Diodorus Siculus, a prolific Greek historian of the first century B.C., wrote a detailed account of ancient Egypt for his contemporaries. Even then, Egyptian civilization was ancient, stretching back to eras far more remote to him than Greek civilization is to us. Egypt was a land of mystery to the Greeks. Its pyramids were inexplicable, its writings undecipherable, its religion unfathomable. Its strange laws and stranger customs, such as mummification, were perplexing. The very land itself was mysterious: no one knew the source of the Nile or why it overflowed its banks each year with never a drop of rain. The history and mysteries of Egypt were the sole subject of the Book I of the Library of History, Diodorus' encyclopedic attempt to gather all the historical knowledge of the world into one vast book. The Antiquities of Egypt is the first translation of Diodorus' treatise prepared especially for the general reader but it will appeal to a wide range of scholars and specialists as well. The only other English version in print is a literal accompaniment to the edited Greek text, published over fifty years ago. This new translation is accurate and easy to read, while the notes and appendices amplify and elucidate the text setting the narrative in historical and cultural perspective for the nonspecialist. The illustrations add a graphic support to the text. Students and teachers of ancient history, Egyptology, archeology, and anthropology will find Antiquities of Egypt both accessible and valuable. Specialists in literature, mythology, and comparative religion will find it absorbing and useful introduction to early source material in their fields of study. Edwin Murphy is an independent scholar specializing in ancient and medieval history. He is employed in the Treasury Department, Washington D.C. Murphy has also translated Book II of Diodorus' Library of History, The Antiquities of Asia, also published by Transaction.
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