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Ancient Egypt [Hardcover]

David P. Silverman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, 25 Sep 1997 --  
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Book Description

25 Sep 1997
Provides a comprehensive discussion of the key themes in Egyptian history over 3000 years, from the time before the Pharoahs to the era of the Ptolomies. The text includes cutaway illustrations of the temple of Karnak and the Great Pyramid and previously unpublished photographs of important sites such as the tomb of King Ay and the desert burial at Naqada. The contributors include: Dr James P. Allen of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Dr Christopher Eyre of the University of Liverpool; Professor Fekri Hassan and Dr Ian Shaw of University College, London; and Dr Zahi Hawass, Director-General of the Giza pyramids and Saqqena and responsible for finding the new pyramid at Giza.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Duncan Baird Publishers (25 Sep 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749917407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749917401
  • Product Dimensions: 28.2 x 22.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,334,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"The writing is based on the latest historical research and archaeological finds, offering readers a penetrating look at the daily life of both royalty and commoner." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Professor David Silverman, one of the most distinguished figures in Egyptology today is currently Curator-in-Charge of the Egyptian Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Previous publications include Language and Writing in Ancient Egypt (1990), Religion in Ancient Egypt (with J. Baines and L. Lasko; 1991), and Ancient Egyptian Kingship (co-author; 1995). His field work record is extensive and prestigious including co-director of a Boston Museum of Fine Arts/University of Pennsylvania expedition to Saqqara, where he did pioneering work on the Old Kingdom Tomb of Meri-Teti and the Middle Kingdom tombs of Ihy and Hetip. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The introduction to ancient Egypt 11 April 2001
By A Customer
Many people are fascinated by the history of Egypt, however there are a vast array of titles available. This book stands head and shoulders above the rest as an ideal introduction. It covers all the main aspects of ancient Egypt such as mythology, gods, ceremony and architecture. The text itself is clear and well organised and is supplemented well by diagrams and beautiful photographs. The index is large, enabling easy referencing and the book is organised into well defined areas meaning you can simply dip into it. Overall it is simply a superb introduction to the subject.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By gilly8
This is a very thorough book, delving deep into the entire histoy of Egypt, starting with their earliest history as a nation, and going through all of the aspects of their history up through the Roman conquest.

It covers all the various dynasties, has an overview of the entire history (4000+ years of it) and sections on religious belief, the importance of the belief in the afterlife, their language, written (hieroglyphs and demotic (demotic is more like short hand and almost looks like our cursive writing...much easier and simpler than hieroglyphs!) Mathematics, astronomy, medicine, the building of the pyramids--- every aspect is thoroughly discussed by an expert in the field of Egyptology.

Each chapter (there are 15) is written by a different specialist in the field of Egyptology. Their credentials are listed in the dust jacket cover. They hold many different titles, are professors, university and museum curators, and all are experts in their given field. (Such as Dr Ian Shaw, editor of the Oxford History of Ancint Egypt who wrote the chapter called "The Settled World".) Or Dr Zahi Hawass, the head of the Cairo Museum and of Egyptian antiquities in Egypt, who wrote the chapter on the Pyramids.

The chapter headings include "The Celestial Realm", "Egyptian Art", "Women in Egypt", "Egypt and the World Beyond", and many more. Aside from the wealth of written knowledge, every single page has two or more lovely illustrations and photographs of the best of the artwork, tomb painting, statuary, jewelry, etc to illustrate what is being discussed.

This may be the one book on ancient Egypt to have if you can only have just one.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book took me back to 7-10th grade, a period during which I developed an intense dislike of history. In books like this, facts were dished up without much context, there was no narrative (stories, personalities, evolution of war, architecture, etc.), and the prose while clear was as interesting as lead. It was not until I got to college that I realized more sophisticated histories could make the subject really live.

I suppose I should have expected this from so basic an introduction. It covers thousands of years in a few paragraphs. Indeed, each page is formulaic with a single subject (e.g. Houses of the Gods) and two inserts to break up two or three paragraphs of crude description. That makes for an exceptionally dull and elementary read, really about the 9th grade level.

You get a description of the grand outlines. There were 3 kingdoms in Ancient Egypt, with 2 in-between periods during which authority broke down due to the centrifugal forces of strong local governors. Art was not aesthetic, but an expression of religious belief and ritual, incorporated into every object. Their mythology was similar to that of the Greeks, some would say they influenced each other; the sky was seen as water because it was blue. In addition to maintaining security, Pharoahs acted as priests to maintain balance in the universe; mummified, they went to the next life as rich men. The language was "related" to Arabic and Hebrew, though further explanation is frustratingly omitted. Much of the space in the book is taken up by listings of names of people and places, which are meaningless.

While the basics are there, as a reading experience this is worse than dull. It can kill the reader's interest in a subject. Not recommended, except as a dictionary. While I have not yet found a good history of Egypt, there must be better ones out there somewhere.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent coffee table book with vivid images 4 Aug 2000
By Heath Buckmaster - Published on Amazon.com
I have always been fascinated with ancient egypt, and have many books on the location, and its history. This is a perfect coffee table book, in fact, I have it on my coffee table always. The images are vivid, and some breathtaking. There are historical details about the land, its culture, myths, gods, etc. The book also has wonderful images of many of the artifacts found in tombs during excavations, as well as detailed accounts of some of the gods and goddesses and their lives and influences on society. Other topics covered are the tombs, artwork, language, architecture, women in egypt and their roles, etc. wonderful book.
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 11 Jan 2000
By Thrilled - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very interesting and extremely readable book. The writer does not try to cram information, rather he arranges the information as well as the illustrations in a balanced and attractive way. He is also honest about what information is in question and what evidence is considered reliable. There are many colorful illustrations and this makes it all the more interesting to read and get involved. The writer makes a civilisation of long ago come alive today.
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walk Like An Egyptian 4 Mar 2002
By Author Bill Peschel - Published on Amazon.com
"Ancient Egypt" is the perfect antidote to those Time-Life books about ancient civilizations, where you look at the pictures and read the text and wonder, "is that all there is?"
Well, of course there is. The problem is finding it. This collection of essays uses words, pictures, artwork and imaginative reconstructions to describe the ancient world ruled by gods and which built monuments that have lasted millennia.
The book's 15 chapters opens all aspects of the Nile kingdom's world. In addition to the expected sections on the pyramids, its hieroglyphs and Pharaohs, "Ancient Egypt" also delves into religious beliefs, political campaigns, the role of women, the development of towns and trade and the daily rituals of its people.
Wrapped around the text are superlative photographs, shorter articles about equally fascinating subjects (a profile of Ramesses the Great in the section on Pharaohs, for example, or on the "letters" to the dead, written on simple pottery bowls and deposited in the tomb or coffin), plenty of colorful reproductions of Egyptian art so vivid that the course of individual brush-strokes could be seen, and commissioned drawings giving theories of how pyramids were built, and what the Temple of Karnak must have looked like at its height.
But what really shines are the little touches. A closeup of an Egyptian artist, his scruffy hair and scraggy beard making him look like a New York bohemian, using an odd-shaped tool on a wooden beam; the vivid face of a long-dead woman painted on a board and included with her mummy wrappings, gazing at the reader with the poise of nobility; a piece of prose passed among the scribes that mocks all other trades ("the potter is under the soil, although he stands among the living / He grubs in the mud more than a pig in order to bake his pots"); a drawing of a fortress built to impress the Nubians in southern Egypt, looking for all the world, with its towers and crenellations like something out of medieval Europe.
So much about ancient Egypt seems so familiar, but, really, we were just watching "The Ten Commandments," or remembering the villain King Tut from the old Batman TV show."Ancient Egypt" shows us what we were missing.
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb accompaniement to visiting sites of Ancient Egypt 9 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Used this book during a visit to the ancient sites of Egypt and found it superb as an extension of the information provided by local guides. Really helped to bring ancient Egypt alive, even returned with a replica of the blue hippopotamus shown on page 219. Occasional cross reference errors such as Page 115 ref to 'illustration, p126' is actually on p122, and (I think) ref to tomb of Ramesses IV on p114 should read Ramesses VI, having visited the actual tomb in The Valley of the Kings. This however did not detract from the overall superb value including first class details of Egypts real treasures,'The Temple of Karnak' p208-208 and 'Inside the Great Pyramid' p182-183. These diagrams alone make the book worth taking on a visit.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I could only have one book on Ancient Egypt... 10 May 2001
By Platanthera102 - Published on Amazon.com
David Silverman, author of several fine books as well as Curator of the Egyptian Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, has made a major contribution to the literature in this comprehensive, engagingly written and well-illustrated volume. I have to admit a bias, since I studied hieroglyphics in one of his classes at the University of Chicago a while ago. His enthusiasm and knowledge shine forth in this mature work, which draws on the talents of the best people in the field today. I would give this book a ten-star rating!
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