- Gebundene Ausgabe: 656 Seiten
- Verlag: Random House (15. März 2011)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0553805533
- ISBN-13: 978-0553805536
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,3 x 4,2 x 24,1 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 777.969 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 15. März 2011
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Mehr über den Autor
Praise from the United Kingdom for The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt
“Absolutely divine . . . a thorough, erudite and enthusiastic gallop through an astonishing three thousand years.”—The Sunday Times
“I had always presumed, before I read Wilkinson’s book, that it was impossible to write a history of Egypt which combined scholarship, accessibility, and a genuine sense of revelation. I was wrong.”—Tom Holland, The Observer
“Not just the pyramids but the politics; not just war and religion but livestock and labour relations: the whole astonishing story meticulously researched and enthrallingly told.”—The Scotsman
“Egypt has for the past four thousand years been much vaunted, much debated . . . Toby Wilkinson’s The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt [adds] impressively to this tradition.”—Bettany Hughes, The Times
“No detail is spared on this literary journey. . . . [The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt] will appeal to anyone . . . who wishes to learn more about this incredible civilization.”—Press Association
“Take this great book with you on your next boat to Egypt.”—Oxford Times
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Toby Wilkinson graduated with a first class honors degree in Egyptology from Downing College, University of Cambridge, winning the university’s Thomas Mulvey prize. He is the recipient of the Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellowship in Egyptology, a Leverhulme Trust Special Research Fellowship, and an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Durham. He is currently at Clare College in the University of Cambridge. Wilkinson has published seven books and numerous articles, and has appeared on radio and television as an expert on ancient Egyptian civilization (especially the early periods). He is the recipient of the Antiquity Prize for the best journal article and is a member of the international editorial board of the Journal of Egyptian History.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Organized chronologically, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt returns time and again to the problems of state power. States rise and fall, power ebbs and flows: Egypt's leaders attempted to uphold the forces of truth and order against those of chaos and disarray. To do so required developing state infrastructures and means of coercing the appropriation of both labor and material goods to build the glorious monuments that so capture the public's imagined Egypt. From the pyramids to Abu Simbel, the projection of Egyptian glory depended on breaking the backs of the people who toiled incessantly in service to the state. Indeed, the twin themes of ideology (religion, royal divinity) and administration (bureaucracies, taxation, etc.) repeatedly resurface to highlight just how the state secured support for its regime and managed that support. When both aspects of state control broke down, Egypt entered periodically into times of disorder and chaos.
Readers expecting a romantic view of Ancient Egypt focused on the archaeological treasures will probably be disappointed to be reminded of the costs of Egyptian grandeur. Readers hoping for a more cultural approach to Egyptian history--an extended exploration of religion, art, music, and the like--will probably be less satisfied with Wilkinson's focus upon the state. To be sure, Wilkinson brings these matters up when they are needed but gives them no extended treatment. The excellent bibliography and notes, however, do provide additional resources to investigate topics of interest; moreover, the notes detail Wilkinson's own interpretive engagement with Egyptian historiography, making his book much more valuable to others besides the casual reader.
Despite the book's populist tone, readers may be put off by content density of some chapters. At times, a bewildering array of names and places rush off the page, forcing the reader to consult his handy copies of The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt or the Penguin Atlas of Ancient Egypt. Those without sufficient reference material would perhaps have been well served by a glossary, which, although it does lengthen the book, does provide readers with a handy reference when there are simply too many names to conjure with. The writing style itself is fairly popular, with few words that might trip up readers. Frequent references to British history--especially comparisons to how monarchies have exercised state power across the ages--might be off putting to many American readers, but, it seems to me that the implied arguments by analogy do serve a purpose in highlighting how states have little changed since the Ancient Egyptians invented statehood. Color and black and white illustrations, along with excellent maps, complement the narrative.
Overall, Toby Wilkinson's The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt seems to combine the best features of the histories that I've come to love. Its accessibility and charm reminds me of Barbara Mertz' Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs, while its scholarly insight and argumentation make me think of Barry Kemp's Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization. To me, the joy of a book is being able to re-read it and come to new insights and appreciation each time and I am sure that such will be the case with The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt.
And Wilkinson's book makes the spell even deeper. His story begins with Narmer, the first king of a more or less united Egypt and continues through the pyramidal age to the New Kingdom and its fully fleshed art, architecture, literature, government and religion. Wilkinson takes us from there through Egypt's wars with Abyssinia and Persia, Alexander the Great's appearance and ends with the Roman conquest of Egypt and Cleopatra's death. Rather than a dry litany of dates, names and events, the author retells the story of a culture. He has an agenda here, and he doesn't try to hide it, but that's where the story lies.
Wilkinson is looking through time from the vantage of a twenty-first century writer, one who sees the evolution of a culture in which some people become more important than others. These elites use humanity's tendency to fear to subjugate them, to keep them under royal and religious thumb. The four thousand years of Egypt's rise and dominance and its subsequent fall, then, are the product of this abuse of masses of humanity for the benefit of the few.
What's unexamined are the stories buried in the developments Egypt gave birth to: building techniques for its massive structures. A unique written language. An enduring religion that has given subsequent religions many of its tenets, cloaked in newer cultural clothes. A central governmental structure not unlike our modern ones. Art. Medicine.
The lesson drawn from Wilkinson's examination of these four millennia? That even in a culture based on subjugation of the masses, much good arose and endured, and from that good the structure of today's reality has been drawn.
Wilkinson is a gifted writer, despite what appears in the first hundred or so pages to be a political rant disguised as history. I suspect he realized early in the book's development that readers would understand without the editorializing, that there was much more to tell of this culture than the enduring story of man's dominance of man.
Many approaches have been used to analyze A.E: A journey into our sub-conscience, humankind in its childhood and so on but a model which leans heavily towards a politico-historical treatment at the expense of spiritual beliefs and ethical development, in a society which was to a large degree a theocracy, seems dubious to say the least. The author continuously passes value judgments on an ancient civilization but doesn't explicitly declare which measuring rod he is using. For me the only objective way of doing so is by comparing Ancient Egypt with other contemporary civilizations or, even better, with what went before in the Nile valley. When hunter gathers first got together for their common good and took the first faltering steps towards what we call civilization one of the prime reasons must surely have been mutual protection from covetous eyes that saw the gift of the Nile as something desirable and, if needs be, to be taken with force. Even within the limitations of this book it would seem from the available information that the institution of a monarchy provided a point of unity which, when strong, afforded the average person some feeling of protection for themselves and their families from foreign invasion. When the monarchy was strong so was Egypt.
It is the institution of the monarchy which is the particular focus of what I take to be the authors 21st century value judgments projected back in time and beginning around 3000 BCE. Negative epithets abound. A few from the early pages which appear throughout the book that relate to the kings and life of the common people are given at the end of this review.(1)
In the authors mind there is nothing good to say about the Ancient Egyptian monarchy, anything good is simply suppressed or an evil motive imputed to any actions that appear demonstrably good. It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that empires do not last when their internal structures become so corrupt - they collapse sooner rather than later - but here we have an institution that lasted millenia.
I have problems with his selective use of sources. Whilst he accepts and uses Herodotus as an authority for the cruelty involved in Pyramid building, and by innuendo takes it as being representative of all the kings he misses out what Herodotus says in the same passage. "Till the death of Rhampsinitus [I.e upto the reign of the Giza pyramid builders], the priests said, Egypt was excellently governed, and flourished greatly" which doesn't fit in with the authors take. Amidst all the attempts to portray the Giza workmen as being once again the downtrodden subjects of the Pharaoh (sinisterly "the official record is predictably silent about how many died during the building of the Great Pyramid" p87) he cannot see the contradiction in those same workmen describing themselves as the "Pharaohs Drunkards" p84 which isn't indicative of people bemoaning their hard conditions in the "cramped barracks at the end of another day of toil on the Giza plateau" p89 The author is so taken by Herodotus, albeit through selective quotation and mistranslation, that he writes a "humbling" acknowledgement: "It is a salutary lesson that the ancients were often far clever than we give them credit for." Why miss out another ancient Greek historian who wrote of Ancient Egypt and love of Egyptians for their kings:
"Because the kings treated their subjects so justly, the affection the people had for their princes was stronger than the love between the closest relatives ever was. Not just the community of the priests, but all Egyptians did not care as much for their wives and children and their other goods as they cared for the welfare of their sovereigns. Therefore, the wisest of the known kings have preserved the native order, for as long as the legal institution we have just described, existed." Diodorus Siculus Historic Library Vol 1, Chapters 70 and 71
The author takes the texts associated with the workers village of Deir el-Medinah, and the disorder and economic chaos around the coming of the Iron Age, as a prime example of how corrupt the state was. The author asserts that the tomb robbers cared not for theological niceties p. 375 when the burned the coffins but fails to point out, what others note, that they might have intended to destroy the afterlife of the mummies so retribution would not follow. It could well have been a theologically driven act (Paul Johnson goes so far as to suggest they might have been followers of Set). He fails to see the contradiction in his thesis of the supposed fear and loathing of despot kings with the demonstrable love the villagers had for King Ahmose. Nor can he see that workers being able to go on strike is not indicative of the all embracing fear driven totalitarian state he describes.
He thinks, without giving evidence, that dwarves were used as figures of fun thus signifying the decadence of the pharaohs p. 89 but fails to point out that King Unas is shown as a dwarf entertaining the Gods nor does he mention the high position they could reach in society such as Seneb of the 4th dynasty who was priest of the funerary cults of Khufu and Dedefre (they were thought to have divine connections) nor does he mention how those who were physically or mentally disabled were defended in the Instructions of Amenemope. No mention of the how the blind also had an honored place in society as harpers. Can the British rugby players who threw dwarves about for entertainment in Australia in 2011 be viewed as representing the decadency of our 21st century western civilization?
For an author who continuously (albeit indirectly, and with heavy innuendo) passes value judgments there is a surprising lack of analysis of what the Ancient Egyptians held to be good and not so good. The extensive surviving Maat literature is given scant attention and it is easy to conclude that maybe it doesn't accord with the authors own take on the reality of Ancient Egyptian values as expounded, for example, in the so called Negative Confessions from the Book of Going Forth into the Day and the instructional texts.
Paul Johnson emphasized in his own excellent work "The Civilization of Ancient Egypt" that it is simply not possible to write an account of this people which decouples history from the religious beliefs which permeated so much of their culture and everyday life. In my opinion Johnson assertion is amply proven by this book. Contrary to what this author asserts Egyptologists of all generations have pointed out the good with the bad but this book, in essence, only the bad is recounted in an ideologically driven work. Simpson in his 1970 book "The Ancient Near East" noted an emerging trend with the modern student generation, growing up in technological society and computer age, of treating this part of the world and epoch as a form of oriental despotism. Up until this book I can't say I have ever noticed this in the modern works by Egyptologists however, I sincerely hope that in an age when we deliver "freedom" and "democracy" to lands by cruise missile and xbox360 type controllers, where the the realities of war are virtualised as a form of entertainment, where "free-markets" come with mass unemployment that this book doesn't signal that Simpson's comments are a prophecy fulfilled. Budge pointed an Ancient Egyptian drawing that showed the head of Horus and Set sharing the same body and as others have pointed out both deities reflect contrary states that coexist in each human being. I certainly recognize them in myself. For me the main failing of this book is the predominance of Seth and is thus an example of what Ancient Egyptians recognized as isfet. I hope the author at some point will release a revised edition of the book that will be more Maat like, i.e balanced.
(1) "sinister", "absolute power", "untrammeled exercise of political and economic control" p81, "relentless rise of state control", "life of subjugation", "a life of fear", "grim and shocking" p. 51 "the relentless rise of state control" p. 52, "Tyrants and megalomaniacs" p. 73 "brainwashing and subjugation" p. 74, "repression" and "brutality" p74, "snuff out" local autonomy p74, "vaunting ambition" p. 76 "despotism, pure and simple" p. 77 cattle are fed "preferentially" compared to the pharaohs human subjects p.77, "wether the populace liked it or not" p78, The pyramids are "folies de grandeur" p. 87 "megalomaniac tyrant" p. 87, "megalomaniac tyrant with scant regard for human life" p87, "ultimate projection of absolute power" p87, "opulence" and decadence" p89, "naked displays of power" p94, "tyranny" p94, "greasy pole of career advancement" p98, "wallow in pampered luxury" p98, "life was mean and miserable" p98, "an effete royal court steeped in pampered privilege" p99, "overpaid and overbearing bureaucracy" p100, "style over substance" p101, "chilling" p103, "despotic monarchy" p105, "human bauble" p111, "our rose tinted view of Ancient Egypt" p118 "despotic, autocratic rule" p118, "tinpot dictator" p122,