REVIEW: Ancient Egypt by Peter Mavrikis
From the Neolithic cave paintings in Wadi Sura – created long before it was a desert when the region was savannah grassland – to the Valley of the Kings to the rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel, and from the vast temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor to the funerary mask of Tutankhamun and, of course, to the pyramids and the Sphinx, Ancient Egypt is a hugely colourful guide to the surviving wonders of Egyptian antiquity. Today the exceptional beauty and scale of the antiquities is legendary, drawing millions of visitors to Egypt’s monuments each year.
Arranged by region, the book takes the reader along the ancient settlements that were established on the banks of the River Nile. Through beautiful photographs and expert captions, the reader gains an understanding of how ancient Egypt developed its trade links and became such a powerful and wealthy force across North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Alongside the world-famous places, there are also fascinating, lesser-known entries, such as the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the bent pyramid at Dahshur and the Statue of Khaefre. Featuring monuments and obelisks, hieroglyphics and jewelry, funerary masks, tombs and mausoleums, mummies of cats and statues of falcon-headed gods, Ancient Egypt includes 160 outstanding photographs and captions.
The cover should let you know what you’re going to get with this book – gorgeous color photographs of hundreds of ancient Egyptian tombs, temples, wall paintings, and antiquities. Starting from the beginning of civilization there and continuing through the end of Roman occupation, the images are accompanied by brief explanations of what you’re seeing, it’s age, and who built it. I loved that many of these are lesser known things and not just the same “everybody knows that one” images. Those looking for more information about customs, rituals or mythology will need to look elsewhere but if you want to feast your eyes on the visual splendor (though sometimes in ruins) that was ancient Egypt, this is a great place to start. And I couldn’t resist including the image below from Horemheb’s tomb. B