Earlier this week, I acquired a book on Egyptian antiquities, and I thought that I could do a musing on the topic, as I had several really nice books already on the subject. When I got home and started to look through this volume, I realized that this book needed a musing all its own – the photographs were so stunning!
The Royal Tombs of Egypt; by Zahi Hawass, Photographs by Sandro Vannini; Thames & Hudson, London, 2006. At the time this book was produced, Zahi Hawass was the General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt. Sandro Vannini was a professional photographer since 1980, working in many different areas including geographical reportage, architecture, and archaeology. His photographs in this book are phenomenal.
Some information from the blurb – the royal tombs, tunnelled deep into the Theban cliffs, represented both the gates to the Netherworld and the womb of the Great Goddess. Many of them contain outstanding wall paintings of the king with various gods and goddesses, as well as papyri, mummies, decorated coffins, and other artifacts. This is the first book to reproduce these wall paintings and murals in full, and to explore the meanings of the esoteric and arcane Netherworld Books that decorated the royal tombs. The images are accompanied by in-depth analysis of the most deeply held beliefs of the ancient kings and queens who lay there, beliefs that provided the impetus for the building, decoration and equipping of these magnificent tombs. Beautifully illustrated in full colour, with thirty foldouts, this sumptuous volume will enable you to join the pharaohs of the New Kingdom on their journeys to immortality. Over 300 colour illustrations.
Now listen – blurbs usually overstate the promise. But in this case the opposite is true! Many of the thirty foldouts are double foldouts. And the majority are face-to-face double foldouts, meaning that when the pages are unfolded you have 6 folio sized pages showing one photographic image. And this is 5 feet of one masterful photograph.
To take these photographs, I had to lay the book open on the floor and climb up upon a step stool to get the full image!
I will end this musing with one of the most fabulous photos I have ever seen in a book. It is of the innermost coffin of Tutankhamun. Made of solid gold and inlaid with carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and glass, this coffin held the mummy of Tutankhamun. The photo below does not do justice to the photo in this absolutely gorgeous volume.