The best books on ancient Egyptian tombs

Melinda Hartwig Author Of The Tomb Chapel of Menna (Tt 69): The Art, Culture, and Science of Painting in an Egyptian Tomb
By Melinda Hartwig

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was ten. I started my first project in Luxor, Egypt, when I was 21, and for the last 35+ years, these projects have uncovered the stories of Theban tomb owners and the times in which they lived. For this reason, I’ve chosen some of the most accessible books on ancient Egyptian tombs and their decoration. I hope that these books will excite you about the humanity of those who lived thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt.


I wrote...

The Tomb Chapel of Menna (Tt 69): The Art, Culture, and Science of Painting in an Egyptian Tomb

By Melinda Hartwig,

Book cover of The Tomb Chapel of Menna (Tt 69): The Art, Culture, and Science of Painting in an Egyptian Tomb

What is my book about?

This lavishly illustrated book offers an in-depth look at the tomb chapel of Menna, Theban Tomb 69, which is one of the most beautiful and complex painted tombs in ancient Egypt. Written by an international group of experts, the book offers a window into the life of the official Menna while discussing the artistic, cultural, and scientific significance of his tomb and its decoration.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Tomb in Ancient Egypt

By Aidan Dodson, Salima Ikram,

Book cover of The Tomb in Ancient Egypt

Why this book?

If you want to know more about the ancient Egyptians, look no further than their tombs. The ancient Egyptians built their stone sepulchers for eternity. Colored reliefs and paintings celebrated the king’s eternal cult, while elite, non-royal people recorded events of their everyday life and life in the hereafter. In this richly illustrated book, Dodson and Ikram offer a comprehensive view of ancient Egyptian mastabas, pyramids, and rock-cut tombs from Prehistory to the Greco-Roman Period and the meaning of their decoration. This book sits prominently on my bookshelf.


Life and Death in Ancient Egypt: Scenes from Private Tombs in New Kingdom Thebes

By Sigrid Hodel-Hoenes, David Warburton (translator),

Book cover of Life and Death in Ancient Egypt: Scenes from Private Tombs in New Kingdom Thebes

Why this book?

Books that examine the multiple meanings of ancient Egyptian tomb decoration in a number of tombs are depressingly rare. Hodel-Hoenes takes us on a tour of some of the most significant private tombs in the ancient necropolis of Thebes and discusses the content and symbolism of their colored reliefs and paintings in this profusely illustrated book. These tombs belong to high officials that served the king and many are not open to the public, which makes this book invaluable.


The Treasures of the Pyramids

By Zahi Hawass,

Book cover of The Treasures of the Pyramids

Why this book?

This overlooked coffee table book is a tour-de-force survey of the decorated mastabas, pyramids, and tombs of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Written by international experts and edited by the world-famous Zahi Hawass, Treasures of the Pyramids offers something for everyone. I assign many chapters in my undergraduate classes because they are concise, well-written in English by French and German experts, and profusely illustrated in color. 


The Treasures of the Valley of the Kings: Tombs and Temples of the Theban West Bank in Luxor

By Kent R. Weeks (editor), Araldo de Luca (photographer),

Book cover of The Treasures of the Valley of the Kings: Tombs and Temples of the Theban West Bank in Luxor

Why this book?

Another outstanding book in the Treasures series, this time edited by Kent Weeks. Written by a team of world-acknowledged experts, Treasures of the Valley of the Kings covers the greatest royal tombs, mortuary temples, and private tombs from the New Kingdom in brilliant color accompanied by informative text. Originally published in hardback in 2001 and reprinted in flexibound in 2020, the same text can be found in one of the best guidebooks of the Theban necropolis, The Treasures of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, also published by White Star. I always pack this guidebook when I’m leading tours.


Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs

By Regine Schulz,

Book cover of Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs

Why this book?

This massive 540-page book offers the reader everything to know about ancient Egypt. A group of international experts wrote Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs, which covers funerary art, tomb architecture, sculpture, and painting in an easy-to-read, lavishly illustrated book. Additional chapters explore ancient Egyptian history, culture, and religion. Appendixes include lists of gods, sites, museum collections, and a chronology with names of rulers. Numerous printings in hardback and softcover cover the same territory at an incredibly low cost—an indispensable volume and a required book in my classes. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in ancient Egypt, the Valley of the Kings, and Egypt?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ancient Egypt, the Valley of the Kings, and Egypt.

Ancient Egypt Explore 63 books about ancient Egypt
The Valley Of The Kings Explore 4 books about the Valley of the Kings
Egypt Explore 104 books about Egypt

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, From Atlantis to the Sphinx, and The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt if you like this list.