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Reviewed by Dr. Jordan Alexander for Readers' Favorite
Egyptian Places: An Illustrated Travelogue by Henry David Ayon presents over two hundred colored and sepia drawings of inspiring and majestic temples and tombs. The book takes readers on a cultural and visual voyage down the Nile while enjoying explanations of the built forms. Architects and geographers will appreciate the multiple viewpoints offered in drawings of popular attractions from the Great Giza Pyramid to the ruins of Karnak and Luxor. His eye as an architect allows Ayon to create drawings that play on the changing daylight to capture these masterpieces in the way that was intended when they were built. The dark, fire-lit sanctuary contrasts the full sunlight of the temple forecourt. Including human forms to indicate scale, or blue sky to contrast earth and other worlds, Ayon impressively emphasizes the magnitude, patterns, and building materials of statues, tombs, and entranceways. Readers will feel a sense of wonder and learn why, three thousand years later, these creations continue to captivate.
Egyptian Places is also a personal story. Since his early days as an architect, Egypt has proven to be exotic and mysterious to Henry David Ayon, the artist, and author of the compilation. As a young graduate, he worked on a model of the Temple of Dendur (completed 10 BC) recreating it in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His early passion was rekindled decades later by a trip to Egypt that inspired the collection. Ayon shares his views not only on the pyramids and temples but also on the culture and mystery that continues to entice people around the globe to visit Egypt and embrace its mythology and iconography. The circle is the symbol of life and rebirth. He also explains that the great sun god Amun-Ra is reborn each day and is represented in etchings as a massive solar disk. Bringing readers to the present, Ayon writes about the contrasts of twenty-first-century Egypt, where the great monuments dwarf kiosks with Barbie-like Isis dolls and plastic scarabs near the local McDonald’s. The legacy and lure of Egypt and its wonders will continue to captivate travelers for years to come. This book is an inspiring appetizer for those seeking a deeper insight into appreciating these brilliant and enduring works of art.