on 14 November 2012
As the blurb on the back cover tells us, this book represents "the fruits of more than three decades of research and excavation" by Barry Kemp. The sense of proximity to the subject - in several senses but including that of of having lived through and even become part of the history of the site - is conveyed throughout. Detailed description and analysis are complemented by forceful and memorable commentary. For example, "Akhenaten moved to Armana with a plan in his mind and a clean expanse of desert on which to develop it."
Proximity has not taken the author too close to his subject. There is also dispassionate judgement. He rightly points out that the images we are used to seeing of ancient Egypt emphasise everything that was "gigantic and wonderful". However, this book is as clear about what was more limited, apparently fairly arbitrary and, indeed, even after many years of excavation and exploration, still very little understood.
If I were to quibble, I suppose a criticism could be that one or two of the photographs are less than fully clear in the way they have been reproduced or taken in the first place. However, my overall response is one of respect for what Kemp has achieved at Amarna and how it is conveyed in this book. Wonderful.
on 31 October 2012
I pre-ordered this book knowing that I would not be dissapointed, and infact it has surpassed my best expectations. Among many books about the Armarna period, this stands out in it's great attention to the facts and details as we know them. And as a previous reviewer has written, it is not dry as dust list of facts and figures. Barry Kemp cuts through the conjecture and often outright weird nonsense surrounding Akhenaten and his city, and presents us with a believable living city populated by real people. I think the general reader will get as much from this book as the Armarna specialists, and this is mostly due to Barry Kemp's writing style and the humane way he treats his subject. There is a fascinating section about how the city may have smelt, yet he makes this otherwise mundane and esoteric matter very readable. And for the Atenists out there, yes, I know you exist, Kemp does address, very clearly and with some insight, the issue of the Aten and religion. There are also very good and clear illustrations, some in colour, of the city as a whole, individual buildings and even the reality of how the so very perfectly close fitting clothes depicted in Armana art would have looked on a person in reality, less than flattering. When it comes to the murky, curious, bizarre and contentious world of Akhenaten, very often the books by Donald Redford and Cyril Aldred are used as references. I contend that this sharply focused and very well written book by Barry Kemp, surpases both by some distance as regards Akhetaten, and reality.
on 11 October 2014
Outstanding book. For a long time I was looking for more than the usual retelling of the Pharaoh Akhenaten. I bought this book after reading the glowing reviews and boy am I glad that I did.
If you want the suggested romance of the Amarna period, or speculation, don't bother with this book. All you will find here is the truth based on the facts and evidence. Barry Kemp refuses to bow to speculation and simply presents the facts, the options and leaves the rest to you. This is how it should be. For example. How many times have we been told that Akhenaten obliterated all the temples to the traditional ancient egyptian gods in favor of his god the Aten? The evidence doesn't point to this at all and Mr Kemp says as much. This in itself is a revelation and a game changer. If you want to read facts and not drama, then buy this book.
on 29 October 2012
This could have been a dry as dust report on what Professor Kemp has discovered at Amarna over the years. It is not! Some of the writing is almost poetic, and the author is so honest about what we still do not know. There is no mystique here, but a fascinating description about what we know and reasonably surmise about the fascinating site. It is not for beginners, but to readers who found the books on Akhenaten by Cyril Aldred and Nicholas Reeves fascinating, this will be a gripping read. Like all the Thames and Hudson Egyptology books, this is beautifully bound and presented.
on 6 January 2013
This is the best book I have read in a long time.
Admittedly I began the book hoping for some clarification of the theories about the royal family. What Kemp presents instead - and presents exceedingly well - is a full and dynamic report of the internal goings on in the city of Amarna based on archaeological evidence. Instead of a list of 'maybes' and 'perhaps's', this is a masterpiece of fact written by an expert. It's readable Egyptology that an interested amateur (like me!) could follow.
Kemp takes us through what life in Amarna might have been like; daily life, its religious aspects, the way that normal people regarded the Aten and the reasons for the removal of the court from Thebes. It is written clearly and concisely throughout. Instead of being a book of conspiracies and guesses, this is a book of facts based upon more than thirty years of study and excavation.
Whilst I wish that there had been a little bit more information about the intriguing Queen Tiye, this book is a rare treat - I couldn't put it down!
on 30 December 2012
Finally a book that just tells you everything you want to know ,without the need to make ridiculous statements ie Akhenaten was , gender confused ,a madman , an alien I've heard and unfortunately read them all . The definitive book on an fascinating period in Egyptian history .
on 29 January 2015
Professor Barry Kemp is one of the most experienced egyptologist who has devoted over thirty years to Amarnas exploration, in this book he offers insights into the life and times of the citizens of ancient egypt about the city of akhenaten and his wife nefertiti and the amarna and its people,this is one of the most amazing books that i am reading now i am finding it very hard to put down, the book tells you about building a vision, about akhenatens visions and the coming of the crowds, his resources, the landscape and human resources, and the ancient veiws of the temples and the architecture, the spiritual of life at amarna,and what kind of city that he had,the amarna house and the villages and his people, this book is the most amazing book about akhenaten and his life and nefertiti his wife amarna and its people this is a most interesting book i have ever read, great history book a must to read.well done Barry Kemp for putting this fantastic book together.
This is a gem of a book. Written in a clear, lucid, up to date non patronising style that means that not only does the reader come away better informed but that there are plenty of points to ponder.
Some 300 pages in length, with masses of line drawings and some high quality colour photos Mr Kemp covers all aspects from building the city to it’s end and also covers present day visiting. Personally, while I enjoyed every page I found the chapter on “What kind of city” the most intriguing. If you are interested in Ancient Egypt, the real Egypt and people, then you can’t possibly fail to find this book a great read. Heartily recommended.
on 27 March 2015
The advent of a new book from Thames and Hudson is always something to look forward to and when the author is the esteemed Barry Kemp and the subject is about the Amarna Period then this is a very special publication indeed. This book does not disappoint, with 320 pages and 287 illustrations, 53 of which are in colour.
After thirty years of excavation at Akhetaten, Barry Kemp has produced a detailed, and perhaps definitive, report on the city of Amarna and its inhabitants.
The city Akhenaten built as his new capital for Egypt, more commonly known by its modern Arabic name of Amarna, will be familiar to many of our readers, but this new publication offers the chance to revise all you thought you knew about the city, its temples, buildings, artwork and inhabitants.
Almost every page of the publication is brimming with new information and detailed plans and diagrams.
Kemp’s writing is often challenging and original and this volume is no exception as the author offers his own interpretation of the period and the discoveries accrued in thirty years of excavation.
Chapters deal with Akhenaten’s vision for the city, its layout and his religious reform; the agricultural resources available to the city, and the building materials that could be used for its construction. The many temples found throughout the city are considered in depth, as are the royal apartments, palaces, villas, offices, housing and the ‘Workman's Village’.
Based on the domestic architecture and the items found at the site, Kemp tries to reconstruct how people would have lived within the city and what their daily would have been like. Noise and smells are something which would have pervaded the entire city and the author does an excellent job of reminding us what life in a busy city would really have been like. The author also looks at religious beliefs in Amarna and how death would have been treated in a cult that had abolished the rites of Osiris, and a familiar afterlife in his underground realm.
My only real criticism is that the index print is too small to read easily, but other than that the book is well worth purchasing it you want to learn more about the Amarna Period.
Review by ancientegyptmagazine dot com
on 3 April 2013
I absolutley enjoyed this book. Pre ordered it and was waiting eagerly for months. I was not disappointed at all. As with Berry Kemp's other books this one kept
me engrossed throughout the book from start to finish.
Master of his subject on Amarna has done it again and his years of hardwork and excavtions and his most intimate knowedgle shines through . His language and presentation is SPOT ON. Quality of photos, colours, binding is brilliant.
I thoroughly RECOMMEND this book to all ancient egypt lovers, especially AMARNA PERIOD.
5 ***** stars from me and well deserved too.
Cant wait to read his next masterpiece. Well done Berry Kemp.Keep up the good work