malek 2003

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  • 8/9/2019 Malek 2003


  • 8/9/2019 Malek 2003


    oo Reviews con t.---

    tian Museum and shut down a school for Egyptian menwho wanted to study ancient Egypt.

    . In fact the Egyptianshaveonlycontrolledthenation's antiquities sinc~ the 1950s, the service havingbeen under French control, even when Britain effec-tively ruled Egypt.

    How things have changed. The Supreme Council forAntiquities' (SCA) Secretary General, Zahi Hawass, isprobably the most visible Egyptologist today and aNational Geographic Explorer in Residence. Every year,Egyptians train at the ARCE Field School. Egyptianteams excavate ancient sites and publish and speakalongside their foreign colleagues.

    But in Maspero's day, his attitude toward Egyptianswas the norm, not the exception. In Whose Pharaohs?Reid shows readers the other side of the development

    of Egyptology, its effect on the growth of tourism and itsentanglement with Egyptian and European ambitions.Whose Pharaohs? is ideal reading for anyone interestedin the ramifications for a society when politics, archaeol-ogy and nationalism collide.

    The tale of Napoleon's scientific expedition has beentold many times and need not be repeated here. Reidmentions notable Western Egyptologists such asFlinders Petrie, but his focus is on the development ofEgyptian Egyptology and how foreign control of Egypt'spast helped give birth to Egyptian nationalism.

    The earliest Egyptian pharaonic scholars, such as

    Rifaa al-Tahtawi and Ahmad Kamal, endured treatmentas second-class citizens by their Western peers, wholiterally carted away their past to distant museums andprivate collections. Egypt was in the grip of a gold rushfueled mainly by European museums and collectors.

    Cultural and religious differences, as well as differ-ent perceptions of the past, further widened the gulf 1between Western and Egyptian scholars. Egyptianculture and perceptions were reduced to stereotypesand overshadowed by the all-encompassing behemothof Orientalism, a Western creation.

    Eventually the likes of Petrie, Howard Carter and jGeorge Reisner began to supplant treasure huntersmasquerading as archaeologists. While this developmentbenefited Egypt's heritage, it did not necessarily benefitcontemporary Egyptians. For example, until the 20thcentury, Egyptians might aspire to be a reis, but not theexcavation director.

    Reid deftly ties together Egyptian and Westernnationalism, tourism and colonialism to demonstrate

    how they shaped the Egypt and the state of Egyptologywe know today. The furor over Tutankhamun's tombmarked the beginning of the end of Western domina-




    1 Jt lo.r 1- C ~o-tJ1) ( fC:;-2()

    tion of Egyptian antiquities. Rather than allowing thetraditional 50-50 split between excavator and govern-ment, the Egyptian authorities claimed the entirecontents. Carter, Lord Carnarvon and the West in

    general may have felt that the nationalist movementwas the real curse of the pharaohs, but it was the firststep in Egyptians' achieving what Western nations tookfor granted - equality with other nations and controlover their past. Reid also devotes chapters to the studyof Egypt's Coptic and Islamic heritage.

    One might have a sense of deja vu in light of themedia coverage of Hawass' efforts in recent months torecover illegally acquired antiquities. And Egypt andEgyptology still collide. Today, the discipline is as miredin politics, nationalism, tourism and internationalrelations as it was when the French had to surrender

    the Rosetta Stone to the British in 1802. Witness therecent controversy over the bust of Nefertiti and theartists who temporarily joined it to a statue in the nameof art.

    This is not a tale of good versus evil; rather it is arecounting of individual and national ambitions andrivalries tempered by an Egyptian perspective. Reidgives a voice to the earliest predecessors of Hawass,Fekhri Hassan, Farouk el-Baz and other EgyptianEgyptologists; he places them in the context of anancient land struggling to find its identity and sover-eignty in the modern world.

    - Susan Cottman

    Donald Malcom Reid will lecture on this topic forARCEjNW at the Burke Museum of Natural Historyand Culture on Thursday, October 2, 2003 at 6:30pm.

    . sion is ee.

    Egypt: 4000 Years of ArtByJaromir MalekHardbound, 376 pagesISBN: 0714842001Phaidon Press

    Those interested in the development of Egyptian artwill find this book very useful. Its author, JaromirMalek, is the Keeper of the Archive at the GriffithInstitute, Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. He is perhapsbest known for the Topographical Bibliography of AncientEgyptian Hieroglyphic Texts which he edited, and for aprevious monograph on Egyptian art, also published byPhaidon in 1999. Malek is unique among authors onEgyptian art in that he is both a gifted Egyptologist witha firsthand knowledge of Egyptian artifacts and a


  • 8/9/2019 Malek 2003


    Book Reviews can t.,-

    scholar conversant within the discipline of art history.The present work under review represents the best ofthis combined expertise.

    After providing a concise but informative introduc-

    tion to Egyptian art (pp. 4-13), Malek contextualizes hisintroduction by taking readers on a pictorial journey.With the turn of each page, Malek moves readerschronologically forward from predynastic to Romantimes. Each page contains a handsomely producedphoto of a particular artifact and a list of the piece stitle, date, provenience (if known), current location, size(in decimal and metric measurements), and material ofconstruction. Beneath this register, Malek has placed abrief discussion of the artifact s distinguishing features;its original use and purpose; and significance forunderstanding the development of Egyptian art. Often

    these descriptions contain useful cross-references thatallow readers to move back and forth among its manypages to compare and contrast various themes andartifacts.

    Though of course many items that appear in thisbook are well-known (e.g., images of Akhenaten fromAmarna and several other tomb reliefs), a great manymore rarely appear in books on the subject. Just tomention a few: a 14th century cosmetic container in theform of a servant carrying a jar; a gold ring bearinghorses dated to the 13th century (p. 226); a statue of abearded demon from the tomb of Ramesses II (p. 247);

    and a large painted leather funerary canopy belongingto the priestess of the god Min and dating to the 11thcentury (p. 264).

    Malek s coordination of each artifact with others in

    the greater collection makes the book a handy referencework. This aspect is also facilitated by a glossary, seriesof indices and chronological chart placed at the endthat lists Egyptian dynasties and kings, as well ascorresponding dates and important events in thegreater ancient Near East. The artifacts that appear inthe preceding pages also are listed where they belong inthe chronological chart, along with their page numbersfor easy reference. The integration of lesser-knownartifacts, and the accessible and personal way in whichMalek discusses each of the pieces, make for an inter-esting read.

    One cannot help but get a sense of the incrediblecare and devotion that Egyptians brought to theirworks, and for the changing economic and politicaltimes that led to changes in the artistic canon. Onecomes away from reading this work rewarded with abetter understanding of the subtleties and sophistica-tion of Egyptian artisans, the diversity and ingenuity of




    their crafts, as well as with a greater appreciation forthe continuities and discontinuities that are the hall-

    mark of Egypt s long artistic history.

    Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt

    ByLynn MeskellHardbound, 288 pagesISBN:069100448XPrinceton University Press

    What makes this book valuable, and it is a valuableaddition to any Egyptophile s library, is its examinationof private life in a broader context than that tradition-ally covered by Egyptologists. Author Lynn Meskell isinterested in restructuring the contexts in which weview the lives of ancient Egyptians, removing the.discussion from tired categories that may not carry anyrelevance or serve the topic well. She sets that tone byreminding the reader that the Western taxonomies intowhich ancient Egyptian material is generally placed area potential trap (particularly when they become ossi-fied) .

    Meskell essentially asks; what did the concept ofpersonhood embody in ancient Egypt and what can weknow about it from the evidence available? The book is

    organized along the continuum of the lives of indi-vidual, non-royal ancient Egyptians, covering birth,maturation, love, marriage, sexuality, aging, and deathamong other topics. Women in ancient Egypt have beena popular topic in recent years and this book adds avery cogent voice to that conversation, while makingthe point that Egyptian women are nearly silent in theextant evidence in comparison to the men in theculture.

    Meskellis analysis is thorough for such a smallvolume. She presents the material in a confident tonebut always with the caution that it s an analysis throughtoday s prism. Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt is anaccessible read that never talks down and does a goodjob of bridging the interests of popular and professionalaudiences.

    - rian Hu