The Pharaoh

The Pharaoh

Life at Court and on Campaign

Book - 2012
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An illustrated look at what it was like to be the pharaoh of Egypt, revealed through the king's role as husband, lawmaker, judge, priest, builder, and warrior. By focusing on the pharaoh, Shaw provides a comprehensive insight into his world.
Publisher: London, England :, Thames & Hudson,, 2012.
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9780500051740
Characteristics: 224 pages :,illustrations (some color), color maps ;,26 cm.

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gloryb
Mar 23, 2017

Seems to cover all pharaoh's from pre-dynastic times to Roman times. Each chapter shows an aspect of a pharaoh's life and death and how these changed over time. Very readable. Good for browsing too. Colorful illustrations of artifacts bring the topic of each chapter to life. Extensive reading list for every chapter, which would be more useful for academic students than the average public library user.

d
dajones89
Aug 11, 2014

Not much of this will be new for people who've read a lot about ancient Egypt, and no topic is covered in great depth, but it's convenient to have it all in one place. The first chapter discusses how the institution of kingship emerged at the start of Egyptian history. This chapter includes a brief but balanced summary of how much of a god the king was considered to be. The second chapter is a basic history of ancient Egypt from its unification to the start of the Greco-Roman period. The third examines the process of becoming king: who succeeded to the throne (including both princes and usurpers), how princes were raised, and the coronation rituals. Next is a description of the pharaoh's daily life and duties, including such details as the layout of palaces, the organization of the government, and the role of queens. The fifth chapter, "The Pharaoh on Campaign", is a bit revisionist, because it argues that even kings like Thutmose III and Ramesses II who claimed to have fought in battle were probably a safe distance from the action, given the lack of war wounds on their mummies.

I particularly like the chapter on royal cities, partly because it makes a point that too many books on ancient Egypt don't: there was no single capital of Egypt. Except perhaps in the Old Kingdom, which was heavily centered on Memphis, the court moved around periodically to palaces and way-stations all over the country. Certain cities were in favor at different times, though, and the chapter examines several of the most important: Memphis, Thebes, Amarna, and Pi-Ramesses, with briefer treatment of Itjtawy, Tanis, Bubastis, and Sais. I'm also thankful for the discussion and map of Memphis's layout, because it was the most important city in ancient Egypt but isn't as well understood as Thebes.

The penultimate chapter treats the familiar topics of royal tombs and burial rites. The last one is devoted to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, which many popular books about ancient Egypt leave out. It discusses the history of the country under the Ptolemies (with a sidebar on Alexandria, the last of the royal cities) before discussing the Roman emperors' awkward relationship with their role as pharaoh. The book acknowledges that only six emperors ever set foot in Egypt, but it points out that Diocletian, the last of the six, was the last emperor whose regnal years were counted by the Egyptian priesthoods and thus, in a sense, the last pharaoh.

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