Book Review – ‘Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon’ by Joyce Tyldesley

My prolific colleague Campbell Price at Manchester Museum is at it again! Nice post on Joyce Tyldesley’s new book on Queen Nefertiti. Must add that to my ever growing list of books to read…

Egypt at the Manchester Museum

Joyce Tyldesley’s new book concerns Ancient Egypt’s most well-known poster-girl: Nefertiti, or – more accurately – a painted limestone and plaster bust of her now in the Neues Museum in Berlin. Tyldesley has already written an excellent biography of the lady herself, and uses this opportunity to discuss her most famous representation – and how it skews our entire impression of who she was. The book follows the successful format of the biography of a single object adopted by Laurence Berman, curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in his accessible study of the Late Period ‘Boston Green Head’. As a fellow curator, the idea of spending a whole book on a sole museum object is particularly appealing to me.

nefertiti-s-face-the-creation-of-an-icon.jpg

Now, I must confess personal bias here – Joyce is a friend and University of Manchester colleague, and we have discussed the content of the book extensively. Yet…

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Lives in Ruins

You might think I have gone off on some weird tangent about ruins with this and my last post title, but no.  Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble is the title of a book by Marilyn Johnson, in which she delves into the lives of archaeologists. I saw the book as I browsed the book stalls at the AIA meeting in NOLA, took down the title and borrowed it from the public library when I got home.

The book is fun, witty and well written.  I have been giggling or laughing out loud since I picked up the volume and started reading it yesterday. I can totally related to the archaeologists she met and worked with for her book.  I just finished reading the chapter entitled Extreme Beverages, which I knew had to be about Patrick McGovern, the beer archaeologist.  Indeed, it was about Dr. Pat and the keynote lecture he gave at the AIA annual meeting held in Philadelphia (I believe that was in 2012).

Strangely enough, that was my first AIA conference and I attended that very lecture (it’s kind of weird to have attended an event mentioned in a book… the lecture was great fun). At the reception, I tried of one of his reversed-engineered extreme beverages created by studying residue in vessels found at archaeological digs around the world. I sampled the Honduran alcoholic cocoa drink Theobroma… although, as an Egyptologist, I should have tried the Egyptian beer, Ta Henket–even if I don’t like beer. (Don’t tell Dr. Pat!)  Ever since that lecture, I have in mind to bring the beer archaeologist to Raleigh… he’s at the top of my list of must-have speakers!  If he’s giving a talk in your neighbourhood, go! You’ll have a blast. Oh! And Johnson’s book is a fun and easy read.