Egyptologists’ Notebooks

Egyptologists’ Notebooks was published in the UK by Thames and Hudson on 1 October 2020 and is available via and Blackwells or, if you prefer to buy your books via a local bookshop, via or In the US Notebooks is published by Getty Publications and is available from or from your local bookshop via Bookshop

I’m delighted to say that a further English-language edition has also been published in Egypt, with French, Spanish and Italian editions also now available (click the links for further details). A Chinese edition is also on the way – I’ll post details when I have them.

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To coincide with the launch of the book, Thames and Hudson published a couple of short articles online including ‘The Making of the Book: Egyptologists’ Notebooks‘ and ‘The unsung women of Egyptology‘.

Dr Stephanie Boonstra (L) of the Egypt Exploration Society and picture researcher Sally Nicholls with Howard Carter’s painting of a scene from the Temple of Hatsheput at Deir el-Bahri which features in the book.

I gave a series of online lectures on the various themes covered in the book during autumn 2020 which you can now watch via YouTube and here:

I also got to chat about the book for various radio shows and podcasts – a few of the highlights are as follows:

I got to speak to James Cuno, President and CEO, the J. Paul Getty Trust, for the Getty’s Art and Ideas podcast – see here. I had the latest in a long series of very enjoyable conversations with Dan Snow with the HistoryHit podcast which is available here. I spoke to Philip Adams about the history of Egyptology for his Late Night Live show on ABC National Radio in Australia (here), and to Izzy Lawrence for The British Museum Membercast (here), and Dr Paul Harrison for his Profane Egyptologists podcast (here).

The writing and research for the book one kept me busy for most of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. Getting to see at first hand some of the unpublished sketches, notes, letters and other documents relating to the Egyptologists featured in the book was a great thrill and privilege and I’m really excited to be able to share some of it with you if also frustrated that I couldn’t include more as there’s so much great stuff. There wasn’t scope in the book to go into all the various themes in great detail, but I have subsequently given a bit more attention to one or two of the things that seemed to me to be of particular interest or importance in a couple of blog posts, specifically ‘Decolonising, Egyptology & the dirty little secret‘ and ‘The Lost ‘Baths of Cleopatra’’

Otherwise, for a little more on the book itself, here’s what the publisher, Thames & Hudson, says:

For centuries the beguiling ancient ruins of Egypt have provided an endless source of fascination for explorers, antiquarians, treasure hunters and archaeologists. All, from the very earliest travellers, were entranced by the beauty and majesty of the landscape: the remains of tombs cut into the natural rock of hillsides and the temples and cities gently consumed by drift sand. These early adventurers were gripped by the urge to capture what they had seen in writings, sketches, paintings and photographs.

While it was always the scholars – the Egyptologists – who were in charge, they depended on architects, artists, engineers and photographers. Yet when we think of Petrie, we think of Sir William Matthew Flinders, not of his wife Hilda. Only through reading their diaries and letters has it come to be realized how important she and other partners were. Similarly the role played by Egyptian workers, digging on archaeological projects and maintaining relations with the local landowners, is only just coming to be appreciated.

Egyptologists’ Notebooks brings together the work – reproduced in its original form – of the many people who contributed to our understanding of ancient Egypt, offering a glimpse into a very different history of Egyptology. They evoke a rich sense of time and place, transporting us back to a great age of discovery.

Table of Contents

Introduction: These Rough Notes • An Untouched Antique Land: Athanasius Kircher; George Sandys; Frederik Ludwig Norden; Richard Pococke • Artists, Expeditions and Nationalist Competition: Dominique Vivant Denon; Pascal Xavier Coste; Frédéric Cailliaud; William John Bankes; James Burton; Edward William Lane; Robert Hay; Jean-François Champollion; Nestor l’Hôte; John Gardner Wilkinson; Hector Horeau; Karl Richard Lepsius • Archaeology Begins: Giovanni Battista Belzoni; Jean-Jaques Rifaud; Joseph Hekekyan; Luigi Vassalli; Tombs, Mummies and Treasure; Amelia Edwards; W. M. F. Petrie; Marianne Brocklehurst; Victor Loret; Percy Newberry; Howard Carter; Norman & Nina de Garis Davies • Temples, Towns and Cities: George Andrew Reisner; Ernesto Schiaparelli; Hassan Effendi Hosni; John Pendlebury; Walter Bryan Emery