Thumbnails, toenails, bellybuttons and their influence on the meaning of life
Ancient Egypt: Main Index and Search Page - History, Dynasties, Cultural Chronology, Mythology, Aspects of Life in Ancient Egypt, Glossary, Herodotus on the Pharaohs, Reader, Bibliography
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The picture of the sphinx and many others on this site courtesy Jon Bodsworth whom I'd like to thank for his kindness and generosity. Pharaonic Egypt: History and culture

An introduction to the history and culture of
Pharaonic Egypt

[Image: Sphinx. Ancient Egypt-the pharaonic period] Table of contents
Main menu Main Index and Search Page History List of Dynasties Cultural Chronolgy Mythology Aspects of Life in Ancient Egypt Glossary of ancient Egyptian Terms Herodotus on the Pharaohs Ancient Egyptian Reader Apologia and Bibliography

Instead of an introduction: A word of caution

    This site is based on what is considered more or less orthodox chronology, which of course means that there are other, 'deviant' chronologies. On the whole I prefer the plodding examination of facts however few and poorly understood to the flights of fancy of some of the alternative historians. Chances are it gets us a bit closer to the truth, which, unless time travel is invented, we will never know [2].
    For many occurrences there is very little evidence, but whole edifices of connections, interrelations, influences and causes have been constructed by serious, well meaning experts often on the flimsiest of grounds.
    One would like to think that physical remains should leave little to doubt. But stone artefacts and buildings are remarkably difficult to date [1]. Theories - from the sublime to the ridiculous - of when, how, why and by whom the Great Pyramids, for instance, have been erected, are legion.
    Written records engender other problems. The texts are sometimes partly illegible, making translation and interpretation even more difficult and uncertain than they would be if they were in pristine condition and ancient Egyptian were not a dead language. There are also ancient attempts at rewriting history. Inscriptions left by pharaohs in full view of the (mostly illiterate) public are probably even less reliable than the news fed to the media by the Pentagon during the Vietnam war. A good example of this government propaganda is the Egyptian account of the battle of Kadesh.
    Tomb inscriptions of high and low alike also have to be read with suspicion. Rather than reflecting reality faithfully they seem to have been intended to convince the gods of the impeccable character of the deceased.
    More trustworthy than royal self-congratulations and post-mortem embellishments of the curriculum vitae of officials are texts written during the ordinary course of life by some men and a few women of the people with a little education, often referred to as love letters, laundry lists and the like. The problem with these is that they are very specific, and given a scarcity of similar information, might well refer to an exceptional case rather than reflect the rule.
    There is also the oral tradition. Passed on through many generations and finally written down, these stories give a better picture of the times of those who put it to papyrus than of the events they purport to describe. Herodotus' marvellous stories are a case in point. Getting at the kernel of truth possibly hidden in theses garbled tales is more of an art than science.
    These are just a few of the many stumbling blocks the path to knowledge seems to be plastered with. So the history we've got nowadays is the best we have come up with - so far.
    But Sporting Life got it right: "It ain't necessarily so". You pays your money and you takes your choice - hopefully not forgetting that some animals are more equal than others.
Have fun!


    There seem to be a few suspicious people out there doubting that I exist. If you - driven by innate curiosity or, as is more probable, at the behest of some teacher, mentor, or other authority figure (referred to subsequently as "he/she who must be obeyed") - need information about me, look here.
    Before you start legal proceedings against me for any perceived grievances, read the disclaimer, please.

[1] As the stones themselves are cut from rock millions of years old, one has to date organic and other remains found among them.
[2] Come to think of it, even then it's doubtful we'll be much the wiser. Just imagine what the past would look like in a report in the "Sun". The mind boggles
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