Review: Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma by Joyce Tyldesley #NonfictionNovember

Posted November 9, 2022 by Stephanie in 5 Stars, Ancient History, History, Nonfiction, Review / 17 Comments

Title: Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma
Author: Joyce Tyldesley
Publication: October 27, 2022 by Headline
Genre: Nonfiction, Ancient History
Find it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 5/5★


Lost for three thousand years, misunderstood for a century.

A hundred years ago, a team of archaeologists in the Valley of the Kings made a remarkable discovery: a near-complete royal burial, an ancient mummy, and golden riches beyond imagination. The lost tomb of Tutankhamun ignited a media frenzy, propelled into overdrive by rumours of a deadly ancient curse. But amid the hysteria, many stories – including that of Tutankhamun himself – were distorted or forgotten.

Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma takes a familiar tale and turns on its head. Leading Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley has gathered ten unique perspectives together for the first time, including that of the teenage pharaoh and his family, ancient embalmers and tomb robbers, famous Western explorers and forgotten Egyptian archaeologists. It’s a journey that spans from ancient Thebes in 1336 BCE, when a young king on a mission to restore his land met an unexpected and violent end, to modern Luxor in 1922 CE when the tomb’s discovery led to a fight over ownership that continues to this day.

Above all, this is the story of Tutankhamun, as he would have wanted to be remembered. Piecing together three thousand years of evidence and unpicking the misunderstandings that surround Egypt’s most famous king, this book offers a vital reappraisal on his life, death and enduring legacy.

Joyce Tyldesley is a new author and Egyptologist to me but when I saw this book of hers at the bookstore I just knew I had to buy it and read it as soon as possible. And guess what? It turned out to be beyond amazing! In fact, it went to the top of the list of my favorite books that involve ancient Egypt. Since this year it’s been 100 years since the tomb of Tutankhamun has been rediscovered there are probably a lot of books that have come out or are coming out soon but I really would highly recommend this one. I loved it so damn much!

The book is basically divided into two parts. Part one is called Thebes 1336 BCE and it goes into a lot of aspects of Tutankhamun’s life like his family and early life, his (short) life as pharaoh of Egypt and details of how he was prepared for his afterlife but also about his sister-wife Ankhesenpaaten. The second part is called Luxor 1922 CE and goes into the search for lost kings and of course the rediscovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb + so much more. It was all highly fascinating and it was always so hard to stop reading because I never wanted to put the book down. It was that good.

Initially I thought part one would be the part I’d be the most interested in but I was surprised by how much I also enjoyed part two as well. There were a lot of interesting things with the tomb discovery and the aftermath of it all and how views on it all have changed so much over the years.

I also saw that Joyce Tyldesley has written a bunch of other books that I’m very interested in to read. She’s written books about Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, myths and legends of ancient Egypt and many more. So more reviews of her books may be coming sometime soon!



About the author:

Joyce is professor of Egyptology in the Department of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology (CAHAE), within the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. She writes and teaches the three year online Certificate in Egyptology, the two year online Diploma in Egyptology and the two year online Master’s in Egyptology plus a suite of online Short Courses in Egyptology. She also supervises PhD students and does occasional face-to-face teaching.

Joyce studied the archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean at Liverpool University, then obtained a D.Phil in prehistoric archaeology from Oxford University. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton and is a Research Associate of the Manchester Museum. Prior to joining the University of Manchester she taught prehistory and Egyptology at Liverpool University. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Reflecting her interest in outreach, Joyce has published a series of books and articles on ancient Egypt: these include three television tie in books and Cleopatra, Last Queen of Egypt, which was a Radio 4 “Book of the Week”. She has published three books for children, and her play for children, The Lost Scroll, premiered at Kendal Museum in April 2011.  Tutankhamen’s Curse: The Developing History of an Egyptian King (USA title Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King, won the Felicia A Holton Book Award from the Archaeological Institute of America. Her most recent Egyptology book, published in 2018, is Nefertiti’s Face: the Creation of an Icon.

In 2020, in colaboration with Dr Nicky Nielsen, Joyce published From Mummies to Microchips: A Case Study in Online Learning at the University of Manchester.

University of Manchester | Twitter | Goodreads



17 responses to “Review: Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma by Joyce Tyldesley #NonfictionNovember

  1. I was already curious/interested in the book when I saw you read it, but now you sold it. I need this one as well! Love that there are two parts, one about his life, one about the tomb/grave.

  2. Always a fascinating topic and story. I used to live and work in Egypt and visited his tomb. Of course, today it is empty. But all the findings you could see at the Egyptian museum in Cairo. Marvellous things. Considering he was quite an unimportant farao in comparison to some of the others, one can only imagine how their tombs were decorated and what treasures they contained.

    Lisbeth@The Content Reader recently posted: Nonfiction November, week 2 - Book Pairing

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