Empress of the Nile : the daredevil archaeologist who saved Egypt's ancient temples from destruction
"In the 1960s, the world's attention was focused on a nail-biting race against time--an international campaign to save over a dozen ancient Egyptian temples, built during the height of the pharaohs' rule, from drowning in the floodwaters of the gigantic new Aswan High Dam. But the massive press coverage of this unprecedented rescue effort completely overlooked the feisty French archaeologist who made it all happen. Without the intervention of Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, the temples--including the Met Museum's Temple of Dendur--would now be at the bottom of a gigantic reservoir. It was a project of unimaginable size and complexity that required the fragile sandstone temples to be dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt on higher ground. A willful, real-life version of Indiana Jones, Desroches-Noblecourt refused to be cowed by anyone or anything. As a brave member of the French Resistance in WWII she had survived imprisonment by the Nazis; in her fight to save the temples she had to face down two of the most daunting leaders of the postwar world, Egyptian President Abdel Nasser and French President Charles de Gaulle. As she told one reporter, "You don't get anywhere without a fight, you know." Yet Desroches-Noblecourt was not the only woman who played a crucial role in the endeavor. The other one was Jacqueline Kennedy, America's new First Lady, who persuaded her husband to call on Congress to help fund the rescue effort. After a century and a half of Western plunder of Egypt's ancient monuments, Desroches-Noblecourt had done the opposite. She had helped preserve a crucial part of its cultural heritage and, just as important, made sure it remained in its homeland"-- Provided by publisher.