Daily Life in Ancient Egyptian Personal Correspondence
By Susan Thorpe
2021, Archaeopress, 978-1-78969-508-3, £20, e-book.
Reviewed by Dianna Wray on July 6, 2021
Although pyramids evoke for us the grandeur of Pharaonic Egypt, they don’t reveal much about day-to-day society. Luckily, Egyptians of the time also wrote plenty of letters and notes, some of which archeologist Susan Thorpe, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Auckland, has compiled and analyzed in this book of daily exchanges from the Old Kingdom era, roughly 2686 BCE to 2181 BCE when the great pyramids, including those of Giza, were being constructed, through the rule of Ramses III and the 21st Dynasty(1069–945 BCE). It’s shocking how, well, normal it all is. In one letter a man demands his maidservant be returned, while in another a brother complains that his sister doesn’t write to him. With each we get another snapshot of what it was to live in the shadow of the pyramids. Although undeniably an academic text, this work yields a fascinating glimpse of what it was to be a part of this long-vanished world.