A History of Ancient Egypt, Paperback

A History of Ancient Egypt Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


This is an account of the rise and fall of the civilization in the Nile Valley, covering the first human settlement (c. 120,000 BC) to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 BC.

It is the first reign-by-reign history of ancient Egypt to be published since Sir Alan Gardiner's Egypt of the Pharaohs (1961) and takes full account of the many archaeological, scientific and linguistic discoveries of the last three decades.

The author blends archaeological and textual evidence into a lucid and vivid narrative and, by quoting extensively from contemporary sources, such as the funerary autobiographies of individuals and the official accounts of military campaigns, adds a strong sense of atmosphere to the unfolding of events.

Nicolas Grimal recounts the political, cultural and economic history of the Egyptians within the framework of an intricate and well-argued chronology. At a time when the vast accumulation of information from ancient Egypt is becoming almost too diverse for a single mind to encompass, he has managed to transform - without disguising current gaps in knowledge - disparate sources of evidence and the findings of many different disciplines into a coherent historical sequence.

This is in itself a considerable achievement: it has also provided the means of presenting one of the most scholarly and at the same time most readable histories ever written of a civilization whose mysteries and achievements have fascinated the West for well over two millennia.

For the paperback edition a section of further reading in English has been prepared by Kent R.

Weekes, Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528 pages, 0
  • Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780631193968



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A History of Ancient Egypt, a translation from the original French, is an excellent and readable introduction to Egyptian History. It provides an overview of the major political and social events in Egypt beginning with a brief survey of prehistory and ending with the conquest by Alexander the Great. The book covers the old, middle, and new kingdoms as well as the intermediate periods and ends with two chapters on the Nubian/Saite and Persian/Greek periods. It also includes a chapter on the "invasion" of the Hyksos as well as chapter describing the religious changes made by Akhenaten.The book's great strength is its readability and continuity. While other histories of Egypt often get bogged down in archeological details, Grimal's work connects the dots in a smooth and engaging narrative style. It may be that he occasionally glosses the fine points to provide continuity, but having read more detailed texts (Oxford History of Ancient Egypt), I believe his book provides a clearer picture for the beginner.This is not to say that the book lacks accuracy but scholars of Egyptian history will no doubt have their difficulties with some of Grimal's details. The book was first published in 1988 and, as such, is slightly out of date. Grimal also tends to use Greek names for most pharaohs as well many place names ie. Cheops instead of Khufu for the builder of the great pyramid. This can be a little confusing to the inexperienced reader if they have previously encountered other variants.While the book covers the major political events in ancient Egypt, the inclusion of chapters explaining the Egyptian system of religious beliefs, funerary practices and a long description of the temple complexes at Karnak provide much needed background. The plates (all black and white) in the book are adequate, although often the maps lack detail. For the interested reader I would recommend "Le Description de L'Egypte", put out by Benedikt Taschen Verlag. This book, a beautiful collection of paintings, architectural drawings and maps, produced by a team commissioned by Napoleon, fills in many of the visual details missing in Grimal's work.I would strongly recommend "A History of Ancient Egypt" to the casual reader, interested in Egyptian history, who does not want to be swamped with details. For the more scholarly it includes a brief glossary, a chronology of dynasties, an extensive bibliography, annotated suggestions for further reading and a fairly detailed index. Because of this it might also be useful as an introductory text in Egyptology, but given its age and narrative style, it will likely not be the first choice of experienced Egyptologists.