One of the most vexing problems in Egyptology is the question of establishing reliable chronologies, whether through relative methods such as stratigraphy and the dating of artifacts or through more absolute time horizons established by astronomical ephemera or radiometric dating. In this overview of ancient Egypt--meant for advanced students, but accessible to general readers with an interest in the area--Ian Shaw and 13 contributors pay close attention to issues of chronology, reconciling conflicts of dating that mark older scholarship.
While doing so, they address other problems in the study of ancient Egypt, such as the lack of material evidence of early humans in the region and the increasing destruction of sites in the face of contemporary urban growth. Elsewhere, they remark on the principal developments that distinguish periods in Egyptian prehistory, such as the Old Kingdom's use of large-scale building projects to consolidate power and "remind people of the greatness of pharaonic civilization," and the Middle and New kingdoms' apparent openness to foreigners, which lent Egypt a cosmopolitan, multicultural air that persisted for centuries during long periods of domination by outside powers such as Persia and Rome. Highly useful as a reference and survey, this handsomely illustrated book is a fine addition to any Egyptophile's collection. --Gregory McNamee
Review from previous edition The approach combines traditional chronological history with cultural and social historical material to produce a well rounded picture ... chapters covering prehistory and the intermediate periods are particularly good, with Seidlmayer on the First Intermediate Period and Bourriau on the Second Intermediate Period outstanding. Bryan's chapter on the 18th Dynasty before the Amarna Period is also particularly good. Antiquity If you only want to read one book on Egypt, then read this one ... even people who consider themselves as experts on Ancient Egypt will find much to set them thinking: And while such Egyptologists will have a field day, the casual reader will find plenty to arouse their interest, ranging from the story of the world's first strike ... to the revelation that Scotland Yard possesses a print taken from the hand of a mummy. The Northern Echo splendid, lavishly illustrated book ... the only single-volume work to cover 700,000 years of Ancient Egypt from the stone age to Roman conquest ... Lucidly edited by Ian Shaw ... you get the facts without the dust. An excellent choice for enthusiasts and novices alike; even better if you can persuade someone to buy for you as a present. Roddy Phillips, Aberdeen Press and Journal From the Stone Age to the Roman occupation in the fourth centry AD, the mighty Egyptian dynasties are brought to life in almost 450 pages ... never anything but deeply informative, without losing sight of the essential attribute of any book - readability ... both stimulating to the casual reader or keen-to-learn holiday maker and the serious student alike. Peter Leach, North West Evening Mail brimming with ... intriguing facts ... also provides a first-rate overview of - le progres Egyptien - from the period when Homo erectus first stalked the land right up to Octavian's triumphant entry into Egypt in 30 BC. Douglas Kennedy, The Times