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A History of Ancient Egypt Hardcover – 19 Nov 1992

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; First English Edition edition (19 Nov. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631174729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631174721
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 16.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 944,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"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.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

This is an account of the rise and fall of the civilization in the Nile Valley, covering the first human settlement (c. 120,000 BC) to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 BC. It is the first reign–by–reign history of ancient Egypt to be published since Sir Alan Gardiner′s Egypt of the Pharaohs (1961) and takes full account of the many archaeological, scientific and linguistic discoveries of the last three decades. The author blends archaeological and textual evidence into a lucid and vivid narrative and, by quoting extensively from contemporary sources, such as the funerary autobiographies of individuals and the official accounts of military campaigns, adds a strong sense of atmosphere to the unfolding of events.

Nicolas Grimal recounts the political, cultural and economic history of the Egyptians within the framework of an intricate and well–argued chronology. At a time when the vast accumulation of information from ancient Egypt is becoming almost too diverse for a single mind to encompass, he has managed to transform – without disguising current gaps in knowledge – disparate sources of evidence and the findings of many different disciplines into a coherent historical sequence. This is in itself a considerable achievement: it has also provided the means of presenting one of the most scholarly and at the same time most readable histories ever written of a civilization whose mysteries and achievements have fascinated the West for well over two millennia.

For the paperback edition a section of further reading in English has been prepared by Kent R. Weekes, Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 2 April 2001
Format: Paperback
A serious but readable survey of Ancient Egyptian history,one to read to counter all the rubbish written about UFO's etc which seem to be so popular.Will give you a good gounding in the subject.
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Format: Paperback
This is not for the uninitiated. A comprehensive review which in the first 80 pages seems more interested in who is who's mother, how long each pharoah may have reigned and where they chose to build their tombs than introducing interesting information or stories to draw the reader into the subject. Not for the beginner. Terminology is not explained. A difficult book to enter for those like myself who are just looking for an introducion to the subject of the history of Ancient Egypt. I can't imagine who the targeted audience may be. Anyone interested in the points discussed would be more than likely well versed in the subject and go to specialised books on specific periods rather than an overall history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great book for college students studying archaeology and ancient history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Basic, but nice.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to Egyptology 7 April 2006
By Neutiquam Erro - Published on
Format: Paperback
A History of Ancient Egypt, a translation from the original French, is an excellent and readable introduction to Egyptian History. It provides an overview of the major political and social events in Egypt beginning with a brief survey of prehistory and ending with the conquest by Alexander the Great. The book covers the old, middle, and new kingdoms as well as the intermediate periods and ends with two chapters on the Nubian/Saite and Persian/Greek periods. It also includes a chapter on the "invasion" of the Hyksos as well as chapter describing the religious changes made by Akhenaten.

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.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its what I'll use unless I find something better 23 Oct. 2002
By TammyJo Eckhart - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of the textbooks we used in a class at Columbia University. It is rather older than I'd ideally like an introductory textbook to be, but until I see a better and more accessible book this may have to do. I think Grimal (and Shaw) do a good job of interweaving economics, culture, and political history together; a rather difficult thing to do at times and there are moments of confusion in the text. However, many other books on Egyptian history focus on one particular issue or use one historical approach and those are just not appropriate for introductory texts in either the classroom or for the layperson. I think that if a teacher were to use other information in lecture or assignments this particular textbook is just fine for the college level.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for the General reader 4 Jan. 2004
By Fabian Boudville - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I would recommend Nicolas Grimal's 1988 work on Ancient Egypt to both the professional Egyptologist and the average reader. I personally enjoyed his book because of his clear and concise prose. Grimal's book covers Egypt's Ancient History from the PreDynastic period until 333 BC when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. Grimal never tries to hide gaps in Egyptologist's knowledge of certain periods of Egypt's History--especially the serious difficulties in distinguishing numerous Libyan era Pharaohs who used similiar prenomens/royal names such as Usermaatre Setepenre Osorkon II and III and Hedjkheperre Setepenre Takelot I and II--and smoothly recounts the political, cultural and economic history of Ancient Egypt within a coherent sequence and well supported Chronology. Grimal's book holds up very well for the Old, Middle, New Kingdom and post-664 BC Egypt. His careful treatment of the literature and culture of the First and Second Intermediate Periods is particularly commendable. However, his study of the Third Intermediate Period Era (TIPE) does not contain an update of the most significant archaeological discoveries and theories which have surfaced from 1989 until 2005. In this brief period, Egyptologist's understanding of the TIPE have increased exponentially.

Since 1988, a new Dynasty 22 Tanite king--Sheshonq IV who intervened between Sheshonq III and Pami--has been discovered. Pami's Highest date is now his 7th and Final Year, rather than his 6th Year, as an Annal document from Heliopolis which records his Yearly donations to the local Gods of this city, attests. (Source: 1998 BIFAO article by M. Gabolde) Most Egyptologists today accept the evidence from David Aston's seminal JEA 75 (1989) pp.139-153 paper that Takelot II ruled Egypt concurrently with two Tanite Dynasty 22 kings--Osorkon II and Sheshonq III. Takelot II controlled Upper Egypt where he and his son, the High Priest Osorkon B, are well attested while the 22nd Dynasty Pharaohs held Lower Egypt. Takelot II did not succeed Osorkon II at Tanis (Sheshonq III did), and is now believed to have died around the 22nd Year of Sheshonq III as the Chronicle of Prince Osorkon implies. (ie: Year 25 of Takelot II=Year 22 of Sheshonq III) Aston's hypothesis has now been accepted by most Egyptologists such as Aidan Dodson, MA Leahy, Jansen-Winkeln, Rolf Krauss and J. Von Beckerath--the latter in his 1997 German language book, Chronology of the Egyptian Pharaohs. The tomb of a certain Hedjkheperre Setepenre Takelot in the Tanite Royal Necropolis and a Year 9 Bubastis stela have now been attributed to Takelot I, rather than Takelot II by all Egyptologists, including K.A. Kitchen himself in his 3rd edition (1996) book on the Third Intermediate Period. The confusion in establishing the identities of these 2 distinct kings was caused by the fact that both rulers employed the same prenomen--Hedjkheperre Setepenre. Finally, a stela dating to Takelot III's Year 13 was found in February 2005 at Dakhla by American archaeologists.

Grimal notes the Libyan chaos of the final years of the 22nd Dynasty which occured in Lower Egypt. By the time of the Nubian king Piye's Year 20 conquest of Egypt, both Takelot III and his poorly known brother Rudamun (at 2-3 Years) were dead, as Piye's Victory stela shows since their Kingdom had fragmented into several city states headed by local kings such as Nimlot of Hermopolis and Peftjaubast of Herakleopolis. Meanwhile, the death of Shoshenq V led to the collapse of the 22nd Dyansty in Lower Egypt as numerous local kings appeared in its wake from Osorkon IV at Tanis and Bubastis, Iuput II at Leontopolis and Tefnakht of Sais--the most powerful Egyptian ruler who posed a threat to Nubian control over Egypt.

All in all, Grimal's book is a worthy successor to Alan Gardiner's invaluable 1961 'Egypt of the Pharaohs' work, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of the many different eras of Ancient Egypt. There are few other Egyptological works that have the breath, depth and quality of Nicolas Grimal's study which takes up more than 400 pages before you even reach the Bibliography. Professor Grimal is a master in his field at the elite University of Paris, Sorbonne. You definitely cannot go wrong with this book.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exhausting resource in that I doubt it could be exhausted 21 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
While a little dry, this work does manage to span the whole of Egyptian history--Archaic period to Graeco-Roman times--which is a feat in itself, especially when all possible facts are squeezed in wherever possible. While this last factor does become a little overwhelming in places, it still shows why "A History of Ancient Egypt" finds a place in many of the bibliographies of its successors. The chapters in the new Kingdom--particularly the XVIIIth Dynasty--are a wonderful source of knowledge pertaining to the pharaohs within. The plates are fine, although some are a bit grainy. For those of you who wonder, I make a habit of commenting on the quality of the plates because they make up part of any book's price. What few faults this book has are mostly in readability, not scholarly details, so nevermind the one or two fuzzy plates and indulge. While not the first thing I would recomend, it beats Kent Week's take on KV5 without trying and has no such petty and careless mistakes as miscounting the number of Akhenaten and Nefertiti's daughters (six, not five, Kent).
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title 20 July 2008
By T. Carlsson - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a well-written book and the English translation is excellent. But it needs to be said that this is a history of Egyptian pharaohs with a particular emphasis on power struggles and building projects. The pharaonic succession is recounted in detail, and the layout of several temples and monuments is presented in the text and the figures.

Other aspects of ancient Egyptian society, such as the organisation of the economy, administration, law, the military, the hieroglyphs or religious beliefs and worldviews are not even mentioned in this book. All topics involving the ordinary people of Egypt have been ignored.

As a result, this book takes a very narrow look at ancient Egypt when it focuses exlusively on dynastic politics and archeological monuments. There's nothing wrong with that, but in my opinion a more suitable title for this book would have been 'A history of Egyptian pharaohs and their buildings'
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