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OutOfContext

I got my first taste of Egyptian History from ">Bob Brier and The Teaching Company. You couldn't ask for a more entertaining and thorough intro.
A lot drier, but much more detailed, is the "Oxford History of Ancient Egypt" edited by Ian Shaw, which I happen to be reading (and have been doing so slowly for months). You can find a lot of nice books in the discount section of any of the big book stores and that's a cheap and colorful way to get a taste. I have an encyclopedic volume which was put out by one of the stores, probably Barnes and Noble, which is very good--unfortunately not at hand as I write this.
The First Intermediate Period that the article speaks of is a hazy period between the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom. There were a couple periods where central authority broke down. Brier suggests this first one was brought on by the long reign of the Old Kingdom's last Pharoah, Pepi II who lived to be 94 and, since he was probably unable to rule effectively at that advanced age, lost his grip on the kingdom. Much of the looting and tomb desecration happened in the third intermediate period which followed the New Kingdom period in which a lot of the familiar Pharoahs ruled.
I may have still have the Brier mp3s and I can try and get them to you somehow, if you'd like.

Alice

I think just fending off Anne Baxter would keep a fellow pretty busy.

muddy

Not a book recommendation, but there is a weekly listserve called Explorator which has links to the archeological news of the week, I think you can also read it on the web. It is divided into parts of the world for convenience. You can find it here: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Explorator/ Lots of stuff on Egypt.

Linkmeister

If he can find a copy of Volume I of the Durant's Story of Civilization, it has a broad overview of Egypt BCE. The book itself is called "Our Oriental Heritage." I'd imagine there's a bibliography, but it was written in 1935, so who knows what's been done since.

Linkmeister

Durants'. Damn plurals.

OutOfContext

Katherine,
Don't want to get too esoteric here, but what is your opinion on the cause of the first intermediate period? Was it the 94 year reign of Pepi II? That's what Brier thinks, but he also mentions a theory which attributes it to large groups of unemployed workers due to the fact the the Pharoahs had stopped building Pyramids.
Also, I would also be interested in material concerning a couple of my specific interests: coffin texts and cities of the craftsmen who decorated the royal tombs (Deir el-Medina, in particular).

Andreas Massing

I have helped myself by reading up on various facets of Egyptian history, but didn't start with that. I started with an overview of the pyramdids,

Miroslav Verner The Pyramids Prague 1999 gives a well written overview of the pyradmids from the Ancient to the Middle Kingdom.

Then afterwards I looked at the temples
Wilkinson, Richard The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. That leads you, from the earliest to the latest temples, through the entire Egyptian history.

Only then did I look at something more specialized, namely
J.v. Beckerath, Chronology of Pharaonic Egypt,
and another by him Handbook of Egyptian Royal Names.

which give a good background on the methodology of dating, time reckoning in ancient Egypt, ancient historians (Manetho, Herodot , Strabo). With this baggage, you can begin to specialize, which I did with the New Kingdom and Thebes, through

Wilkinson, Richard, Valley of the Sun Kings,Tucson 1994.
These are 4 books which make you cover a large range of Egyptian culture and give you a general background, in my view.

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