Cover image for Affairs and scandals in ancient Egypt
Affairs and scandals in ancient Egypt
Vernus, Pascal.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Affaires et scandales sous les Ramsès. English
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 211 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT61 .V4413 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"The Egyptians were people of flesh and blood, capable of both greatness and weakness, masters of ambitious projects but also slaves to banal preoccupations. They imposed their vision of the world on their environment, but they were weighed down by the burden of the human condition. In short, they were like any of us. And like ours, their society had its affairs, its scandals, its uncertainties, and its rifts."--from the Preface

Drawing on ancient texts, archaeological reports, and other sources, Pascal Vernus focuses attention on the human failings of the too-often-mythologized Egyptians. Affairs and Scandals in Ancient Egypt treats instances of significant corruption--which, according to Vernus, constitute a crisis of values--in New Kingdom Egypt. His discoveries afford sobering new insights into the tension between stated beliefs and actual behavior in ancient Egyptian civilization. The examples of corruption Vernus describes run the gamut from graverobbing to labor unrest, from embezzlement to palace intrigue.

The first chapter deals with the tomb robberies in the Theban necropolis during the Twentieth Dynasty. The second outlines the economic context and events associated with strikes carried out by the workmen of the royal necropolis. The third chapter uses a certain Paneb as an exemplar of corruption in the area of Thebes. Chapter 4 considers the theft of government property and attempted cover-ups in the Aswan region. The last example may be the most dramatic--the conspiracy in the royal women's quarters in the last year of Ramesses III aimed at affecting the succession to the throne. In the book's final chapter, Vernus analyzes the historical contexts and the main issues surrounding each scandal.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"No civilization has imitated the superhuman better than that of pharaonic Egypt," writes Vernus, director of studies at France's prestigious Ecole Pratique des Hautes etudes. His study presents half a dozen events displaying the human side of that time, which culminated in "the crisis of values that eroded the New Kingdom" at its very height. Acknowledging the folly of his subjects, Vernus is not rigidly respectful of the ancient Egyptians (he writes, for example, of "riches stored away [in tombs] for the self-serving and uncertain satisfaction of a dead person"), but he writes with a deep familiarity with their culture. From ancient tomb robbers to a labor strike by pharaonic workmen in Thebes to a "harem conspiracy" regarding royal succession under Rameses III. For the Egyptophile, this is an engaging and unusual look at ancient civilization. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.