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Egypt: Secrets of the Sand cover image

Egypt: Secrets of the Sand 2002

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Chip Taylor Communications, 2 East View Drive, Derry, NH 03038-4812; 800-876-CHIP (2447)
Produced by ABC Australia
Director n/a
VHS, color, 20 min.

College - Adult
Archaeology, Anthropology, Middle Eastern Studies, History

Date Entered: 12/02/2005

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

The pyramids of the Giza plateau have existed for more than five thousand years, and their fascination has not diminished. What may be surprising to most people is that new discoveries are made on almost a daily basis, and each discovery serves to re-write Egyptian history as well as unlock other mysteries.

If one theme seems to dominate Egyptian history it is the drive for immortality. Ancient Egyptians—not just Pharaohs—wanted to be with their families. Details of daily life are painted on the walls of tombs, providing important information about the people who lived on the Giza plateau. Here are details of the lives of ordinary citizens: accountants, viziers, doctors, and architects.

Dr. Zahi Hawass is the archaeologist and conservator of Egypt’s treasures “and no one touches a grain of Giza sand without his say-so.” Dr. Hawass indicates that only 30% of the ancient monuments have been unearthed, leaving 70% yet to be discovered. He encourages scholars to publish what is unpublished and correct what early archaeologists published, much of which is wrong information. The old scholars are a source, but new information needs to correct earlier misconceptions. One of the most prevailing bits of misinformation is that the pyramids were built by slaves. Recent discoveries provide an entirely different picture—that the townspeople around Giza were all involved with building pyramids as a paid workforce, not slave labor.

Dr. Hawass tells of one wall where the hieroglyphics describe one hundred items: food, wine, and daily activities. Another wall has faded and its hieroglyphics have disappeared over the last 50 years. Archaeologists are shown making ink tracings of the walls. The digging season is brief, but the need to publish pushes them to work long hours to try and maximize their efforts. Environmental pollution threatens Egypt’s treasures. Scholars need to publish what they find before the artifacts and monuments are lost forever.

Technical aspects of this video are mixed. Camera work and editing are good, but sound quality is poor and in places it’s hard to understand what’s being said. An appropriate musical background accompanies this documentary about a people who were obsessed with life and wanted to live forever even after death. Egypt: Secrets of the Sand provides valuable information about the current status of Egyptology and the archaeology of this important region.

Another excellent title in the Middle East Studies Series. Highly recommended for general library collections and academic libraries with Middle Eastern studies and/or collections.