Judgement of the Pharaoh: Crime and Punishment in Ancient Egypt

Joyce A. Tyldesley, Author George Weidenfeld & Nicholson $35 (199p) ISBN 978-0-297-64669-3
British Egyptologist Tyldesley (Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen; Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh; etc.), the prolific author of acclaimed books for a general audience, here has all the makings of a bestseller--passion, sex and murder--but she squanders the opportunity with a treatment that is neither comprehensive nor gripping. In the first, and most satisfying, third of the book, Tyldesley aptly examines the administrative structure of the Egyptian judicial system, focusing on the roles of the pharaoh, the vizier and other officers of the law. However, the rest of the book, in which she explores various crimes--from regicide (particularly the murder of Tutankhamen) to adultery to petty theft--does not live up to its potential. Exceptions are chapters on the long-standing Egyptian tradition of tomb-robbing, which she calls ""Egypt's second oldest profession,"" and on sex and sex crimes. (Tyldesley effectively dismisses the notion that ancient Egypt was rife with incest and polygamy, although she affirms that prostitution ""was a legitimate trade."") But Tyldesley, an expert at the concise account, this time around is perhaps too concise. For example, her discussion on homosexuality is a scanty paragraph with one example that raises more questions than it answers. The most likely audience for this book consists of readers well versed in ancient Egypt, looking to expand their knowledge. Unfortunately, Tyldesley adds little that's new for such readers, and those avid to read about human misdeeds will be similarly disappointed. (Feb. 1)
Reviewed on: 03/01/2001
Release date: 07/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 199 pages - 978-0-7538-1278-5
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