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The search for Nefertiti – a book review

February 17, 2013

Book cover "The Search for Nefertiti"
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“The Search for Nefertiti” by Joanne Fletcher is not only about Nefertiti. It is a book about a journey.

If you only want to know about Joann’s work regarding an unknown female mummy and how this may or may not be Nefertiti, you’re better off just watching the documentary which Discovery Channel made about it.
This book gives a lot more background.
Joann explains how she came to love Egypt, talks about studying Egyptology and about the people she knows in Egypt. At first it seems a bit awkward and I found myself wondering if I really needed to know all this. By the time I had finished the book, however, I had a complete picture of how a woman from Barnsley (which coincidentally is where I live) got to the point where she was allowed to examine a mummy in tomb KV35.

This research was done in 2003 and the book is from 2004, so it’s to be expected that by now (2013) we know more about this mummy. At the time Fletcher explained in her book that in Egyptology nothing is certain and she claims it’s plausible that this mummy is Nefertiti. I don’t think I have ever heard her say (or saw it in her writing) that she is 100% certain. Strange enough, people still seem to think she practically put her foot down and claimed she had found Nefertiti. Period.
True enough, the research and published results are controversial. And it has since been claimed, based on DNA testing that this mummy (known as the Younger Lady) is in fact Tutankhamun’s mother. That would mean Joann Fletcher was wrong.
But remember, nothing in Egyptology is really certain and I have read various discussions online about this particular DNA test and DNA testing on mummies which are thousands of years old in general and I think the last has not been said about it. Nevertheless I have no issues with the conclusion that the Younger Lady very likely is not Nefertiti.

So, where does that leave us in regards to this book?
Well, let me compare this to other ‘older’ books – actually, books that appear positively ancient compared to this one which is now ‘only’ 9 years old. Even if information in a book has been proven to be wrong or outdated it can still be valuable. I, for one, am currently studying Egyptology because Joann Fletcher’s passion re-ignited my own passion for Egyptology and hunger for knowledge. I find the continuing search for one of Egypt’s best known personalities fascinating and I expect a lot of people will wrongly claim other mummies are her. The result will very likely be further investigation (not in the least to prove the claimant wrong). Just imagine what we can learn!

All in all, I think this is still a good read. It’s an enjoyable way to see someone’s journey from student to fame, controversy and all.

As a side note: I have recently met Joann Fletcher when she gave a lecture in Barnsley. She is still very passionate about Egyptology and gave me a big grin when I told her I study the same subject now. Yes, I am still very much a fan.

Lecture by Joann Fletcher
Joann Fletcher answering questions after a lecture
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