Friday 23 September 2016

Review: The Silver Eye: Unlocking the Pyramid Texts

The Silver Eye: Unlocking the Pyramid Texts The Silver Eye: Unlocking the Pyramid Texts by Susan Brind Morrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

When the Royal Saqqara Pyramids were opened in in the late 1800s it was discovered that the walls of the burial chambers were covered in hieroglyphics that were 4000 years old. The deciphering of the Rosetta Stone enabled historians and Egyptologists to read the text on the walls, but no one could understand the collection of myths, incantations and ritualistic texts. To us in our modern age, they reveal a culture and religion with a worldview and understanding of the natural world that is completely alien.

In this book, Brind Morrow argues that they are actually a coherent and intelligent work of art and literature. She suggests that what we are reading is poetic and not mythology, and taking a more literal view of it might answer some of the questions it raises. The entire middle section of the book is her full translation of the text from the walls of the entrance chamber, antechamber and sarcophagus and at nearly 100 pages of the book it is pretty comprehensive. In the final section she picks up on details from the texts, and expands her theory of what it all means.

There were parts of this I really liked, the translation is quite magnificent for example; you get a sense of just how the ritual elements would be performed and spoken. But it is not a light and easy read as she goes into lots of detailed explanations of meaning and significance of particular hieroglyphics. There are a number of photos and diagrams scattered throughout the book, which does bring a sense of the scale of the place. At times I did get a little out of my depth, but then I haven’t read huge amounts about the Egyptian period to fill in the context. This would be an ideal book for anyone with a fascination in the Egyptian period.

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