Egypt for 67 years (1279-1212 BC), including the possibility that he was the pharaoh of Exodus. He elaborates upon his profession's risks, from excavations in narrow, debris-filled and claustraphobic surroundings to working under the gunfire of terrorist attacks. And he reminds us that his discovery by no means brings Egyptology to a conclusion: "Every generation of Egyptologists asks different questions of its data and data are a finite resource. We will leave parts of KV5 undug so that archeologists of the future, armed with new questions and new excavation techniques, can seek new answers to old questions and to others we haven't even dreamed of." --Eugene Holley Jr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In 1995, Weeks, a noted Egyptologist and professor at the American University in Cairo, and his archeological team discovered a tomb in Luxor's Valley of the Kings. Labeled KV5, it was hailed as the lost burial chamber of the sons of Ramesses II. Weeks's Egyptological leanings were a long time in coming. He starts by chronicling his childhood dreams and their eventual fulfillment some 10 years ago. By 1989, Weeks, his wife, Susan, and his team had been working in the Valley of the Kings for 10 years. Intrigued by so-called missing tombs of the Valley that had been only cursorily explored, Weeks decided to look for one in particular, KV5, which, if early maps were correct, was in the path of projected highway building. Using the journals and maps of two earlier explorers?James Burton, who first came to Luxor in 1825, and Howard Carter, noted for many discoveries, including that of King Tut's tomb (1922)?Weeks and his team began digging. Their search resulted in the discovery of the largest mausoleum in the area, which Weeks makes a convincing case for identifying as the burial site of Ramesses's sons. In the final chapters, Weeks provides readers with an introduction to the world of Ramesses II and the 18th and 19th dynasties, indicating the possibility of further finds in KV5 that would clarify aspects of ancient and biblical history. But most of all, by drawing on his diaries, Weeks gives a sense of immediacy in the reconstruction of a fascinating story that fully conveys the thrill of discovery after years of painstaking work. Color and b&w photos not seen by PW. 7-city author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

It is amazing reading these reviews and realizing that people actually enjoyed this man's book. This was a botched excavation from the start. There was no real great discoveries in KV5, just more of the same stuff that we find in the Valley of the Kings (KV5 was discovered long before in the 18th century to boot). It is wise to remember this when Weeks' excavation damaged the tomb itself. He had his work-crews removed wet flood debris (dirt) from the tomb and then only put rocks at the doorway to allow "air to dry up the inside" for an entire season!
However, if you are familiar with John Romer's studies on the Valley of the Kings' geology, you would know that the limestone walls would have expanded with moisture and contracted when dried. Weeks' ignorance of this simple fact (he did know of Romer's report but called his study 'unmodern') allowed the tomb roof and walls to contract at an uncontrolled speed. The result was the walls cracked, lost paint and ultiamately the roof fell in an area.
The damage Weeks' excavation did was totally atrocious and it even continues to this day. Support conservation in the Valley of the Kings instead of destructive excavation and ecourage excavations in the Delta (where Egyptologies knowledge is lacking). In conclusion, don't buy this book.
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Kent Weeks and his wife come across as enthusiastic, dedicated and eager to introduce the general public to the pleasures of Egyptology in this account of the first few years of his investigations at KV5. As can be seen from the biographical information he provides in this work he has devoted most of his life to investigating the Valley of the Kings. That is why it is a pity that this work comes across as jumbled and a little superficial. Accounts of the dig are interspersed so frequently with accounts of the lives of various pharaohs, of the problems the Weeks face from lackadaisical Egyptian officials, the eccentricity of the local laborers, and so on, that it is very difficult to keep track of what the team is finding in KV5 and its historical significance. (I would guess that this format was forced on Professor Weeks by a commercially minded publisher, presumably in the belief that the average layman reader is not willing to plod through several hundred pages of architectural accounts.)
Another problem with this work: although the discovery of KV5 is the most important discovery in the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of King Tut's tomb, the actual material found in the tomb is probably not particularly exciting for readers who are not dedicated Egyptologists. Most of the discoveries consist of minute brick and porcelain fragments which poor Mrs. Weeks is charged with cataloguing. For the layman Egyptologist I would recommend instead the classic by Howard Carter, The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, also available from This is a truly exciting account of the discovery of Tut's tomb which was packed with fantastic treasures.<BR
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This book easily qualifies as one of the worst popular-science books I've ever read. It is like "Indiana Jones" minus the Nazis and all the other fun stuff. The thing is that of course I didn't expect to get an action-packed book about mummies and hidden treasures. What I expected to get was a nice description of that "lost" tomb they found plus background information. And the book simply doesn't give enough of that. The "lost" tomb which supposedly was discovered by Mr Weeks had actually been discovered before already. So the book starts with some wrong information on the cover. And it doesn't really get any better than that. There are pages and pages of completely useless information but no explanation of the background. In particular, if you want to learn about Egypt's past you're more than well-advised to look elsewhere. Instead, here you'll find a dozen pages about how Mr Weeks had to deal with the press and similar stuff which is just not interesting at all. The few pages about Egypt's past are filled with narration-like stuff. I know it might be difficult to say a lot about ancient Egypt but if the level of a popular-science book is about that of a mediocre Hollywood movie something is wrong. I know reviews which don't give books four or five stars are pretty unpopular on Amazon but I give this book one star anyway. I'd give it zero if I could.
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I became interested in this book after reading a favorable review in the NY Times book review, and being new to Egyptology, I was pleased to find that Weeks did a remarkable job of providing plenty of background information on the Valley of the Kings, history of some of the Pharoes of Egypt, various explorers who have visited the area (and KV5) in the past, the people who have joined his crew on the exploration of KV5 and the effects of modern life on the condition of the tombs.
He does an excellent job of holding the narrative together, and I eagerly awaited each new page to see what (if anything), Weeks and his team would discover next. He made no attempt to hide his excitement with each new discovery (and disappointment into running into dead ends and other obstacles), and does a competent job in placing the reader alongside him in the tomb.
This is my first book on Egyptology, and both the seasoned Egyptologist and general reader will find this to be a fascinating tale of archaeology in action.
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