Voices from ancient Egypt
Bill bought this book at the British Museum and when he finished it he suggested I read it as he thought I'd like it as it had lots of intresting things to say about writing and social history. I read it and really liked it. The texts were all
aranged by different subjects, intellectual setting of cosmos and state, the king, the life of the land, religious life and the other life. It was mostly translations of papri with some inscriptions. The book was mostly primary sources with some explanations of the texts giving them context and when they were written.
I found it interesting that a book seprated out the religious writing from the writing about death and the afterlife as this is what most people tend to think of when they think of Egyptian religion. But the book focused much more on the lives of more ordinary people. There were letters from husbands to their dead wifes and vice versa. The letter from the wife to her dead husband asked him to heal the servant girl who was ill and being haunted by ghosts and evil spirits. It was all very fascinating.
The section on the life of the land was also really interesting. My favourite text was why it was good to be a scribe and the problems of all the other professions. But there was also insight into lives of people. There was a very fussy man who was giving lots of instructions on how his household should be run while he was away on business and what they were doing right and much more on what they were doing wrong. There was some great graffti from soliders on campaings, and it was amusing to see insults that followed standard formulas but in reverse. It really gave a good glimpse of society during the period.
I would recommend this book to people who've already read a bit about Egyptian history but are interested in finding out more details.