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The Amarna Letters
The Amarna Letters
by William L. Moran
Edition: Paperback
Price: $35.00
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the Amarna letters, March 8, 2007
This review is from: The Amarna Letters (Paperback)
William Moran's book is the most comprehensive and thorough analysis of the Amarna letters. It is well organised, well-sourced and deals primarily with the 350+ clay tablets that Moran was able to personally inspect for himself in the 1970's and 1980's. There can be little surprise that Moran's study is today considered to be the standard translation of the archive of Amarna letters by most scholars. Contrary to a certain book review here, Moran never actually comes out in favour or in opposition of the theory of a co-regency between Akhenaten and his father Amenhotep III. He only outlines the implications of both scenarios on the chronology of the foreign letters in the introduction to his book. (see pp.xxxiv-p.xxxvix) As an Assyriologist, the author rightfully leaves such speculation to Egyptologists and is non-committal on the coregency issue. Moran merely writes: "Another and, depending on one's interpretation of the letter, a possibly even more serious crux concerns the reading of the hieratic docket on EA 27: '[yea]r 2" or "[yea]r 12'? It raises, on one reading of the letter, the vexing and still unsettled question of the co-regency of Amenophis IV (ie: Akhenaten) with his father (ie. Amenhotep III). The letter is addressed to the former, and probably not long after the latter's (ie. Amenhotep III's) death. If so, and if the first reading is correct, then a short co-regency remains a possibility, but it would have to be established, not from the Amarna letters, but from other evidence. But if the second is right, then a co-regency, and a long one of ten years or so, seems inescapable." (p.xxxvii-xxxviii)

Since the publication of Moran's work, most Egyptologists have now generally agreed that the hieratic docket on letter EA 27 from Tushratta to Akhenaten should be read as Year 2 rather than Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign. (see Nicholas Reeves' 2000 book "Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet", p.77) This virtually guarantees that there was either no coregency between Akhenaten and his father Amenhotep III or a short one lasting 1 year at the most. William Murnane himself rejected the idea of a co-regency between Akhenaten and Amenhotep III in his seminal 1977 "Ancient Egyptian Coregencies" study although he was open to the idea of other hypothethical royal coregencies between Seti I and Ramesses II.

Moran's book is invaluable because he demonstrates that the conventional view that Pharaoh Amenhotep III requested Tushratta to forward him a statue of the healing god Ishtar to cure him of his ill-health in his final years is untenable based on a careful reading of the precise contents of Amarna letters EA 21 and EA 23 which deals with this matter. Instead, Moran shows that king Tushratta of Mitanni states he forwarded the statue to Amenhotep III in order to bless the marriage between Tadukhepa, Tushratta's daughter, with Amenhotep III in Year 36 of the latter's reign. Moran perceptively notes that Tushratta never once claims in these two letters that the statue's dispatch to Egypt was meant to cure Amenhotep III of his various ailments. While Professor Moran died in 2000, his book provides a bright legacy to future students of Ancient History and has undoubtedly increased our understanding of the Amarna tablets and their complex translations and meanings. It has certainly found a place of honor and respect in the world's major academic libraries as it has in my own private collection.


The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt: A Genealogical Sourcebook of the Pharaohs
The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt: A Genealogical Sourcebook of the Pharaohs
by Aidan Dodson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $43.49
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book by Dodson, October 25, 2006
This is a typically well-written and thorough book by the British Egyptologist Dr. Aidan Dodson and his counterpart Dyan Hilton. It is an excellent follow up to Dodson's 1998 book--"Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity." Dodson copes well with the task of listing the more than 1,300 known family members of Ancient Egypt's royal familes starting from Narmer, the first king of Egypt who unified the country down to Cleopatra. The illustrations are of impeccable quality as one would expect from a book publisher such as Thames & Hudson. His geneaological tables are first rate and highly important because he connects the links between a king and his numerous family members.

While the price is a bit on the high side, Dodson compensates by including the latest and most up to date research and bibliography for Ancient Egypt including Kim Ryholt's 1997 study of the Second Intermediate Period which strongly suggest that the 16th Dynasty was a Theban, rather than a Hyksos, kingdom. (pp.116, 118 & 290) Dodson now acknowledges that a certain Neferneferuaten who ruled Egypt in the interval between Akhenaten's death and Tutankhamun's accession was a woman and not the male king Smenkhkare as he had previously maintained. As Dodson writes: "Definitive evidence as to Neferneferuaten's gender was revealed by James Allen...at the April 2004 meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt." Allen reported that an "examination of palimpest inscriptions of Neferneferuaten on objects reused in Tutankhamun's tomb (on a pectoral and on the canopic coffinettes) have shown conclusively that...the former use the epithet sh-n-h.s, [meaning] 'effective for her husband'. This makes impossible the reconstruction put forward in Dodson 2003, which viewed Smenkhkare and Neferneferuaten as one and the same." (pp.150 & 285, note No.111)

The authors also accept David Aston's likely correct JEA 75 (1989) proposal that Shoshenq III was the direct successor of the 22nd Dynasty Pharaoh Osorkon II at Tanis rather than Takelot II as most scholars once assumed. (pp.224) As Dodson and Hilton writes: "Takelot II is likely to have been identical with the High Priest Takelot F, who is stated in Karnak inscriptions to have been a son of Nimlot C [the son of Osorkon II], and whose likely period of office falls neatly just before [king] Takelot II's appearance." (p.224) They also note that Osorkon III can only be the illustrious High Priest Osorkon B, son of Takelot II based on a unique stela from Akoris. It explicitly calls king Osorkon III a former High Priest of Amun which was an office that Osorkon B held prior to his disappearance in Year 39 of Shoshenq III. (p.226) This book will certainly be a welcome addition to the collections of Colleges and Universities throughout the world.


On the Reliability of the Old Testament
On the Reliability of the Old Testament
by K. A. Kitchen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $30.30
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic by Kitchen on the Old Testament's basic accuracy, October 20, 2006
The well respected English scholar--Kenneth Kitchen--has penned another masterpiece in this book on the inherent reliability of the Old Testament. This study is characterised by his renowned attention to detail and well supported arguments which caters primarily to the scholar/academician rather than the average lay book reader. The book covers 500 pages on the Old Testament before one reaches his volumnious bibliography which includes the author's incisive commentary.

Kitchen demonstrates that the Biblical Joseph could only have been sold into slavery for 20 shekels in Mesopotamia, as the Bible states, in the 18th or 17th Century BC when the price of slaves averaged this price. (pp.344-345) Hence, his career as Pharaoh's chief Vizier can only be dated to this time--deep within Egypt's Second Intermediate Period during either the Asiatic 14th Dynasty which controlled Egypt's Delta region or the Hyksos era. (c.1648-1540 BC) A later date for Joseph's existence in 15th or 14th Century BC New Kingdom Egypt is ruled out by the fact that the average price of slaves had risen to 30 shekels by 15th and 14th Century BC Mesopotamia. (p.345) Since Joseph was young and healthy at the time his brothers sold him into slavery, he can be expected to have commanded the standard average price of 20 shekels.

Kitchen counters the familiar refrain of Biblical skeptics: "Why [are there] no inscriptions of David's and Solomon's time?" by noting that these problems encompass both the survival of artifacts and official state policy. (p.90) He aptly notes that one must expect any 10th century Jewish texts in Jerusalem and Samaria to have suffered from "repeated changes, destructions and rebuildings" throughout antiquity. The Babylonians "thoroughly destroyed the temple and palace of the 'City of David' in 586 BC" while the massive building projects of King Herod would have removed most remaining traces of Solomonic era stelas or monuments, if any had survived to this time, in Jerusalem.(p.90) At Samaria, archeological excavations have produced "no series of official stone inscriptions either" with the possible exception of one small fragment which "bears the single anodyne word 'asher, [meaning] 'who, which'!" (p.91) However, like Jerusalem, Samaria--the capital of post-Solomon Israel--suffered much damage in 722/720 BC while in Herodian and Roman times, it was completely redeveloped. Furthermore, scholars have not established if Israel's early kings created formal inscriptions on stone during king David or Solomon's reign compared to the unofficial Siloam tunnel inscription which dates to Hezekiah's rule. Kitchen contends that apart from Jerusalem or Samaria, no other Jewish towns merited any major official inscriptions. He plausibly concludes that the lack of attestations for contemporary monuments of David or Solomon's reign is not convincing evidence for denying Israel's existence in the early 10th Century BC by noting that there are similiarly minimal surviving documents or inscriptions for Israel's own contemporary neighbours. Only the shattered Tel-Dan stela, a few minor inscribed ivory labels in Assyria and several horse blinkers attests to Hazael's existence as a king of Aram-Damascus. (p.91) In addition, Mesha's stela is the only known document from his reign as a king of Moab; no other Moabite kings are monumentally known by any artifacts aside from one reference thus far. Similiarly "only about three pieces commemorate [the] kings of Ammon" while no monument mentions any of the kings of Edom. (p.91) Consequently, Kitchen reasonably concludes that in this context of minimal surviving historical documents, one can hardly complain about the almost total failure to discover texts belonging to David or Solomon's era. (p.91) It must be stressed that prior to the 1993 discovery of the Tel-Dan stela, the name David was never found in any Near Eastern document. (pp.36-37 & 91) This again speaks to a general paucity of surviving objects concerning Israel or its neighbours in the Levant.

Apart from the reference to the 'House of David' in the shattered ca. 841 BC old Aramaic Tel-Dan stela of Hazael, Kitchen compiles strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that a Palestinian place-name from Pharaoh Shoshenq I's 920's BC Karnak list of conquered Canaanite cities also contains an indirect allusion to David. (p.92-93) He notes that this place-name, located within a group of names clearly located by association to the Negev/South Judah area, reads as "the heights of Dwt." (p.93) The author notes that Dwt cannot be a reference to Dothan since the term lacks a final 'n' character and is "in entirely the wrong context for a north Palestinian settlement." (p.93) Kitchen stresses, however, that an Ethiopian inscription by the Emperor of Axum which dates to the early 6th century AD from southwest Arabia explicitly cites passages from the "Psalms of Dawit"--precisely the "same consonants Dwt as found with [the list of] Shoshenq." (p.91) Kitchen also observes that in the Egyptian translation of foreign names, a 't' could and sometimes did transcribe a Semitic 'd'. He writes: "This occurs in the New Kingdom in such familiar place names as Megiddo (Egyp. Mkt), edre'i (Egyp. 'itr') Adummin (Egyp. itmm), Damascus (Egyp. Tmsq), Dothaim/n (Egypt. Ttyn)." (p.93) The author argues that "there is no reason to doubt a final -d becoming a voiceless t in both Egyptian and Ethiopic (both Afro-Asiatic languages)" and since no other plausible alternative appears forthcoming in reading this place-name, it should be read as simply as the Heights of David located somewhere in the Negev. (p.93) He notes that this would give us a place-name which commemorated David within only 50 years of his death--and in a region where David features prominently during king Saul's time (1 Sam. 24:1; 27; 30;). (p.93) Kitchen concludes that such a place-name is essentially analogous to the "field of Abram" which also occurs in Shoshenq's Karnak list.

Another observation by the author concerns the famous Israel stela which records that Pharaoh Merneptah (1213-1203 BC) crushed a revolt by the cities of Yenoam, Ascalon, Gezer around his fifth regnal year and defeated Israel in turn. Kitchen presciently notes that while one may have expected a new king to face a revolt in more distant regions of the Egyptian Empire such as Phoenicia or South Syria, a revolt by Canaanite cities such as Ascalon or Gezer which were located close to Egypt's border "was not normal." (p.229) He stresses that there must have been specific reasons for the Egyptian campaign and suggests that it was these vassal states' inability to pay their required grain-tax tribute to Pharaoh in a world where the "failure to do so constituted rebellion" in the eyes of the king. (p.229) In this case, if these towns were unable to pay their expected tribute, the reason could have been connected with the marauding bands of Israelites who came down from the Canaanite hills at harvest time and stole the grain crops of these towns. Kitchen notes that a king of Gezer had once been "worsted by Joshua's raiders (Josh. 10:33), and a little later some Judean raiders may have penetrated briefly to Ascalon and its grainfields (cf Judg 1:18)." (p.229) The Egyptians who investigated the source of the trouble would have presumably attempted to expel these new intruders. The author notes that since Merneptah's troops encountered "people who called themselves not Judahites or Benjaminites or Manassites, etc., but Israelites (italics)," the Pharaoh would have logically assumed that they belonged to the nation of "Israel." (p.229) This confirms the antiquity of the term "all Israel" as early as 1208 BC for the people of Israel.

There are many other interesting arguments and revelations in Kitchen's book. But it is safe to say that his book does counter the efforts of Biblical minimalists who challenge the Bible's veracity. Kitchen rightly criticises those scholars who refuse to accept evidence for the clear reference to king Omri in the Tel-Dan stela and notes that certain critics of the Bible have no scholarly training or often harbour untenable views. While the Bible is not perfect--for instance, the late archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon discovered that the city of Jericho was apparently abandoned when its walls reportedly fell before Joshua--its account cannot be doubted as a work of fiction unless there is consistent evidence to the contrary. Other Canaanite cities such as Hazor certainly met a fiery end during the time of the Hebrews entry into the Promised land, as the Bible states.
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Islamic Imperialism: A History
Islamic Imperialism: A History
by Efraim Karsh
Edition: Paperback
274 used & new from $0.01

128 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Convincing take on Radical Islam, May 21, 2006
Professor Karsh's book is significant because the author questions the traditional assumption that Western Imperialism or Colonialism created the serious scourge of Islamic extremism which now plagues various diverse countries in the world stretching from Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia amongst others. Instead, the author observes that the primary causes of Islamic extremism is not simply a response to Western meddling in their nations but rather a deep rooted impulse in the traditional Islamic belief system where Muslims are directed to expand Islamic power and religion throughout the world. Karsh notes that many "Arabs and Muslims [still] unabashedly pine for the restoration of Spain" under Muslim control even though Spain has been lost to the Islamic world for centuries since the Fall of Granada in 1492. Similiarly, Osama bin Laden himself wistfully referred to "the tragedy of Andalusia" (ie: Granada) after the September 11, 2001 attacks as if to suggest that Muslims were still the rightful owners of Spain in the 21st Century rather than mere colonial occupiers here.

The wish to renew Islam's past medieval imperial glories and proselytise the world pervades the mindset of a significant portion of Muslims. This development is not surprising since the prophet Muhammad himself molded the new religion of Islam with Arab Imperialism when he asked his followers "to strive for a new universal order in which the whole of humanity would embrace Islam or live under its domination." Muhammad's vision was realised after his death with the expansion of Islamic power from Arabia into North Africa, Turkey, parts of the Balkans, the Crimea, Spain and Central Asia under succeeding Muslim Empires such as the Ummayads (who conquered Spain), the Abbasids and, finally, the Ottomans. This desire to expand Islam's global reach and recreate a global Islamic caliphate under Muslim rule helps to explain the mass terrorism of 9/11, according to the author. In Karsh's view, September 11 was neither a punishment for previous US interference in the Middle East nor an expression of hatred toward American culture or political freedoms but rather a reaction to the basic reality that America's position as a great power essentially hindered all "Arab and Islamic imperalist aspirations [to eliminate Israel, expand Islamic power into Europe/Africa, etc]. As such, it is a natural target for [Islamic] aggression." Karsh, hence, views Muslims as active participants on the world stage, rather than powerless pawns, as some commentators assume. The current grouping of Islamic fundamentalist movements such as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood or Al-Qaeda have one common feature: the desire to create a global Muslim caliphate. Hence, they are legitimate heirs to Islam's imperial aspirations.

This book meticulously examines conventional Muslim beliefs and perceptions rather than merely blaming the Western powers for past errors and misdeeds in order to explain the current causes of Islamic terrorism. Karsh believes that the Muslim world's deep rooted yearning for the glories of the old Islamic Empires (like 14th Century Granada or 17th Century Crimea) effectively hobbles their economic and democratic growth prospects and makes them especially succeptible to the control of a whole host of local dictators or autocrats--such as Nasser, Ghaddafi, Saddam Hussein, etc--who constantly invoke the idea of a revival of past Islamic greatness. Karsh notes certain pan-Arab projects--such as the United Arab Republic (from 1958 to 1961) between Egypt and Syria which eventually collapsed when the Syrians realized that Nasser wanted to centralise all government decision making in Cairo and pulled out of this Union--reflected this broad desire to enhance the Muslim world's political influence. In his opinion, until Muslims decisively turn their backs on this past pan-Islamic global vision and make Islam a matter of personal faith rather than one of politics, they will never fully prosper in the modern world or be tolerant of others.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2012 6:40 AM PDT


Pharaoh Triumphant. The Life and Times of Ramesses II
Pharaoh Triumphant. The Life and Times of Ramesses II
by Kenneth A. Kitchen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.53
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best book on Ramesses II, February 19, 2006
Dr. Kitchen's monumental work is the standard book on Ramesses the Great, one of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs. The author meticulously examines Egypt's history prior to Ramesses' reign and Ramesses II's motivations as king. Kitchen explains Ramesses II's need to enhance his family line's legitimacy to the throne since his grandfather, Ramesses I, only acquired the throne by being appointed as heir apparent to Pharaoh Horemheb. In addition, his family were commoners with no previous blood ties to the royal family. This helps explains Ramesses II's need to create massive statues, rock cut temples at Abu Simbel, the great Ramesseum at Karnak, his initiation of almost yearly military campaigns against the Libyans, the Barbary Sea Pirates, and most famously, the Hittites, among his many numerous deeds in order to prove the legitimacy of his kingship.

Ramesses ended up becoming one of Egypt's most famous and dynamic kings and was probably the Pharaoh of the Bible who faced Moses since the prominent city of 'Raamses' is explicitly mentioned in the Biblical account in Exodus as being one of the Egyptian cities in the fertile Delta that the Ancient Israelites left. This is probably the new city of Pi-Ramesse Aa-nakhtu or the "House of Ramesses-Great-of-Victories" which Ramses II built in his reign. His extremely long reign--at 66 Years--allowed him to virtually stamp his authority and memory into posterity. All in all, Kitchen gives an insightful study of Ramesses II: the model pharaoh in war, international diplomacy and monument building. Hence, Kitchen's astute book title: Pharaoh Triumphant indeed.


Political Situation Egypt (CNI Publications)
Political Situation Egypt (CNI Publications)
by K. S. B. Ryholt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $113.00
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great update on the Turin Canon but uneven on SIP matters, January 8, 2005
This book by Kim Ryholt is required reading for a History of the Second Intermediate Period (SIP) and has been called "fundamental" for an understanding of this notoriously opaque era with its list of more than 100 different kings. (Aidan Dodson, Bi Or LVII, January-April 2000, p.48) If Ryholt's study only dealt with the Turin Canon, I would definitely give it 5 stars. However, I can only give it 4 stars because some of his conclusions--particularly on the 14th Dynasty--have been shown to be erroneous.

Among many important revelations, Ryholt provides new evidence to prove that Sekhemre Khutawy, rather than Khutawre Ugaf, was the first king of the 13th Dynasty. (see pp.315-320) Ryholt convincingly argues that Nubkheperre and Sekhemre Wepmaat Intef were both the sons of a king named Sobekemsaf, most likely Sobekemsaf Shedtawy, based on inscriptions on a door jamb which was recovered from the remains of a 17th Dynasty temple in Gebel Antef. This family relationship is now universally accepted by all Egyptologists. Ryholt brilliantly demonstrates that the predecessor of Sobekhotep III was a certain Meribre Seth, and provides circumstantial evidence to argue that Manetho's 16th Dynasty was actually a Theban predecessor to the 17th Dynasty, and are reflected in the Turin Kinglist. The latter hypothesis has been followed by some scholars such as James Allen and Ms Bourriau--the latter in the 2000 book 'The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt,' and, more recently, by Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton's 2004 book: "The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt." This hypothesis is strongly affirmed by the relatively small scale of attestations, in the form of a single stela, dagger and/or a few royal seals, known for these Theban kings such as Sobekhotep VIII, Neferhotep III, Nebiriau I and Semenenre. In contrast, the 17th Dynasty kings carried out extensive temple restoration work throughout Upper Egypt while both Nebkheperre Intef and Seqenenre Tao commanded enough resources to construct a new temple and royal palace complex at Gebel Antef and Deir El-Ballas respectively. This suggests that the series of Theban kings listed within the Turin Canon lived in constrained economic times compared to the more prosperous 17th Dynasty and, therefore, were not members of this Dynasty. Ryholt also notes that there is no space for the known sequence of 17th Dynasty kings in this section of the Kinglist. The author argues that Kamose never approached the city of Avaris during his Year 3 campaign but rather seized territory belonging to Avaris near the Faiyum area of Middle Egypt. (pp.172-174) Ryholt also notes that Kamose instituted a brief coregency with Ahmose after his 3rd Year--during which he initiated a second campaign against the Nubians to retake Elephantine from the latter. This action is documented by 2 separate rock inscriptions at Arminna and Toshka in Nubia which strikingly depict the prenomen and nomen of Ahmose and Kamose side by side thereby denoting a coregency. (pp.273-274) In contrast, Kamose's Year 3 stela at Thebes--which documents his victory against Apophis--never once mentions Ahmose. Finally, the author rightly criticises the popular theory that the 13th Dynasty Viziers were more powerful than Pharaoh as baseless and untenable. Critically, Ryholt observes that less than 12 monuments "belong directly to the Viziers of the Entire Thirteenth Dynasty and among them a third are explicitly recorded as royal donations." (pp.282-283) This suggests that the 13th Dynasty kings controlled the Viziers rather than vice versa.

A unique discussion by Ryholt is his striking analysis of the famous Unwetterstele of Ahmose.(pp.143-148) This stela has conventionally been assumed to record--in vivid detail--the destruction caused by the massive Thera Eruption. However, this event has been dated to the late 17th Century BC on dendrochronology and Artic ice cores sample data--a time when the Hyksos were firmly in control of Egypt. The most significant portion of the stela as translated by Vandersleyen in RdE 19 reads "And it was reported to his Majesty (Ahmose): Districts have been entered (ie: taken), tombs have been demolished, temples have been ravaged, pyramids have been torn down, that which has been done is that which was not done. Then His Majesty commmanded that the temple-domains which had fallen into ruin in the entire land be renovated, the monuments of the gods be restored, their enclosure walls be raised (etc)." (pp.144-145) Ryholt, perceptively notes that the use of the verb 'k meaning 'to enter' is rather forced in the text and must be amended with the word "by water" in order to make sense of the line. Moreover, if districts had actually been penetrated by water--presumably a Tsunami caused by Thera--the royal scribes would have unequivocally stated "that 'districts...have been flooded'" by using a verb such as b'k which means 'to flood.' Instead the ambiguous verb 'k is used, which can also "be employed for conquering and taking hold of a district by the enemy, cf., eg. P. Rhind." (p.145) Ryholt argues instead that the Unwetterstele should be viewed as a metaphor for Egypt's "general state of desolation" after the final expulsion of the Hyksos by Ahmose and states that we have evidence of 12th and 13th Dynasty royal pyramid tombs, temples and statues being looted, destroyed and/or transported as war trophies to Avaris under the Hyksos king, Apophis. (pp.145-148) Hence, the events recorded by Ahmose may actually refer to the scorched earth policies adopted by the Hyksos in their gradual retreat from Egypt rather than a natural disaster.

However, many of Ryholt's conclusions regarding the 14th Dynasty have now been discredited (cf. a BASOR(315) 1999, pp.47-73 paper titled 'Seals and Kings' by D. Ben Tor & James/Susan Allen). Ben Tor and the Allens provide conclusive evidence to show that "not a single example of 14th Dynasty royal-name or private name scarabs from Egypt, Nubia, and Palestine [as] represented by Ryholt originated in an archaeological context that can be dated to the reign of the 13th Dynasty." (BASOR, p.59) The 3 writers also observe that the scarab of the Asiatic Treasurer Har, "was found in Tomb 20 of Stratum D/2 which dates to the final phase of the Hyksos Period(c.1560-1530 BC)" (BASOR, p.58) rather than to the 14th Dynasty, as Ryholt argues. There are certain other difficulties with Ryholt's proposal for the existence of Trade Agreements between the 13th and 14th Dynasties. No scrabs of Ryholt's 14th Dynasty have been found in any Canaanite archaeological settings that were contemporary with the 13th Dynasty or even at Byblos, which had an active trading relationship with the 13th Dynasty (BASOR, p.60). This situation casts grave doubts upon Ryholt's view that the 14th Dynasty was an early contemporary of the 13th Dynasty because it is improbable that this Asiatic state, which supposedly controlled the strategic Delta region, would not have participated in the profitable trade which developed between the 13th Dynasty with Canaan and Byblos respectively. Consequently, Ryholt's contention that the 14th Dynasty was always contemporary with the 13th Dynasty from the latter's time of inception cannot be sustained. Rather, the 13th Dynasty must have initially controlled all of Egypt including the Delta region and Tell el-Dab'a(Avaris). The 13th Dynasty's control over these two sites would have lapsed only relatively late in its lifetime--presumbly a few decades prior to the Hyksos invasion. The general abscence of 13th Dynasty monuments in the Delta can be explained by the damp environment and high water table in this region which acts against the preservation of royal monuments, and also by the unstable political structure of this Dynasty which featured numerous kings with brief 2 to 4 years reigns each. The 13th Dynasty was characterised by several coup d'etats: Meribre Seth himself was deposed by Sobekhotep III, who appears to been an Army officer. This situation would not have been conducive towards the initiation of major building projects in the Delta or throughout Egypt proper--which helps explain the relatively small number of attestations known for many 13th Dynasty kings.

Ryholt's assertion that Maaibre Sheshi was a 14th Dynasty contemporary of the early 13th Dynasty kings Khabau and Djedkheperew--which is based on the discovery of their seals in Building D at Uronarti--is undermined by Bietak's analysis of the ceramic materials found there, whose characteristics clearly date them to the latter half of the 13th Dynasty. (BASOR, p.57). This means that the Fortress of Uronarti was still being occupied by a 13th Dynasty garrison until late into this Dynasty's lifetime when the decision was finally taken to abandon it. Sheshi, therefore, would not necessarily have been an early contemporary of these two 13th Dynasty kings, as Ryholt claims. More recently, Ben Tor has produced evidence of at least 2 New Kingdom intrusions which were found amongst the Uronarti seals--see her paper in "Scarabs of the Second Millenium BC from Egypt, Nubia, Crete and the Levant: Chronological and Historical Implications," Vienna 2004. These New Kingdom intrusions demonstrate that the context of the Uronarti seals can no longer be seen as secure; accordingly, the Maaibre sealing can be viewed as a New Kingdom intrusion (ie: a New Kingdom sealing made by a SIP seal of Sheshi). Sheshi may, instead, have been a vassal king of the Hyksos who ruled in the Delta since 1)the archaeological contexts of his seals show him to be contemporary with the 15th Dynasty and 2)he never once employed the 'Heka-Khawaset' title on any of his 396 known seals. This title was exclusively used by the early Hyksos kings such as Khyan and Sakir Har. Incidentally, recently published ceramic studies by both Manfred Bietak and Beck & Zevulun in 1996 rule out a 14th Dynasty Delta place of origin for the Tell el-Yahudiya ware, as Ryholt thinks. (BASOR, p.60) They, instead, conclusively prove the Levantine origins of this item.

On other matters, the author's proposal that an Abydene Dynasty existed between the Hyksos Dynasty and the emerging 16th Theban Dynasty is debatable. While Abydos was an important religious centre in Upper Egypt, there is no evidence that it ever played a political role in Ancient Egypt and Manetho's Epitome never mentions such a Dynasty. Accordingly, the three kings that are placed here(Pantjeny, Senaaib & Wepwawemsaf) should be assigned to either the late 13th Dynasty or the late 16th Dynasty (lines 11.10-11.14 of the Turin Kinglist). Sekhemre Neferkhau Wepwawemsaf himself is an excellent candidate for inclusion as one of the 5 final Theban rulers of the 16th Dynasty. His prenomen closely mirrors that of Rahotep's--Sekhemre Wahkau--who is viewed as the founder of the 17th Dynasty. Ryholt's observation about the "exceptionally crude quality" of his Abydene stela (p.163) suggests that Wepwawemsaf ruled in a time of general poverty late in the SIP, and does not preclude a position in this Dynasty.

It must be stressed that the 5 kings which Ryholt places in the late 16th Theban Dynasty(in lines 11.10-11.14) such as Djedneferre & Djedhotepre Dedumose, Djedankhre Monthuemsaf, Meriankhre Mentuhotep and Senusert IV Seneferibre are more likely to be late 13th Dynasty kings instead. James Allen notes that the [...mose]--or [...mosre] as Ryholt's transcribes the text--in line 8.21 of the Turin Kinglist probably refers to a king's nomen since prenomens which ended in the '...mosre' element are not attested in Egypt's History until the Persian era. (BASOR, p.68) As a result, the line can confidently be restored as [...mose] and must have mentioned the nomen of one of the 2 Dedumose kings who are both attested by separate stelas in Upper Egypt (Djedhotepre at Edfu and Djedneferre in Gebelein). His successor, a certain [...maatre Ibi] in line 8.22, is in all likelihood Nebmaatre, a Late SIP era king whose axe blade was found "in a pan-grave at Mostagedda, some 20 k.m east of Abydos." (p.168) This identification is strongly supported by a thorough search of Professor Ryholt's comprehensive catalogue of all the known Second Intermediate Period kings (from Dynasties 13 to 17) which reveals that Nebmaatre was the ONLY ruler whose prenomen ends in the required "...maatre" form attested in the Kinglist. With Nebmaatre located here in the late 13th Dynasty, Senusert IV Seneferibre and Djedankre Monthuemsaf must also have been late 13th Dynasty kings since all three rulers can be shown to be close contemporaries on account of their axe blades, which are of a similiar type, but differ markedly from the axe blade of the 16th Dynasty Theban king Semenenre. Ryholt, however, does not consider the evidence from the axe blades--which is a more accurate method for establishing a king's general position in the SIP. The axe blade of Nebmaatre is an exact duplicate of that known for Djedankre including the shape of the blade, the direction of the writing, and the arrangement and choice of elements (nTr-nfr+prenomen+dj-anx). The blades, themselves, are similiar to that of Senusert IV but the latter's inscription only mentions the king's nomen. While the axe blades of all these 3 kings share the same type and style--with a very small variation in the tapering from the area that embeds into the handle to the fan edge--the axe-blade of Semenre is much longer and narrower in proportion before it reaches the fan edge. These stylistic differences rule out the proposition that Djedankhre, Nebmaatre and Senusert IV were ever kings of the 16th Dynasty since axe blades, like pottery, are sensitive chronometers of change whose characteristics evolved gradually over time. It is improbable that Semenre would be using an axe blade which differed significantly from those of his dynastic successors over a period of just 12-16 years, as Ryholt's 16th Dynasty Chronology requires. Moreover, compared to Ahmose I and Ahhotep's axe blades, Semenre's blade seems to mark an evolutionary stage between these 18th Dynasty blades and those of Djedankhre, Nebmaatre and Senusert IV respectively. Accordingly, there is some evidence that the three latter kings ruled before, rather than after, Semenre and should all be placed in the time-frame of the late 13th Dynasty instead. Meriankhre Mentuhotep would then also be a Dynasty 13 king since his prenomen, Meri-Ankh-re closely mirrors the prenomen of Djed-Ankh-re Monthuemsaf.

Djedneferre Dedumose's conspicuous statement on his Gebelein stela that he was "beloved by Thebes" (p.156) need not automatically mean that he was, in fact, a Theban king. Given the evidence from the Kinglist, he is more likely to be viewed as a late 13th Dynasty monarch who was desperately trying to maintain his Kingdom's increasingly fragile hold over Upper Egypt by paying special attention to Thebes. By his reign, Egypt had already entered into a period of political fragmentation with the creation of the 14th Dynasty in the Delta under Nehesy, whose monuments at Avaris have been dated by Bietak to Stratum F or B/3 around 1700 BC--corresponding to the late 13th Dynasty. (cf. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (2000) by Ian Shaw, pp.178-79 & 181) Since Djedneferre would have reigned sometime in the 1660's or 1650's BC under any reasonable SIP Chronology, he likely ruled a state whose authority over the rest of Egypt was rapidly collapsing. Nubia itself had been lost with the Dynasty's abandonment of the Nile Forts and Thebes may have been conceded in or shortly after his reign since Dedumose is the last 13th Dynasty king whose control over Upper Egypt is clearly documented. Later Dynasty 13 kings such as Nebmaatre(8.22), [...]Ubenre(8.23), Se[...]kare(8.24) and Seheqenre have left no monuments or traces of their reigns in any Upper Egyptian sites such as Deir El-Bahari, Karnak, Gebelein or Edfu where their predecessors are well attested. Ryholt's argument that the final king of the 13th Dynasty--a certain Se[...]enre in 8.27--was either Sekhaenre [...]s or Sewahenre Senebmiu is compelling but unprovable. These two rulers are only known at Deir El-Bahari along with a certain Sewadjare Mentuhotep, who is located in line 8.20 of the Kinglist. Sekhaenre may have been a predecessor of Sewadjare since the identities of the latter's 3 direct successors--a Dedumose, a Nebmaatre and an [...]Ubenre--are known. The burial here of an official of king Senebmiu who "had a canopic chest which contained the same text as the canopic chest of King Djedhuty" (p.72) of the 16th Dynasty shows that the two pharaohs were close contemporaries but does not prove beyond doubt that Sewahenre was a Dynasty 13 king. He could equally have been Djehuty's immediate predecessor and a Theban monarch who founded the 16th Dynasty (line 10.31 of the Kinglist), as Ryholt himself concedes.

Chris Bennett, in a JARCE 39(2002) paper, has argued that an overlap of decade or more occured between the end of the 13th Dynasty and the start of the 16th Theban Dynasty. If correct, this attractive hypothesis would relieve the severe compression inherent within Ryholt's Chronology which gives an improbable figure of 14 years [1662-1648 BC] for the last 18 kings of this state after Merkare Sobekhotep(8.8). By permitting these final kings to have ruled a total of 24 or 25 years [1663-1638 BC]--if Ryholt's estimate of 12 Years for Sobekhotep IV is reduced to 11 years instead like Neferhotep I's own reign--an average reign of roughly 1.5 years occurs per king. The 13th Dynasty would have ended later in 1638 BC while the First (ie: 16th) Theban Dynasty began 10-11 years earlier in 1648/1649 BC, as Ryholt proposes. Ahmose, the founder of the New Kingdom, would have assumed power in 1540/1539 BC based on a chronology which gives the poorly attested Tuthmose II a short 3 year reign, rather than Manetho's figure of 13 years. An overlap between the 13th and 16th Dynasties is consistent with the evidence of internal stability that existed in the early 16th Dynasty under Djehuty (3 yrs) and Sobekhotep VIII (16 yrs). In contrast, the final years of Sobekhotep VIII's reign was characterised by constant warfare with the Hyksos since his short-lived successor Neferhotep III, reveals in a stela that Thebes' fortunes had declined considerably due to strife with certain unnamed "foreigners"--presumbly the Hyksos.

In conclusion, Ryholt's analysis of the Turin Kinglist is first rate and his chapters on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th Dynasties hold up fairly well to most scholarly scrutiny. It is his treatment of the 14th Dynasty that is flawed. The author's case for a short-lived Abydene Dynasty now appears vindicated with the 2014 discovery of king Senebkay's tomb. His proposed candidates for the final five kings of the 16th Theban Dynasty is debatable. Finally, an overlap between Dynasty 13 and 16 would relieve the extreme compression inherent in Ryholt's Chronology for the end of the 13th dynasty in Egypt.

Four updates. Firstly, Ryholt has made a response to Ben Tor and the Allen's BASOR 1999 criticisms of his 14th dynasty scarab study in his 1997 Second Intermediate Period book. It is an article titled "The Date of Kings Sheshi and Yaqubhar and the Rise of the Fourteenth Dynasty" in M. Maree (ed) 'The Second Intermediate Period (13th-17th dynasties) Current Research, Future Prospects," OLA 192, Leuven 2010. pp.109-127. Ryholt strongly maintains that Yaqubhar was a 14th dynasty king since 1) this ruler never used the heka-khawaset title in any of his scarabs and notes that the seal of this king found at Shiqmona dates to either the early MB IIB or mid-MB IIB period. Since the mid-MB IIB era "corresponds to the transition from the late Fourteenth to the early Fifteenth Dynasty" (Ryholt, 2010, p.112) Yaqub-Har could be a king of the 14th dynasty. Ben Tor advocates that Yaqub-Har was an early Hyksos king. Ryholt also maintains that the seal of Sheshi found at Uronarti fort along with seals of only two early 13th dynasty kings Khabau and Djedkheperu show that Sheshi was contemporary with these early 13th dynasty. Ryholt writes in his 2010 article that Yaqub-Har and Sheshi were associated with the Hyksos kings Apachnan and Assis by Flinders Petrie in a 1923 book by the latter and that this identification has not been challenged by anyone since even though these two names come from corrupt versions of Manetho's Aegyptiaca.

January 16, 2014 update: The skeleton of king Woseribre Senebkay, who appears to be one of the earliest kings of a forgotten Abydos Dynasty (1650-1600 B.C.) was found by a University of Pennsylvania expedition under Josef Wegner working with Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. The expedition believes that there is evidence for about 16 royal tombs belonging to this unknown dynasty of which Senebkay's tomb was the first to be discovered. So, it now appears that Ryholt's theory about an Abydos dynasty ruling in the late SIP has been vindicated after all.

April 1, 2013 update: Ryholt has now stated that the Turin Canon gives either 108-109 or 140-149 years to the Hyksos 15th dynasty. Ryholt notes that "the traces after the 100-sign may be read either 8 or 40; both [readings] are equally possible. Hence the figure will have been either 108 or somewhere in the range 140-149 [years] (since there could have been a further figure after 40)" (December 2012 EEF E-mail) In a recently published Egypt and the Levant Volume 21 (2011) paper by Nadine Moeller & Gregory Marouard titled 'Discussion of Late Middle Kingdom and Early Second Intermediate Period History and Chronology in Relation to the Khayan Sealings from Tell Edfu' (pp.87-112), these two scholars discuss the discovery of an important early 12th dynasty Middle Kingdom administrative building in the eastern Tell Edfu area which was continuously used into the early Second Intermediate Period before it fell out of use in the 17th dynasty when its remains were sealed by a large silo court. Fieldwork by Egyptologists in 2010 and 2011 into the remains of the former 12th dynasty building which was also used in the 13th dynasty led to the discovery of a large adjoining hall which proved to contain 41 sealings showing the cartouche of the Hyksos ruler Khyan together with 9 sealings naming the 13th dynasty king Sobekhotep IV. As Moeller and Marouard write: "These finds come from a secure and sealed archaeological context and open up new questions about the cultural and chronological evolution of the late Middle Kingdom and early Second Intermediate Period." (A & L 21, p.87) These finds suggest that 1. Khyan was actually one of the earlier Hyksos kings and may not have been succeeded by Apophis--who was the second last king of the Hyksos kingdom--2. the 15th Hyksos dynasty may have already in existence by the mid-13th dynasty period if Khyan controlled a part of northern Egypt at the same time as Sobekhotep IV ruled the rest of Egypt as a pharaoh of the 13th dynasty. Therefore, the 13th dynasty's control over all of Egypt had already fragmented before the accession of Sobekhotep IV who was one of the most powerful 13th dynasty Egyptian kings of the Second Intermediate Period. The find confirms the comments of the 2nd century BC historian, Artapanos, that under a king named Chaneferre or Chanephres (undoubtedly Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV here), Egypt was already divided into various kingdoms. (Thomas Schneider, Auslander in Agypten wahrend des Mittleren Reiches und der Hyksoszeit I, 1998, pp.158-59) Finally, since the Hyksos dynasty was already in existence by the mid-13th dynasty, rather than at its end as Ryholt argued in this book, it is more likely that the Hyksos 15th dynasty lasted between 140 to 149 years instead of 108 years.


The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt
The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt
by Ian Shaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.34
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent update on Ancient Egypt, January 6, 2005
This is a first rate book on the General History of Ancient Egypt from Pre-Historic times until the end of the Roman Empire. The 13 various contributors--Betsy Bryan, Gae Callendar, Janine Bourriau, Jaromir Malik and Ian Shaw among others--give an excellent overview of Egypt's long and distinguished History. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is a good update on Alan Gardiner's classic 1963 Egypt of the Pharaohs and Nicolas Grimal's more recent 1988 book, A History of Ancient Egypt. While one might diagree with a contributors take on certain topics such as Ms. Callenders complete rejection of the institution of any coregencies in the Middle Kingdom which are accepted by most scholars(they are certainly documented between Senusert I/Amenemhet II, Amenemhet II/Senusert II and Amenemhet III & IV based on the Inscription at Konosso in Nubia for the latter; rather, it is the coregency of Amenemhet I/Senusert I which is currently contested), they are more than made up for by these scholars careful and balanced coverage and interpretation of all the latest archaeological evidence. These contributors certainly know their areas of expertise well.

Especially impressive were the various contributors inclusion and analysis of much of the latest studies on Egypt's various Periods of History such as Kim Ryholt's 1997 book on the Second Intermediate Period and Luc Gabolde's important 1987 SAK paper on the length of the reigns of Tuthmose I and II, based on their attested scarabs. One of the most invaluable parts of the book is its exhaustive catalogue of all the best books, publications and journal articles on Egypt's various historical eras.

My only regret was that John Taylor's coverage of the end of Third Intermediate Period is rather short and fails to examine the Libyan Period in any great detail after Sheshonq I's reign. He briefly mentions this period's history of severe political fragmentation with 3 kings alone ruling simultaneously in the Delta Region(Tefnakht of Sais, Osorkon IV at Tanis and Iuput II of Leontopolis) which is documented in Piye's Year 20 Victory stela--and does not mention the recent(1993) discovery of a completely new Tanite king namely Sheshonq IV, who reigned between Sheshonq III and Pami. Finally, no reference was made to the discovery of an Annal document for Pami in Heliopolis which shows that this king's Highest Year date was his 7th Year.

Taylor, however, rightly emphasizes the feudal nature of the Libyan 22nd Dynasty where several king's sons were apppointed to the Highest state offices throughout the land--especially at Memphis, Herakleopolis and Thebes. This was a break from New Kingdom practices where the younger sons of the king were denied offices and the privileges of state power to ensure that they did not pose a threat to the authority of the king. In times of strong central government from Sheshonq I through to Osorkon II, the state remained secure and many significant monuments were constructed but afterwards, the Libyan king's practise of sharing their authority with other members of the royal family in important political offices contributed to the gradual weakening of the Tanite 22nd dynasty's power and its ultimate fragmentation. Taylor also notes that the Libyans adopted the trappings of Egyptian kingship without understanding their real meaning: many of their kings repetitiously employed the same prenomen as their predecessors such as Hedjkheperre Sheshonq I and IV, Hedjkheperre Takelot I and II and Usimare Setepenre for a grand total of 5 rulers--Osorkon II, Pimay, Osorkon III, Takelot III and Rudamun. In contrast, in New Kingdom times, each king's royal name or prenomen was unique and different from a previous ruler's name in order to highlight a new reign and royal program.


Ramesses: Egypt's Greatest Pharaoh
Ramesses: Egypt's Greatest Pharaoh
by Joyce Tyldesley
Edition: Paperback
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good update on Rameses II, November 20, 2004
Joyce Tyldesley's 2000 book on this great Pharaoh is a nice update on KA Kitchen's 1982 'Pharaoh Triumphant' on the same Pharaoh. Ms Tyldesley's prose, while scholarly, is warm and engaging and at all not cold or repetitious. She discusses what life was like in Ancient Egypt during the Egyptian New Kingdom era with the massive statues of Ramesses II covering the land from the Mediterranean coast southwards into Abu Simbel deep in Nubia and this king's popularity with his subjects.

The author updates our knowledge of Rameses II's monumental construction including the rediscovery of the massive royal tomb KV5 in 1995 by Kent Weeks which proved to house over 150 passageways and chambers to house this king's many sons who predeceased their father, and the discovery of a Year 56 stela from his reign near Damascus. The location of the stela hints to Egyptian military activity in support of their new Hittite allies in Syria and the Levant after the signing of the Egyptian-Hittite peace treaty in Year 21 of Ramesses II.

Tyldesley notes that Ramesses II was a risk taker from the very beginning of his reign. Despite the spectacular failure of Akhenaten's decision to shift Egypt's political capital to a new city called Akhetaten (modern day El-Amarna), Ramesses proceeded to transform his father's summer palace in the Delta into a splendid new city called Pi-Ramesse Aa-nakhtu or the "House of Ramesses-Great-of-Victories." This city was about 60 miles northeast of modern day Cairo and served as both a military fortress, a springboard for his military campaigns into the Levant and a link to this region which was his family's spiritual heartland. (Ramesses II's family were northerners from the Delta) Ramesses' efforts was a great success unlike the fate which befell Akhenaten's isolated and ultimately doomed city of Akhetaten which was cut off from both Thebes and Memphis, Egypt's two great administrive centres. Pi-Ramesse Aa-nakhtu is likely the prominent Egyptian "treasure" city of 'Raamses' that the Ancient Israelites slaved in and eventually left behind in their great exodus to the Holy Land under Moses. (Exodus 1:11)

In summary, Tyldesley's book is an excellent study of the man who dominated Egyptian's lives for an unprecedented reign of 66 years. It is a real page turner and one must be amazed at how the Egyptian's reacted to the death of this larger than life figure who had provided them with so many decades of stability and wealth. To her credit, Tyldesley does not neglect to highlight the gradual and painful decline in Egypt's fortunes in the later Twentieth Dynasty under a whole host of kings named Rameses from III to XI. However, it appears that little of the blame for these events can be placed directly upon Ramses II and more on mother nature as the continuous eruption of the Thera Volcano in Iceland from 1159-1140 BC depressed Egypt's agricultural production leading to severe economic difficulties in conjuction with the arrival of the aggressive Sea Peoples and Libyan invaders on Egypt's shores during the later reign of Ramesses III. Ramses II's reputation among his subject's remained solidly intact and his accession date of III Shemu day 27 was declared a public holiday during the 20th Dynasty so that all Egyptians could pay homage to his memory.


Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet
Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet
by C. N. Reeves
Edition: Hardcover
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Needed Reappraisal of Akhenaten, November 16, 2004
In my view, Nicholas Reeves delivers a long needed reappraisal of Akhenaten's reign by arguing that most interpretations of this controversial Pharaoh--as a benevolent ruler who merely believed in the existence of One God are totally at odds with the surviving facts from his reign. Although Reeves' book is devoted to the monarch, Akhenaten does not take centre stage until the beginning of Chapter 4(p.75) when he accedes to the throne. In the previous chapters, Reeves meticulously lays out the rise of the New Kingdom Empire, the discovery of El-Amarna and the tremendous wealth that Egypt enjoyed under the prosperous 38 year reign of Amenhotep III, Akhenaten's father.

Reeves argues, compellingly that rather than being a devout Monotheist (someone who believes in the existence of one God--the Aten here), Akhenaten used his Religious revolution to cynically concentrate power in his hands--at the expense of more traditional political structures of Ancient Egypt such as the Amun Priesthood. The Amun priests were denied access to the considerable wealth of the Amun temples which had boosted the Egyptian economy after they had defied Akhenaten's wishes in his 4th Year. The wealth was instead conveniently diverted into the Treasury of the Egyptian state, ie. Akhenaten. Soon after, Reeves notes that Akhenaten unleashed a Wave of Terror against anything remotely concerning the old religious order--between his Year 8 and Year 12--as his agents actively destroyed non-Atenist religious statues and hacked out the names and images of these gods wherever they occured--on Temple Walls, Obelisks, Shrines and even on the accessible portions of Tombs. (pp.154-55) Rather than being a king who wished to reform the traditional Amun Priesthood or curb its power as Akhenaten's father had begun to do in the final years of his reign by paying more attention to the temples and shrines of other divinities such as Monthu, Re and Ptah, Akhenaten wished to create a New Order--his order.

The author observes that the scale of the anti-Amun persecutions were so terrifying that mass paranoia reigned throughout Egypt. Archaeological discoveries at Akhetaten show that many ordinary residents of this city chose to gouge or chisel out all references to the god Amun on even minor personal items that they owned--like commemorative scarabs or make-up pots--perhaps for fear of being accused of having Amunist sympathies. References to Amenhotep III, Akhenaten's father, were partly erased since they contained the traditional Amun form of his name. As the author aptly concludes: "Such displays of frightening self-censorship and toadying loyalty are ominous indicators of the paranoia which was beginning to grip the country. Not only were the streets [of Akhetaten] filled with the pharaoh's soldiers...; it seems the population now had to contend with the danger of malicious informers." (pp.154-55) In the end, Akhenaten's revolution collapsed from within after his death since the enormous costs of founding a new capital city at Akhetaten in modern day El-Amarna and the closing of the Amun temples choked off the growth of the Egyptian economy. A byproduct of Akhenaten's centralisation tendencies was the appearance of massive corruption among the king's state officials who held unprecedented control over all the wealth and produce of Egypt. Later Egyptians rejected Akhenaten's unhappy reign by systematically dismantling all his monuments, denouncing him as "that criminal from Akhetaten" (see 'The Inscription of Mes' dating to Ramses II) and abandoning Akhetaten, the seat of Akhenaten's religious Revolution, to the Desert.

On other matters, Reeves decisively rejects the view of a long 12 year coregency between Akhenaten and his father, Amenhotep III in favour of a shorter period of only one year. Reeves notes the clear evidence of docket EA 27--on a diplomatic letter written to Akhenaten--which is dated to the latter's Year 2 plus the evidence from Amenhotep III's own tomb, in which this king's name is always represented in his traditional prenomen/nomen form of Nebmaatre Amenhotep, rather than the later Akhenaten inspired "Nebmaatre Nebmaatre" which omitted any reference to his father's Amun-affiliated birth name. (pp.75-78) Regarding the mysterious Dahamanzu who corresponded with Suppiluliuma of Hatti, the author argues that this Queen could only be Nefertiti, rather than Ankhesenamun, as is traditionally believed. Reeves notes that the approximate time of the first correspondence by this newly widowed Queen occured late in the Autumn Season (ie: September/October)--a time which Hittite records show that Suppiluliuma I was beseiging the city of Carchemish. This corresponds perfectly with the known time of Akhenaten's death when the bottling of Wine from his Royal vinery was taking place. One of his Year 17 wine dockets was even changed into Year 1 of Akhenaten's successor (cf. CAH)--which proves that Akhenaten had died during this process--to reflect this political change. Tutankhamun, by contrast, clearly died late in the Winter Season (December or early January) as the presence of the Blue Lotus flower in his tomb--which only blossoms in late February and early March--proves when one takes into account the traditional 70 day mummification process. The existence of a diplomatic letter, EA 170, found in El-Amarna from one of Akhenaten's Canaanite vassals which makes reference to a Hittite attack on the city of Amki is undoubtedly the same one which Hittite Annals record as being in progress at the time of Dahamanzu's first correspondence. (pp.172-77) In contrast, Tutankhamun had abandoned Akhetaten (El-Amarna) for Thebes at least 7 or 8 years prior to his death in his Year 10--a fact which removes the case for identifying Dahamanzu with Ankhesenamun, Tutankhamun's Queen.

However, Reeves' suggestion in his book that Neferneferuaten was the same person as the male king Smenkhkare must now be rejected based on new evidence collated in 2004 which demonstrates that the former was a woman. (cf. Dodson & Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004, p.285, note 111)

Reeves' excellent prose and penetrating insight into the disastrous situation that Egypt was facing under Akhenaten's crisis filled reign shows the tremendous value of this masterful work. I consider it a must read on Akhenaten's tumultous 17 year reign and its terrible aftermath which left behind a weak and chastened Egypt bereft of her imperial possessions in Syria (which had now been lost to the Hittites), and struggling to recover her confidence and belief in the divine kingship of Pharaoh. It took 3 different Pharaohs--Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb--to fix the mess that Akhenaten left behind. The sole regret which I have with this work is its relative brevity--at 194 pages--before you reach the Bibliography and Index sections. But this does not detract from its great value and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to the general reader.
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A History of Ancient Egypt
A History of Ancient Egypt
by Nicolas Grimal
Edition: Hardcover
101 used & new from $0.01

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for the General reader, January 4, 2004
I would recommend Nicolas Grimal's 1988 work on Ancient Egypt to both the professional Egyptologist and the average reader. I personally enjoyed his book because of his clear and concise prose. Grimal's book covers Egypt's Ancient History from the PreDynastic period until 333 BC when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. Grimal never tries to hide gaps in Egyptologist's knowledge of certain periods of Egypt's History--especially the serious difficulties in distinguishing numerous Libyan era Pharaohs who used similiar prenomens/royal names such as Usermaatre Setepenre Osorkon II and III and Hedjkheperre Setepenre Takelot I and II--and smoothly recounts the political, cultural and economic history of Ancient Egypt within a coherent sequence and well supported Chronology. Grimal's book holds up very well for the Old, Middle, New Kingdom and post-664 BC Egypt. His careful treatment of the literature and culture of the First and Second Intermediate Periods is particularly commendable. However, his study of the Third Intermediate Period Era (TIPE) does not contain an update of the most significant archaeological discoveries and theories which have surfaced from 1989 until 2005. In this brief period, Egyptologist's understanding of the TIPE have increased exponentially.

Since 1988, a new Dynasty 22 Tanite king--Sheshonq IV who intervened between Sheshonq III and Pami--has been discovered. Pami's Highest date is now his 7th and Final Year, rather than his 6th Year, as an Annal document from Heliopolis which records his Yearly donations to the local Gods of this city, attests. (Source: 1998 BIFAO article by M. Gabolde) Most Egyptologists today accept the evidence from David Aston's seminal JEA 75 (1989) pp.139-153 paper that Takelot II ruled Egypt concurrently with two Tanite Dynasty 22 kings--Osorkon II and Sheshonq III. Takelot II controlled Upper Egypt where he and his son, the High Priest Osorkon B, are well attested while the 22nd Dynasty Pharaohs held Lower Egypt. Takelot II did not succeed Osorkon II at Tanis (Sheshonq III did), and is now believed to have died around the 22nd Year of Sheshonq III as the Chronicle of Prince Osorkon implies. (ie: Year 25 of Takelot II=Year 22 of Sheshonq III) Aston's hypothesis has now been accepted by most Egyptologists such as Aidan Dodson, MA Leahy, Jansen-Winkeln, Rolf Krauss and J. Von Beckerath--the latter in his 1997 German language book, Chronology of the Egyptian Pharaohs. The tomb of a certain Hedjkheperre Setepenre Takelot in the Tanite Royal Necropolis and a Year 9 Bubastis stela have now been attributed to Takelot I, rather than Takelot II by all Egyptologists, including K.A. Kitchen himself in his 3rd edition (1996) book on the Third Intermediate Period. The confusion in establishing the identities of these 2 distinct kings was caused by the fact that both rulers employed the same prenomen--Hedjkheperre Setepenre. Finally, a stela dating to Takelot III's Year 13 was found in February 2005 at Dakhla by American archaeologists.

Grimal notes the Libyan chaos of the final years of the 22nd Dynasty which occured in Lower Egypt. By the time of the Nubian king Piye's Year 20 conquest of Egypt, both Takelot III and his poorly known brother Rudamun (at 2-3 Years) were dead, as Piye's Victory stela shows since their Kingdom had fragmented into several city states headed by local kings such as Nimlot of Hermopolis and Peftjaubast of Herakleopolis. Meanwhile, the death of Shoshenq V led to the collapse of the 22nd Dyansty in Lower Egypt as numerous local kings appeared in its wake from Osorkon IV at Tanis and Bubastis, Iuput II at Leontopolis and Tefnakht of Sais--the most powerful Egyptian ruler who posed a threat to Nubian control over Egypt.

All in all, Grimal's book is a worthy successor to Alan Gardiner's invaluable 1961 'Egypt of the Pharaohs' work, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of the many different eras of Ancient Egypt. There are few other Egyptological works that have the breath, depth and quality of Nicolas Grimal's study which takes up more than 400 pages before you even reach the Bibliography. Professor Grimal is a master in his field at the elite University of Paris, Sorbonne. You definitely cannot go wrong with this book.


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