Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt 1st Edition by Richard H. Wilkinson (THaes & Hudson)

Egyptologist Wilkinson presents a clear, comprehensive and beautifully illustrated (in color and b&w) guide to the bewildering array of Egyptian deities-a complete catalogue of gods and goddesses supplemented by examinations of the history of Egyptian religion, the rise and fall of the gods, and the ways in which they were worshipped. Ancient Egypt was, Wilkinson writes, the most theocratic of any ancient culture; religion pervaded daily life for comoners as well as the pharaohs. This volume underscores the richness of ancient Egyptian beliefs: literally scores of deities are discussed, grouped by appearance: male anthropomorphic, female anthropomorphic, mammalian, avian, etc. For each god or goddess, the author discusses its mythology, iconography and forms of worship. Amun, or Amun-Re, for instance, one of the major male anthropomorphic gods, is discussed as creator god, solar god and fertility god, among other roles; he was originally portrayed with the color red; and he was honored with temples at Karnak and Luxor. This is an excellent reference work for budding Egyptologists and anyone fascinated by the culture of ancient Egypt.

Wilkinson's gorgeously illustrated book adds new dimension to popular literature on ancient Egypt, for it is a handy dictionary of divinities and a comprehensive analysis of the land's theology and religious history. Readers will be drawn in by the copious fine reproductions of classic Egyptian art--some familiar, such as the dual portrait of Nefertiti and Akhnaten, but most not, including the intriguing gold-painted wooden images of the sky-cow Isis-Mehet. Most of the photographs are black-and-white, but of such high quality and detail that they are more than merely serviceable. And once readers open the book to look at the pictures, they well may stay to read the well-organized, comprehensive, clearly written text. In addition to history and theology, Wilkinson offers excellent sociological sections on everyday religion, including discussion of divination and offerings to the gods by ordinary people, and on the relationship of the ruling classes, especially the pharaohs, to the gods. A handsome, valuable general reference.

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