Review: Nefertiti by Joyce Tyldesley
Title: Nefertiti: Unlocking the Mystery Surrounding Egypt’s Most Famous and Beautiful Queen
Author: Tyldesley, Joyce
Length: 228 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Publisher / Year: Penguin Books / 1998, revisions included in 2005
Source: Carin - thank you!!
Why I Read It: Carin was nice enough to send it to me, and I am off to Egypt on the 24th.
Date Read: 23/01/12
As soon as this arrived in the mail I knew I had to start it immediately. In a great instance of perfect timing, Carin sent me this book just two months before my trip to Egypt with Carina. (Yes, I promise to take photos.) I’m glad I didn’t leave this to sit on the shelf either and instead picked it up right away because it was a really interesting read.
Through this book Tyldesley covers the information that we have on Nefertiti. She starts by talking about the dangers of writing a book like this because discoveries are always happening that can change absolutely everything that we think we know. When talking about things from so long ago, it is hard to be accurate or completely sure of anything and any author who claims that they are, she says, is probably lying or misinformed.
Although the title gives the impression that the book is about Nefertiti, it is really about her entire family and the life they led in Egypt. In addition to hearing what is archaeologically known of Nefertiti we hear about her husband, Akhenaten, his religion, his city of Armana, and their children. We hear as well about the other women who would have been in the harem, including Kiya.
I find it fascinating how much can be deduced from what is remaining, from so long ago. Art work, tombs, mummies, and more are all considered to give such an in-depth view of life as it was. Although there is still little known of Nefertiti, with her death still a mystery including the full extent of her powers in Egypt, there is still a lot that has been pieced together and Tyldesley shares it well. She has pulled together a story here, talking about the differing opinions held by various and explaining why certain theories are more plausible than others.
One really interesting point that Tyldesley makes is how our current understanding of the world affects our interpretation of the past. Many like to see Akhenaten’s attempt at imposing religious dictates on his people as the first example of monotheism, a precursor to Jewish and Christian belief. She talks about why that wasn’t the case, and in doing so highlights the importance of thinking objectively rather than with our current world-view. Although it may be difficult, we must try to leave off our preconceptions.
An interesting read that I would recommend to anyone interested in Egypt, the ancient world, of history. Well-written and researched, you can’t go wrong with this choice.