Mysterious Lands covers two kinds of encounters. First, encounters which actually occurred between Egypt and specific foreign lands, and second, those the Egyptians created by inventing imaginary lands. Some of the actual foreign lands are mysterious, in that we know of them only through Egyptian sources, both written and pictorial, and the actual locations of such lands remain unknown. These encounters led to reciprocal influences of varying intensity. The Egyptians also created imaginary lands (pseudo-geographic entities with distinctive inhabitants and cultures) in order to meet religious, intellectual and emotional needs. Scholars disagree, sometimes vehemently, about the locations and cultures of some important but geographically disputed actual lands. As for imaginary lands, they continually need to be re-explored as our understanding of Egyptian religion and literature deepens. Mysterious Lands provides a clear account of this subject and will be a stimulating read for scholars, students or the interested public.
David O’Connor is Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art, in the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University and former President, American Research Center in Egypt.Stephen Quirke is Curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL, and a Lecturer in Egyptology at its Institute of Archaeology.