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The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt Hardcover – May 26, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Egyptologist Wilkinson presents a clear, comprehensive and beautifully illustrated (in color and b&w) guide to the bewildering array of Egyptian deities-a complete catalogue of gods and goddesses supplemented by examinations of the history of Egyptian religion, the rise and fall of the gods, and the ways in which they were worshipped. Ancient Egypt was, Wilkinson writes, the most theocratic of any ancient culture; religion pervaded daily life for comoners as well as the pharaohs. This volume underscores the richness of ancient Egyptian beliefs: literally scores of deities are discussed, grouped by appearance: male anthropomorphic, female anthropomorphic, mammalian, avian, etc. For each god or goddess, the author discusses its mythology, iconography and forms of worship. Amun, or Amun-Re, for instance, one of the major male anthropomorphic gods, is discussed as creator god, solar god and fertility god, among other roles; he was originally portrayed with the color red; and he was honored with temples at Karnak and Luxor. This is an excellent reference work for budding Egyptologists and anyone fascinated by the culture of ancient Egypt.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Wilkinson's gorgeously illustrated book adds new dimension to popular literature on ancient Egypt, for it is a handy dictionary of divinities and a comprehensive analysis of the land's theology and religious history. Readers will be drawn in by the copious fine reproductions of classic Egyptian art--some familiar, such as the dual portrait of Nefertiti and Akhnaten, but most not, including the intriguing gold-painted wooden images of the sky-cow Isis-Mehet. Most of the photographs are black-and-white, but of such high quality and detail that they are more than merely serviceable. And once readers open the book to look at the pictures, they well may stay to read the well-organized, comprehensive, clearly written text. In addition to history and theology, Wilkinson offers excellent sociological sections on everyday religion, including discussion of divination and offerings to the gods by ordinary people, and on the relationship of the ruling classes, especially the pharaohs, to the gods. A handsome, valuable general reference. Patricia Monaghan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: The Complete Series
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1St Edition edition (May 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500051208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500051207
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gunther on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Wilkinson's latest book (he has previously written "Reading Egyptian Art," "Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art," and "The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt") presents the reader with an impressive selection of all the major gods and goddesses, and many of the minor ones, of ancient Egypt. Although hardly "complete" in the technical sense (Wilkinson discusses "only" 500 of Egypt's 1500 or so deities, and much more could be said about the ones he does discuss), the book is fairly "complete" in a practical sense: most gods that most readers want to look up, will get at least a brief mention. For example, you will find here the 24 Hours of the Day and Night, 12 (of 21) Gates of the Underworld, all 42 Gods of Judgement, and all 42 (hmm... there's that number again!) Nome Deities.
The book begins with twelve brief essays (4-6 pages each) on Egyptian religion, covering such topics as creation myths, manifestations of divinity, temple and popular worship, and divine kingship. The essays are thoughtful, informative, and up-to-date with current scholarship. I wish they had been longer, because they deserve to be expanded at greater length than the book allocates to them.
The rest of the book, some 180 pages, is devoted to a "Catalogue of Deities," organized by biological shape (anthropomorphic male and female, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and inanimate objects). This is a great idea, but it could have been taken even further. A visual index of shapes would make lookup much easier, and would only take an additional page or two. A name index is, of course, provided. Why not give a hieroglyphic index as well?
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Artemesia on July 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with the other reviewers - beautifully illustrated, mostly in full color. It is comprehensive yet particularly the first half of the book is easy to read in it's entirety. The first part of the book covers general concepts of Egyptian Religion and the deities. The second covers individual deities in detail.

I had been looking for a book on Ancient Egyptian religion and deities which was neither outdated in its ideas, nor sterile or boring, nor full of fluff, nor overwhelmed with dense detail, nor assumed detailed prior knowledge of anthropology, archeology or African/Near Eastern history and religion. This book is it. It is beautifully clear and explains how Egyptian views of each deity changed over time. It clearly presents for each deity what syncretism occurred (merging with other gods or the adoption of other gods' attributes) with time. It contains some of the most recent thinking on how the Egyptians might have viewed their own deities. My only minor negative would be that there are no references or footnotes in the text itself for the expert. However, within the body of the text, the author does mention which academics advanced which important concepts and coupled with the extensive and detailed bibliography arranged by subject matter at the end of the book, this minor gripe is assuaged.

The binding and quality of the book, its print, and illustrations are beautiful - it would make a lovely gift for someone.

Easy to read for both the beginner and the non-beginner in this area, but full of crystal clear detail for one who wants a good reference book even for more advanced students of religion.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Compiled and written by Richard H. Wilkinson (Professor and Directory of the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition), and enhanced with 338 illustrations (132 in full-color), The Complete Gods And Goddesses Of Ancient Egypt is a straightforward introduction to Egyptian mythology and iconography, offering comprehensive details about both major and minor deities. Organized into five general categories (Rise and Fall of the Gods; Nature of the Gods; Worship of the Gods; Kingship and the Gods; and The Catalogue of Deities), The Complete Gods And Goddesses Of Ancient Egypt is a first-rate, strongly recommended resource and reference for writers, historians, and lay readers curious about the mythologies of the Egyptian culture over a period of more than two thousand years.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Justin on September 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first got this I was intending to learn more about the Egyptian Gods & Goddesses from a mythological perspective. I thought that I was purchasing a book about the Egyptian Gods that were stories similar to the Greek Gods. I was looking for something purely mythological. If that is what you are looking to do, this book is not for you. However, if you are looking to study the Gods & Goddesses from a purely historical sense, then I would highly recommend this. Most of what I read is the historical origins, such as where each deity was created & by what group of people. There is a section that provides a catalogue of the deities which lists each deity, their area of origin, what they represented in the mythology, their appearance, & the most common form of worship to each deity. An example would be Anubis. It discusses that he was a funerary god, a possible origin of why Anubis is given the form of a jackal, & which Egyptian nome worshipped him the most.
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