Friday, 2 November 2012

Minerva Reviews The Pharaoh

Another kind review of The Pharaoh just appeared, this time in Minerva Nov/Dec 2012. Here it is:

"What was it like to be one of the most powerful rulers of the ancient world? How did someone become king of Egypt? What did a pharaoh do in his leisure time? These are some of the many questions tackled by Garry J Shaw, whose research focuses on the daily lives of the pharaohs, in his lively and colourful new book.

Shaw, who teaches at the Egypt Exploration Society, follows the great rulers from the bedchamber to the battlefield. As well as exploring the evolution and ideology of kingship and what it was like to be regarded as a god, he also investigates the personal life of the pharaoh – his recreational pursuits, family life, diet and health problems. Pets were not unknown in the royal palaces of Egypt – cats and dogs were popular and some were so beloved that they were buried in their own tombs.

Quotations from original texts enliven the narrative, as in the chapter describing all the royal cities of Ancient Egypt in which the earliest, Memphis, sounds like a kind of paradise: 'her granaries are full of barley and emmer, her lakes are full of lotus-buds…The noble ladies of Memphis sit at leisure, hands bowed down with [festive] foliage and greenery'.

All this is set within a clear historical framework, well described in Chapter Two, 'The Story of Two Lands', and, at the end of the book, there is a useful check-list of all the pharaohs, from Predynastic times to the Roman period, giving biographies of the most important."