Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Abydos: Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris (New Aspects of Antiquity) Paperback – April 1, 2011
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“In a masterly fashion… does justice to one of ancient Egypt’s most significant archeological sites. Highly recommended”
“…the appearance of an up-to-date book on the site is most welcome.”
“A superbly organized and impressively illustrated history of this seminally important site…The culture, the history, and archeological discoveries superbly presented.”
- Midwest Book Review
About the Author
David O’Connor is Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
Top customer reviews
Especially valuable, and sometimes difficult to find elsewhere, is the information on more recent discoveries and theories. To provide a few examples: he discusses the excavations by Stephen Harvey at the Ahmose complex, Janet Richards at the North and Middle Cemeteries, Josef Wegner at the Senwosret III complex, Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner's survey of the cultic landscape, the Akhenaten talatat found at the Ramesses II temple, and the theories of Gunter Dreyer regarding the early hieroglyphic signs from Tomb U-j. This is almost priceless information - much of it is only available in more expensive, subscription or foreign language publications. The discussions here are, of course, often much briefer than are available elsewhere, and O'Connor does supply a bibliography for further reading (and I've added a few links at the end of this review).
O'Connor deals with many theories (tomb development, the meaning of various symbolic elements such as mounds and pyramids, etc.), and he is one of the few Egyptologists who seems willing to say that in many cases the limited data available is sometimes open to more than one interpretation. He fairly treats competing theories, but this is also quite a personal work by him, and he is not hesitant to offer his opinion. He also points out that excavations are ongoing and there is still much work to do, and so it is only proper to expect new information to change many ideas.
The subtitle of the book refers to "Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris." O'Connor deals extensively with those topics, but makes it clear to the reader how the later history of the site adds to our understanding of the earlier history. In fact, much of the information on the first kings comes later in the book, after the groundwork is laid. That may sound confusing, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the book.
Below is a list of the chapters and, in parentheses, my notes on some topics discussed in each.
1. The Discovery of Abydos (early excavations).
2. Osiris - Eternal Lord Who Presides in Abydos (the Osiris mythology).
3. The Temple of Seti I (the history of the beautiful temple and the Osireion).
4. The Rediscovery of Abydos (the second wave of excavations, including those of O'Connor himself).
5. The Evolution of a Sacred Landscape (the Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period).
6. The Expanding Landscape of the Middle Kingdom (Abydos in the Middle Kingdom, including the Senwosret III complex and the memorial chapels).
7. The Landscape Completed: Abydos in the New Kingdom (the Ahmose complex, Thutmose III, Akhenaten (who may have had a structure at Abydos), the "Portal" Temple of Ramesses II).
8. The Climax of the Osiris Cult (the Late Period).
9. The Royal Tombs of Abydos (The Dynasty 0 and Early Dynastic tombs at Umm el Qa'ab).
10. The Mysterious Enclosures of Abydos (a fascinating chapter on the Shunet el Zebib and other enclosures - with some equally fascinating theories).
11. Boat Graves and Pyramid Origins (how the finds at Abydos relate).
12. Abydos: Summing-Up.
O'Connor ends with useful and current information on visiting Abydos.
Let me finish by thanking the publisher, Thames & Hudson, for another excellent work at a reasonable price. I have an extensive Egyptology library (over 700 books) and I am shocked at how many recent Egyptology books cost $100-$500, and so many are out of my price range. Of course, I understand that more people will buy a book like this than a specialized report, but still, the price tags on many other new books, and some reprints, are beyond explanation.
By the way, some other current publications referenced, available at Amazon, include Janet Richards' Society and Death in Ancient Egypt: Mortuary Landscapes of the Middle Kingdom and Josef Wegner's The Mortuary Temple of Senwosret III at Abydos (Publications of the Pennsylvania-Yale Expedition to Egypt). Also invaluable is The Archaeology and Art of Ancient Egypt: Essays in Honor of David B. O'Connor (Cahier).
it reads like an expansion of an after-dinner speech fulsomely praising the author's former
and present colleagues, with little asides about their achievemets. It is impossible to
read very far without one's train of thought being interrupted by an incomplete personal reference that distracts without informing. Really,
the prospective audience could likely handle footnotes and endnotes! After all, we are
assumed to know (and do know) who Khasekhemwy was!
I note the problems with this book with particular sensitivity because I am also reading
Martin Veltman's book on particle physics, in which he attempts something similar, with complete success. Veltman uses a layout in which personal information and anecdotes are
placed in boxes independent of the main text.
But it is the man, not the method, that solves the problem. I have read numerous books
on Egyptology which mix the subject and the excavators in a manner which is both
agreeable and informative. Michael Hoffman, in particular, achieved this in his
"Egypt before the Pharaohs: the Prehistoric Foundations of Egyptian Civilization", which is
my favorite book on Egyptology.
However, the graphical material - photographs, computer graphics, drawings, maps - is
truly excellent. I would suggest that a second edition be prepared, in which all of the
current text is stripped out and rewritten by a capable graduate student or post-doctoral
fellow, with the graphics and images maintained "as is".
My three stars are mainly given for the imagery.