I’m on an Egyptian roll.
It’s nothing planned, really, but right now here on my nightstand I have two “Egyptian” books, two thick paperbacks that will keep me company for the next few weeks.
And both books are somewhat anomalous.
The first is Thor Heyerdahl’s The Ra Expeditions – the chronicle of the author’s attempt at crossing the Atlantic on a papyrus raft, from Africa to the Americas.
The idea was to try and prove that the Egyptians could have reached the Americas before Columbus, and before the Vikings, and the Basques, etc.
Once again, this book brings memories of my childhood – the expeditions took place in 1969, and a few years later I watched documentaries on the telly and was fascinated.
This was in impulse buy – I think that’s what they call them – after the Kon-Tiki documentary and movies I went back to the Kon-Tiki book, and while I was looking at Heyerdahl’s catalog on Amazon, I found the Flamingo paperback edition of the Ra book for less than the price of an ebook.
So, why not?
The temptation was too strong.
The second book on my nightstand is Kara Cooney‘s The woman that would be king, a recent biography of pharaoh Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt‘s “woman king”.
The book is anomalous – or so the author claims in the opening note, because a part of the reconstruction of hatshepsut’s life is based on speculation – informed speculation, but, speculation anyway.
And while I understand the author’s need for the introductory note and disclaimer – Cooney is a serious scientist – I also understand and appreciate the work done to fill in the gaps in a historical record that’s thousands of years old and pretty patchy1.
Cooney’s book was not an impulse buy – I have been expecting it for months, ever since I pre-ordered the paperback edition.
It strikes me now that both books are in a way about experimental archaeology – Heyerdahl’s in a more traditional way, Cooney’s in a thought-experiment sort of style.
Now that’s neat.
There’s other stuff on my to-read list (more of a pile than a list, actually), but these two are next.
- I guess my friend Claire, that loves historical novels, would appreciate this kind of jigsaw work of fact and speculation. ↩