Droughts, Famine and the Collapse of the Old Kingdom: Re-Reading Ipuwer

Egyptology has benefited immensely from David O’Connor’s commitment to an anthropological approach to ancient Egypt.

Instead of an overemphasis on the complexities of deciphering texts that are luckily pursued by most Egyptologists, he has ventured into the domain of trying to make sense of the results of such decipherments using anthropological insights.

I first came across this when I was asked to review a book in which he had come up with a novel approach to population and population growth in Ancient Egypt.

Our paths crossed again when I began to investigate the probable causes of the collapse of the Old Kingdom.

Combining archaeological research,not just as a means of digging for texts, with his anthropological perspective, O’Connor refuted traditional, ad hoc views on the end of the Old Kingdom in favor of a scenario that invoked an environmental disaster.

I am pleased that this contribution lends support to his position.

His ongoing work on the beginnings of Egyptian civilization at Abydos is already showing the fruits of systematic archaeological excavations and an anthropologically-informed approach to ancient Egypt.

David O’Connor has also been active in promoting a cultural heritage approach to Egyptian archaeological resources, and is, indeed, one of a handful of Egyptologists and archaeologists who take this profoundly important matter seriously.


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