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The names of ancient Egyptian kings such as Cheops, Akhenaten, and Ramesses II have become part of popular culture. Yet, for all the tombs and statuary that have survived over the millennia, surprisingly little remains that speaks to the workings of government, cabals in the palace, political factions, and the private lives of the royal families. In The Book of the Pharaohs, Pascal Vernus and Jean Yoyotte offer an indispensable, basic reference to the full human reality of royal Egypt.
The Book of the Pharaohs is an encyclopedia made up of short essays on the pharaohs themselves, as well as on places, dynasties, personages, subjects, and themes relating to the kings and their rule. Entries range from "Adoratrices" (priestesses of Hathor, the Egyptian Aphrodite, whose role was to arouse the erotic impulse in the creator gods) and "Amarna" (the capital created by the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten) to "Scorpion" (who ruled before the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt) and "Zero Dynasty" (the designation for pre-pharaonic Egypt). In addition, Vernus and Yoyotte include a substantial essay on the sources for Egyptian history, a bibliography of books for general readers, and a chronological table that organizes the major periods of Egyptian history and notes the most illustrious royal names from each.