- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (July 19, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0631193960
- ISBN-13: 978-0631193968
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of Ancient Egypt
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These fine works both reflect the increasingly interdisciplinary approach embraced over the last 20 years by Egyptology, once fiercely proud of its academic borders and rooted in philological studies. Grimal (Egyptology, Sorbonne) has written a history of Egypt from its beginnings to the conquest of Alexander, drawing upon textual and archaeological sources. Scholarly without being pedantic, this gracefully written book never becomes tedious, even in matters of chronological argument. Grimal's insight into the essence of ancient Egyptian culture and reinterpretation of its relations with outsiders throughout its history give the book additional value. Strouhal, a Czech physical anthropologist and archaeologist, has drawn upon a variety of sources, including texts, evidence from tomb reliefs and townsites, and, most remarkably, skeletal remains, to study aspects of the daily life of Egyptian farmers, craftspeople, and scribes. Arranged thematically, this work includes information on Egyptian life from childbirth to death, including such areas as education, diet, the status of women, the building of pyramids and royal tombs, and medicine. It evokes the atmosphere and feeling of Egyptian life through text and illustrations. Both books belong in collections for lay readers as well as scholars.
- Joan W. Gartland, Detroit P.L.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Very up-to-date . . . The index, the illustrations, the bibliography and the tables make this book an excellent reference tool." La Croix.
"The range of recent revisions, particularly chronological, and the ever increasing amount of archaeological material demanded a new synthesis. Here it is, both lively and well written." Le Quotidien de Paris.
Top customer reviews
The chapters on the Old and New Kingdom were particularly strong - the interrelationship of politics and religion were very clearly written. The chaptes on the first and second intermediate periods and the Middle Kingdom were more diffucult for me to follow, although that may be more a function of my lack of familiarity than the fault of the author. All in all, an excellent introduction, certainly accessable for the lay reader.
Grimal starts his history from millions of years ago (Eph. 4:18).
The text of the Bible concerning the impact Joseph and the Israelites had on Egypt (Genesis 41-47) is not taken into account (p. 6).
Grimal says “there is no surviving Egyptian source describing the Exodus,” although he said one pharaoh (Merneptah) may have died in pursuit of the Hebrews (p. 258-9). Maybe the Egyptians kept no record of it was because they were totally humiliated.
Ironically, Grimal carries on the image Egypt has in the Bible, which is the godless place where God’s people came from to reach the Promise Land (Deuteronomy 17:16, 1 Kings 11:1,2, Isaiah 31:1, 1 John 2:15).
The book's great strength is its readability and continuity. While other histories of Egypt often get bogged down in archeological details, Grimal's work connects the dots in a smooth and engaging narrative style. It may be that he occasionally glosses the fine points to provide continuity, but having read more detailed texts (Oxford History of Ancient Egypt), I believe his book provides a clearer picture for the beginner.
This is not to say that the book lacks accuracy but scholars of Egyptian history will no doubt have their difficulties with some of Grimal's details. The book was first published in 1988 and, as such, is slightly out of date. Grimal also tends to use Greek names for most pharaohs as well many place names ie. Cheops instead of Khufu for the builder of the great pyramid. This can be a little confusing to the inexperienced reader if they have previously encountered other variants.
While the book covers the major political events in ancient Egypt, the inclusion of chapters explaining the Egyptian system of religious beliefs, funerary practices and a long description of the temple complexes at Karnak provide much needed background. The plates (all black and white) in the book are adequate, although often the maps lack detail. For the interested reader I would recommend "Le Description de L'Egypte", put out by Benedikt Taschen Verlag. This book, a beautiful collection of paintings, architectural drawings and maps, produced by a team commissioned by Napoleon, fills in many of the visual details missing in Grimal's work.
I would strongly recommend "A History of Ancient Egypt" to the casual reader, interested in Egyptian history, who does not want to be swamped with details. For the more scholarly it includes a brief glossary, a chronology of dynasties, an extensive bibliography, annotated suggestions for further reading and a fairly detailed index. Because of this it might also be useful as an introductory text in Egyptology, but given its age and narrative style, it will likely not be the first choice of experienced Egyptologists.