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Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville's 1765 map of Ancient Egypt was a significant advance in the cartography of the subject, allowing readers to understand ancient and modern sites more clearly than previously. It was the primary map used in the 1809-29 Description de l'Egypte. 1794 Anville Map of Ancient Egypt - Geographicus - Egypt-anville-1794.jpg
Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville's 1765 map of Ancient Egypt was a significant advance in the cartography of the subject, allowing readers to understand ancient and modern sites more clearly than previously. It was the primary map used in the 1809–29 Description de l'Égypte.

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.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

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 ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

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.

History of Egypt aspect of history

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.



First explorers

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. [2]

Thutmose IV Egyptian Pharaoh

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."

Dream Stele

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.

Graeco-Roman Period

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 Ancient Greek historian

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 Greek geographer, philosopher and historian

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 Greek historiographer

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.

Middle Ages

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. [3]

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

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.

Pilgrimage Journey or search of moral or spiritual significance

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.

Holy Land Term used by Jews, Christians, and Muslims to describe the Land of Israel and Palestine

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.

Ibn Wahshiyya's 985 CE translation of the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph alphabet Ibn Wahshiyya's 985 CE translation of the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph alphabet.jpg
Ibn Wahshiyya's 985 CE translation of the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph alphabet

Abdul Latif al-Baghdadi, a teacher at Cairo's Al-Azhar University in the 13th century, wrote detailed descriptions of ancient Egyptian monuments. [4] Similarly, the 15th-century Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi wrote detailed accounts of Egyptian antiquities. [5]

Cairo Capital and largest city of Egypt

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 university in Egypt

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.

Ancient Egyptian architecture

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 explorers

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. [6] 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. [7]

Claude Sicard French egyptologist

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 French naturalists, biologist and diplomat

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 Danish explorer

Frederic Louis Norden was a Danish naval captain and explorer.

Modern Egyptology

Hieroglyphs and depictions transcribed by Ippolito Rosellini in 1832 Monumenti dell'Egitto e della Nubia-plate-0083.jpg
Hieroglyphs and depictions transcribed by Ippolito Rosellini in 1832

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. [8] 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. [9] 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. [10] 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 Antiquities [11] controls 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. [12] [13] [14] [15]

Academic discipline

A section of the Papyrus of Ani showing cursive hieroglyphs Papyrus Ani curs hiero.jpg
A section of the Papyrus of Ani showing cursive hieroglyphs

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. [8]

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. [8]

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, [16] only Leiden University offers English taught degree programs in Egyptology. [17]

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). [22]

See also

Other related disciplines not mentioned in the article:

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  1. Thompson 2015, p. 85: "Ancient and modern Egypt became easier to conceptualize because of the prolific French cartographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697–1782). The greatest mapmaker of his age, Bourguignon d’Anville also had a special interest in ancient geography, one that he wrote would not permit me to neglect Egypt, this country so celebrated in antiquity." Instead of copying older maps and blindly replicating their errors and speculations as had long been the practice he sought reliable data and was content to leave spaces blank rather than fill them with conjectural features. He had no firsthand experience with Egypt, but he carefully pored over every available source modern ancient and Arab as he explained in his ‘’Memoires sur l’Egypte ancienne et moderne’’ (1766). Bourguignon d’Anville's map of Egypt allowed readers to see the relationship of ancient and modern sites much more clearly than before. It continued in use well into the nineteenth century. Although the cartographers of Napoleon's Egyptian expedition made a more accurate map, it was declared a state secret and Bourguignon d’Anville's map was printed in its place in the great ‘’Description de l’Egypte.’’"
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Further reading