Pharaoh’s People: Scenes from Life in Imperial EgyptT.G.H. James (New York: Tauris Parke Books, 2003), 282 PP., $16.95
Drawing on evidence from non-royal tomb inscriptions and decorations, as well as accounting records, T.G.H. James, keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, introduces us to the everyday lives of “downscale” Egyptians. Inscriptions on ostraca (inscribed pottery sherds) tell us of disputes involving stolen tools that were adjudicated at workers’ courts. Passages composed by scribal trainees describe the back-breaking labor of farmers. And we learn about the vital role of gleaning—that is, picking through leftover crops—in supplementing peasants’ modest rations; in fact, ancient wall paintings reveal that young girl gleaners sometimes resorted to hair-pulling to get their fair share.
Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth