Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Land of the Pharaohs. Birthplace of Christian monasticism. One of the earliest civilizations. Egypt has been called many things and captured western imagination for the past 2000 years. This fascination with the land of the Nile continues today. Tours from around the world flock to Egypt to explore its antiquities. And iconic images, such as Tutankhamun's burial mask, can be found everywhere from China to America.

Click on the images to watch videos.

Episode 1 - Early Greeks giving gifts to Pharaoh
Episode 1: This first episode in the series, The History of Egyptology, explores ancient Egypt's contact with the wider, ancient world, through trade and cultural exchange with the city-states of Greece and the Roman Empire. Most of the ancient history that’s taught to us in North American schools is the history of Greece and Rome; the birth of democracy and philosophy, wars, centurions, and Caesars. But this ancient world had nothing on the countries on the other side of the Mediterranean. To the ancient peoples of Greece and Rome, Egypt was old; thousands of years older, in fact, than anything they knew. Figuring out exactly when Greece and Egypt became aware of each other is an impossible task, but tantalizing images suggest a long history of interaction.

Episode 2 - Biblical references ignite interest
Episode 2: This second episode continues the story of western interest in Egypt from the European Middle Ages through the Enlightenment. This episode touches upon the collapse of the Roman Empire, the spread of Christianity, the Crusades, Egyptian hieroglyphs, pyramids, temples, and, of course, Napoleon; all the while charting a continuing desire to learn more about Egypt. In the fifth century AD, the western half of the Roman Empire collapsed. Some people still refer to the period that followed in Europe as the Dark Ages; a time when knowledge and resources were lost, and people lived in ignorance. In fact, this period was anything but that. The disintegration of the Roman Empire saw the different regions it once controlled fragment into their own, independent units. As the Empire fragmented, these different units held onto knowledge that had been acquired while it was whole.

Episode 3 - Napoleon's invasion increased European interest
Episode 3: This third episode continues the story of western interest in Egypt through the Enlightenment, and into the modern era chronicling Napoleon Bonaparte's shocking invasion of the Land of the Nile, the early nineteenth-century's rush of European explorers, the scramble for antiquities, and the gradual professionalization of Egyptology. A great deal of popular and academic knowledge on Egypt, including its antiquities, natural environment, culture and peoples, was available to Europeans by the end of the 1700s. One of the most famous episodes in the history of Egyptian exploration, however, occurred on the cusp of the new century.

Episode 4 - Americans go to Egypt in the late 1700s
Episode 4: Next, we shift our focus from Europe to the United Sates.  The increased access to Egypt, and the flurry of research into its ancient past, mentioned in the last episode only fuelled further western interest in the Land of the Nile’s history. The increased access to Egypt, and the flurry of research into its ancient past, mentioned in the last episode only fueled further western interest in the Land of the Nile’s history. Exploration into Egypt’s ancient civilization was viewed as an exploration into the origins of human society itself. Given both this motivation and the allure that ancient Egypt radiated, it’s no surprise to find the citizens of a relatively new society interested in its past.

Episode 5 - Tut and Egyptomania
Episode 5: To conclude, we focus on the birth of the American Research Center and American fascination with all things ancient Egyptian. By the early 1900s, a significant amount of information had been uncovered about the ancient Land of the Nile. This was partly due to the progress made in reading hieroglyphs, and partly the result of extensive archaeological work throughout the country.

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