Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt, Revised Edition

Bunson, Margaret R.

1. Egypt—Civilization—To 332 B.C.—Dictionaries. 2. Egypt—Antiquities—Dictionaries.

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 481 p
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 0-8160-4563-1 (hardcover)
 2002, 1991 Margaret R. Bunson

This revised Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt has been
designed to increase historical information about the civilization
of the Nile Valley from the predynastic period
until the annexation of Egypt by the Romans around 30
B.C.E. During the 1,000 years following the collapse of the
Ramessids and the New Kingdom in 1070 B.C.E. and the
Roman occupation of the Nile Valley, Egypt experienced
the invasion of several foreign armies and the clash of
new people and ideas. The Libyans, Nubians, Assyrians,
and Persians ruled the nation, and Alexander the Great
bequeathed the lands and a new capital, Alexandria, to
the Greeks, who remained in power during the Ptolemaic
Period (304–30 B.C.E.).
Individuals from these cultures are included in this
book, as well as the military, social, and religious aspects
of their presence on the Nile. Each culture arrived in
Egypt seeking its own purpose, eventually losing its grip
on the land. The native Egyptians, meanwhile, maintained
their own cultural imperatives and survived the
changes in their world. Their temples, courts, monuments,
and deities continued to serve the land as foreigners
arrived and disappeared. The Chronology will provide
an overview of these historical eras.
Specific topics are keyed to historical eras or designed
to provide details about particular customs, practices,
or traditions. Major subjects, such as agriculture,
gods and goddesses, mortuary rituals, the military, pharaohs,
queens, and religion, span the different dynasties
in order to offer an overview of the evolution of such matters.

Sites and personalities from the various eras are
included, with reference to their importance or their role
in the development of the nation. The dates of these individuals
are provided, and their Greek name is included in
many cases. In all instances the kings are recorded with
their prenomens (“first cartouche” or throne names)
given in parentheses.
Anyone wishing to begin learning about this period
of ancient Egyptian history should read EGYPT, an entry
that provides geographical and historical material about
the nation. The chronology provided at the front of the
book also gives information concerning Egypt’s development
and relationship to other lands. If interested in a
particular subject, begin with that entry and then read
the cross-referenced entries concerning the same subject
matter. For instance, if the reader is interested in the
Eighteenth Dynasty and Tut’ankhamun, the section on
historical periods under the entry on EGYPT will place
that royal line and that king in the proper chronological
and political setting. Tut’ankhamun is listed separately,
and in the entry concerning his life one will discover
other relatives or issues of significance to his reign.
If interested in the religious life of the ancient
Egyptians, the reader can start with the entry on religion
and then read the cross-references to the gods and goddesses,
temples, priests, mortuary rituals, cosmogony, and
eternity. Additional entries on the Per Ankh (House of
Life), solar cult, barks of the gods, and cult centers will
offer further details and new avenues of exploration on the subject.

If the reader is interested in pyramids, the entry on
that subject will lead to others, such as mastabas, sarcophagus,
cartonnage (coffins), liturgy, the Judgment
Halls of Osiris, valley temples, and mummies (which are
discussed in detail in the entry on mortuary rituals).
Once the book has become familiar to the reader, he
or she can begin to explore unique aspects of Egyptian
life that have survived over the centuries in the various
art forms and in the stunning architecture found along
the Nile. Individuals are included alongside customs or
traditions so that the spirit of the various eras can come
to life. Other entries on literature, art and architecture,
astronomy, and women’s role will add details about the
various aspects of day-to-day existence so many centuries
ago. Photographs and art work (adaptations of reliefs,
paintings, or statues) have been included, and maps provide
clarification of the geographic aspects of Egypt. The
names of some rulers have been altered to follow new
trends in the field.

Writing this encyclopedia and then revising and expanding
the scope of this work has been a genuine pleasure
and privilege. The ancient Egyptians have fascinated centuries
of human beings who have glimpsed or visited
their splendid ruins along the Nile. The words of these
ancients ring with a profound knowledge concerning
human aspirations and ideals. Such wisdom kept the
Egyptians vital and prospering for 3,000 years and
bequeathed remarkable concepts to the generations to follow them.

The history of Egypt provides an overall view of the
nation in good times and in bad. The entries on religion,
social development, temples, the military, and art, among
others, give details about specific eras and accomplish
ments, but the haunting beauty of the Egyptians themselves
can be found especially in the biographical entries
on royal and common individuals who spent their lives
serving the land and the spiritual heritage of the Nile
Valley. These individuals lived and died, laughed and
cried thousands of years ago, but they would prosper if
transplanted into the modern world. They possessed a
profound sense of cooperation in labors, of appreciation
for the beauty of their homeland, and a unique awareness
of the “other,” the presence of the spiritual aspects of
human existence on the Nile. The hours spent researching
the ancient Egyptians have expanded my own horizons,
and I am grateful for the experience.

Table of Contents
List of Illustrations and Maps vi
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction x
How to Use This Book xi
Chronology of Major Events xiii
Entries A to Z 1
Glossary 439
Suggested Readings 442
Index 449

List of Illustrations and Maps
Photographs and Illustrations
The mortuary temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel 5
Reconstruction of the sun temple of Izi (Niuserré) at Abusir 6
Temple remains from Seti I’s cenotaph at Abydos 7
A tomb display of New Kingdom agriculture 11
The ruins of Old Alexandria 22
The warrior pharaoh Amenemhet III 26
Amenhotep, Son of Hapu 32
A statue of the Old Kingdom pyramid builder Khafré 48
The canon of the human figure 49
Monumental figures at Abu Simbel 52
The massive temple columns, supports used at a shrine of Horus 54
A silver denarius struck in honor of Octavian (Augustus) 60
The bark of Amun, from a temple relief in Thebes 65
An illustration of daily life from the Book of the Dead 72
Byssus, the fine linen of Egypt 76
A chariot design from a New Kingdom temple relief 82
A relief depicting Cleopatra VII 84
The Colossi of Memnon 87
The Great Pyramid stands at Giza 88
The crowns of Egypt’s kings 90
Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri 96
A detail of Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri 96
The ruins of Deir el-Medina, the Valley of the Kings 98
The opening to the shrine of Hathor at Dendereh 99
Wall painting using pigments derived from Egypt’s natural resources 128
The deities of the Elephantine and the first cataract of the Nile 131
Wall paintings of Egyptian religious festivals 137
A relief of workers caging wild geese from the Nile marshes 140
The watcher on the horizon, the Great Sphinx 147
Renditions of the god Sobek and other deities 148
A procession of divine beings at Abydos 149
The opening to the temple of Isis at Philae 150
A pantheon of divine beings in the White Chapel at Karnak 151
The mythical creature saget, found on a tomb wall in Beni Hasan 152
Columns honoring the goddess Hathor at Dendereh 159
The Dendereh temple of the goddess Hathor 160
Hatshepsut’s Karnak apartment 161
Heh, the god of eternity 163
Horus, the great deity of Egypt 172
Hypostyle columns displayed in the temple of Luxor 176
Columns leading to an interior chamber in the Isis Temple at Philae 184
A Spirit Boat 188
A nighttime image of the great temple complex at Karnak 193
A section of the great religious complex at Thebes 195
The Great Pyramid at Giza—Khufu’s monument 203
Hieroglyphs, the writing of ancient Egyptians 210
The great temple pylon gates of Luxor 218
Medinet Habu, the migdol complex of Ramesses III at Thebes 232
A relief depicting Ramesses II in battle array 245
Tuthmosis III, one of the greatest warrior kings of Egypt 247
Mummy wigs 254
The golden mortuary mask of King Tut’ankhamun 256
The monument honoring Queen Nefertari Merymut 269
An obelisk of the New Kingdom 285
A cenotaph temple honoring the deity Osiris and eternity 288
An Osiride Pillar, a statue of Ramesses II 289
The Persea Tree on a bas-relief from the Ramesseum 301
A limestone relief of Amenhotep III in his war chariot 305
The temple of Isis at Philae 306
An engraving of Ptolemy I 314
A portrait of Ptolemy II, called Philadelphus 315
A pylon from the temple of Isis at Philae 319
Passageway into the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza 320
The burial complex of Khafré (Chephren) at Giza 322
Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaten 327
Ramesses II depicted in a colossal statue in Luxor temple 335
Ramesseum columns in the funerary monument of Ramesses II 339
The complex at Saqqara of the Step Pyramid of Djoser 353
Rendering of a sarcophagus in a tomb at Thebes 354
A column from the White Chapel, built at Karnak by Senwosret I 363
An oil portrait of Senwosret III 364
The mummified head of Seti I 368
The shabtis in the burial chamber of King Tut’ankhamun 369
A relief depicting life on the Nile in the Middle Kingdom 382
Golden tableware from the Nineteenth Dynasty 383
The Step Pyramid at Saqqara 389
A temple kiosk at Philae in the Ptolemaic Period 398
Columned corridors dating to the New Kingdom 401
Luxor temple at Thebes 403
Tomb paintings depicting Ramesses II 409
A false door in a tomb from the Old Kingdom 410
A papyrus tomb text from the Book of the Dead 410
Tuthmosis III, the “Napoleon of Egypt” 417
Khamerernebty, the consort of Menkauré of the Old Kingdom 433

Land of the Nile: Ancient Egypt ii
Alexandria 23
Plan of the fortress of Buhen 74
Temple complex at Deir el-Bahri 97
Geography of ancient Egypt 116
Egyptian Asiatic Empire under Tuthmosis III, 1450 B.C.E. 124
Natural resources of ancient Egypt 129
Layout of the Giza Plateau 146
Layout of the massive Karnak complex 194
Temple of Sobek and Heroeris (Horus) at Kom Ombo 206
Temple complex at Luxor 219
Egypt under the Ptolemies, c. 250 B.C.E. 314
Sacred sites in Egypt, c. 2600 B.C.E.–300 C.E. 400
Valley of the Kings 423


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Maps and genealogies by Dale Williams, Sholto Ainslie,
and Patricia Meschino

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