The World of Ancient Egypt. By Peter Lacovara. Daily Life Encyclopedias. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2017. 2 vols. Acid free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4584-0). E-book available (978-1-6106-9229-8), call for pricing.

The World of Ancient Egypt (WAE) is part of the Daily Life Encyclopedias series, which explores different cultures, investigating their socio-historical context. WAE provides the reader with an ability to understand the historic background for specific topics in relation to life in ancient Egypt. While there are several reference works related to ancient Egypt, none provide analysis from a similar perspective.

WAE is broken up into ten topical sections: Arts, Economics and Work, Family and Gender, Fashion and Appearance, Food and Drink, Housing and Community, Politics and Warfare, Recreation and Social Customs, Religion and Beliefs, and Science and Technology. Each section has between twelve (Social Customs) and twenty-three (Arts) entries. The diversity of topics enables WAE to cover a variety of different facets of common life in ancient Egypt.

While the intended audiences of this resource are high school students, undergraduates, and non-specialists, the topics are specialized enough, making their use for high school level inquiries questionable, despite the relatively brief nature of the entries. However, where this work lacks in appeal to a younger audience, it more than compensates in its appeal to collegiate level inquiries. One example is the bibliographies occurring after each entry in WAE. While bibliographies are quite common in reference tools like WAE, some of the topics covered by WAE are rather obscure, making any connection to further resources vital for research inquiries. For example, one of the entries covers “Faience and Glass,” providing an intriguing description of various glazed ceramic works and glass created and used by early Egyptians. The bibliography provided after this entry would be a gem to any individual pursuing research in this specialization.

Three particular elements stand out to make the article “Faience and Glass” a wonderful resource. First, this particular article has another article embedded into it. This article is entitled: “Faience Hippopotamus ‘William.’” This article gives a specific example of faience, elaborating on how it was used in ancient Egyptian culture and religion. While not all articles have embedded content, their frequency makes them an incredible addendum to WAE. Secondly, all entries in WAE provide brief bibliographies. These brief bibliographies enable individuals desiring to pursue further research a great venue through which one can attain other resources. Third, each entry in WAE has a “see also” at the end, linking the reader to other resources in WAE that a reader may find helpful. These three features make WAE an incredibly helpful resource for anyone pursuing research in relation to ancient Egypt.

Volume 2 complements these excellent articles by providing primary documents on each of the topics covered. The primary documents provide full-text readings of some of the documents to which WAE makes reference. While not exhaustive, its inclusion provides a great venue for individuals to pursue further inquiry on their particular interest.

WAE also includes four excellent complementary appendices. The appendices touch upon topics such as the nomes of ancient Egypt, an outline of the history of archaeology in Egypt, major museum collections of ancient Egyptian art, and a list of ancient Egyptian kings. These appendices provide further information for individuals pursuing research in relation to ancient Egypt.

WAE provides an excellent starting point for undergraduate inquiry into areas of ancient Egyptian life. It is highly recommended for any academic library serving students who will inquire about this topic.—Garrett B. Trott, Librarian, Corban University, Salem, Oregon


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