New Books in Egyptology – July-August 2018

Every two months the Nile Scribes update our readers on the most recent Egyptological publications. From accessible reads to peer-reviewed scholarship, we hope to illustrate the wide variety of topics discussed in Egyptology, and perhaps introduce you to your next read! This summer has seen a vast array of topics addressed through new publications, ranging from astronomy and ceramics to imperialism and tomb robberies. Below are eleven new books that were released this summer (July and August 2018).  

The Performative Structure. Ritualizing the Pyramid of Pepy I

Nils Billing

Brill (ISBN: 9789004372375) – Cost: EUR€ 140

Publisher’s Summary:

“In The Performative Structure: Ritualizing the Pyramid of Pepy I, Nils Billing investigates the ancient Egyptian pyramid complex as a performative structure, ritualized through the operative faculty inherent in monumental architecture, text, and image. The main body of research is given over to an analysis of the Pyramid Texts found in the pyramid of king Pepy I of the Sixth Dynasty (ca 2300 BCE). It is demonstrated that the texts were distributed on distinct space-bound thematic and ritual levels in order to perpetuate a cultic activity from which the lord of the tomb could be transformed by moving through the different chambers and corridors towards the exit. Just as the decoration program of the mortuary temple once delineated the ritual and ideological structure of the royal mortuary cult, the corpus of texts distributed in the pyramid provided a monumentalized performative structure that effectuated the perennial rebirth for its owner.”

The Interactions of Ancient Astral Science

David Brown et al.

Hempen Verlag (ISBN: 9783944312552) – Cost: EUR€ 118

Publisher’s Summary:

“Why and when did ancient scholars make the enormous effort to understand the principles and master the mathematics of foreign astral sciences? This work provides a detailed analysis of the invention, development and transmission of astronomy, astrology, astral religion, magic and medicine, cosmology and cosmography, astral mapping, geography and calendrics and their related mathematics and instrumentation in and between Mesopotamia, Egypt, the West Semitic areas, Greece and Rome, Iran, India and China. It considers the available textual evidence from the most ancient times to the seventh century CE. The author has worked the contributions of eight internationally renowned scholars into what amounts to a new history of the oldest sciences. The result is a challenging read for the layperson and a resource for the expert and includes an extensive index to the entire volume. It provides a new typology of cultural interactions and, by describing their socio-political backdrop, offers a cultural history of the region. In particular, astral science in the Hellenistic period west of the Tigris is completely re-evaluated and a new model of the interactions of Western and Indian and Iranian astral sciences is provided.”

The Hyksos Ruler Khyan and the Early Second Intermediate Period in Egypt: Problems and Priorities of Current Research

Edited by Irene Forstner-Müller and Nadine Moeller

Holzhausen Verlagl (ISBN: 9783902976833) – Cost: EUR€ 79.90

Publisher’s Summary:

“Recent results from the most important sites of the Late Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period (Edfu, Tell el-Dab’a and Abydos) have broadened our knowledge of the situation in Egypt enormously. Of utmost importance in this context are the sealing impressions from Edfu and Tell el-Dab’a bearing the name of the Hyksos ruler Khyan and the discovery of the previously-unknown royal tombs of an independent „Abydene” Dynasty in Abydos, which bring new light to bear on our understanding of the political situation in this period.

Besides King Apophis, Khyan is one of the most important kings of the 15th Dynasty. However, his chronological position within the 15th Dynasty is not clear. Traditionally he has been assigned to the middle of the 15th Dynasty, but recent results now indicate a dating at the beginning of the 15th Dynasty and an overlap between the 13th and the 15th Dynasty. This new chronological position has far-reaching consequences not only for Egyptian chronology, but also for the chronology of the Mediterranean world. The new finds from Tell el-Dab’a, Edfu and Abydos necessitate a revision of the chronology of Dynasties 13 to 17 in Egypt, and a reconsideration of political and administrative structures during the Second Intermediate Period.”

The Anubieion at Saqqara IV: Late Period Pottery

Peter French and Janine Bourriau

I.B. Tauris (ISBN: 9780856982231) – Cost: GBP£ 70

Publisher’s Summary:

“This volume continues the ceramic history of the Saqqara Anubis temple, excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society from 1977 to 1979. Volume III showed how the site was used for burials of royalty and high officials from the Archaic Period until the end of the New Kingdom. The present volume covers the succeeding Late Dynastic Period: from at least the mid-sixth century onwards, burials appear to have been made in the earlier shaft tombs as well as in a new cemetery in the sand. A temple to Anubis, god of the dead, was commenced at the same time, abandoned during the Persian Period but restarted around 400 BC. The ceramics include bowls used by the embalmers as well as offering vessels and the repertoire of the fourth century builders. Unpublished contemporary ceramics from the nearby Sacred Animal Necropolis elucidate and supplement the Anubieion record.”

Tomb Robberies at the End of the New Kingdom: The Gurob Burnt Groups Reinterpreted

Valentina Gasperini

Oxford University Press (ISBN: 9780198818786) – Cost: EUR€ 80

Publisher’s Summary:

“At the end of the 19th century W.M.F. Petrie excavated a series of assemblages at the New Kingdom Fayum site of Gurob. These deposits, known in the Egyptological literature as ‘Burnt Groups’, were composed by several and varied materials (mainly Egyptian and imported pottery, faience, stone and wood vessels, jewellery), all deliberately burnt and buried in the harem palace area of the settlement. Since their discovery these deposits have been considered peculiar and unparalleled. Many scholars were challenged by them and different theories were formulated to explain these enigmatic ‘Burnt Groups.’

The materials excavated from these assemblages are now curated at several Museum collections across England: Ashmolean Museum, British Museum, Manchester Museum, and Petrie Museum. For the first time since their discovery, this book presents these materials all together. Gasperini has studied and visually analysed all the items. This research sheds new light on the chronology of deposition of these assemblages, additionally a new interpretation of their nature, primary deposition, and function is presented in the conclusive chapter. The current study also gives new information on the abandonment of the Gurob settlement and adds new social perspective on a crucial phase of the ancient Egyptian history: the transition between the late New Kingdom and the early Third Intermediate Period. Beside the traditional archaeological sources, literary evidence (‘The Great Tomb Robberies Papyri’) is taken into account to formulate a new theory on the deposition of these assemblages.”

Bayuda Studies – Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Archaeology of the Bayuda Desert in Sudan

Edited by Angelika Lohwasser, Tim Karberg, and Johannes Auenmüller

Harrassowitz (ISBN: 9783447110648) – Cost: EUR€ 98

Publisher’s Summary:

“The Bayuda is the vast arid region south of the large S-bend of the Nile in Sudan. Although being a desert, several valleys – the largest amongst them the Wadi Abu Dom and the Wadi Muqqadam – collect the seasonal rainfall and enable limited habitation. Human occupation of the Bayuda began in the Palaeolithic and continues until today. However, it is still quite sparse due to the unfavourable environmental conditions. Nevertheless, this region and its archaeological evidence need to be studied for reconstructing life in the past and incorporated into the interpretive framework of the cultural history of the Sudan.”

Ancient Egyptian Imperialism

Ellen Morris

Wiley-Blackwell (ISBN: 9781405136778) – Cost: CAD$ 119

Publisher’s Summary:

“Written for enthusiasts and scholars of pharaonic Egypt, as well as for those interested in comparative imperialism, this book provides a look at some of the most intriguing evidence for grand strategy, low-level insurgencies, back-room deals, and complex colonial dynamics that exists for the Bronze Age world. It explores the actions of a variety of Egypt’s imperial governments from the dawn of the state until 1069 BCE as they endeavored to control fiercely independent mountain dwellers in Lebanon, urban populations in Canaan and Nubia, highly mobile Nilotic pastoralists, and predatory desert raiders. The book is especially valuable as it foregrounds the reactions of local populations and their active roles in shaping the trajectory of empire. With its emphasis on the experimental nature of imperialism and its attention to cross-cultural comparison and social history, this book offers a fresh perspective on a fascinating subject.”

‘The most prominent Dutchman in Egypt’. Jan Herman Insinger and the Egyptian collection in Leiden

Maarten J. Raven

Sidestone Press (ISBN: 9789088905513) – Cost: EUR€ 24.95

Publisher’s Summary:

“Jan Herman Insinger was a well-known character in the history of Egyptology, mainly because his name has been linked forever with a famous demotic wisdom papyrus now in Leiden. Although he is mentioned by many of his contemporaries, biographical notes on Insinger rarely surpass a few lines and can be quite inaccurate. However, a lot of information can be gathered from the Archives of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden and other sources, both published and unpublished ones. These documents enable us to sketch a brief biography of this fascinating figure.

Former studies by the present author dealt with Insinger’s activities as a photographer and a traveller. The present volume focuses on Insinger’s activities as an art collector. Insinger can be regarded as a maecenas of the Leiden Museum. Thus, a study of this aspect of his manifold interests is mainly relevant for the information it provides on the growth of the Egyptian treasures in Leiden.”

Ancient Egyptian Coffins: Craft Traditions and Functionality

Edited by John H. Taylor and Marie Vandenbeusch

Peeters Publishers (ISBN: 9789042934658) – Cost: EUR€ 115

Publisher’s Summary:

“This volume contains the proceedings of the twenty-third Annual Egyptological Colloquium, held at the British Museum in 2014, augmented by additional papers. The twenty-three contributions investigate functionality, iconography and manufacture of ancient Egyptian coffins from the First Intermediate Period to the eighth century AD. The authors explore the conceptual aspects which lay behind the production of coffins through the study of iconography and texts, examining the functional role of these complex objects as ‘structured compositions’ which were designed to play an important part in transforming the deceased occupants and perpetuating their existence beyond death. Reinstating coffins in their archaeological and societal contexts, the papers reflect on the circumstances in which they were made, considering workshop practices and regional variability, and studying coffins not only individually but also as components of larger conceptual entities in which the mummy, the burial chamber and the tomb itself all had specific meanings. Several contributions focus on areas of current interest, such as the post-burial adaptation and reuse of coffins, considering how these issues relate to the economic environment in which they were made and to changing attitudes towards the immutability of burial arrangements.”

Egyptian and Imported Pottery from the Red Sea port of Mersa Gawsis, Egypt

Sally Wallace-Jones with contributions from Andrea Manzo, Mary Ownby, & Karin Kopetzky

ArchaeoPress (ISBN: 9781784919030) – Cost: GBP£ 32

Publisher’s Summary:

“The unique site of Mersa Gawasis was a base for seaborne trade along the Red Sea coast during the Middle Kingdom. The Egyptians’ purpose was to trade with Punt for incense and other exotic materials. There is little evidence of any permanent structures at the site apart from man-made caves in which shipping equipment was stored between expeditions. The pottery is, therefore, amongst the most significant evidence for human activity here. Vessel types include many marl C jars, but other kinds of vessels including significant foreign material also occur, some in large quantities. This variety of vessels and the careful reuse of potsherds is central to an understanding of specific and day to day domestic activities and of how the site operated. Mersa Gawasis has many vessel forms of the 12th and Early 13th dynasties. Epigraphic evidence closely dates the site, helping to confirm and underpin an understanding of vessel types and technologies within the ceramic chronology of the period. This volume presents the site’s wide variety of ceramic material, offering also an interpretation of what pottery reveals about activities at the site. The author and excavation photographer have worked together to enhance details of the text with specific photographs.”

L’or des pharaons: 2500 d’orfèvrerie dans l’Egypte ancienne

Edited by Christiane Ziegler

Hazan (ISBN: 9782754114721) – Cost: EUR€ 35

Publisher’s Summary (1):

“This is the official catalogue of the “Gold of the Pharaohs: 2,500 Years of Goldsmithing in ancient Egypt” exhibition, which is on display at the Forum Grimaldi of Monaco from July 7 to September 9, 2018.

The exhibition amasses more than 150 masterpieces from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, some of which are on display outside of Egypt for the first time. They provide a comprehensive insight into some of the marvelous objects that come out of the tombs of kings and princes of pharaonic Egypt.”


What are you reading at the moment? Let us know in the comments!


Notes

  1. Translated from the French by the Nile Scribes.

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