Beneath the Sands of Egypt
Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D
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". . . valuable insight into 3,000 years of “grave digging” in the Valley of the Kings."
In 1989, Dr. Donald Ryan, American archeologist and Egyptologist, happened upon a startling find—an ancient, “lost” Egyptian queen, in the tombs of the “Valley of the Kings.” Ryan details the dramatic “rediscovery,” along with considerable detail about his work and himself, in “Beneath the Sands of Egypt.”
Three millennium after the Lord of Egypt Akheperkare Thutmose, the first King, was buried in the Theban Mountains, the tombs have been looted, flooded, and excavated numerous times while self-proclaimed archeologists, museum collectors and professionals have removed mummified human remains and artifacts.
Ryan, aware of the competitiveness to locate and document Egyptian artifacts, spent his career aggressively seeking opportunities to join excavation teams, including one studying Egyptian agriculture. Finally, in 1989, armed with experience and knowledge of Egyptian history and languages, he launched his own expedition.
As fortune would have it, Ryan and his team located what was considered a lost tomb, KV 60, opened and resealed in 1903 by the famed Howard Carter, noted for his discovering of the “King Tut” (Tutankhamun) tomb. Carter wrote KV 60 contained the mummified remains of a woman he believed to have been a nurse. According to Ryan, Carter was more interested in “bigger and better things: large royal tombs,” so he resealed the tomb.
When Ryan’s team reopened it, they recognized the female as noted by Carter. According to Ryan, her arms were positioned in a way that suggested to him she was an 18th-dynasty royal female, but unable to verify his suspicions, the tomb was again resealed. Years later, Ryan reopened the tomb and discovered the remains had been removed by the director of the newly established Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt for testing. The results were dramatic: The female was the long lost Queen of Hatshepsut.
Ryan’s details on the testing and about the Queen’s past life is meager at best. Instead, the larger part of the book focuses on Ryan’s personal experiences, people who inspired him and his mountaineering. Still, his book offers nuggets of valuable insight into 3,000 years of “grave digging” in the Valley of the Kings.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla