Review – Tutankhamun’s Trumpet

Posted March 9, 2023 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Tutankhamun's Trumpet by Toby WilkinsonTutankhamun’s Trumpet: Ancient Egypt in 100 Objects, Toby Wilkinson

I love this style of history, selecting objects and focusing in on what they tell us, and I was hugely into Ancient Egyptian history when I was a teenager (obsessing in particular over Christine Desroches-Noblecourt’s book on Tutankhamun). So it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this in a partly nostalgic way.

Unlike some other books of this type, it doesn’t explicitly mention at the start of each section which object is being discussed. Sometimes the object introduces the history that Wilkinson wants to explore; sometimes there’s a description of the state of affairs too, and then Wilkinson brings in the object that illustrates that from the tomb. Sometimes the object is mentioned rather glancingly, which is somewhat disappointing: I love it when historians and archaeologists really focus in and look at the object as an object as well as a symbol of hundreds of years of history.

Overall, I found this enjoyable, and despite eagerly reading many books both specifically about Tutankhamun and more generally about Ancient Egypt, I definitely found new information and (perhaps even better) new interpretations here. I’m reading Bob Brier’s Tutankhamun and the Tomb that Changed the World right now, for example, and he only mentions the usual theory that the tombs of many past pharoahs were looted by robbers and their mummies rewrapped and rehidden by the state “to protect them from further desecration”. Wilkinson instead mentions state-sanctioned looting in Ramesses XI’s reign to fund General Paiankh’s campaigns — something I don’t recall reading about anywhere else before.

Definitely got on better with this than A World Beneath The Sands, which bodes well for the other Wilkinson book I have on my TBR pile.

Rating: 4/5

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2 responses to “Review – Tutankhamun’s Trumpet

  1. Faranae

    I also was obsessed with ancient Egypt as a child! And as a teen and… well right until the point in university when I realized that I was very interested in East Asia and also that archaeology is a field full of back-stabbing dicks and I hate writing papers. My last dive into Egyptology was a 12 week MOOC… in Spanish. Extremely good, but not one I can share easily! I’ll add this to my TBR.

    Speaking of ancient Egypt, did you ever run across the novel *Tomorrow’s Sphinx*? I loved that book, but I haven’t dared to reread it as an adult.

    • Yeah, it’d probably be fair to say I never quite grew out of it (though I never considered it as a career).

      I never read that! Now I’m curious.

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