This is a long overdue post. I had my mind set on presenting to you all this excellent book for a very long time and somehow never got around to it.
I have included this book in my Essential Reading List post over my old blog and for good reason – I can say it’s still quite a recent addition to my bookshelf (about a year or so) and it has proved to be an invaluable research resource. Most things I had already discovered through past research but I have found quite the vast amount of new information in Geraldine Pinch’s book.
Chapters include Written Magic, Magical Techniques and Medicine and Magic – three topics which interest me greatly. Magical Techniques in particular proved to be quite the exciting read – for those who practice Heka (or who just take an interest in it) it’s not always easy finding good information on the topic – most reliable, in depth sources are not usually available easily: while some can be tracked down in older tomes – either by purchasing or visiting the local library, some are hidden away in some archaeological journal that not many have access to.
The quality of the images is beyond reproach (as with most books published by the British Museum – wait until I show you my copy of The Egyptian Book of the Dead!) which adds to the exquisite reading experience and to the overall quantity and quality of information – as I have said on numerous occasions, especially when I receive e-mails from folks interested in Heka or the Ancient Egyptians, a LOT of information is visual – i.e. a lot can be gathered by examining the images of temples, inscriptions, artwork, pottery, papyri and so and so forth.
The Bibliography at the end of the book managed to add to my already ever-growing reading list some very interesting titles, now all I have to figure out is how to acquire them (which I know for a fact some might be very hard to obtain – some obscure article is some very hard to find journal) but hey, I love a challenge! Especially when it comes to tracking down good resources :)
This is not an Encyclopaedia nor does it even come close to a large, complicated 5 volume piece of work. However a lot of excellent information is contained in this book. Geraldine Pinch’s writing style has managed to cram some fantastic tid-bits along with some basic and general knowledge within the pages and I’m a fan of that. Give me the general info but give me some juicy tid-bits or specific examples and I’ll learn a lot more from those. There’s nothing like a ‘The majority of ancient Egyptians were illiterate peasant farmers but this doesn’t necessarily mean that their beliefs were simple. A study of village life in rural Egypt made at the beginning of the twentieth century by the anthropologist Winifrid Blackman revealed the fellahin to have very complex beliefs. The villagers spent a surprisingly high proportion of their meagre incomes on spells, amulets and rituals purchased from local women and men with specialized magical knowledge [...]‘ (1). See what I mean? A general piece then a straightforward example with the potential of further study. I just LOVE that!
I highly recommend this book to all those interested, you won’t regret reading this!
Blessings to all,
(1) Magic in Ancient Egypt, Geraldine Pinch, British Museum Press 2006 – pg.60