The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Anglais) Broché – 19 février 2004
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Revue de presse
If you only want to read one book on Egypt, then read this one ... even people who consider themselves as experts on Ancient Egypt will find much to set them thinking: And while such Egyptologists will have a field day, the casual reader will find plenty to arouse their interest, ranging from the story of the world's first strike ... to the revelation that Scotland Yard possesses a print taken from the hand of a mummy. (The Northern Echo)
splendid, lavishly illustrated book ... the only single-volume work to cover 700,000 years of Ancient Egypt from the stone age to Roman conquest ... Lucidly edited by Ian Shaw ... you get the facts without the dust. An excellent choice for enthusiasts and novices alike; even better if you can persuade someone to buy for you as a present. (Roddy Phillips, Aberdeen Press and Journal)
From the Stone Age to the Roman occupation in the fourth centry AD, the mighty Egyptian dynasties are brought to life in almost 450 pages ... never anything but deeply informative, without losing sight of the essential attribute of any book - readability ... both stimulating to the casual reader or keen-to-learn holiday maker and the serious student alike. (Peter Leach, North West Evening Mail)
brimming with ... intriguing facts ... also provides a first-rate overview of - le progrès Egyptien - from the period when Homo erectus first stalked the land right up to Octavian's triumphant entry into Egypt in 30 BC. (Douglas Kennedy, The Times)
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After reading this book, I have become convinced that the history of Egypt is not as well known as most books on Egypt would have us believe.
The book is a mammoth undertaking, attempting to chronicle the history of Egypt from prehistory until 311 BC. Introductory sections on the state of research and certainty of chronolology are extremely enlightening. I was particularly impressed with the chapters on prehistory and the naqada culture, in which the archeological evidence and its interpretation were expressely explained to the reader, allowing the reader to agree or disagree with the authors as they wish. My only complaint is that the book, being an anthology of essays by a variety of scholars, shows some inconsistancy in its thoroughness. The chapter on the 18th dynasty reads a little like standard books on the subject, that is, the reader is kept from the evidence to support the author's view and the author seems to have trouble distinguishing his own suppositions from the facts of history, at times appearing a little tendentious.
Overall, this book is the best history of an ancient culture that I have yet read.
That said, the book is definitely a significant resource for anyone interested in Egyptian history. It covers the Egyptian state from prehistory through its incorporation into the Roman empire. Three chapters cover the pre-dynastic period including one on the Paleolithic period, one on the Naqada period and one entitled "Emergence of the Egyptian State" (Dynasties 0-2). Subsequent chapters for the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms (2 chapters for the last of these) and the Intermediate Periods follow. A rather strange and slightly redundant chapter, entitled "Egypt and the Outside World" is located just prior to the article on the Third Intermediate period. Its insertion here seems an afterthought as it covers the material of several preceding chapters using a topical, rather than chronologic, approach. Finally, several shorter chapters cover the Late Period, the Ptolemaic Period and the Roman Period. The book has a substantial further reading list and glossary as well as a tabular chronology, and index. It is well illustrated, with many black and white pictures, extensive maps and approximately 40 colour plates. Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between the written material and the plates and pictures, leaving the reader confused as to their purpose.
I would definitely recommend this book as a scholarly or reference resource due to its detailed approach but I would suggest it not be the first book you read if you are a casual reader, interested in understanding the sweep of Egyptian history.
Again, I must emphasize that I am not writing this review within a relative context that includes other history books specifically on Egyptology; rather, it is in a much broader context covering a rather broad swath of academic disciplines. It may be the case that this is a very good book in its specific field. I merely observe that other respected surveys I have read that touch upon Ancient Egypt seem to do a far better job illuminating the actual cultural and material experience of various parts of this history. One gets very little sense of daily life and cultural evolutions / revolutions from the many general, high-level, descriptive statements offered here.
In the final analysis, this book is sufficient for ascertaining some generally-accepted facts about Ancient Egypt, but it would not appear to be excellent.