Review of House of Ptolemy



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House of Ptolemy

The House of Ptolemy is a site with something for everyone. It is a treasure trove of delights, far more extensive geographically and far less limited temporally than its title implies. The site takes its name from Edwyn R. Bevan's book on the Ptolemys, but-- although the electronic House of Ptolemy similarly concentrates on the Ptolemaic period--it ranges well beyond Bevan's temporal limit. True, more than 275 of its links are devoted to Ptolemaic Egypt, but an additional 200 or more address later Egypt, making The House of Ptolemy one-stop shopping for Egypt from ca. 330 BCE to the present. As noted on its index page, "The House of Ptolemy has been selected by the Discovery Channel School and eBLAST: Encyclopædia Britannica's Internet Guide as a valued Internet resource," and it has also been accorded the Perseus Award.

Anyone attracted to post-pharaonic Egypt will find something of interest here. Teachers and their students (from Middle School, I should think, onward), college professors and their students, Egyptophiles and scholars can all profit from this site, since it indexes nearly every Internet page that touches on post-pharaonic Egypt and its legacy. As a cautious reviewer, I add the qualifier "nearly," but the persistence of the site's author in gathering information is exceeding impressive. An Argos search engine (from the University of Evansville) is inserted on the index page, but given the authority of the links provided at the house of Ptolemy, I cannot imagine that much can be further gained. Nevertheless, despite my confidence, I did enter "Alexandria" into Argos, which produced (agghhh!!!) 710 hits. Of those (many of which indexed Church Fathers), I found only one mention that was of interest to me--and I can assure you, only to me--that I am certain is not listed in The House of Ptolemy. Numismatics is especially well-represented, since this field is a particular interest of Philippidis, and images of some of his own coins are included.

Not surprising, given the breadth of the undertaking, the sites that are recognized yield a wide continuum of intellectual depth. Online encyclopedias (of the level of Encarta and the Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia) fight for space with articles in scholarly journals (such as the Ancient History Bulletin) that are accessible online. Articles or abstracts from popular journals (such as Kemet and Archaeology), bump up against translations of original source material (such as that provided by Perseus and the ancient history sourcebook from Fordham). My favorite site of this latter type is http://members.xoom.com/dloeillet/KL/KLS/EPtol.html which gives the six names of each Ptolemaic king (the sixth being the transliteration of his Greek name) in transliterated hieroglyphs. Links to ancient documents themselves (e.g., squeezes provided by the Oxford University Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, although this site, unfortunately, has realigned its structure since these links were created) and reviews from BMCR and breaking news stories rub shoulders with these more popular ventures, but that is, of course, the nature of the web, and no fault of the site's administrator.

This global inclusiveness should constitute an impediment to The House of Ptolemy's effectiveness, but the strong arrangement of the material and the useful annotations to the links provided by the author greatly mitigate this imagined problem. The site is organized on a fairly transparent modular system. At the head of the index page are five categories: Ptolemaic Egypt, Roman-period Egypt, Byzantine Egypt, Modern Egypt,