The Mummy: A History of the Extraordinary Practices of Ancient Egypt by E. A. Wallis Budge

The Mummy: A History of the Extraordinary Practices of Ancient Egypt by E. A. Wallis Budge

I finished reading this somewhat old-fashioned book today; but although it was written in 1894 (assuming it is the same book as The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology), it must be observed that when one is talking of Ancient Egypt, not a whole lot changes from year to year. I very much enjoyed reading this very thorough book.

The author (1857 – 1934) was an Egyptologist of note, and entered the British Museum in 1883 in the recently renamed Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities. Initially appointed to the Assyrian section, he soon transferred to the Egyptian section, and remained there until 1924. His book covers just about anything one could wish to know about Ancient Egypt, from the time frame of 4400 BCE to about AD 200; when you are talking about some 4600 years of history, it is patently obvious that funeral customs would change according to the ups and downs of fortunes, dynasties, fads, and other factors. Our author gives us a list of Egyptian Dynasties and their dates, with remarks on the king and other information within each dynasty (King Tutankhamun, who is one of the only Egyptian pharaohs that most Americans can name, is only named as Tut-ãnch-Åmen, a minor ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty, circa 1400 BCE). The Rosetta Stone is explained in detail (with quotations of remarks by researchers in French, German, and other languages, without translations). The methods of mummification and the Book of the Dead are covered, as are mastabas (burial buildings used from about 4400 BCE to about 1550 BCE, or from the First through the Seventeenth Dynasties) and pyramids (from about 2700 BCE, during the Third Dynasty, peaking with the Giza complex (about 2500 BCE through 2500 BCE), and ending about the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty (660 BCE)).

There is much more material in this book; alas, the plates are all black-and-white, which is probably unavoidable in a book that is essentially a reprint of an old book. But I found this book to be fascinating, and a welcome addition to my bookshelf.

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