To write adequately of the Ancient Egyptians, whose ancient memorials far outnumber those of the other nations of Antiquity, within the limits of a single volume in this series, would be an undertaking for the foolhardy or the overweening. I hope, therefore, that I have evaded such charges by setting myself the strictly limited aim of producing a mere compass to lead the steps of the reader to the reliable guides listed in the Select Bibliography on page 192 of this book.
One major problem: in spite of more than a century of discussion, the transcription of Egyptian proper names into European forms seems no nearer universal acceptance, and in these circumstances, I have rendered royal and divine names by Greek versions, where these exist (thus Sesostris for Senwosret, Senusert, etc., and Phiops for Pepy or Pepi). I have renounced, too, the use of all diacritical marks favoured by Orientalists when writing among themselves. Wont and usage have also induced me to employ the somewhat imprecise geological terms favoured by the older Egyptologists (thus granite for porphyritic diorite, green basalt for arkose, and alabaster for calcite). The subject of chronology is still a thorny one, despite much recent research, and the system advocated by Professor Richard A. Parker has been fairly closely followed even when it is possible to differ from him in certain unimportant details.
Lastly I am greatly indebted to my Egyptological colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic for their prompt and cordial help in supplying photographs and illustrations and allowing me to publish them. In this respect my debt is greater than would appear from the brief acknowledgement under Sources of Illustrations. In particular, I owe special thanks to Mr George W. Allan, late of Cairo, who put his unrivalled collection of photographs at my disposal.