thumbnail of book

The mind of Egypt: history and meaning in the time of the Pharaohs
by Jan Assmann
translated by Andrew Jenkins
Harvard University Press, 2003
Paper: 978-0-674-01211-0

The Mind of Egypt presents an unprecedented account of the mainsprings of Egyptian civilization--the ideals, values, mentalities, belief systems, and aspirations that shaped the first territorial state in human history. Drawing on a range of literary, iconographic, and archaeological sources, the renowned historian Jan Assmann reconstructs a world of unparalleled complexity, a culture that, long before others, possessed an extraordinary degree of awareness and self-reflection.

Reviews of this book:
Magnificent' Assmann asks what meaning Egyptians obtained from their own constructions of their history. How did they incorporate the legacy of the past into the present. Using three approaches - archeological, mythic, and epigraphic or iconographic - Assmann takes us a chronological journey, starting with the formation of the unified state in about 3100 BC and going through the three great kingdoms. He ends in the late period with the final whimpers of Egyptian civilization. Assmann has looked closely into the mirror of the ancient intangible with telling effect. Every student of early civilization has something to learn from these pages, which will help cure us of intellectual myopia.
--Brian Fagan, The Los Angeles Times

Reviews of this book:
Assmann is attempting something far more ambitious than all the conventional books on Egypt. What he attempts to do is pen a psychological portrait of Egyptian culture. He asks questions that are normally avoided by ancient historians: What motivated the culture? How did it view the relationship between the individual and the universe surrounding him or her? What explanations did it provide for worldly events and reversals of fortune? The result is impressive. The Mind of Egypt marks the culmination of years of questioning about the past and the ways it can be conceptualized. Jan Assmann is close in some ways to being the Beethoven of Egyptology. The Mind of Egypt is a singular book that will provoke debate for a generation to come. It is essential reading for those who wish to call themselves Egyptologists, and it is an important intellectual contribution to the whole question of what constitutes history and historiography.
--John Ray, The American Scholar

Reviews of this book:
[This book's] aim--to examine the mainsprings of Egyptian civilisation and thereby to provide a 'psychological' portrait of Egyptian culture--is truly fascinating.
--History Today

See other books on: Ancient | Assmann, Jan | Egypt | Historiography | History
See other titles from Harvard University Press

Reference metadata exposed for Zotero via unAPI.