Type: Review
Pages: 3 | Words: 663
Reading Time: 3 Minutes

This book report reviews the book The Culture of Ancient Egypt, written by Professor John A. Wilson in 1956 and issued by the University of Chicago Press. The initial hardcover was named The Burden of Egypt. It is the finest single work ever written concerning Ancient Egypt. It is the interpretative work rather than merely straight history that introduces the booklover to the Egyptian mentality and to the course of Egyptian civilization. It is amazingly organized and entertaining.


The account of Egypt is the account of history itself – the everlasting human attempt to carry on, enjoy, and recognize the secrecy of the Universe. Rising from the old spirits of time, Egypt met a challenge of mystery in the wonderful evolution of intellectual, political and religious institutions and for two centuries flourished with the energy, invested in the social order. Then Egypt started to crumble into desert sands and waters of the Nile, and the extraordinary accomplishments in society became the Wilson’s lingering epitaph.

The book is not simple to read as the author is presenting beliefs, considered by people as conflicting, but which Egyptians found harmonizing. The Egyptians altered their own theology within 3,000 years. The author begins the journey from the geographic aspects of Egypt and the long prehistoric struggle and ends the work with the late empire and post-empire (1350 B.C. and after). Generally, the book consists of ten chapters and includes the list of illustrations, which are extremely useful for the reader. The author has an extremely balanced and un-biased look at Ancient Egypt, and suggests a lot of insight into the culture.

The best thing about this book is that it does more than just provide the history lesson. It moves from era to era and clarifies the dynamics of the culture of that period of time. The author discusses the tendencies in art, religion and literature. And it is actually exciting to observe how the unchanging religion and culture of Ancient Egypt, in fact, did alter from era to era. It is an extremely rare glimpse, and the readers should use this chance. It is also nice to see the author acknowledge not to have an answer to some questions, and to note shortcomings within the knowledge.


John A. Wilson has created a rich and interpretive life history of one of the utmost cultural eras in the history. As one of the best of current Egyptologists he answers the questions unavoidably asked about the termination of Egypt’s magnificence. Here is the scholarship in its best form, concerned with humanity, which had preceded modern people. The findings in people’s past splendor and failure is meaningful for people of today.

The main interest of Wilson was not to investigate and establish the facts. Without doubt, the writer realizes the significance of exploring the real historical facts, but his major interest is not to confirm facts. He takes some data as given and then tries to search for its importance.

It is surprising that in five decades after the book had been written, we actually didn’t obtain a lot of knowledge about the subject. Whilst reading this book, it is possible to notice some things mentioned in other books. It is like we actually have not learned anything stunning in recent years. Taking into consideration some of the things discussed by the author, it is nice to put them into perspective. Many authors have a difficulty with identifying where the facts are coming from, and when you know the culture and the way in which it develops, it plays a huge role in how the pieces fit together. There should be more books like The culture of ancient Egypt, that break things down era by era, and discuss the occurred alterations.

Generally speaking, it is a very good book. It is a little bit old one, but still relevant to these days. Wilson offers an era by era un-biased look at ancient Egypt, and about the way in which the culture shifted and altered over the centuries.

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