"The book is divided into three parts. The first establishes the cultural setting of ancient Egypt, with chapters on its geography, archaeology, history, art and architecture. The central section of the book takes the reader on a journey down the Nile, calling at some 90 sites where significant discoveries have been made or spectacular monuments stand. From the rock-cut tombs of Aswan to the pyramids at Giza, from he treasures of Tut'ankhamun to the shifting sands of the delta, the reader is transported effortlessly by means of maps, photographs, site plans and descriptive accounts of the visible remains. A further journey takes the intrepid traveler into Nubia and to the temples of Abu Simbel, rescued from the waters of Lake Nasser. The third part considers important aspects of Egyptian society and daily life."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
We start with basic topography, then a historic list of “nomes”. “Nome” is a term for an administrative unit, perhaps roughly equivalent to a state or province; the ruler/governor of which is called a “nomarch” (a word that spell checkers frequently convert to “monarch” without asking. The nome list includes a handy reference to the nome deities, identified by their headdresses.
Then follows an account of the European discovery of Egypt, with historic maps, then the historic section. This includes a chronology and fairly complete king list (a few ephemeral and dubious kings are left out). The king list uses its own, slightly eccentric naming convention; traditionally archaeologists who approached ancient Egypt starting with a Classical education use Greek forms for royal names (Cheops, Sesostris, Amenophis) while those coming from an “excavation archeology” background use a sort of “Egyptologese”, which is a conventional spelling and pronunciation adopted after hieroglyphics were first translated in the 19th century (Khufu, Senusret, Amenhotep). To further complicate things, progress in Egyptology has resulted in more accurate transliterations of some of the names; for example Djheutymesw for the “Egyptologese” Thutmose and Greek Thothmosis. The question, then, is whether to go with the old familiar names or switch to more technically correct ones. This book can’t seem to make up its mind; some names are rendered in the Greek style (Khepren for Kha’efre, builder of the second pyramid at Giza); other use an unconventional but probably more correct substitution of “w” for “u” in some names. Thus the familiar Fifth Dynasty “Unas” is replaced by “Wenis” and the Middle Kingdom “Senusret” becomes “Senwosret”.
The historic maps here suffer from a common failing; they don’t give the ancient Egyptian names for cities. Thus the Egyptian Waset is identified by the Arabic Luxor and the Greek Thebes. This is partially corrected later in the book, where detailed maps show the ancient names (when known), but it would be nice to have them on a map of the entire country. Nevertheless, the section has useful maps of the fluctuating Egyptian boundaries, including an excellent map of the various political division in the Third Intermediate Period, where the country divided up into eight separate governments, each ruled by somebody who claimed to be the sole Pharaoh of Egypt.
The next section (and the longest) are detailed maps, starting at Aswan (the ancient Egyptians did their maps with south at the top, too) and heading up the Nile. These do include the ancient names (when known), and feature detailed maps of major antiquities sites and individual temples and monuments. This would be an excellent accompaniment for a Nile cruise or visits to the antiquities at Luxor. One thing that would be a good addition is more of the Coptic and Islamic monuments, but you can’t have everything in a reasonably priced and sized book.
The final section is a short introduction to ancient Egyptian culture, with discussions of everyday life, the army, etc., illustrated with some nice photographs.