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Women in Ancient Egypt
Daughters of Isis by
Call Number: HQ1137.E3 T95 1995
Publication Date: 1995
In this book Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley provides us with a stunning, seldom seen glimpse into the lives of ancient Egyptian women, common and royal. This informative, well-researched book discusses the role played by women in Egyptian art; marriage; common household life; work and leisure activities; grooming; religious life and funerary customs for women. There is a special section on women of the court, both royal and otherwise (from harem members and maids to princesses and female pharaohs); The author explores every aspect of the lives of these ancient women - from their daily chores and child-rearing practices to their marital relationships and religious affiliations to descriptions of their elaborate hairstyles, make-up, clothing and jewelry, and by so doing, explicates Egyptian society as a whole. You will come away with a real understanding of and appreciation for the lives of ancient Egyptian women and the society they lived in.
Valley of the Kings
Tomb, Valley of the Kings, Egypt. Image by Shelby Root. Obtained on flickr with Creative Commons license.
Handbook of Egyptian Mythology by
Call Number: BL2441.3 .P56 2002
Publication Date: 2002
Far more than a simple list of gods and goddesses, this book, spanning the entirety of ancient Egyptian culture --from 3200 BC to AD 400-- discusses the origin and nature of myths and their vital interconnection to the geography, climate, and history of Egypt, from the predynastic to the postpharaonic period. The author explains how Egyptian culture developed around the flooding of the Nile, or the "inundation," a phenomenon on which the welfare of the country depended, and how aspects of the inundation were personified as deities. She explains that the usually cloudless skies made for a preoccupation with the stars and planets. Indeed, much early Egyptian mythology may have developed to explain the movement of these celestial bodies. She provides a timeline covering the seven stages in the mythical history of Egypt and outlining the major events of each stage, such as the reign of the sun God. A substantial A to Z section covers the principal themes and concepts of Egyptian mythology as well as the most important deities, demons, and other characters.
Temple of Karnak
Karnak Temple Column, photograph by Dennis Jarvis. Obtained on flickr with a Creative Commons license.
How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs by
Call Number: PJ1097 .C65 2003
Publication Date: 2003
This is a guide to hieroglyphs for the casual student, tourist, or museum-goer. Focusing on the funerary symbols one would be likely to see in Egypt or at a museum, and illustrated with hieroglyphs that are on display in the British Museum (drawn by Richard Parkinson, curator in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum), this book makes possible a deeper understanding not just of museum displays but of the Egyptian culture that used this writing system. Both experts in Egyptology (Collier teaches Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, and Manley teaches the subject at the University of Glasgow), the authors explain how most hieroglyphs are used to convey the sound of the ancient Egyptian language, then go on to teach, in easily digestible segments, the basic phonograms (sound-signs) used in inscriptions a traveler or museum-goer would be most likely to encounter. Each chapter teaches a new portion of hieroglyphic script and a new aspect of the Middle Egyptian grammar, with a section to practice new reading skills and exercises to reinforce the lessons taught.
Egypt & The Nile
City of Aswan and the Nile River, Egypt. Photograph by Christian Junker. Obtained on flickr with a Creative Commons license.
Selected and Annotated By:
Middle East Studies Librarian
Website Edited By:
Specialist in Classical Studies
Administrative Assistant, Penn Libraries
Ancient Egyptian Cuisine
The Pharaoh's Kitchen by
Call Number: TX725.E375 P53 2010
Publication Date: 2010
This book of ancient Egyptian cuisine will delight food historians as well as adventurous cooks. It is a painstakingly researched volume which provides a fascinating glimpse into the kitchens of Pharaonic times. The authors, Magda Mehdawy, who holds a degree in archeology from the University of Alexandria, and Amr Hussein, a graduate in archeology from Cairo University, have recreated dishes described in hieroglyphic documents, inscriptions in ancient tombs, and in manuscripts, and adapted them for the modern table. They offer thorough, step-by-step instructions for recreating the foodstuffs that archaeology shows ancient Egyptians served and ate. There are detailed appendices, including sections on "Food and Language" and "Food and Hieroglyphs." The book also contains a wealth of history, from how ancient peoples used certain ingredients to ward away parasites or control spoilage, to dinner etiquette of the era.
Palace Walk by
Call Number: PJ7846.A46 B313 1990
Publication Date: 1990
Set in Cairo around the end of World War I, as Egypt, a British protectorate at the time, increasingly agitates for independence, 1988 Nobel Prize-winner Mahfouz's epic family drama explores deep fissures in the patriarchal structure of one middle class Cairene household. Prosperous merchant Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, runs his family along strict Islamic lines, but himself, roams Cairo's tawdry entertainment district by night seeking illicit pleasures. His submissive wife Amina is chained to the house; he throws her out on the street after she commits the sin of going outdoors for a walk. His two daughters constantly bicker, and his three sons are beyond his control: Yasin sexually assaults their servants; Fahmy becomes an activist in the nationalist movement, at the other end of the political spectrum, while Kamal befriends British soldiers. “Palace Walk” begins Mahfouz's highly acclaimed "Cairo Trilogy," (1956-1957) which follows Egypt's development from 1917 to nationalism and Nasser in the 1950s. This dense novel charts an Egypt lurching into the dangers and desires of the modern age. The other volumes of the trilogy have also been translated as “Palace of Desire” and “Sugar Street”.
Tutankhamen's Gift by
Call Number: DT87.5 .S24 1994
Publication Date: 1994
This enchanting children’s book tells the story of the brief but destructive reign of the heretic pharaoh, Akhenaton, and Tutankhamen’s rise to the throne, all through the eyes of the quiet, gentle 9 year old Tutankhamen himself. His gift is to return Egypt to the worship of the old gods, which Akhenaton had abandoned for the worship of the one god.
The Nile at Night
Tráfico nocturno en El Cairo, photograph by Guillén Pérez. Obtained on flickr with a Creative Commons license.
For those wanting a web experience there is no better site than “Ancient Egypt Online”. It has concise but fact-filled entries for hieroglyphics, the gods and goddesses of Egypt, society, monuments, chronology and more. There are also many maps. Fun and informative.
Pyramid of Khafre, photograph by Dennis Jarvis. Obtained on flickr with a Creative Commons license.
Aerial View of Cairo, photograph by Andrew A. Shenouda. Obtained on flickr with a Creative Commons license.
Cairo Tower across the Nile. Photograph by Jolianne. Obtained on flickr with a Creative Commons license.
History of Egypt
A Brief History of Egypt by
Call Number: DT77 .G65 2008
Publication Date: 2007
This book is intended to give you some background on the history of Egypt since Roman times. Goldschmidt provides short, fact-filled chapters on Arab, Mamluke, and Ottoman rule; British Occupation and Nationalist resistance; Independence 1918-1936; Military rule and Arab nationalism; Arab socialism; Sadat; Contemporary Egypt, and more. The book also boasts a useful comprehensive chronology.
The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt by
Call Number: DT83 .O94 2003
Publication Date: 2004
As it says on the back of the book, "If you only want to read one book on Egypt, then read this one." Shaw’s work is a truly monumental one, chronicling the history of the land of Egypt from 700,000 years before our own times through the Roman period (ending in AD 395). Each chapter covers a different period and is written by a different expert. Rather than leading to a superficial or disjointed approach, Shaw has been sure to have his authors give a thorough and detailed account of their periods, discussing not only historical events but also art, religion, economics, and material culture. Equally as important, each author discusses the current problems and debates in the scholarship of his or her field. So the work is not just a history of ancient Egypt but an introduction to the historiography of the field as well. Its one drawback may be that it lacks the feel of a narrative history, and is more of an encyclopedia.
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by
Call Number: DT83 .W658 2010
Publication Date: 2011
Toby Wilkinson, a Cambridge University Egyptologist, has produced a revisionist history of ancient Egypt. While covering the same time period as Shaw, Wilkinson focusses on the ugly, violent reality experienced by most Egyptians and usually hidden behind the splendors and dazzling treasures of pharaonic Egypt. He shows in rich detail that it was a brutal society where for the regular Egyptian life was cheap, royal power absolute and established through fear and violence. Early rulers were buried with their retainers in a kind of human sacrifice. Pyramid workers, while well cared for, were virtual slaves, drafted by force to work on Pharaoh’s gargantuan monuments until they literally dropped. The rogue, heretic king Akhenaten built a new model city with grand temples where mountains of food were offered to a sun god while his people were collapsing from hunger and overwork. These are only a few of Wilkinson’s examples. This controversial work will fascinate you.
Egypt in Film
Film poster for the 1932 film The Mummy. Employee(s) of Universal Pictures, attributed to Karoly Grosz. Image is public domain; obtained on Wikimedia Commons.
“The Mummy”, directed by Karl Freund; produced by Carl Laemmele Jr; starring Boris Karloff. (Universal Pictures, 1932).
Call Number: DVD 012 264
This horror classic is also one of the best films made about both ancient and early twentieth century Egypt. The lengthy flashback sequence in which Karloff’s high priest Imhotep narrates his illicit love affair, and subsequent arrest and execution by embalming manages to catch the stifling ceremony and brute savagery of Pharaoh’s court. The scenes of the excavation of Imhotep’s tomb manage to give a realistic depiction of archeological practices of the day and to capture the sinister, brooding, dreamlike quality of the ancient ruins themselves.