Objects of Daily Use (Oxbow Classics in Egyptology)


William Flinders Petrie, known to many as the ‘Father of Egyptology’, left a huge legacy of Egyptological material – not only artefacts, but also many writings. He also produced many typological catalogues based on his excavations. These contained detailed descriptions of items representing all aspects of Egyptian daily life and beliefs. These catalogues were originally published in sequence between 1898 and 1937, but fell out of print until, in the 1970s, Aris & Phillips decided to republish them in facsimile, based on the collection held at the Petrie Museum. This present volume is one of the series of ‘Classics in Egyptology’ newly republished by Oxbow Books, retaining the original 1890s format.

As it is in catalogue form, the book is divided into sections, each with its own purpose. In his introduction, Petrie acknowledges the difficulties of presenting the wide variety of objects and the huge time-span covered. The author explains his aim to show both the variety of Egyptian objects, and the extent of Greek and Roman influence on Egypt. Detailed descriptions of the material and its provenance are given in the appropriate chapter, while the illustrations are confined to their own section at the end of the volume. The format is not the easiest to follow, and requires readers to focus precisely on what interests them most.

Although this is not a volume for easy bedtime reading, it contains a huge amount of information for the serious researcher. Its 17 chapters cover everything from neck and head ornaments, bracelets and gold rings (some of which have inscriptions such as ‘Bastet opens a good year for her lord’), through games, pastimes, and writing materials, to seals engraved in Coptic, and much more. Because these items are for domestic use, they present a vivid picture of the lives of the people who owned them.

A brief review can only give the reader a general flavour of the enormous scope of this volume. Highlights include several pages of photographs of headrests, showing the variety of designs and materials used in the particular periods, from the Second to the Nineteenth Dynasties. Another part of the catalogue details hand mirrors from the Eleventh to Eighteenth Dynasties. Further sections deal with more practical items, such as boxes and baskets. Other Petrie volumes in the range cover topics including shabtis, glass stamps and weights, scarabs and cylinders, and amulets.

Objects of Daily Use (Oxbow Classics in Egyptology) 
by W M Flinders Petrie
Oxbow Books, 2023
ISBN 979-8-88857-012-8

You can win a copy of Objects of Daily Use in our competition on p.63, and there is a 20% discount for AE readers ordering from http://www.oxbowbooks.com using the code AE-OCE-20 (expires 31 December 2023).