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June 16, 1985|E. W. ALEXANDER

THE TOMB-BUILDERS OF THE PHAROAHS by Morris Bierbrier (Scribner's: $15.95). Volumes have been written about Egypt's tombs, but we know little of the men who spent their lives building them. Morris Bierbrier, who has studied Egyptology at the universities of Toronto and Liverpool, colorfully reconstructs the daily activities of the members of a tomb-building construction crew and a picture of the workers' principle residence, the village of Dier el-Medina. The history of this village and its inhabitants is preserved on stela and ostraca (stone fragments), as well as papyrus and hieroglyphics. Egyptians were prodigious record-keepers; not even minute details evaded them. Remarkably, some attendance records have survived, where we discover that mummifying friends or relatives, taking time off to worship a god and scorpion bites were all acceptable excuses for being absent from work. The small size of this book belies its content and value. It provides a full chronology of the Egyptian dynasties and is supplemented by 100 photographs and illustrations. And best of all, you do not have to have a Ph.D. in Egyptology to enjoy this book, just a healthy curiousity about ancient lives and times.

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