Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: The Fortifications of Ancient Egypt by Carola Vogel

Title: The Fortifications of Ancient Egypt: 3000-1780 BC
Author: Carola Vogel
Genre: History / Architecture
Publisher: Osprey
Published: 2010
Pages: 64

Rating: 6 out of 10

I recently found myself in possession of hundreds and hundreds of Osprey books, which appear to all explore very specific military, war, battle, soldier, and other such army/war matters via short books on each topic.
Since Ancient Egypt is my favorite time period ever, I picked up this one as my first Osprey read.

I love how they include drawings in the book. Many non-fiction ancient history books seem to do their utmost not to include drawings. I understand that it is also very informative to show photos of ruins, or of hieroglyphs on rock walls, but drawings are simply far more helpful. In an age that left us behind no photos, I would think that drawings would be what authors and publishers automatically fall back on, but bafflingly, it isn't, I guess. The drawings here were helpful and I loved studying them.

The text was dry, including a lot of numbers as they gave the measurements of every single fortress, bridge, wall, and building, it seemed. It also jumped around quite a lot. The book contained a very long poem written by an Egyptian to the hawk god Horus. I was interested, but it seemed to be a space-filler due to its length. I wouldn't call the writing very good at all.
For being focused on such a narrow topic, though, this book is still informative. There is a helpful map showing both modern and ancient sites in Egypt, a chronological time chart of military events, and a map of the Nubian kingdom as well (relevant because the Nubians were a major concern to Ancient Egyptians, as they were constantly trying to invade their borders or rebel against their conquerors). I also liked that at the very beginning, the author tells us exactly where she got her information from, and it seems to be pretty hands on. Instead of giving us a long list of other books, she gives a list of ruined ancient sites, actual hieroglyphic records, tombs, and other such things.
Maybe she isn't the best writer, but I'm comforted in knowing that she is a good researcher.

All in all, I will be reading more of the huge pile of Osprey books I now have. If you need to know exactly how tall an ancient Egyptian fort was somewhere between 3000 - 1780 BC, this is the perfect book to tell you all about it.
Pretty specific, probably too much so to be of interest to just anyone in general, but I learned a few things. Who would have guessed that Egyptians actually built mud-slides to haul ships for short distances over the desert?