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Village Life in Ancient Egypt: Laundry Lists and Love Songs [Paperback]

A. G. McDowell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 50.00
Price: 46.88 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Dec 2001
Deir el-Medina, the village of the workmen who built the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, is a uniquely rich source of information about life in Egypt between 1539 and 1075 BC. The abundant archaeological remains are complemented by tens of thousands of texts documenting the thoughts and activities of the villagers. Many of the texts are written on papyrus but most are on flakes of limestone which, being free and readily available, were used for even the most casual and temporary of records. They include private letters, administrative accounts, magic spells, records of purchases, last wills and testaments, laundry lists, and love songs. The value of these rare glimpses of daily life is greatly enhanced by the concentration of texts in one time and place.

This book combines translations of over 200 of these texts spanning the entire range of preserved genres with stunning illustrations. The reader will, therefore, be able to experience the life of the villagers through their own words whilst viewing places known to each individual writer. Each text is introduced by a commentary that provides the context and explains the contribution each text makes to our understanding of Egyptian society at this period.

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Village Life in Ancient Egypt: Laundry Lists and Love Songs + Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt
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Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (20 Dec 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199247536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199247530
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 14 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This is one of the best volumes on Deir El Medina, and is an outstanding scholarly achievement, certain to prove useful to Egyptologists and historian alike. (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)

About the Author

A. G. McDowell is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The texts collected in this anthology belong to the New Kingdom (c.1539-1075 BC), a period of a different character than earlier eras of Egyptian history. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but... 31 Jan 2008
... why is this paperback so expensive?!?

This book deserves to be a big seller because it an absolutely excellent and fascinating collection of texts about the community at Deir el-Medina. The translated texts are sensibly grouped together and have both commentary and further reading.

Because of the content, for which the author should be heartily congratulated, I am giving this 5 stars, but the publishers deserve no stars for pricing it so ridiculously.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent scholarly realization 4 Jan 2010
By Ciho Miron - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Andrea McDowell is Professor at the Seton Hall University School of Law, New Jersey, being specialized in legal history and property. One of her recent concerns is the American legal history. Let's remind some important data about her Egyptological career. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 with the thesis: "Jurisdiction in the Workmen's Community of Deir el-Medina". A. McDowell has taught Egyptology at Leiden, Oxford and The John Hopkins Universities, being considered one of the leading specialists on Ancient Egyptian legal and social history.
The "Village Life in Ancient Egypt. Laundry Lists and Love Songs" is one of the best sets of translation concerning the community from Deir el-Medina, a village where lived in the workers of the royal necropolis from Thebes. A short "Introduction" place in time, and contexts the written sources translated in the present book. The title is a bit misleading, because the rendered texts cover, as far as possible, the whole range of the activities performed by the villagers. The author grouping them in 6 separate chapters: family and friends; daily life; religion; education, learning, and literature; law and work on the royal tomb. Every translation is preceding by a succinct explanation. The translated texts are rendered in accurate English. Perhaps, some textual notes placed after each translation was expected especially by the average reader. Anyhow, this handsome book stands for a treasure of sources with regard to the understanding of the everyday life of the people leaved at Deir el-Medina.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daily Life 3000 Years Ago 14 Jan 2008
By Louise - Published on
A.G Mc Dowell has written a book about the workers who build the tombs of the kings and queens of Egypt's New Kingdom (circa 1550 - 1075 BCE). Those workers, whose daily lives we follow through a wealth of original written sources, lived in a village; today the ruins are called Deir el-Medina, back then the village was simply called "The Village".

The workers lived with their families in small houses in Deir el-Medina, and while their main concern was building the tomb of the Pharaoh, they also had all the problems and sorrows and joys as modern people have. We can read about their problems with superiors at work, their love life, marriage, kids, sickness and about their interest in suing each other for minor crimes!

While this book use the original sources, Mc Dowell explains each little text in a modern and easily understood language, and this book is for everyone who wants to know how the Ancient Egyptians lived more than 3000 years ago.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of McDowell's 'Village Life in Ancient Egypt' 17 Oct 2010
By Ryan Mease - Published on
This is a great primary presentation of everyday life in Deir el-Medina. The translator takes advantage of the unique culture surrounding the construction of the pyramids and exploits it to great effect. McDowell presents something of a ancient, local newspaper, and his presentation is very satisfying.
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