Egyptology (from Egypt and Greek -λογία , -logia . Arabic : علم المصريات ) is the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, literature, religion, architecture and art from the 5th millennium BC until the end of its native religious practices in the 4th century AD. A practitioner of the discipline is an "Egyptologist". In Europe, particularly on the Continent, Egyptology is primarily regarded as being a philological discipline, while in North America it is often regarded as a branch of archaeology.
The first explorers were the ancient Egyptians themselves. Prompted by a dream he had, Thutmose IV restored the Sphinx and had the dream that inspired the restoration carved on the famous Dream Stele. Less than two centuries later, Prince Khaemweset, fourth son of Ramesses II, would gain fame for identifying and restoring historic buildings, tombs and temples, including pyramids.
Some of the first historical accounts of Egypt were given by Herodotus, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus and the largely lost work of Manetho, an Egyptian priest, during the reign of Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II in the 3rd century BC. The Ptolemies were very interested in the work of the ancient Egyptians, and many of the Egyptian monuments, including the pyramids, were restored by them. The Ptolemies also built many new temples in the Egyptian style. The Romans also carried out restoration work in Egypt.
Throughout the Middle Ages travelers on pilgrimages to the Holy Land would occasionally detour to visit sites in Egypt. Destinations would include Cairo and its environs, where the Holy Family was thought to have fled, and the great Pyramids, which were thought to be Joseph's Granaries, built by the Hebrew patriarch to store grain during the years of plenty. A number of their accounts ( Itineraria ) have survived and offer insights into conditions in their respective time periods.
Abdul Latif al-Baghdadi, a teacher at Cairo's Al-Azhar University in the 13th century, wrote detailed descriptions of ancient Egyptian monuments.Similarly, the 15th-century Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi wrote detailed accounts of Egyptian antiquities.
European exploration and travel writings of ancient Egypt commenced in the 13th century, with only occasional detours into what could be considered a scientific approach, notably by Claude Sicard, Benoît de Maillet, Frederic Louis Norden and Richard Pococke. In the early 17th century, John Greaves measured the pyramids, having inspected the broken Obelisk of Domitian in Rome, then intended for Lord Arundel's collection in London.He went on to publish the illustrated Pyramidographia in 1646, while the Jesuit scientist-priest Athanasius Kircher was perhaps the first to hint at the phonetic importance of Egyptian hieroglyphs, demonstrating Coptic as a vestige of early Egyptian, for which he is considered a founder of Egyptology.
Egyptology's modern history begins with the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon Bonaparte in the late 18th century. The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799. The study of many aspects of ancient Egypt became more scientifically oriented with the publication of Mémoires sur l'Égypte in 1800 and the more comprehensive Description de l'Egypte between 1809 and 1829. These recorded Egyptian flora, fauna, and history—making numerous ancient Egyptian source materials available to Europeans for the first time.The British captured Egypt from the French and gained the Rosetta Stone in 1801, the Greek script of which was translated by 1803. In 1822, the respective Egyptian hieroglyphs were transliterated by Jean-François Champollion, marking the beginning of modern Egyptology. With increasing knowledge of Egyptian writing, the study of ancient Egypt was able to proceed with greater academic rigour. Champollion, Thomas Young and Ippolito Rosellini were some of the first Egyptologists of wide acclaim. The German Karl Richard Lepsius was an early participant in the investigations of Egypt—mapping, excavating and recording several sites.
English Egyptologist Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) introduced archaeological techniques of field preservation, recording, and excavation to the field. Many highly educated amateurs also travelled to Egypt, including women such as Harriet Martineau and Florence Nightingale. Both of these left accounts of their travels, which revealed learned familiarity with all of the latest European Egyptology.Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of the tomb of 18th Dynasty King Tutankhamun brought a greater understanding of Egyptian relics and wide acclaim to the field.
In the modern era, the Ministry of State for Antiquitiescontrols excavation permits for Egyptologists to conduct their work. The field can now use geophysical methods and other applications of modern sensing techniques.
In July 2019, ancient granite columns and a smaller Greek temple, treasure-laden ships, along with bronze coins from the reign of Ptolemy II, pottery dating back to the third and fourth centuries BC were found at the sunken city of Heracleion. The investigations were conducted by Egyptian and European divers led by underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio. They also uncovered the ruins of the city's main temple off of Egypt's north coast.
According to the Al-Ahram, in January 2019, archaeologists headed by Mostafa Waziri revealed a collection of 20 tombs dated back to the Second Intermediate Period in Kom Al-Khelgan. The burials contained the remains of animals, amulets, and scarabs carved from faience, round and oval pots with handholds, flint knives, broken and burned pottery. All burials included skulls and skeletons in the bending position and were not very well-preserved.
In May 2020, Egyptian-Spanish archaeological mission head by Esther Ponce uncovered a unique cemetery dating back to the 26th Dynasty (so-called the El-Sawi era) at the site of ancient Oxyrhynchus. Archaeologists found tombstones, bronze coins, small crosses, and clay seals inside eight Roman-era tombs with domed and unmarked roofs.
Egyptology was established as an academic discipline through the research of Emmanuel de Rougé in France, Samuel Birch in England, and Heinrich Brugsch in Germany. In 1880, Flinders Petrie, another British Egyptologist, revolutionised the field of archaeology through controlled and scientifically recorded excavations. Petrie's work determined that Egyptian culture dated back as early as 4500 BC. The British Egypt Exploration Fund founded in 1882 and other Egyptologists promoted Petrie's methods. Other scholars worked on producing a hieroglyphic dictionary, developing a Demotic lexicon, and establishing an outline of ancient Egyptian history.
In the United States, the founding of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and the expedition of James Henry Breasted to Egypt and Nubia established Egyptology as a legitimate field of study. In 1924, Breasted also started the Epigraphic Survey to make and publish accurate copies of monuments. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the University of Pennsylvania; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Brooklyn Institute of Fine Arts; and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University also conducted excavations in Egypt, expanding American collections.
Some universities and colleges offer degrees in Egyptology. In the United States, these include the University of Chicago, Brown University, New York University, Yale University and Indiana University - Bloomington. There are also many programmes in the United Kingdom, including those at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Swansea University, the University of Liverpool, the University of Manchester, and the University of London. While Egyptology is widely studied in continental Europe,only Leiden University offers English taught degree programs in Egyptology.
Societies for Egyptology include:
According to UCLA, the standard text that scholars referenced for studies of Egyptology was for three decades or more, the Lexikon der Ägyptologie (LÄ). The first volume published in 1975 (containing largely German-language articles, with a few in English and French).
Other related disciplines not mentioned in the article:
Memphis was the ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Mit Rahina, 20 km (12 mi) south of Giza in Greater Cairo, Egypt.
Tanis is a city in the north-eastern Nile Delta of Egypt. It is located on the Tanitic branch of the Nile which has long since silted up.
François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette was a French scholar, archaeologist and Egyptologist, and the founder of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, the forerunner of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
James Henry Breasted was an American archaeologist, Egyptologist, and historian. After completing his PhD at the University of Berlin in 1894, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. In 1901 he became director of the Haskell Oriental Museum at the university, where he continued to concentrate on Egypt. In 1905 Breasted was promoted to full professor, and held the first chair in Egyptology and Oriental History in the United States.
Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of ancient Egypt for more than 3,000 years. Several ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat.
Sir Gaston Camille Charles Maspero was a French Egyptologist known for popularizing the term "Sea Peoples" in an 1881 paper.
Miroslav Verner is a Czech egyptologist, who specializes in the history and archaeology of Ancient Egypt of the Old Kingdom and especially of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.
Labib Habachi was an influential Egyptian Egyptologist.
Donald P. Ryan is an American archaeologist, Egyptologist, writer and a member of the Division of Humanities at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His areas of research interest include Egyptian archaeology, Polynesian archaeology, the history of archaeology, the history of exploration, ancient languages and scripts and experimental archaeology. He is best known for his research in Egypt including excavations in the Valley of the Kings where he investigated the long-neglected undecorated tombs in the royal cemetery. His work there resulted in the rediscovery of the lost and controversial tomb KV60, the re-opening of the long-buried KV21 with its two female and likely royal occupants, and tombs KV27, KV28, KV44, KV45 and KV48. In 2017, he rediscovered three small tombs in the Valley of the Kings which when first encountered in 1906 contained the mummies of animals including a dog and monkeys.
Tjebu or Djew-Qa, was an ancient Egyptian city located on the eastern bank of the Nile in what is now Asyut Governorate, Egypt. In Greek and Roman Egypt, its name was Antaeopolis after its tutelary deity, the war god known by the Hellenized name Antaeus. Its modern name is Qau el-Kebir or more commonly El Etmannyieh.
Étienne Marie Felix Drioton was a French Egyptologist, archaeologist, and Catholic canon. He was born in Nancy and died in Montgeron.
Richard H. Wilkinson is an archaeologist in the field of Egyptology. He is Regents Professor Emeritus, Ph.D. at the University of Arizona and founding director of the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition. He conducted research and excavation in Egypt for 25 years – mainly in the Valley of the Kings – most recently excavating the royal temple of Twosret, a queen of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt as a king.
Aylward Manley Blackman, FBA was a British Egyptologist, who excavated various sites in Egypt and Nubia, notably Buhen and Meir. Having taught at Worcester College, Oxford, he was Brunner Professor of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool from 1934 to 1948. He was additionally a special lecturer at the University of Manchester, and was involved in or led a number of excavations with the Egypt Exploration Society.
Émile Amélineau was a French Coptologist, archaeologist and Egyptologist. His scholarly reputation was established as an editor of previously unpublished Coptic texts. But his reputation was destroyed by his work as a digger at Abydos, after Flinders Petrie re-excavated the site and showed how much destruction Amélineau had wrought.
Tasos Neroutsos was a Greek physician and scholar.
Susanne Bickel is a Swiss Egyptologist. She studied Egyptology in Geneva and then worked at the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo and the Swiss Institute of Egyptian Antiquity. She has worked as an archaeologist on multiple sites in Middle and Upper Egypt. Since 2000 she has been a lecturer at the University of Freiburg and since 2006, professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel where she is an expert on Ancient Egyptian deities and demons. Susanne Bickel's research focuses on religion and Egyptian archaeology, particularly the documentation of Egyptian temples. Bickel is director of the University of Basel Kings' Valley Project and was a member of the team that excavated the KV64 tomb, containing the burial of Nehmes Bastet, in 2011.
Jean Clédat was a French Egyptologist, archaeologist and philologist. He became a resident at the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale. At various times, Clédat's expeditions was sponsored by Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the Comité, and the Institut itself.
Reginald Engelbach was an English Egyptologist and engineer. He is mainly known for his works in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, above all the compilation of a register of artifacts belonging of the museum.
Martin Bommas is a German Egyptologist, archaeologist, and philologist. He is Professor and Museum Director at the Macquarie University History Museum in Sydney, Australia and the Director of the Qubbet el-Hawa Research Project (QHRP) in Aswan, Egypt. He has published widely on ancient Egyptian mortuary liturgies, rituals and religious texts spanning the Old Kingdom to the Christian era. In archaeology, he has examined the Old and Middle Kingdom settlement remains and the 18th Dynasty temple of Khnum at Elephantine as well as the Old and Middle Kingdom Lower Necropolis at Qubbet el-Hawa. As a museum director, his focus is on historical anthropology, decolonisation and the repatriation of illicitly trafficked artefacts.
Myriam Seco Álvarez is a Spanish archaeologist and Egyptologist. A distinguished authority in those fields, the author of several reference books, and responsible for excavations in the Middle East and Egypt, she has launched and directed important archaeological projects, including the excavation and restoration of the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Thutmose III. The so-called "Spanish Indiana Jones", she has had a prolific professional career and a broad international presence.
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