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Book reviews for "Hornung,_Erik" sorted by average review score:

History of Ancient Egypt: An Introduction
Published in Hardcover by Cornell Univ Pr (1999)
Authors: Erik Hornung and David Lorton
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Extremely well translated by American Egyptologist David Lorton, Hornung's book covers the history of Ancient Egypt from its Archaic to its Late Periods. It provides a concise description of important events through historical facts. A thorough yet brief explanation of political, economical, social, literary and artistical changes of Ancient Egyptian society leads to the development of the kingdoms. Black and white photographs, an excellent bibliography and a glossary explaining commonly used Egyptological terms accompany the main body. Recommended for professionals and amateurs.

Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many
Published in Hardcover by Taylor & Francis Books Ltd (27 January, 1983)
Author: Erik Hornung
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Interesting Book
I thought the chapters on the characteristics and manifestations of the gods were fascinating, and I also enjoyed the chapter about the names of the gods. Many people love this book, but I found the chapter on the use of the word ntr to be somewhat dry. The information in this chapter was very informative, but the subject matter just did not hold my interest; perhaps this shows more where my interest lay, rather than the skill of the author. However those interested in this aspect of Egyptian religion, will probably get a lot out of this book.

Fascinating Read
"Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt" is an English translation of a German publication from 1970. While its definately in the 'academic' category with some pages weighing in longer on footnotes than on text, its an interesting read throught. The section on Akhenaton in the chapter entitled "Classification and Articulation of the Pantheon" is my favorite.
Highly recommeded.

an excellent book
In this book, the author introduces the basic concepts of the gods. He first defines the terminology for the word 'god' and then explains the names of the Ancient Egyptian gods as well as their characteristics. He provides an excellent historical overview of the gods. A useful glossary of gods is included, along with a great bibliography for further reading. It is a recommended necessary reading for those studying Ancient Egyptian religion.

Akhenaten and the Religion of Light
Published in Hardcover by Cornell Univ Pr (1999)
Authors: Erik Hornung and David Lorton
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The Pharoah Exohertics Love to Hate
"For the first time in history, an attempt was made to explain the entire natural and human world on the basis of a SINGLE principle. Like Einstein, Ahkenaten made light the absolute reference point, and it is astonishing how clearly and consistently he pursued this concept in the 14th century B.C.E., making him in fact the first MODERN human being." (p. 125)

Akhenaten's revolutionary change from polytheism to monotheistic belief in only one god helped unify Egypt.

The subjective controversy that plagues the history of Akhenaten is an anticipative backlash from exoheretics to the academic practice of historiography. When emotional superfluous definitions to the meaning of heresy are discarded, it becomes obvious (for the right reasons) that Akhenaten was indeed a heretic. As a dissenter from orthodox religious beliefs, he was, by definition, a "heretic king".

Hornung's book delves into Akhenaten's radical dissent from Egypt's traditional polytheism, and his establishment of the world's first instance of monotheism. The belief was in Aten, whom many mistakenly believe was depicted by the solar disk. This book makes it clear that Aten was actually not the sun disk, but rather the LIGHT that is in the sun and which, radiating from it, calls the world to life and keeps it alive. It was no more or less an icon than Judaism's Star of David, or Christianity's Cross of Jesus, or Islam's calligraphic symbol. Early text of a boundary stelae reads, "sculptors do not know him."

The parallels Hornung draws between today's 3 major monotheistic religions and Akhenaten's precedent are many and presented in clear detail. But the author is careful to emphasize that the temporal interval is too great to infer a DIRECT influence from the Amarna Period on the monotheism of the Hebrew Bible over half a millennium later.

Hornung's book is full of interesting details, such as Egypt's use of swine for street-side waste removal, the use of a bread and beer barter system pre-dating coinage, descriptions of Amarna-Period home construction techniques for efficient indoor climate control, the first-time use of the Hyksos-introduced war chariot for peacetime transportation by the Pharoah, the emergence of a new expressionistic art form in place of traditional static deptictions, the rise of new forms of architecture, the increased use of flower offerings in place of animal sacrifices, the meaning and mutation of Akehnaten's name, and much more.

In regard to the new impressionistic art form of the Amarna Period, Hornung points out that Akhenaten's supposed "sickly" depiction in sculpture and painting, with his feminine hips, pot belly, swollen lips and chin, receding forehead, elongated neck and crown can be understood by comp0aring it with schools of modern art that deal freely with the human form. In his sub-chapter on "The Grotesque Pharoah", Hornung eloquently dispels emotional assumptions that the Pharoah had a "sick ugliness and nervous decadence" about him. Akhenaten's supposed "repulsive ugliness" is a result of opinion towards a new impressionistic art form and not a logical analysis of the Pharaoh himself. Hornung explains the motive behind this new art form and the rules that define it.

Hornung concludes his book with an analyses of why monotheism failed to catch on after Akhenaten's death. Among them, the radical departure his new religion had with comfortable traditional beliefs of the afterlife, the fact he left no male heir to the throne, and the iconoclasm which in the mind of Egyptians in particular cases meant their own consignment to oblivion, and other things to name a few. Though Akhenaten's monotheism lingered on into Tutankamon's 3rd regnal year, it was simply too radical a departure from the norm given the period's socioeconomic status. In this sense, it was a religion ahead of its time.

My only point of contention with this book is the brief chapter titled, "Dark Years". It is a chapter that deals with Akhenaten's relationship with the mysterious Kiya, the supposed disappearance of Nefertiti, the Dakhamanzu affair, and Akhenaten's marriage to his older daughters to elevate their status in lieu of no male heir to his throne. Though the author clearly focuses on Akhenaten's religion of light, I would have enjoyed reading more into Akhenaten's personal life in these mysterious later years: in context and without slant as other authors have done. But given the author's expressed intent and the title of the book, the lack of this additional information does not degrade the quality of this book as a positive contribution to Egyptian historiography.

Any work by Hornung is always very good. Akhenaten's religion has always been problematic for historians, just as it was for the ancient Egyptians. There is also the modern problem of being biased in favor of monotheism. I found the book profound in the issues it discusses, clarifying and ultimately unconvincing.

excellent book on the subject
Amenhotep IV (later known as Akhenaten) reigned during the Eighteenth Dynasty. He defied tradition and centered worship upon one deity, the sun god Aten. In this book, the author provides a concise, accurate and very readable account of his reign. A summary is also provided of the nineteenth-century scholars (Lepsius and Champollion to name a few) who discovered and first interpreted the ruins of Akhenaten. The author gives a religious background of Akhenaten and his father's beliefs; he also discusses the founding of the city of Akhenaten, the belief in monotheism and the processes by which Tutankhaten becomes Tutankhamen the successor. The book offers an excellent bibliography for further consultation of the subject. It is one of the best books on the subject of this heretic pharaoh. Recommended reading for all.

The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt
Published in Hardcover by Prestel USA (2002)
Authors: Erik Hornung and Betsy Bryan
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Beautifully illustrated catalog
This exhibition catalog is beautifully illustrated, with many of the photographs extremely clear and all of very high quality. Most inscriptions are readable; larger objects are not just shown whole, but also in detail. It is a pleasure to see some many objects from Tanis included - King Tut has been over-exposed and the Tanis objects are less well-known.

The introductory essays provide useful background information; the catalog item descriptions are useful but of varying depth.

Great companion to a wonderful exhibit
The Quest for Immortality now at the National Gallery in Washington, DC is an eye-popping collection of famous items and unseen wonders from Cairo's Egyptian Museum. With the images fresh in your mind of the originals use the catalog articles to expand your knowledge of Queen Ahhotep and her jewels or the beauty of Nakhtmin's wife.

Don't miss my favorites the charming Ptolemaic bronze cat votive and the lapis lazuli Goddess Maat from the Third Intermediate Period.

The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife
Published in Paperback by Cornell Univ Pr (1999)
Authors: Erik Hornung and David Lorton
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Difficult Summary
Hornung takes a fascinating topic and renders it fairly dry and academic, but that's probably his purpose here. Unfortunately, everything is touched on only sketchily, so that you only get tantalizing hints without any real depth.

I will likely have to get a second resource now since this was too general for my purposes. It was, however, wonderfully illustrated, and is probably a great 'quick guide' if you need some information fast.

An arcane journey into the Egyptian past
This book elucidates how ancient Egyptians believed that the sun had a position in the center of a cosmography in the afterlife. When Man died, he entered the cosmography of eternity, but faced obstacles anterior to the sun. For example, a gated wall might have obstructed a person's entry into the delectable area close to the sun. Additionally, after death, a person experienced the transmigration of the soul. Thus, a person might have reincarnated into an animal. Altogether, a fascinating look into Egyptian afterlife with detailed illustrations to complement the text. This author used excellent sources, including the pyramid texts, which greatly contributed to the book's historical accuracy. At the end of the book, a useful glossary aids the reader for insight into Egyptian technical terms.

excellent introduction to various religious Egyptian texts
Egyptologists tend to focus mostly on the Book of the Dead, ignoring lesser known texts to a large degree. Here the author offers a concise and detailed summary and explanation of other ancient Egyptian texts. Included here are the Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts, the Book of the Dead, the Books of Breathing, the Amduat, the Spell of the Twelve Caves, the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, the Book of the Earth, the Book of Nut, the Book of the Day, the Book of the Night, the Litany of Re, the Book of the Heavenly Cow and the Book of Traversing Eternity. The glossary and extensive bibliography are useful. Well translated by David Lorton, illustrated in black and white, this is a recommended book for all searching for details on important Egyptian texts.

The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Underworld
Published in Paperback by Karnak House (2003)
Authors: Erik Hornung and Chris Gray
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The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Underworld: Books of the Amduat & Gates, Caverns, Earth & Related Texts
Published in Paperback by Karnak House (01 October, 1900)
Author: Erik Hornung
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Der ägyptische Mythos von der Himmelskuh : eine Ätiologie des Unvollkommenen
Published in Unknown Binding by Universitèatsverlag ; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht ()
Author: Erik Hornung
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Die Nachtfahrt der Sonne : eine altägyptische Beschreibung des Jenseits
Published in Unknown Binding by Artemis & Winkler ()
Author: Erik Hornung
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Echnaton : die Religion des Lichtes
Published in Unknown Binding by Artemis ()
Author: Erik Hornung
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