Who: Margaret Murray
What: The Splendour
That Was Egypt
Where: Balfour Books,
College Street, Toronto
When: Good Friday
Why: If you pick up
almost any book on Egyptian mummies, you're sure to find one of
Margaret Murray from 1908. She has just unwrapped one the The Two
Brothers (currently staying at the Manchester Museum). One of the
Brothers is lying on a table in front of her, mostly bones in a
bed of linen. She is wearing a dark blouse and a white apron.
There are two gentlemen at either end of the mummy, and a woman
holding a notebook behind them all. They are all looking into the
camera with a look common to people in photographs of that era --
they look somber and wary.
Murray was a contemporary of Flinders
Petrie, and since she was connected to the Manchester Museum
where I had recently spent some time, I was curious to see what
she had to say for herself. The book was first published in 1949,
though my copy dates from 1964. It's a lovely contrast to the
slicker, more recent works you can find in your local bookstore.
Facing the title page is a painting of the gold coffin of
Tut-ankh-Amon; modern books seldom use paintings except in a
historical context, and never bother to hyphenate the names. The
text is surprisingly readable, and covers many aspects of
Egyptian culture: history, social conditions, religion,
A fair photo of the Narmer palette
appears as plate LXVIII, front and back on the same page.