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 ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.
Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.
The history of Egypt has been long and wealthy, due to the flow of the Nile River with its fertile banks and delta, as well as the accomplishments of Egypt's native inhabitants and outside influence. Much of Egypt's ancient history was a mystery until the secrets of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered with the discovery and help of the Rosetta Stone. Among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Library of Alexandria was the only one of its kind for centuries.
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.
Thutmose IV was the 8th Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, who ruled in approximately the 14th century BC. His prenomen or royal name, Menkheperure, means "Established in forms is Re."
The Dream Stele, also called the Sphinx Stele, is an epigraphic stele erected between the front paws of the Great Sphinx of Giza by the Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose IV in the first year of the king's reign, 1401 BC, during the 18th Dynasty. As was common with other New Kingdom rulers, the epigraph makes claim to a divine legitimisation to pharaohship.
Prince Khaemweset was the fourth son of Ramesses II, who was born c. 1303 BCE; died July or August 1213 BCE; reigned 1279–1213 BCE, and the second son by his queen Isetnofret. He is by far the best known son of Ramesses II, and his contributions to Egyptian society were remembered for centuries after his death. Khaemweset has been described as "the first Egyptologist" due to his efforts in identifying and restoring historic buildings, tombs and temples.
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.
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire. He is known for having written the book The Histories, a detailed record of his "inquiry" on the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars.
Strabo was a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
Diodorus Siculus or Diodorus of Sicily was an ancient Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history Bibliotheca historica, much of which survives, between 60 and 30 BCE. It is arranged in three parts. The first covers mythic history up to the destruction of Troy, arranged geographically, describing regions around the world from Egypt, India and Arabia to Europe. The second covers the Trojan War to the death of Alexander the Great. The third covers the period to about 60 BC. Bibliotheca, meaning 'library', acknowledges that he was drawing on the work of many other authors.
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.
In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about the self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.
The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that also includes the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River. Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine. The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel, the Palestinian territories, western Jordan, and parts of southern Lebanon and of southwestern Syria. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all regard it as holy.
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.
Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is one of the largest in Africa, the largest in the Middle East and 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 AD by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.
Al-Azhar University is a university in Cairo, Egypt. Associated with Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo, it is Egypt's oldest degree-granting university and is renowned as "Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university". In addition to higher education, Al-Azhar oversees a national network of schools with approximately two million students. As of 1996, over 4000 teaching institutes in Egypt were affiliated with the University.
Spanning over two thousand years in total, what is called ancient Egypt was not one stable civilization, but instead a civilization in constant change and upheaval commonly split into periods by historians. Likewise, ancient Egyptian architecture is not one style, but a set of styles with commonalities used during each period of ancient Egyptian history.
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 destined for the Earl of 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.
Father Claude Sicard (1677–1726) was a French Jesuit priest, and an early modern visitor to Egypt, between 1708 and 1712, producing the earliest known map of the country. He was Supervisor of the Jesuit Mission in Cairo.
Benoît de Maillet was a well-travelled French diplomat and natural historian. He was French consul general at Cairo, and overseer in the Levant. He formulated an evolutionary hypothesis to explain the origin of the earth and its contents.
Frederic Louis Norden was a Danish naval captain and explorer.
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.
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, 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 Lexicon der Ägyptologie. 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.
The Great Sphinx of Giza, commonly referred to as the Sphinx of Giza or just the Sphinx, is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Facing directly from West to East, it stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the pharaoh Khafre.
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 30 centuries. 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.
The Griffith Institute is an institution based in the Griffith Wing of the Sackler Library and is part of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, England. It was founded for the advancement of Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies by the first Professor of Egyptology at the University of Oxford, Francis Llewellyn Griffith. Griffith bequeathed funds in his will for the foundation of the Institute and it opened on 21 January 1939, with its own independent committee of management. Rosalind Moss operated the Griffith Institute from its opening until the mid 1960s.
Francis Llewellyn Griffith was an eminent British Egyptologist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ahmed Kamāl was Egypt’s first Egyptologist and pioneer in his own country. Kamal was of Turkish origin.
Dr. Nicholas Byram Millet was an Egyptologist affiliated with the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto. An archaeologist, art historian, linguist, museum curator, administrator, and celebrated teacher, Millet was able to make great strides in the daunting task of translating the lost language of the ancient Sudan, Meroitic. His careful study of the unusual script led to the decipherment of a number of Meroitic words, phrases, and verb formations, and helped shed some light on the social and political constructs of this mysterious civilization. No one else has approached his level of contribution to knowledge of this important ancient African empire. Millet's final word on the Meroitic language was published posthumously in "The Meroitic Inscriptions from Gebel Adda", The Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities in 2005.
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.
Gebelein was a town in Egypt. It is located on the Nile, about 40 km south of Thebes, in the New Valley Governorate.
The Abusir Papyri are the largest papyrus findings to date from the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt. The first papyri were discovered in 1893 at Abu Gorab near Abusir in northern Egypt. Their origins are dated to around the 24th century BC during the Fifth dynasty of Egypt, making them, even though often badly fragmented, among some of the oldest surviving papyri to date. Later on a large number of additional manuscript fragments were discovered in the area.
Guillemette Andreu-Lanoë, is a French Egyptologist and archaeologist. A former member of the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology of Cairo, she has been a curator and director of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum since May 2007.
Tasos Neroutsos was a Greek physician and scholar.
Dr. Rainer Stadelmann was a German Egyptologist. He was considered an expert on the archaeology of the Giza Plateau.
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.
Mamdouh Mohamed Gad Eldamaty is an Egyptian Egyptologist who has served in the government of Egypt as Minister of Antiquities from 2014 until 2016. He has also worked as Professor of Egyptology at the Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, Ain Shams University in Cairo. On 15 May 2011, he became Cultural Counselor and Head of the Educational Mission at the Embassy of Egypt in Berlin. On 16 June 2014 it was announced that he was to be appointed as Minister of Antiquities, a position he held until March 2016 when he was replaced by Khaled El-Anany after a cabinet reshuffle.
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.
Nora Macdonald Griffith was a Scottish Egyptologist, archaeologist, illustrator and conservator. On the death of her husband, the eminent Egyptologist Francis Llewellyn Griffith, she founded and endowed the Griffith Institute at Oxford University with their joint fortunes and collections.
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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