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A history of ancient Egypt by Nicolas Grimal

A history of ancient Egypt (1988)

by Nicolas Grimal

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (6)  French (1)  All languages (7)
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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. ( )
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  Tutter | Feb 17, 2015 |
A brilliant account of this fascinating time in history that no-one interested in the subject should be without. ( )
  MFRizzi | Jan 29, 2014 |
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'.
1 vote thcson | Apr 21, 2010 |
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. ( )
  Neutiquam_Erro | Mar 19, 2008 |
Political and economic history of the Egyptians from 120,000 BC to the appearance of Alexander the Great in 331 BC.

Curiously, the "French" Egyptologists differ from the English (cf qv Budge) in
their consistent disregard of the symbolist "religious" emphasis.

Lots of information pertinent to Jewish, Christian, and Islamic apologetics, none of it helpful. The people known to Egyptians as "Apiru" [Hebrew] appear in Egyptian records, from the time of Tuthmosis III, and well-attested under Ramesses II, as employed in the transport of stone. Leiden Papyrus 348, cf Papuyrus Harris I, working quarries of Wadi Hammamat during reign of Ramesses IV. Nowhere is a revolt mentioned [258], although these are richly documented reigns. And "no surviving Egyptian source describes the Exodus". [258] The only evidence of a newly-formed kingdom of Israel is a stele, dated to the fifth years of the reign of Merneptah. KRI IV, 12-19. [258]

Egyptians were very much involved in the struggles in the Levant. Specifically, they provided sanctuary for Hadad, the crown prince of Edom, whose kingdom was conquered by David. Hadad married an Egyptian, and raised his son Genubath at the royal court. When David died, "Hadad returned to his kingdom". [319]

During the reign of Solomon, Egypt intervened against the Philistines by laying waste the city of Gezer, an event recorded in 1 Kings 9:16 and perhaps recorded in a relief at Tanis. [319]. Philistines were interfering with trade with Phoenicia. The Pharoah Siamun may have attacked because the Philistines were weak after wars against David, and during the "uncertainty occasioned by the accession of Solomon in Israel". [Author speculation at 319].

I disagree, and can only remain dismayed by the lack of Biblical corroboration. The author(s) fail to explain the lack of corroboration in Solomon's marriage to an Egyptian princess, which would be unprecedented in the Nile valley.

The author concludes his history at the conquest by Alexander as the new "Master of the Universe" -- the new Son of Man worshiped as a God. [382-383] The arrival of the Macedonians marked the end of the political autonomy of Egypt. The Mediterranean region was completely transformed.

The Greeks, and even the Romans, "kept up at least a semblance" of Egyptian traditions, including their trinitarian gods.[383, 315] Interestingly, the author concludes with a frank and clear showing of the "mixtures" and absorptions which took place in Egypt. This is a testimony to the lack of "purity" or "untouched sanctity" anywhere in the delta or at its influences: Egypt is a mix, a melting pot, and a fertile mother.
  keylawk | Jan 17, 2007 |
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Grimal, NicolasAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaw, IanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0631193960, Paperback)

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.This is the first history of ancient Egypt for 25 yearsBrings together the very latest textual and archaeological evidenceThe index, bibliography and appendices make this an invaluable reference toolNew guide to further reading in English especially commissioned for the paperback edition

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

This is an account of the rise and fall of the civilization in theNile Valley, covering the first human settlement (c 120,000 BC) toits conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 BC. This is the first history of ancient Egypt for 25 years Brings together the very latest textual and archaeologicalevidence The index, bibliography and appendices make this an invaluablereference tool New guide to further reading in English especially commissionedfor the paperback edition… (more)

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