Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tales of Ancient Egypt

Tales of Ancient Egypt
By Roger Lancelyn Green
Illustrations by Heather Copley
Puffin Classics
Ages 10 +

On the memorable trip to the British Museum two summers back, we got a glimpse into the fascinating world of early civilisations. Reading a book or watching a documentary on these is quite good, but to experience it was a surreal feeling. The artefacts of the bygone eras, each had a story to tell. Especially fascinating to me were the mummies, placed in the Ancient African civilisation section.Having read about the mummies since school times, it was spectacular to be actually seeing them, with detailed pictures on the processes of mummification and so on. The little ones were not so enthralled when they understood what it was and kept their distance from it !

While we were still under the magical spell of these ancient civilisations, we chanced on this book "Tales of Ancient Egypt" in the Museum's book shop. It seemed like a perfect way to continue the journey into Ancient Egypt, after having got a glimpse of what life might have been like in those days. The book starts with the first God of the Egyptians, Ra or Amen-Ra. It is followed by the stories of the first Pharaoh of Egypt - Osiris. The rivalry, blood shed and constant political scheming for power, among the siblings of Osiris, is the key theme in the first section of the book. I could not help but draw a parallel with the stories from the Mahabharatha, involving the Kauravas and Pandavas. 

From the Pharaohs we then move on to the stories of the common man. There are tales of sailors of having come from distant shores, like Greece, bringing with them different aspects of their own culture. There is a very interesting story called "The girl with the rose red slippers" which remind us of the Cinderella story, though the story is slightly different here.

As the author has mentioned, the stories have been culled from various sources - the hieroglyphs carved into a slab of stone in a tiny temple at Giza, carvings and inscriptions in the Pyramid of Zoser, papyrus sources buried with dead and some from the Greek versions. It is fascinating to even imagine, that if I visited the Sphinx today, I can exclaim that this is where the story of The Prince and The Sphinx was discovered or looking at the Nilometer(to measure the levels of Nile), I would be able to visualise that this is where the once grand Temple of God Khnemu stood. The Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut  still bears the stories of the great Queen Hatshepsut on it's walls.

The names of the numerous Pharaohs and Gods were a bit confusing at times and I had to go back and check the relations. But overall it it gives a very nice peek into the early lives of Egypt.  The introduction by Michael Rosen is a very interesting read too. Another  interesting incident comes to mind regarding this book. When we were alighting from the plane in Qatar, our son had this book in his hand and it was noticed by a steward. While bidding us goodbye, with a smile he said that he was from the land of these stories and we should definitely visit the beautiful country some time. We hope so too, with such a fascinating peek into history that this place has to offer.              
Pic Src : Amazon

Shai's Story - Egyptian Civilisation
Santhini Govindan with Tara Ramasheshan
IETS publications
Ages 8+

This is a simple and neat picture book for younger kids, which is filled with facts on the ancient Egyptian civilisation.The story is told by the cat Shai, who emerges from the tomb of  a Queen. So the narrative starts with the pyramids, their significance and the mummies. Slowly  it takes us along the River Nile and explains how it has been sustaining life on it's banks for centuries. The cat also sheds light on the lives of the people who lived then, their clothing, shelter etc. When the narrative ends, the cat bids us goodbye and reenters the pyramid to be with it's mistress. The facts are very neatly presented in a lucid and reader friendly manner with the appropriate pictures, maps and fact boxes. It is a great way to introduce a child to the basics of the Egyptian civilisation.

IETS books are very reasonably priced and with very good content, especially on historical subjects. But it is very difficult to come across these books, online or in book shops. I have been lucky to chance upon some of these books in the rare books shops, which stock offbeat books.


No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails