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Ancient Egypt: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – October 21, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0192854193 ISBN-10: 0192854194

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854193
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Ian Shaw is Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Liverpool. He is currently involved in fieldwork at the Gebel el-Asr gneiss quarrying region in Upper Egypt. His books include The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, and Exploring Ancient Egypt.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Pekkanen on January 24, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Be careful to buy this book only if you want to learn about Egyptology as an academic discipline, more than about what scholars think really went on in ancient Egypt. This book is a learned and fascinating introduction to the study of ancient Egypt. If you are looking to understand how scholars painstakingly piece together tiny shards of ambiguous and insufficient evidence to construct an understanding of ancient Egypt, this is your book. If you seek a primer the current state of knowledge on life, religion, politics, culture, and society in ancient Egypt, you should probably buy another book. I bought the book out of a desire to learn more about what current scholarly thinking about ancient Egypt in order to open up a window on that fascinating civilization. Instead, I discovered a compelling (if dry) narrative on how Egyptologists work and reach conclusions. This is a really interesting topic in its own right, and, of course, it is fundamental to evaluating what is presented as "what we know" about ancient Egypt in an intelligent fashion. However, you might not want to spend time learning about Egyptology, but instead want to learn about ancient Egypt. If so, this is likely not the book for you right now.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on December 3, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title of this excellent entry in an excellent series should be 'Egyptology', as it is more about the study of ancient Egypt than the history itself. At 190 pages, it is a little longer than many entries in this series, but the final 30 of those pages are References, Timeline and so on, which provide a good springboard for further study.

Pharaonic Egypt was Earth's first great empire and it lasted for 3 millennia. The author examines the way in which that civilization has been perceived, interpreted and mythologized by, among others, Victorians seeking verification of Biblical stories and by modern, popular culture.

Ian Shaw writes well and comes across as an erudite and objective scholar. He has not used this book as an opportunity to put forward any unorthodoxy of his own, and has not been afraid to include many quotations from other Egyptologists. All of this makes the book a perfect introduction to this fascinating subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Doehne on July 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
For someone who dreams of becoming an archaeologist or another Indiana Jones, this book provides an amusing and bracing dose of reality. The title, unfortunately, leads you to think the book is about Ancient Egypt rather than the study of it, a mistake that doesn't immediately become clear upon reading if you skip the Preface. It sneaks up on you, as you gradually realize that the book mentions Flinders Petrie rather more than Ramesses, and that the dates it gives are those of discoveries and publications rather than dynasties and kingdoms. The main text doesn't actually state that the book covers Egyptology rather than Ancient Egypt itself until midway through the last chapter. By that time, it's become pretty obvious; the actual sequence of Ancient Egyptian history has not yet shown up -- it's found only in an appendix -- but the various issues in Egyptian archaeology have been well covered.

Fortunately, the author wields a dry wit, without putting on a gossipy tone. Shaw acknowledges both the successes and mistakes of earlier archaeologists, with a spice of opinion; one section he titled "Wilbour's Phonecian Rolls, Petrie's New Race, and other embarrasments". His skewering of the "New Age" appropriation of the ancient Egyptians is delightfully understated and devastating. I enjoyed the book enough to read particularly good bits of it to my spouse, and found it easy to read. Out of a large stack of fiction and non-fiction I'm working my way through, it came quickly to my hands.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the science of archaeology, ancient history, or interest in what we really know about ancient Egypt.
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