In a part of Egypt so parched that decades might pass between rainstorms, amid a sea of sand, is a green island—Dakhleh, the “everlasting oasis”—that may contain the whole of human history. In this extraordinary book, an acclaimed science writer and journalist follows an international team of archaeologists as they unlock the secrets of nearly half a million years. Using high-tech methods, these scientists have made stunning finds, including indications that Dakhleh may have been the cradle of the Nile civilization that gave rise to the pharaohs and the pyramids. They have unearthed a perfect Old Kingdom town, with palaces and temples from the Golden Age, huge caches of mummies and papyri, and the world's two oldest books, and have located an entire Roman city—a Pompeii in the middle of the desert. Blending elements of adventure narrative, travelogue, and scientific mystery, Secrets of the Sands also traces on a grand historical scale the story of how humans have interacted with the changing environment, laying bare a parable with relevance to us all about the fragile balance between humankind and our world.