Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review of A History of Ancient Egypt by John Romer

Author:  John Romer.
Title:  A History of Ancient Egypt - From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid, Volume 1.
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press.
Copyright:  2013.
Pages:  475.
Price:  $29.99.

Overview and Impressions:
John Romer's A History of Ancient Egypt is more archeology than history.  Romer starts in seventh millennium BCE and works forward through pre-dynasty Egypt.

This book is more an academic work than a general history.  The author starts off with the agricultural revolution that swept the neolithic Near East.  Building up farming techniques and pottery, Romer argues a case for the differing settlements of the Nile valley.

Unfortunately, there's no military history in this book for your average gamer.  It's more the technical workings of civilization from the neolithic stone age into the early bronze age.  Romer makes a convincing case that the tools that brought about civilization in ancient Egypt were home grown

What helped Egypt succeed was an abundance of agriculture and necessary trade routes.  It also allowed Egypt to became one of the first imperial states in the later part of its long history.  Romer concludes Volume 1 with King Khufu and the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The logistics that went into the construction of these monuments is impressive.  Romer estimates at least ten percent of the population was involved the construction of the first pyramids from 2650-2550 BCE.  About 25,000 men were needed to actually build the structures, while over 5,000 stone masons were employed on site to quarry and carve the limestone with copper chisels.  But those are only estimates.

Recommended reading for the scholarly.  Volume 2 will cover the rest of ancient Egypt from Khufu's death through the Roman occupation, which is due out sometime next year.        

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