The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford Illustrated Histories)

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9780198150343: The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford Illustrated Histories)

Blending vividly written essays and over a hundred attractive illustrations--including 32 color plates--The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is a stunningly designed and authoritative account of the once glorious civilization on the Nile.
Ranging from 700,000 BC to 311 AD, this volume portrays the emergence and development of Egypt from its prehistoric roots to its conquest by the Roman Empire. The contributors--all leading scholars working at the cutting edge of Egyptology--incorporate the latest findings in archaeological research as they chart the principal political events of Egyptian history, from the rise of the Pharaohs and the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, to the ascension of the Ptolemies and the coming of Roman legions. The book also includes the first detailed examinations of three periods which were previously regarded as "dark ages." Against the backdrop of the birth and death of ruling dynasties, the writers also examine cultural and social patterns, including stylistic developments in art and literature, monumental architecture, funerary beliefs, and much more. The contributors illuminate the underlying patterns of social and political change and describe the changing face of ancient Egypt, from the biographical details of individuals to the social and economic factors that shaped the lives of the people as a whole.
The only up-to-date, single-volume history of ancient Egypt available in English, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is a "must read" for everyone interested in one of the great civilizations of antiquity.

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Review:

One of the most vexing problems in Egyptology is the question of establishing reliable chronologies, whether through relative methods such as stratigraphy and the dating of artifacts or through more absolute time horizons established by astronomical ephemera or radiometric dating. In this overview of ancient Egypt--meant for advanced students, but accessible to general readers with an interest in the area--Ian Shaw and 13 contributors pay close attention to issues of chronology, reconciling conflicts of dating that mark older scholarship.

While doing so, they address other problems in the study of ancient Egypt, such as the lack of material evidence of early humans in the region and the increasing destruction of sites in the face of contemporary urban growth. Elsewhere, they remark on the principal developments that distinguish periods in Egyptian prehistory, such as the Old Kingdom's use of large-scale building projects to consolidate power and "remind people of the greatness of pharaonic civilization," and the Middle and New kingdoms' apparent openness to foreigners, which lent Egypt a cosmopolitan, multicultural air that persisted for centuries during long periods of domination by outside powers such as Persia and Rome. Highly useful as a reference and survey, this handsomely illustrated book is a fine addition to any Egyptophile's collection. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:


Ian Shaw is Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College, London.

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