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An Ancient Egyptian Herbal Paperback – 4 Sep 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: British Museum Press; 2 edition (4 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714119741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714119748
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 17 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The ancient Egyptians were highly skilled in the use of herbs and spices for medicines, cooking, cosmetics, perfumes and many other purposes. Drawing on texts written by the Egyptians and their neighbours, and on works by classical authors and the Copts, Lise Manniche has reconstructed an herbal of 94 species of plants and trees used from before the pharaohs to the Coptic period. Each plant is named in Latin and English and, where known, in ancient Egyptian, Greek and modern Arabic. An account is given of the plants' special properties, with authentic recipes for cosmetics and cures. In her introduction, the author discusses the many uses the ancient Egyptians made of herbs and flowers, and the importance of plants for funerary and festive occasions. This updated edition includes an expanded introduction with information from the latest analyses from the Louvre and L'Oreal laboratories on the use of 'wet chemistry' in the preparation of cosmetics, and additional material on temple perfume, exotic scents, the late use of roses, and kyphi and tiryac.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aphrodite on 30 Dec. 2007
Lise Manniche starts this fabulously concise book with an thorough introduction to herbs, plants and spices and their uses within the Ancient Egyptian culture. These uses extend to all areas of Ancient Egyptian life, namely food preparation, cosmetics, perfume, burial rituals and of course for medicinal use. Manniche explores all of these sectors in great detail and paints a vivid picture of life within the Ancient Egyptian period. The latter section of the book comprises an index of the herbs, plants and spices used including all of their antiquarian uses and thorough lists of ingredients for making authentic concoctions to deal with a variety of different ailments.
I found this to be a fascinating and informative read, enhanced by the rich, descriptive narrative and the interesting collection of photographs and line drawings. I found it incredible to notice that the Ancient Egyptian herbal uses are comparable to modern day uses for herbal supplements.
If you have any interest in herbalism, or Ancient Egypt then treat yourself to this wonderfully absorbing book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Iset TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2012
Originally published in 1989, but updated and revised in 2006 to include recent research, Lise Manniche's Ancient Egyptian Herbal is an informative, easy read, ideally recommended to anyone with an interest in both ancient Egypt and anything to do with plants - cooking, medicine, perfumery, ornamentation etc.

The first half of the book provides an introduction to the topic and discusses the surviving evidence and the ways in which plants were used for the aforementioned uses. The second half of the book is the actual herbal catalogue. The subject is mildly interesting, from my point of view, though not gripping, and it's presented in a clear way. Manniche looks at the uses of each plant in not just ancient Egypt but also Coptic, Hellenistic, Medieval and modern Egypt, and the occasional cross-over reference to known ancient Assyrian remedies also. As a resource, it fulfils its function well. The use of illustrations from the ancient Egyptian world, where possible, also enlivens the text.

All in all, does what it says on the tin. I would have liked the images to have been in colour, and at some point it will no doubt need updating again to account for recent research.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James on 17 Dec. 2010
I've ordered before from this seller and they never disappoint.
Great quality of items, careful packaging, fast delivery. Couldn't ask for more!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A treasure for those interested in historic medicine!! 8 Jan. 2009
By Nadine - Published on
Verified Purchase
Overall, I think this book is just terrific! It is very well researched and documented, as you'd expect from a true scientist. Dr. Manniche covers a wide range of herbal evidence available in ancient text and hieroglyphic iconography, compiling all this treasured info in a beautifully concise way. She also uses her extensive knowledge to extrapolate some possible herbal usages, which really makes this book a step above the normal dry text it might have been without it. But she doesn't overstep her scientific bounds.

There are plenty of black and white illustrations, but I would have loved to have seen some color plates in this book, as there must be a plethora of examples in Egyptian imagery to enhance her in-depth treatise. It really left me craving MORE!! This is a splendid book for anyone interested in the ancient roots of our medical history, and I hope that as new evidence reveals itself, that she will update this book in coming years. This has a special niche on my bookshelf!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Rare Five Star 13 July 2009
By Jessie R. Smith Jr. - Published on
Verified Purchase
It really takes a lot for me to leave a five star rating, but this book really deserves it. I don't really read a lot of books on Egyptology but this one caught my eye while browsing for incense making books. It certainly changed my thinking on several fronts about the ancient world (not just Egypt). May have to try a few of the food recipes too. Really easy reading too, not dry at all.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding work for both reference and pleasure reading 10 April 2012
By Sarah Stegall - Published on
One of the problems with writing about "ancient Egypt" is, which "ancient Egypt" are you writing about? All too often, authors will group together research pertaining to, say Fourth Dynasty Egypt and the Ptolemaic period, eras that are two thousand years apart. This is rather like covering the field of medicine from Hippocrates to today -- such compression often leads to distortion. Lise Manniche is smart enough to avoid this trap, and clearly delineates information about plant use in "ancient Egypt" by locating it firmly in a timeline. We have no evidence, for example, of opium use from early Egypt (the time of the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza), but we do know Egyptians used it after the Greeks introduced it. Manniche makes it clear, when discussing Egyptians' use of this plant, when and where it came into the culture and how it affected medical/pharmacological practice at the time. Her line drawings are clear and unambiguous, better illustratoins than photographs would have been. Although the sources for our knowledge of Egyptian pharmacology are meager -- we still cannot accurately translate many of the terms for plants used in medical papyrii, so we don't know what herbs they are using -- she documents them thoroughly, even to the extent of giving plant names in hieroglyphics, English, and Arabic. She expands the usual scope of such research beyond the papyrii and tomb wall paintings, to include Islamic folk medicine, which inherited the ancient Egyptian medical practice after the culture that nurtured it had faded away. For anyone looking for an in-depth, scholarly overview of what the ancient Egyptians used to treat fevers, headache and hair loss, this is an invaluable resource.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Ok book 10 Dec. 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Verified Purchase
Kind of a dry book. However, this subject is very speculative and I applaud the author for making an attempt! It seemed to focus more on the cosmetic and aromatherapeutic aspects of herbalism, but over all it's an interesting book. I wish there was more literature on this subject. What is presented to us in this era (and in this book) seems so confused and watered down that there is little to no way to define a practice out of it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Egyptian Herbs 27 April 2012
By M. Legg - Published on
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I am an herbalist who is fascinated by the gardens of Egypt and their herbs.This book has all kinds of great information on Egyptian history and how to use the herbs they did.Highly recommended and the price was great.
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