Understanding the news: These stories are NOT translated into English for the FIRST time

Understanding the news: These stories are NOT translated into English for the FIRST time: “these writings have never before been published together in an accessible collection”.

I was disappointed to see this notification (screenshot below) come up in my news feed (24/02/2017) because of the sensationalist (and incorrect) headline, which first appeared back in 2016.

Most people can identify a fake news story about aliens or dinosaurs (as much as I like both sci-fi and dinosaurs there is no credible evidence that either had any part in building pyramids!).

Headlines like this one, however, would be harder for the average person to spot as being misleading, so I will explain what the problem is.

Wilkinson's collection is not made up of 'never before translated texts' - nor does he claim this is the case. Wilkinson writes in the introduction of the book:
"Many texts, if not most, have only been translated once, often many decades ago, and usually by philologists whose aim was to produce accurate, literal translations rather than fluent, accessible editions." (Wilkinson, 2016 p.XX)

Wilkinson's book aims to revisit older translations and make them more readable for a modern audience and collects them together with introductory notes. He also provides a bibliography for more advanced readers/students of Egyptology.

I first posted about this back in August 2016, (https://goo.gl/dxG8T2) just prior to its release, when the headline caused some head scratching and annoyance among Egyptologists, including myself, as I recognised and had read many of the listed texts in translation already.

While news sites frequently get things wrong, when the Smithsonian is running the same (incorrect) headline (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ancient-egyptian-stories-will-be-published-english-first-time-180960244/) it's less surprising that these mistakes are made by people who haven't studied ancient Egypt in depth, or read the book.

However, Michael Kozlowski's post about the e-Book version (https://goo.gl/6R7TeM) which came out on the same day as the notification below, demonstrates a clear understanding of the scope and structure of the book. Well done Mr Kozlowski!

Hype and exaggeration about Egyptology along with a lack of fact checking devalues the efforts of hardworking Egyptologists like Wilkinson who are trying to make the topic more accessible without dumbing down the content.

When usually reputable sites perpetuate errors it becomes increasingly difficult for people to understand the topic, so I shall continue to help clarify information where I can!

quotation in headline:
publisher website:
My copy of the book and a screenshot of my news alerts.


  1. Franklin Auw I wasn't able to find this book in Bahasa Indonesia, although it is available in Indonesia. If you wanted to read this book, a solution might be to purchase an eBook version so you could use machine translation to assist you with reading it, although it does contain many Egyptian words which might not translate very well into Bahasa Indonesia using that method. Good luck with your search!


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