Archaeology Odyssey 1:2, Spring 1998

Architecture of the Afterlife

Understanding Egypt’s pyramid tombs

By Ann Macy Roth

Nothing brings together the scholar and the crackpot like a pyramid. Built more than 4,000 years ago, Egypt’s pyramids are among archaeology’s perennial fascinations—huge, geometric structures with mummified bodies inside.

Books about the pyramids have a long history, too, going back at least as far as the Pyramid Book, written by the medieval Egyptian historian al-Idrisi around 1230 A.D.1 Egyptologist Mark Lehner has added to this formidable body of work with his new book, The Complete Pyramids. Given the breadth of what is available, to call one’s book The Complete Pyramids shows considerable chutzpah. But Mark Lehner has some justification. Since 1979, when he began studying the history of the construction and reconstruction of the great Sphinx at Giza, he has haunted the Giza plateau, becoming intimately familiar with its contours and characteristics. Lehner’s knack for hooking ideas together into sweeping patterns has changed the way we look at the pyramids, especially the monumental structures of the Fourth Dynasty (2575–2465 B.C.), where his work has been concentrated.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.