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Friday, February 26, 2010

REVIEW of: Mark Smith, Traversing Eternity: Texts for the Afterlife from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt

Mark Smith, Traversing Eternity: Texts for the Afterlife from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.   Oxford/New York:  Oxford University Press, 2009.  Pp. xviii, 725.  ISBN 9780198154648.  $250.00.  

Reviewed by T. G. Wilfong, The University of Michigan (twilfong@umich.edu)
Egyptian funerary texts of the Graeco-Roman period are less well known than their Pharaonic predecessors. This relative obscurity is partly due to their "lateness" in Egyptological terms, but also because of their diversity and complexity. Modern scholars have tended to group the earlier funerary texts into large corpora (e.g., Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, etc.), but the later texts defy such broad categorization. Many later compositions were used in a variety of configurations, and the boundaries between individual "books" could be fluid. The complexity of these later funerary texts has made their study as a whole difficult, but the volume under review here will significantly change this situation. In Traversing Eternity, Mark Smith provides an authoritative overview of the funerary literature of Graeco-Roman Egypt, with translations of some sixty texts, extensive introductory material for each and a general introduction for the corpus as a whole. For the first time, the majority of this diverse body of texts is gathered together in a single volume that is an essential resource for anyone interested in Egyptian funerary beliefs and practices of the later periods.

etc at BMCR