Letter: Pyramid publishing

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The Independent Online
Three cheers for Boyd Tonkin ("The real mystery of the Sphinx; why do falsehoods drive out truth?", 10 February), who goes straight to the heart of the matter of the huge increase in "alternative Egyptology" publications.

Most subjects have their shadowy sisters which feed on the lack of knowledge. These are tolerated, humoured or ignored by the academic world; think of alternative medicine, the authorship of Shakespeare's plays, or alchemy. Their popularity may reflect the public's healthy distrust of being told: "This is how it is, and there can be no argument about it." Publishers have rarely missed an opportunity to capitalise on it. But we should wake up to the real possibility that Egyptology as a serious subject gets confused in the public perception with theories which range from unorthodox to loony, and which at best ask questions without being able to provide satisfactory answers.

I have no problems explaining why the Egyptians built their pyramids, but could somebody please tell me why we are going to have the Millennium Dome?

JAROMIR MALEK

Griffith Institute

Ashmolean Museum

Oxford

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