A Gift of Geology
Ancient Egyptian Landscapes and Monuments
An introduction to the geology of Egypt and its influence on ancient Egyptian culture
While much is known about Egypt’s towering pyramids, mighty obelisks, and extraordinary works of art, less is known about the role played by Egypt’s geological history in the formation of pharaonic culture’s artistic and architectural legacy. The fertile soils that lined the Nile Valley meant that the people of Egypt were able to live well off the land. Yet what allowed ancient Egypt to stand apart from other early civilizations was its access to the vast range of natural resources that lay beyond the Nile floodplain.
In this engagingly written book, Colin Reader invites readers to explore the influence of geology and landscape on the development of the cultures of ancient Egypt. After describing today’s Egyptian landscape and introducing key elements of the ancient Egyptian worldview, he provides a basic geological toolkit to address issues such as geological time and major earth-forming processes. The developments that gave the geology of Egypt its distinct character are explored, including the uplifting of mountains along the Red Sea coast, the evolution of the Nile river, and the formation of the vast desert areas beyond the Nile Valley. As the story unfolds, elements of Egypt’s archaeology are introduced, together with discussions of mining and quarrying, construction in stone, and the ways in which the country’s rich geological heritage allowed the culture of ancient Egypt to evolve.
Ideal for non-specialists and specialists alike, and supported with over one hundred illustrations, A Gift of Geology takes the reader on a fascinating journey into Egypt’s geological landscape and its relationship to the marvels of pharaonic culture.
List of Figures
Chapter 1 The Egyptian Landscape
Chapter 2 An Introduction to Geology
Chapter 3 The Geology of Egypt Part 1- The Pre-Cambrian
Chapter 4 The Geology of Egypt Part 2 – The Palaeozoic and Mesozoic
Chapter 5 The Geology of Egypt Part 3 – The Cenozoic: a land of rivers
Chapter 6 The Evolution of the River Nile
Chapter 7 The Eastern Desert
Chapter 8 The Western Desert Part 1
Chapter 9 The Western Desert Part 2
Chapter 10 Mining and Quarrying.
Chapter 11 Building in Stone in Ancient Egypt
Chapter 12 The Interaction of Monuments and Landscape
Chapter 13 A Gift of Geology
"Fascinating . . . hugely ambitious . . . .This is a book that should be on every Egyptologist’s bookshelf."—Ancient Egypt Magazine
"[A] travel-sized masterclass. . . . The breadth of this volume makes it perfect for anyone wanting to ground their knowledge of ancient Egypt into a geographic reality, and it should be essential reading for undergraduates in the field."—Egyptian Archeology
"A fascinating overview of the Egyptian landscape and the long geological processes that gave rise to one of the world's most unique civilizations."—The Explorers Journal
“[A] congenial . . . easy read. . . . a delight.”—Litro Magazine
"An authoritative, valuable, accessible introduction to Egypt's geology and its influence on understanding ancient Pharaonic Egyptian culture. Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. General readers."—CHOICE
"Colin Reader is an established authority in Egyptology, and one of only a handful to have specialist knowledge of both geology and ancient Egypt, expertise now distilled into this very readable volume."—Chris Naunton, author of Egyptologists' Notebooks
“Colin Reader’s guide to all things geological in Egypt is the perfect handbook for the interested lay reader. Colin takes us from the vast swaths of geological time, across the full range of Egyptian landscapes, to the archaeological context for the building of the pyramids and the quarrying of the unfinished obelisk. His illustrated book is a comprehensive geological companion and, with its suggested further reading, a starting point for deeper investigation.”—Judith Bunbury, University of Cambridge
"In this book, Colin Reader skillfully combines his long-standing and scholarly interest in Egyptology with his professional career as a geologist. The result is an accessible, engaging, and up-to-date account of Egypt’s natural landscape and how it came to support the ancient Egyptians’ civilization. This work also successfully demonstrates how events taking place over millions of years are connected to the modern, built environment with which we are familiar today. In this way, A Gift of Geology takes the reader on a deeper exploration of ancient Egypt, encouraging us to think not only in dynasties and periods, but also in eras and eons."—Glenn Godenho, University of Liverpool