on 17 July 2007
Tyldesley, what can I say?! What a writer! She more than anyone truly brought Egypt to life for me. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt taught me, even drilled me, in history. She, on the other hand, turned me into a dyed-in-the-linen brainwashed Egyptophile. Her publications are eminently readable and human. The way this book combines both a Royal and commoners perspective on the New Kingdom gives a pleasingly rounded view of Egypt's age of Empire.
One word of warning... Once you realise how much the world of AE can offer in it's history and cultural study, you can pretty much wave goodbye to all your free time, money and peaceful sleep...
"What are you doing with your break this summer?"
"I am going to sit in a lecture theatre and learn Middle Egyptian vocabulary and hieroglyphs"
"Uh, OK... Any plans for the Christmas breaks?"
"I'm going to traspe around the desert, kick the dust around and look at old carved stones and dead people"
"riiiiiight, of course"
Be that as it may, Tyldesley's books make a good night time read, being less taxing than the more student-orientated academic books after a long day, and also adding life to the facts, bringing an amused smile to my face many a time. I imagine it'd also be a good book to historically/culturally indoctrinate any older children you may have, less they become too interested in the Assyrians or other "foreign wretches"
This book left me sad, however.
"We are not now that strength which in old days moved Earth and Heaven"
I met Joyce Tyldesley and her partner Steven Snape at a one day seminar they were giving on Ramesses II. Their presentation was excellent and during a break I had chance for a chat and enquire about books. Joyce wrote a book based on a Lion Television series (in association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises) ‘Egypt’s Golden Empire’ and uses the same title for her book. The series was aired by BBC2 as a documentary on three consecutive Sundays, 4-18 November 2001 and is now available as DVD/Video and there is a website [...] I thoroughly enjoyed the broadcasts especially because they focussed on one of my favourite periods, the New Kingdom, littered with characters we have all heard of before, such as: Nefertiti, Tutankhamen and Ramesses the Great. I would put Joyce’s book into the category of easy reading because it is pitched for a broad audience and would be ideal for anyone discovering this period for the first time. The book provides a guideline chronology of the late 17th Dynasty through to and including 20th Dynasty complete with probable Pharaoh and reign length. There is a map of the region to set the scene, supported by excellent colour photographs courtesy of Lion Television, Steven Snape and The Egyptian Museum Cairo. The book starts in Thebes, 1560BC, The Second Intermediate Period with king Sekenenre and ends with Rameses III. The main body of the book comprises of 286-pages spread over 15-chapters. This equates to small chunks of approximately 19-pages per chapter, relatively easy to absorb. The pharaohs explored most are Ahmose, Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, Horemheb, Ramesses II and Ramesses III. The content of the chapters is light so all in all the book is easy to digest. The author links the Pharaohs, archaeology associated with the period through to the modern day Egyptologist discovering them. Joyce reflects on the modern day interpretation of the finds and helps to paint a series of sketches of what life may have been like during this fascinating time-span. This series of snapshots of everyday life of the commoner right through to Pharaoh provides something memorable to latch onto. The book is excellent as a stand alone piece of work; I would thoroughly recommend it and advise seeking out the 3-part documentary for maximum enjoyment.
on 25 December 2010
"Egypt's Golden Empire" is a popularized book about the New Kingdom, the period in ancient Egyptian history lasting from 1550 BC to 1069 BC.
This was the "classical" period in Egyptian history, when Egypt was a great power, controlling an empire from Nubia in the south to Syria in the north. Even the kings of Babylon had to send tribute to the Egyptian rulers. Most well known pharaohs lived during the New Kingdom: Hatshepsut, Akhenaten, Tutankhamen and Ramesses II. And, of course, Akhenaten's famous queen, Nefertiti. Of equal importance, but perhaps less known to the general public, are Thutmosis III, Amenhotep III, Horemheb and Ramesses III.
Tyldesley takes the reader on a fascinating journey through New Kingdom history and monuments. The book also contains chapters on the lives of women, soldiers, peasants, artisans and undertakers. There is also a chapter on Egyptian religion.
"Egypt's Golden Empire" isn't a scholarly work. It's intended for the general public. However, the author is an archaeologist with a special interest in Egypt. The book is refreshingly free from sensationalist speculations about connections between Akhenaten and Moses, the ultimate fate of Nefertiti or the "murder" of Tutankhamen. It's solid (almost a bit boring) Egyptology through out. But then, it may come closer to the truth than the more speculative works...
My only problem with this book is that it lacks an introductory chapter on the Old and Middle Kingdoms, and a concluding chapter on later periods in Egyptian history. The reader might get a bit confused reading a book about ancient Egypt which doesn't mention the pyramids or Cleopatra!
Still, this is definitely the book to start if you know absolutely nothing about New Kingdom Egypt, or need detox from more sensationalist and pseudoscientific works.