When someone talks about looking for the tombs of people like Imhotep, Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, I think there’s always a chance that it could go the wrong way and turn out to be weird fabrications and confabulations piled on top of wishful thinking. Fortunately, Naunton’s book isn’t that at all, despite discussing the chances of finding those graves (and several others). Instead, he lays out the facts very clearly, describes the differing interpretations of the existing facts and the theories about where to look, and then — as far as I can tell, not being an Egyptologist — weighs them up in a down to earth, matter-of-fact analysis. The fabulous potential riches of Herihor’s tomb are cut down to size, and hopes of finding Imhotep’s tomb undisturbed are gently dissuaded.
Which sounds unfun, perhaps, but Naunton’s discussion of the past work and current findings are pretty fascinating to me, even if the conclusion is that we’ve probably already found as much as we’re going to find in one case or another. He doesn’t totally dismiss things that genuinely remain possible, but he’s pragmatic about it, and rightfully sceptical of things like refusal to reveal methods of analysis (for example in the case of the scanning done in Tutankhamen’s tomb that allegedly clearly showed another room, which can’t be replicated by other teams).
Fascinating stuff to me — I ate it up.