A History of Ancient Egypt, Volume 2: From the Great Pyramid to the Fall of the Middle Kingdom

by John Romer

Paperback, 2017



Call number



Penguin UK (2017), 500 pages


Drawing on a lifetime of research, John Romer chronicles the history of Ancient Egypt from the building of the Great Pyramid through the rise and fall of the Middle Kingdom: a peak of Pharaonic culture and the period when writing first flourished. Through extensive research over many decades of work, reveals how the grand narratives of 19th and 20th century Egyptologists have misled us by portraying a culture of cruel monarchs and chronic war. Instead, based in part on discoveries of the past two decades, this extraordinary account shows what we can really learn from the remaining architecture, objects, and writing: a history based on physical reality.

User reviews

LibraryThing member drmaf
A very different view of the history of Egypt from the end of the Old Kingdom through to the rise and passing of the Middle Kingdom. Rather than one over-arching historical narrative, Romer explores the Egyptian civilization through little flashes of insight gained from a scrap of papyrus, a tomb
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relief or some graffiti on a rock in a remote desert. The picture that is revealed is far from the grandiose story of an all-powerful distant god-king, fawning courtiers and oppressed peasants. Instead, Egypt comes across as an intensely practical society where everyone, including Pharaoh, knows his place in running the state as efiiciently as possible. Egypt basically functioned as a huge distribution network for essential supplies from food and water to building materials, metals and precious stones, with everyone playing a part in seeing everything is produced effectively and then gets where it has to be. Far from living in vast palaces surrounded by wealth, the Pharaohs lived in modest mud brick palaces surrounded by their courtiers and their families in vast compounds. And rather than being distant god-like beings, the scraps pf papyrus reveal very human rulers, here we have a Pharaoh involving himself in the minutiae of a trade expedition, another accepting a runaway courtier back into the fold with a gentle rebuke. Probably the most affecting is a glimpse of a Pharaoh stricken when a favourite servant is taken seriously ill, arranging for him to have the best medical care, and then grieving when the man fails to recover. I have never read a book that gets to the heart of the Egyptian civilization as well as this, revealing it to be both more mysterious than we had thought, but at the same time more mundane and down to earth. Just a superb piece of writing which will change your view of the pyramid-builders forever.
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Original language


Physical description

500 p.; 8.5 x 1.57 inches


0141399724 / 9780141399720
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