The Pharaoh: Life at Court and on Campaign

Garry Shaw, Author
Garry Shaw. Thames & Hudson, $39.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-500-05174-0
Reviewed on: 10/01/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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In this delightful and lavishly illustrated guide, Egyptologist Shaw (Royal Authority in Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty) introduces the fascinating lives and times of the pharaohs in elaborate detail, recreating in stories what it was like to be one. Pharaohs, who were treated as gods, were not all alike, nor did they all face the same circumstances during their reigns. As Shaw points out, the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom built the pyramids and then watched their power wane, despite a long period of artistic experimentation and territorial expansion. But with the death of Amenenhat IV, the 12th dynasty fragmented, as did Egypt, and the Hyksos came to rule the all-important Nile Delta. The outsiders were expelled eventually, and a new prosperity characterized the New Kingdom, where now-famous pharaohs such as Thutmose III and Rameses II walked tall in the halls of power. Drawing on archeological and literary evidence, Shaw reconstructs the lives of pharaohs, detailing everything from their inheritance of the throne to their elevation to divinity, from their lives of luxury in the palaces to their favorite pastimes: hunting, horsemanship, opulent festivals, and musical performances. The author helpfully provides brief biographies of most of the pharaohs, such as Hatshepsut, a strong female pharaoh who established important trading relations with one of Egypt’s neighbors, and Amenhotep IV, who briefly established monotheistic worship. Shaw’s captivating study is the perfect introduction to these fabled rulers. (Nov.)
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