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Poisoned Legacy: The Fall of the Nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty


I was extremely excited when I came across this title. Author Aiden Dodson is well known for his publication, “Amarna Sunset” and with the more recent volume focusing predominantly on the end of the New Kingdom Period of Egypt, more specifically the end of the nineteenth dynasty, I was that much more convinced to read “Poisoned Legacy.” Historians and scholars alike will admit that the research and knowledge of the end of Bronze Age Egypt leaves much to the imagination. The establishment of the New Kingdom up to the reign of Ramesses II (i.e. the Great) is very well documented. However, once the supposed Pharaoh of the Exodus passes, the historical record yields far less evidence of what follows. Aiden Dodson aimed to address the problem with this research.

That being said, I felt a bit betrayed once I completed it. The author introduces the reader to the glory years of the New Kingdom and immediately follows with the reign of Merenptah. This and the reigns of the four succeeding Pharaohs is filled with some good detail. Although, I was hoping for more information regarding Merenptah’s campaigns to protect Egyptian border, especially against the migrating Sea Peoples. A majority of his military deeds are only mentioned in passing. The author was more interested in shedding light on the ambiguities following the Pharaoh’s life and attempts to address the question of who succeeded him and in what order. He also highlights some of the internal families conflicts. I was hoping for something cataloguing more details of the lives of these Pharaohs. It still seemed a bit lacking.

The book was written to cater to a reader with a fundamental knowledge of ancient Egyptian history. It is not one intended for light reading. Would I recommend this title? If your interests are with the second half of the 19th Dynasty, then yes. Otherwise, I would say no.

By Petros Koutoupis