The Pyramids of Egypt Critical Context - Essay

I. E. S. Edwards

Critical Context

The body of Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards’ publications covering the years 1939 to 1991, when the fourth revised edition of The Pyramids of Egypt appeared in paperback in Britain, has set standards in the field. The other works of this Cambridge-trained author and renowned Egyptologist—such as three publications on King Tutankhamen—have much to do with his seminal effort. While competing books in this relatively crowded field—for example, John D. Clare’s Pyramids of Ancient Egypt (1992) or James Putnam’s Pyramid (1994)—may dwell more on the details of daily life in ancient Egypt or other aspects, Edwards’ book does not run the risk of being dethroned any more than the Egyptian pharaohs whose burial cenotaphs are discussed so absorbingly.

Young readers are interested in learning about piles of stone and their ancillary complexes because they are the relics of an ancient and fascinating era and as such have historical value. Studying the pyramids also opens doors to the understanding of the skill and dedication of ancient people working with primitive tools and ingredients and yet managing to build these structures of size and beauty, often containing the well-preserved remains of royalty who died ages ago. To the extent that humans are the sum total of everything that has gone before, getting into the minds of these creative ancient people through their monuments, artifacts, customs, beliefs, and rituals may help modern people understand themselves better.