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The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford Illustrated Histories) Hardcover – December 14, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0198150343 ISBN-10: 0198150342 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Illustrated Histories
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (December 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198150342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198150343
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the most vexing problems in Egyptology is the question of establishing reliable chronologies, whether through relative methods such as stratigraphy and the dating of artifacts or through more absolute time horizons established by astronomical ephemera or radiometric dating. In this overview of ancient Egypt--meant for advanced students, but accessible to general readers with an interest in the area--Ian Shaw and 13 contributors pay close attention to issues of chronology, reconciling conflicts of dating that mark older scholarship.

While doing so, they address other problems in the study of ancient Egypt, such as the lack of material evidence of early humans in the region and the increasing destruction of sites in the face of contemporary urban growth. Elsewhere, they remark on the principal developments that distinguish periods in Egyptian prehistory, such as the Old Kingdom's use of large-scale building projects to consolidate power and "remind people of the greatness of pharaonic civilization," and the Middle and New kingdoms' apparent openness to foreigners, which lent Egypt a cosmopolitan, multicultural air that persisted for centuries during long periods of domination by outside powers such as Persia and Rome. Highly useful as a reference and survey, this handsomely illustrated book is a fine addition to any Egyptophile's collection. --Gregory McNamee

Review

`This splendid, lavishly ilustrated book is the only single-volume work to cover 700,000 years of Ancient Egypt from the stone age to Roman conquest.' Roddy Phillips, Aberdeen Press and Journal, 30th Sept. 00.

`an excellent choice for enthusiasts and novices alike; even better if you can persuade someone to buy for you as a present.' Roddy Phillips, Press and Journal, 30th Sept. 00.

`This splendid, lavishly illustrated book is the only single-volume work to cover 700,000 years of Ancient Egypt from the stone age to Roman conquest ... Lucidly edited by Ian Shaw ... you get the facts without the dust.' Roddy Phillips, Press and Journal, 30th Sept. 00.

`From the Stone Age to the Roman occupation in the fourth centry AD, the mighty Egyptian dynasties are brought to life in almost 450 pages ... never anything but deeply informative, without losing sight of the essential attribute of any book - readability.' Peter Leach, North West Evening Mail, Sat 7th Oct 2000.

`both stimulating to the casual reader or keen-to-learn holiday maker and the serious student alike.' Peter Leach, North West Evening Mail, Sat 7th Oct 2000.

`The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is brimming with ... intriguing facts ... it also provides a first-rate overview of - le progress Egyptien - from the period when Homo erectus first stalked the land right up to Octavian's triumphant entry into Egypt in 30 BC.' Douglas Kennedy, The Times, 11th Oct. 2000.

`The approach combines traditional chronological history with cultural and social historical material to produce a well rounded picture.' Antiquity 75

`chapters covering prehistory and the intermediate periods are particularly good, with Seidlmayer on the First Intermediate Period and Bourriau on the Second Intermediate Period outstanding. Bryan's chapter on the 18th Dynasty before the Amarna Period is also particularly good.' Antiquity 75

`If you only want to read one book on Egypt, then read this one.' The Northern Echo

`even people who consider themselves as experts on Ancient Egypt will find much to set them thinking: And while such Egyptologists will have a field day, the casual reader will find plenty to arouse their interest, ranging from the story of the world's first strike ... to the revelation that Scotland Yard possesses a print taken from the hand of a mummy.' The Northern Echo

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Customer Reviews

I am glad to have this book on my shelf.
Craig Matteson
As a prerequisite for reading this book I would recommend something lighter and more cohesive such as "A History of Ancient Egypt" by Grimal.
Neutiquam Erro
This is an enormous task, and one might assume that the book could only be very summary and superficial in its treatment of each period.
Nom de Guerre

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

214 of 221 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Bailey on January 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I cannot praise this book enough. Unfortunately in academic areas, introductions and overviews to various fields, particularly broad histories, tend to reflect the opinions and suppositions of the authors much more than render the actual environment they are working in. This book proves to be a rare exception to this sad fact and sets a standard of scholarship to be emulated by all researchers of the ancient world. Never in egyptology, assyriology, or biblical studies have I found a history that did such a wonderful job of laying out the textual and archaeological finds that scholars base their judgments upon. This is important to me, as I am in disagreement with many scholarly communities about issues of chronology. This book, rather than simply laying out tables and dates, supplements those tables with actual references to the texts and archaeological items that have lead scholars to date things the way they have, pointing out inconsistancies and uncertainties along the way.
After reading this book, I have become convinced that the history of Egypt is not as well known as most books on Egypt would have us believe.
The book is a mammoth undertaking, attempting to chronicle the history of Egypt from prehistory until 311 BC. Introductory sections on the state of research and certainty of chronolology are extremely enlightening. I was particularly impressed with the chapters on prehistory and the naqada culture, in which the archeological evidence and its interpretation were expressely explained to the reader, allowing the reader to agree or disagree with the authors as they wish. My only complaint is that the book, being an anthology of essays by a variety of scholars, shows some inconsistancy in its thoroughness.
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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Nom de Guerre on February 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a quote expresses on the back of this book, "If you only want to read one book on Egypt, then read this one." Ian Shaw's history of ancient Egypt is a beautifully constructed volume that is at once densely packed with information and high in its level of scholarship, and aesthetically appealing and fairly accessible. The book surveys Egyptian history from 700,000 years before the present through the Roman period (ending in AD 395). This is an enormous task, and one might assume that the book could only be very summary and superficial in its treatment of each period. However, every member of Shaw's team of scholars manages to describe his or her period of expertise in a good amount of detail, discussing not only historical events but also art, religion, economics, and material culture. The book thus very successfully follows current trends in history of approaching periods from myriad points of view. Equally importantly, each author discusses the current problems and debates in the scholarship of his or her field. The multi-author approach allows the reader insight into the nature of research for each stage of Egyptian history: the reader gets a sense of the way in which research is conducted, the modes of analysis applied, and the style and terms of discussion. This book serves as an introduction to Egyptian historiography and to the nature of the study of ancient history almost as much as it serves as an introduction to ancient Egypt itself. Thus, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt manages a high level of scholarship while remaining a useful survey of a huge span of time and culture.Read more ›
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Neutiquam Erro on April 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is really more of an encyclopedia than a narrative history. Each of its 15 chapters is written by a different author, presumably an expert in the particular time period under study. This lends itself to a disjointed style as each author presents an overwhelming welter of archeological facts in an effort to deal with their own view of the controversies in the assigned area. While no doubt providing the experienced Egyptologist with fine details is important, the casual reader will find the book a dense and confusing read. The details of stone-age arrowhead manufacture or the various types of thrown pottery in the First Intermediate Period tend to obscure the bigger picture. As a prerequisite for reading this book I would recommend something lighter and more cohesive such as "A History of Ancient Egypt" by Grimal.

That said, the book is definitely a significant resource for anyone interested in Egyptian history. It covers the Egyptian state from prehistory through its incorporation into the Roman empire. Three chapters cover the pre-dynastic period including one on the Paleolithic period, one on the Naqada period and one entitled "Emergence of the Egyptian State" (Dynasties 0-2). Subsequent chapters for the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms (2 chapters for the last of these) and the Intermediate Periods follow. A rather strange and slightly redundant chapter, entitled "Egypt and the Outside World" is located just prior to the article on the Third Intermediate period. Its insertion here seems an afterthought as it covers the material of several preceding chapters using a topical, rather than chronologic, approach. Finally, several shorter chapters cover the Late Period, the Ptolemaic Period and the Roman Period.
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