Paul Sussman is a freelance journalist and has written extensively for The Big Issue, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Evening Standard, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday
and the Spectator.

Paul Sussman’s fascination with archaeology stems from regular weekly visits to the British Museum as a young boy. He graduated from childhood “mudlarking” on the banks of the Thames to local archaeological societies, and from these, to digs in London and other parts of the country.

Graduating with a history degree from Cambridge, his main passion has always been Egyptian archaeology, and in 1998 he was invited to join the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, the first expedition to be allowed to dig new ground in the Valley of the Kings since Tutankhamun was discovered in 1922. He worked with the project for four seasons both as a field archaeologist and diarist (see www.valleyofthekings.org), during which time he led the re-excavation of the so-called Gold Tomb (KV56) – believed by some to be the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti. Among other finds he was responsible for discovering the first piece of ancient jewellery to be found in the Valley for over 80 years.

Sussman has always been drawn to, and fascinated by desert spaces and in particular the legend of the lost oasis of the Zerzura. Supposedly a paradise of lush palms and bubbling springs, Zerzura is said to lie somewhere in the burning wastes of the Libyan desert. It was first mentioned in a thirteenth century manuscript written by Osman el-Nabulsi, the governor of Fayyum, who talks about an abandoned oasis somewhere in the desert to the south-west of Fayyum. The nineteenth century saw growing academic interest both in the Sahara and in the idea of a lost oasis, which continued right through to the middle of the twentieth century.

Sussman himself spent three weeks in the Dakhla Oasis during a research trip for the novel, staying with a Bedouin family on the outskirts of Mut.

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