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Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (1966)

por Barbara Mertz

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457854,230 (4.19)69
Esteemed Egyptologist Barbara Mertz updates her widely praised social history of the people of ancient Egypt, which was originally published in 1968. Combining impeccable scholarship with a delightfully personal style, the author reconstructs the life of the Egyptians from birth to death, and beyond death, too. She also presents much fascinating detail on the building of the pyramids and the intricate art of mummification. Students and laymen alike will enjoy the wealth of authentic material on every aspect of Egyptian life that Mertz provides.… (mais)
  1. 10
    Um crocodilo na duna por Elizabeth Peters (themulhern)
    themulhern: The Egyptological fiction by this author really complements her Egyptological non-fiction and vice-versa. I read the non-fiction because I had been reading the fiction, and I'm happy to say that the non-fiction does deepen one's understanding of the fiction. But it is also possible that after reading the non-fiction one might dip into the fiction and find that one was enjoying the fiction much more because of one's existing knowledge. Both the non-fiction and the fiction are intended by the author to be amusing, and both succeed in their own way.… (mais)
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I read the original, unrevised version, copyright 1966. Lively account of the customs and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, with a humorous take on the convictions of archaeologists, often supported by no evidence. Just the sort of thing you would hope for from the author of the Amelia Peabody series. ( )
  themulhern | Dec 29, 2018 |
I loved this in large part because I was already a fan of Barbara Mertz's Egyptian mystery series, written under her pen name as Elizabeth Peters. Listening to this audiobook, it was very much as if Amelia Peabody herself was giving me a series of lectures on ancient Egyptian life, with a great deal of love for the topic and the ancient Egyptians themselves. I appreciated that Mertz continually reminded the reader that these were real, living people, not so different from us. And I loved her dryly sarcastic commentary on academia, the various follies of modern humanity. As in her novels, there is a pervasive sense that humanity is deeply fallible, but also worthy of being loved and respected, even as we laugh at ourselves.

Some sections were a little dry, but I loved her voice so much that I didn't really mind! ( )
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
Must. Own. [ETA: Oh, yeah, I bought it. Books before groceries!]
[Full disclosure: I am a total geek for ancient Egypt, and I absolutely love the Amelia Peabody adventures, penned by Ms. Mertz as Elizabeth Peters.]
In her original forward, the author's thesis statement is “This is not a book about ancient Egyptian culture; it is a book about ancient Egyptians.” Ms. Mertz doesn't quite keep her promise (the behavior of people is their culture, is it not?), but deftly avoids the patronizing, know-it-all tone of most Egyptologists in this comprehensive, dryly witty overview of life in ancient Egypt, with a marked anthropological bent.
In fact, her long career as an archaeologist and Egyptologist give Ms. Mertz a long view not only of the ancient people she studies, but the people who study the ancient people as well. While never dismissive of either group, she doesn’t hesitate to point out the gaps and inconsistencies in the modern study of ancient Egypt. In one candid and very funny acknowledgement of how much of what is handed down as writ is actually guesswork, informed by the conventions of its time, she says:
“Those who are interested in Egyptology engage in this kind of guesswork all the time; it is going to be a blow to us if Akhenaton’s mummy ever does turn up, because we enjoy our fantasies immensely, particularly when we label them ‘theories’ and get into exciting arguments with other archaeologists.” (p. 342)
An equally incisive discussion of ancient Egyptian belief in magic rigorously compares religion (ancient and modern) with “magic” and “science”, concluding that an ancient Egyptian wouldn’t see these as separate categories.
Ms. Mertz’s answer to the basic dilemma of any historian - linear timeline or subject organization – is to give us glimpses into the various aspects of the daily lives of the people (including women, who were not of interest to archaeology until the 70’s or so). While reminding us firmly that most of the available information is from the ruling or bureaucratic/priesthood classes, Red Land, Black Land is juicy with the odd little facts that personalize the day to day lives, loves, celebrations and griefs of those who composed the nation of Kemet for nearly four thousand years. ( )
  KarenIrelandPhillips | Jun 5, 2011 |
Recently revised, entertaining and informative, and, even better, easy to read. I very much enjoyed this book by Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters. Since I love her fiction and the 'voice' she uses here is very much like the one she gives Amelia Peabody, it may end up being one of my favorites for this year.

The author begins with children and pets and moves on to the women of ancient Egypt. The clothes these ancient people wore and the houses they lived in, their occupations, the arts and sciences; all have their own chapters. Of course no book on ancient Egypt is complete without describing their treatment of the dead and we have a full four chapters covering death, mummies, tombs, and 'Life after Death'. Full of details, drawings, and personal opinions (not to be missed!) this book is a great introduction to the everyday life of ancient Egypt. I think I want my own copy.
2 vote hailelib | Sep 11, 2009 |
Barbara Mertz (better known these days as Barbara Michaels or Elizabeth Peters) received her PHD from University of Chicago's Oriental Institute and became an acknowledged expert on daily life and role of women in ancient Egypt. This book, originally published as a text book in 1966, has been revised for the new 2008 edition. Updated information and diagrams are included but Barbara Mertz's style and wit never change. She places the reader in Egypt, interpreting archaeological finds to bring the place and time alive. No wonder it has been a must read for those interested in ancient Egypt for over 40 years.
  npl | Dec 4, 2008 |
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Esteemed Egyptologist Barbara Mertz updates her widely praised social history of the people of ancient Egypt, which was originally published in 1968. Combining impeccable scholarship with a delightfully personal style, the author reconstructs the life of the Egyptians from birth to death, and beyond death, too. She also presents much fascinating detail on the building of the pyramids and the intricate art of mummification. Students and laymen alike will enjoy the wealth of authentic material on every aspect of Egyptian life that Mertz provides.

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