Audience: General Public
Egyptian Mythology: A Travelers Guide from Aswan to Alexandra is a brilliant read for lovers of travel and Egyptian mythology alike. Taking you through the history, central deities worshipped and the main associated myths of 14 major sites, Garry Shaw leaves nothing out on his exciting journey up the Nile River, and through Egypt's long and rich history.
Egyptian Mythology: A Travelers Guide from Aswan to Alexandria by Egyptologist Garry J. Shaw takes you on a journey up the Nile as if on a tour of Egypt's most historically rich and important sites. This tour up the Nile transports you to ancient Egypt with evocative imagery and descriptions of what the landscape once looked like. Shaw has gone to great lengths to synthesise the fragments of texts, the wall paintings, and the surviving archaeology to present the gods, goddesses, myths, and legends of each of the main sites on his tour. This includes different versions of myths, the layout of buildings and temples long since ruined, and how these deities were worshipped and praised in ancient Egyptian religion. At the end of each chapter, after delving into the mythological history and the way it shaped the lives of the cities' population, Shaw provides a quick overview of the history of each site and what you can expect to find today. This section gives tips on what to see when visiting the ruins today.
All the best tales are fluid, reshaped again and again by storytellers for their readers or listeners. (10)
Shaw has completed a monumental task, and he has done a superb job of it. He begins the book with the section titled Preparing for a Journey Along the Nile, in which he not only describes the journey you are about to take but also takes you through terminology and chronology that will help in your reading journey. Written as if you were about to truly set sail down the Nile River, Shaw’s poignant writing style makes you feel as if you were about to embark on a great adventure through Egypt’s long history.
Each chapter begins with a snapshot into the site as it is today, with beautiful descriptive language describing what you would hear, smell, and feel if you were standing at the site right now. Shaw then delves into the history of the site, pharaohs who ruled, and the main gods venerated. He explores the multitudes of myths associated with each site as well as the main gods and goddesses honored. He does not settle for just the main myth, no. Shaw goes on to describe fragments of myths, variations of well-known tales, and ways in which the central deities of each site were viewed, worshipped, and developed throughout the history of the site and Egypt. Of course, many myths and sites overlap, and notes in the text linking the stories to other chapters make it easy to cross between two sections. At the end of each chapter not only is each site looked at in history and today with a whistlestop rundown of the overall history of the site but Shaw gives you useful tips for visiting the site today. This includes things to see, how long it takes to get to places, and things to look out for. On top of all of that, there is also a handy table at the end of each chapter that highlights the key dates and remains of the site.
Every stone, hill, temple and town that you pass as you fly over the land has a meaning, tied to the actions of divine forces. (7)
I absolutely loved reading this book. Not only is it incredibly in-depth with its stories of myths and tales from each site but Shaw has also written it in such an accessible and intriguing way. As you read it, you get hilarious comments from Shaw as if he were giving you a tour of the site or telling you the myth in person. It makes the book all the more enjoyable, and a bunch of times his commentary was exactly what I was thinking! Egyptian mythology is far less structured than that of Greece or Rome, gods turn into other gods, and they change and develop throughout time. Shaw has made Egyptian mythology incredibly digestible, whilst linking it all to present-day Egypt in a unique and entertaining way. Any lover of Egyptian Mythology or travel (or both if you are like me) needs to get their hands on this book!
I was provided a hardback edition of this book by Thames and Hudson. This review was first published on Kell-Read.
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Cite This Work
J., S. G. (2021, September 24). Egyptian Mythology: A Traveler's Guide from Aswan to Alexandria. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/review/255/egyptian-mythology-a-travelers-guide-from-aswan-to/
J., Shaw, Garry. "Egyptian Mythology: A Traveler's Guide from Aswan to Alexandria." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified September 24, 2021. https://www.worldhistory.org/review/255/egyptian-mythology-a-travelers-guide-from-aswan-to/.
J., Shaw, Garry. "Egyptian Mythology: A Traveler's Guide from Aswan to Alexandria." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 24 Sep 2021. Web. 28 Nov 2021.