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Egypt: Discovery of Ancient Egypt


About Ancient Egypt

A Brief History of Early Travelers to Egypt (Part One)

A Brief History of Early Travelers to Egypt (Part Two)
A Brief History of Early Travelers to Egypt (Part Three) by Marie Parsons


 

Today visitors can tour Egypt by car, by camel, by felucca, along the Nile and to the Pyramids. But modern humanity is not the first to marvel at the wonders of the monuments and significant sites of Egypt. The first non-Egyptian essays about Egyptian history and culture were not written this century or in the preceding two centuries. Modern, Western man is a latecomer into Egypt.

 

Antiquity Politics and the Kamose Find by Jimmy Dunn writing as John Warren

 

Egypt's rich heritage of antiquities has often played a major role in the country's political dealings, particularly with the west. This is one reason British, French and American museums are filled with Egyptian artifacts. It was not all plundered as such. Many antiquities were given as presents to foreign dignitaries. In fact, a few late Egyptian kings worked very diligently to provide visiting dignitaries with exceptional "finds". When Prince Napoleon, cousin of Napoleon III of France decided to visit Egypt around sometime after 1857, Said Pasha who then ruled Egypt "wanted every step of the visiting price to sprout antiquities".

 

The Artwork of Winifred Brunton by Jimmy Dunn

 

Winifred Brunton was the South African wife of British Egyptologist Guy Brunton, who excavated at Lahun with Sir Flinders Petrie, as well as at other sites later in his career. Later, Guy Brunton served as Assistant Keeper of the Cairo Museum in 1931. Of course, Winifred illustrated many of the objects in her husband's excavation reports, including items from the Tomb of Tutankhaman discovered by Howard Carter. Most Egyptian enthusiasts will be familiar with her artwork that, relative to Egypt, mostly consists of portraits.

 

The Egyptologists by Jimmy Dunn

 

The real exploration of Egypt came with the French invasion under Napoleon. Along with his army, he bought along a number of scholars, who conducted surveys throughout Egypt. These men were not only Egypt's earliest modern explorers, but were probably more interested in documenting their findings then the next generation of explorers and adventurers, who seem to have put their greatest efforts into the collection, and sell, of Egyptian antiquities. It was these predecessors of modern Egyptology that stripped many of Egypt's fine antiquities, carrying them off to European as well as American Museums. In fact, the real age of Egyptology did not begin until the key to Egypt's written language was deciphered by Champollion, and not until Maspero and his contemporaries did Egyptology begin to settle into the realm of scholarly work. Real Egyptology probably began with Petrie, who's excavation methods were closer to modern methods then any of his predecessors (or contemporaries).

 

Howard Carter Jimmy Dunn writing as John Warren

 

It may simply have been the luck of the draw, but no one has probably furthered the interests of Egyptology, and indeed the world's archaeological focus on Egypt more than Howard Carter. His discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun has inspired almost a century of Hollywood movies, books and media attention for this greatest of all living museums we call Egypt. While Howard Carter's find of the mostly intact tomb of a pharaoh may have been lucky, it was the result of a dedicated career in Egyptology and the culmination of consistent exploration. Howard Carter was born on May 9th, 1874 in the small town of Kensington, London, England.

 

The Discovery of the Amarna Letters by Jimmy Dunn

 

The Amarna Letters were discovered in 1887 by a village woman digging ancient mud-brick for use as fertilizer. They are an important record of Egypt during a period of 15 to 30 years during the later part of Amenophis III's (1391-1353 BC) rule and the rule of Akhenaten (1353-1336 BC). We know of 382 tablets, but many others were probably destroyed, or may even be a part of unknown private collections. For many visitors to Egypt, and probably particularly for those who become ancient Egyptian enthusiasts, at least part of the reason for their intrigue are the accidental fairy tale discoveries.

 

The Discovery of the Cheops' Solar Boat (Tales from the Mena House) by Jimmy Dunn

 

The most fascinating visit I have had at the pyramids was when Kamal el Mallakh took me to see the solar boat he discovered in 1954. What Cheops mighty pyramid was to do for the pharaoh's body, the boat was to do for his Ka, or soul.

 

Emilia Edwards: British Novelist (1831-1892) by the Egyptian Government

 

Emilia Edwards visit to Egypt in 1873 and 1874 was a decisive turning-point in her life. Lured by the study of Egyptology, the British novelist engaged into several excavations and in 1882 launched huge fund-raising efforts to finance such excavations. She lectured on Egyptology in the United States and published lectures on Pharaohs, fellaheen (peasants) and explorers in 1791. She donated her private library to London University college and bequeathed a portion of her estate to establish a chair for Egyptology at that university

 

Giovanni Belzoni - Circus Gian and Collector of Egyptian Antiquities by Marie Parsons

 

Giovanni Battista Belzoni was born in Italy, when Italy was invaded by Napoleon of France in 1798, Giovanni fled. For years he learned hydraulic engineering and worked as a merchant trader. In 1802, the now 67" tall Belzoni traveled to London and was employed as a circus strongman. But later, he would move to again and become one of the discoverers of ancient Egypt.

 

Kent Weeks and the Theban Mapping Project by Jimmy Dunn

 

Today, we can probably count Egyptology's superstars on a single hand. Don't get me wrong. Within the profession, there are many notable and outstanding Egyptologists. But the ones who head large, important projects and are well known to even casual antiquity enthusiasts are few. They include people such as Mark Lehner and Dr. Hawass who have operated mostly in Lower (northern) Egypt at Giza, as well as only perhaps a few others. Another definite member of their ranks is Kent R. Weeks at Luxor. Tour Egypt is taking on a pet project to help in any way we can. Notably, we will be telling you about his books and a tour that Mr. Weeks conducts, and later we will be telling you how to make direct contributions to his efforts.

 

Notes from Champollion by the Egyptian Government

 

Notes from the man who deciphered the Rosetta Stone, and bought us the meaning of Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

 

Dr. Stephen P. Harvey, Egyptologist by Jimmy Dunn

 

He's not yet a legend of Egyptology, but he has a good start with his current work at Abydos and the monuments of Ahmose I. There Dr. Stephen Harvey, an amiable young man full of energy and enthusiasm is doing ground breaking work which may eventually provide us with invaluable information about ancient Egypt's transition from the Second Intermediate Period and the founding of the New Kingdom by King Ahmose. We met up with Dr. Harvey and his team at the Hotel Longchamps in Cairo (Zamelik), where he had been cooling his heels waiting for security clearances for this seasons dig.

 

The Story of "Description of Egypt" by Egyptian Government

 

Upon his visit to the Scientific Academy built by Napoleon Bonaparte during the time of the French Expedition, the great historian Abdur-Rahman al Jabarti describes the books and atlases in addition to the Arab writings that Bonaparte had brought from France, mainly to attract the attention of Egyptian intellectuals and to show his interest in Islamic culture. The primary mission of the French orientalists who accompanied the Expedition was to create bridges of understanding and cordiality between the Egyptian people and the French invaders presenting translations of the French leadership instructions understandable by common people.

 

William Flinders Petrie, Father of Pots by Marie Parsons

 

In the words of James Baikie, author of the book A Century of Excavation in the Land of the Pharaohs, "if the name of any one man must be associated with modern excavation as that of the chief begetter of its principles and methods, it must be the name of Professor Sir W.M. Flinders Petrie

 

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Last Updated: June 12th, 2011

 

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