Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Ancient Egyptian Tombs

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (William H. Peck)

Steven Snape, Ancient Egyptian Tombs: the Culture of Life and Death. Blackwell ancient religions. Malden, MA; Oxford; Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

This work is a rather ambitious attempt to summarize not only the development of the burial place in ancient Egypt and its architecture, but also the complex religious significance of the tomb, the attendant rituals and ritual objects as well as funerary texts. Admittedly, there is a great deal to be said about each of these aspects of the burial rite in ancient Egypt and the author has essayed a survey that includes a good deal of significant information as well as observation.

The time span of the investigation of over three thousand years begins in the late Predynastic Period and continues through the entire history of pharaonic Egypt. The emphasis is on private rather than royal burials (although these are not completely ignored). Among the topics discussed is an examination of the meaning and function of the tomb as a “machine” or a “vehicle”, in the words of the author, to enable the spirit of the deceased to enter the afterlife.

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