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When we think of ancient Egypt, we think of the gods, the pharaohs and the pyramids. However, life for the average Egyptian was very different from this glorious perception and was not so unrecognizable from the lives we live today.
This book tells the history of the ordinary population of ancient Egypt, using the stories of real people – often strange, at times amusing and ultimately very recognizable. Booth introduces us to a number of fascinating people, including Taimhotep, who married a man twice her age and turned to the god Imhotep to help her to conceive a son; Naunakhte, who disinherited her children for neglecting her in her old age; Kenhirkhopshef, a man seemingly obsessed with making lists; and Paneb, the ‘bad boy’ of Deir el-Medina. History is made up of people and personalities, and each of these characters has a story to tell.
Egyptology has always been a huge love and passion of mine throughout my life. Anything regarding Antiquity is, and so when I came across this book I was delighted because this is such a refreshing and informative read, one which is incredibly well written. Now, as many of you may know I study the classics…I do mainly study the ancient Greeks, but ancient history overlaps, therefore I have had to study the Egyptians on numerous occasions throughout my years and so I have really grown to love and admire their rich history and their interesting ways of life even more than I did before. Because of my love and admiration for Egyptian history I am always on the lookout for the best Egyptology books. Now, Lost Voices of the Nile is this book… I am not kidding you when I say that this has to be one of the best Egyptology books I have ever read. I loved this book so much, why? This book is astounding, notable and such a fun, educational read. It will definitely be a longtime before I forget about this wonderful book.
Lost Voices of the Nile is packed full of information of the Egyptians lives and ways, along with many interesting and fascinating facts. The information is very in-depth but not in such a way that is complicated and hard to read. It is in-depth because it includes so many details on the Egyptians lives…this book is not a broad overview of their lives but rather an in-depth, intellectual study of everything to do with the Egyptians. Because of the rich history wrote in this book you do feel as if you are transported back in time in a time capsule. There are numerous chapters where the author will describe a certain event, or a certain area of Egypt and you really do feel as if you are standing in that moment with the fellow Egyptians…smelling the smells described and hearing the sounds being described. The writing is written in such a way that it is an incredibly visual read, your mind is constantly working in over drive creating an image of what it was really like for the ancient Egyptians. The fact that the author Charlotte Booth has been able to do this is truly magical. I read books day in, day out on the lives of ancient people, but never do I really come across a book where an author describes events in history so beautifully and so perfectly as she does. The fact that Charlotte Booth put a picture of a map at the beginning of this book, meant that the visual journey reading experience was intensified even more. It was great of her to do this, because if I ever did get stuck throughout my reading on where certain places where, and how far apart they were from each other, I could just refer back to the map. So very smart of her indeed.
Because of the rich, vivid descriptions and the dense information within this book, it did mean that it took me a little longer to read. Some people may see this as a negative thing but if anything I see it as a positive fact. It took me so long to read because I was so immersed in the world of the Egyptians… I was reading word for word, not wanting to miss a single sentence or detail… I was letting my brain work in overdrive in bringing the beautiful world of theirs to life. I took my time because it was worth it. Sometimes you read a book and it can be poorly written and so you try and finish the book quickly, so you end up increasing your reading pace, and start skimming the words occasionally, but this book was the opposite. I lavished in the reading experience, taking my time, analyzing every detail, and in turn creating an image in my mind.
Centuries old Egyptian texts are placed perfectly throughout this book. The texts give great indication to what it was really like to live in ancient Egypt, as the texts were written from the people themselves. It made it feel even more real to me, and allowed me to visualize their world that bit more. The research and the findings of the texts this author has accomplished is impeccable. The book is so in-depth that the author wrote pages and pages on certain people and certain families, which in my eyes is truly amazing work.
Lost Voices of the Nile is laden with interesting facts which are incredibly memorable. Their the kind of facts you read over twice to cement in your brain. The kind of facts you can bring up in a conversation or at a dinner party. However, this book is not just about interesting and noteworthy facts… it is also about putting misconceptions of the Egyptians to fact. For example, there is a misconception that in ancient Egypt sibling marriages were the norm. In actual fact, this was only practiced by the Gods and royalty. Royal marriages included brother-sister, father-daughter, or even grandfather-granddaughter alliances. However, these marriages were often political and meant to reinforce the royal line and it is unknown if they were all consummated.
There are 9 sections within Lost Voices of the Nile, all with a distinct and notable subject. They are:
- Living with the Ancient Egyptians
- Passing the Time
- Household Religion
- Love, Sex, Marriage
- Working for a Living
- Legal Matters
- Disease and Medicine
- Death and Burial
I loved all of these sections equally, but there are a few of them which stand out in my mind. These sections are: Passing the Time, Household Religion, and Love, Sex, Marriage. Let me expand on these three favorite sections of mine.
The Love, Sex, Marriage section was one of the most interesting sections with many interesting facts. One thing which stood out to me in this section was how the Egyptians Divorced, because it really is nothing like what it is today! Marriage in Ancient Egypt was easy, with no legal documentation at all and so, divorce was equally as easy. To divorce, either party declared ‘I divorce you’ the man would declare ‘I repudiate you’ or the woman would say ‘I will go’ before she left her husband’s house to either return to her family’s home or set up her own.
The Passing the Time section was one of my favorites because the ancient Egyptians seemed to have their own version of our present day gladiator competitions -where two men would try and knock each other down with polls. The only difference is, is that they were on boats on the river Nile, rather than podiums. They would try and knock each other in the water, and only then could one of them be named victorious. There was however an added danger as once in the Nile, there would be a high chance of being eaten by a crocodile so there was a real sense of danger with this sport… and it was only all for passing the time!
The Household Religion chapter was really fascinating to me because it looks at the ancient Egyptian Gods… and I am obsessed with the study of Gods worshiped in ancient civilizations. The stories of Isis, Nephthys, Osiris, and Seth are the main focus within the section and their stories were so mind blowing that I had to read this section twice.
To sum up my thoughts I would say that Lost Voices of the Nile is a refreshing change, which focuses on the lives of the everyday individuals, rather than the country as a whole. Booth uses impeccable and extensive archaeological and textual evidence to explore the nine sections listed above. This extensive research means that this book is a solid introduction to the examination of the people of Egypt and their civilization. Lost Voices of the Nile is a great informative and fun read, laden with interesting facts and moments which will captivate you to the very end. So if any of you lovely book lovers are interested or curious about what it was really like for the ancient Egyptians then I urge you to check this book out because it truly is a great and fascinating read. Lost Voices of the Nile has to get 4 stars from me because of how wonderfully written it was and how it did keep me hooked until the very end.
As always thank you so much for reading! You guys are awesome and I adore you all so much. Please do comment your thoughts below as always, letting me know whether you are interested or even curious about this book. But also let me know whether you are fascinated by the Egyptians and ancient history…I know I sure am! Goodbye for now book lovers,