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BainesMalekIntro - THE STUDY OF ANCIENT EGYPT Egypt has...

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Unformatted text preview: THE STUDY OF ANCIENT EGYPT Egypt has been of almost continual interest to peo— ple of other cultures, and has been written about by authors from the Greek Hekataios of Miletos in the 6th century BCE {whose book is lost) to today. When ancient Egyptian civilization disappeared in the Byzantine Period it could no longer be an object of contemporary study, but it was remembered through- out the Middle Ages for its monuments, notably the pyramids. A number of medieval pilgrims to Pales— tine and Jerusalem visited Egypt, mostly to see sites associated with Christ’s stay there; even the pyramids were believed to relate to the Bible, being the ”gra— naries of Joseph." The first stages Interest in Mediterranean antiquity and knowledge of it revived in the Renaissance, and among the first Classical texts to be rediscovered and circulated in the 15th century were two products of the early cen— turies CE that were probably composed in Egypt in the Greek language. The first was the Hierogbiphica of Horapollo, which gives symbolic elucidations of a number ofhieroglyphs. The second was the Hermetic Corpus, a set of philosophical tracts that contain Neo- platonist and other material as well as genuine Egypt— ian ideas. Texts of the latter type tended to support the assumption, which goes back to early Greek philosophers, that Egypt was the fount of ancient wisdom. The same is true of the H ierogthhica, which was held to describe a method of encapsulating pro— found truths in pictorial signs. In the 16th century antiquarians studied the phys4 ical remains of antiquity rather more. In Rome, the chief center of their researches, they were immedi- ately confronted with Egyptian objects, most of which had been imported for the prestigious Isis cult in the early Empire, and included them in their pub— lications. This material formed, with the obelisks that are still a striking element in the Roman scene, a nucleus that was generally recognized as being Egyptian, and was interpreted with the aid of writ- ings about Egypt by authors of Classical antiquity. Illustrators of the time had no conception of the dif— ferences in character between their own methods of pictorial representation and those of ancient Egypt, so that many of their reproductions resemble the orig- inals only very remotely. The late 16th and early 17th centuries brought the first visits to Egypt in search of antiquities. Pietro della Valle [1586-1652) traveled all over the eastern Mediterranean from 1614 to 1626, bringing Egypt— ian mummies and important Coptic manuscripts back with him to Italy. The manuscripts were in the latest form of the Egyptian language, written in Greek let- ters, which was regularly learned by priests in the Coptic Church in Egypt, where it is used to this day in the liturgy. They could therefore be studied by those who knew Arabic, the language in which primers of Coptic were written. Two centuries later Coptic was fundamental to the decipherment of the hieroglyphic script. It was also the initial study of the 22 Block statue of the Chief Lecter- Priest Petamenope: engraving in G. Herwart van Hohenburg, Thesaunts Hierogbzpizicorum [1620), the earliest published collection of hieroglyphic inscriptions. Herwart showed the same object as two different ones, using two iéth-century manuscript sources as his models. From Rome [?], originally from Thebes; c. 650 BCE. i-‘aris, Musée du Louvre. Another statue of the same man is illustrated on p. 198. Obelisk and elephant: illustration of an imaginary mausoleum from Francesco Colonna, Hypnerotomachia PolifiIi (Venice, 1499}. The "hieroglyphic" inscription is mostly after a Roman temple frieze that was believed to contain Egyptian hieroglyphs. Map of ancient Egypt by Abraham Orteljus, Amsterdam, 1395. The motto reads "Rich in natural resources, Egypt places all her trust in the Nile, and so has no need of either foreign trade or the rain of heaven" [Lucan, Civil W'arSAtlfiflTv'). As on many other pure—1800 maps, north is placed on the right in order to give a "landscape" of the Nile. The map is a remarkable achievement, showing most towns and names (gt/W5 iflZféK Zea?) in their correct relative positions. including Thebes 125 years before its site was identified on the ground. The information is almost all from Classical sources, the only ones then available for ancient Egypt, so that, for example, the Classical river mouths are shown. Note the list of unidentified places. The topography is not based on a survey and is inaccurate. London, British Library. THE STUDY OF ANCIENT EGYPT aware _. .vmxwam is . “ mwrfxrxfifrmwnxr . . - m., '.—-' ...... i. .. M vs = , .- . ” '_A3\! fiw'LOCA':-: ~- .1 ., .I" .6' .(‘ahhm‘t‘mhn anthem». . a‘nfiémwlgasi-mm “Hangs? . no .-.£vhm,_i ,« trawl-gas:- if: ,: mu. MW 5:161», flaw ms” LL"? If “CW-.1 .3:El.5rw.5'=VHu. 3w 53.5,. ,-r ,‘Tph'fifzw._-_ . 1 possum-art's" great Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher [1602e80], who wrote numerous works about ancient Egypt and was one of the first to attempt a deeipherment. A byway in the development of European know- ledge of Egypt is revealed by a manuscript recording the travels of an unidentified Venetian in 1589 through Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia as far south as el-Derr. His is one of dozens of accounts by visitors to, and residents of, Egypt, but the only one to prov claim a disinterested fascination for the ancient mon- uments. The author stated that he “did not travel for 1;?) ® 9 any useful purpose. but only to see so many superb edifices, churches, statues. colossi. ‘obelisks. and columns.” But ”even though I went a great distance. none of the buildings I saw was worthy of admira— tion, except for one. which is called Ochsur [Luxon within which he included Karnak] by the Moors {the Italian word for North Africans].” His evaluation foree shadowed the 19th century, when Luxor became a center of tourism. Of Karnak he said: ”Judge whether this tremendous building is superior to the seven wonders of the world. One of them still exists, one of 23 THE STUDY OF ANCIENT EGYPT the pyramids of the pharaohs; in comparison with this construction it is a small thing. I am not sending anyone who wishes to see this monument to the end of the world; it is only ten days' journey from Cairo, and one can go there quite cheaply.” This astonish— ing work was not published until the 20th century and seems to have had no influence on other writers. In the next century the most nearly comparable text, known from secondary publications, is a nar— rative of the visit of two Capuchin friars to Luxor and Esna in 1668 where, they stated, "in human memory no Frenchman had ever been." Like their predeces» sor, they were pressed for time, but they succeeded in crossing to the west bank at Thebes and seeing the ValIey of the Kings, the prime later tourist attraction that had eluded the Venetian. Travelers and antiquaries Explorations like those just mentioned cannot be termed archaeological. The word can, however, be used for the work of John Greaves (1602+52), an Eng— lish astronomer who published his Pyramidogmphia, or a Discourse of the Pyramids in Aegypt in 1646. Greaves visited Giza on two occasions in 1638139, measured and examined the pyramids thoroughly, and made a critical analysis of ancient writings about them; he also went to Saqqara. The resulting work was more penetrating than any other of its time on ancient Egypt; a notable feature is its use of medieval Arabic sources. Essentially Greaves followed the example of humanist scholarship of the Renaissance, but his application of the methods to Egypt was scarcely imitated by others. From the later 17th century onward the number of travelers to Egypt increased gradually, and their writ— ings started to incorporate usable drawings of the monuments. The most significant advance in knowl— edge was made by the Jesuit Claude Sicard [1677* 1726}, who was commissioned by the French regent to investigate ancient monuments in Egypt. His stud— ies were never finally completed and survive mainly in the form of letters and a map. He visited Upper Egypt four times, and was the first modern traveler to identify the site of Thebes, and to attribute cor— rectly the colossi of Memnon and the Valley of the Kingsi on the basis of Classical descriptions. His most important successor was the Dane Frederik Ludwig Norden [170842], who visited Egypt in 1737—38, and whose posthumously published volume of trav- els, magnificently illustrated with his own drawings, appeared in various editions from 1751 to the end of the 18th century. The increase in the numbers of visitors to Egypt went together with an improvement in the treatment of Egyptian artifacts — and of antiquity and exotic cultures as a whole ~— in major 18th century works, of which the most important are the multi—volume compilations of Bernard de Montfaucon (published in 1719—24) and the Comte de Caylus [1752764]. Both devoted a notable amount of space to Egyptian objects, while also assigning to Egypt much that came from elsewhere. Considerable collections of Egyptian antiquities already existed; some, like a small group that was in the Bodleian Library in Oxford in the sev- enteenth century, even included forgeries. Decipherment of the hieroglyphic script Throughout the 18th century the hieroglyphic script continued to be studied, although little progress was 24 ml" mI‘ w my lawyer! .arwsumntniilni‘nml-Im- ’4‘? - -A'lf/I///IIIJ/ll//I'Ilrrr/, For left Part of the titulary of the Roman emperor Domitian [Si—96 . cs] on the obelisk in Piazza _ Navona in Rome: engraving from Athanasius Kircher. Obeliscus Pamphilius{Ron1e, _ 1550). The small numbers refer . to allegorical explanations of the signs in the text of the book. Left Bronze statuette of Ha'pyi, " _ the inundation, dedicated by- Tjahapimu, son of Ptahirdis; engraving from B. de Manta" faucon, L'Antiquiré expliquée e: -. représenrée en figures. Supplement (Paris, 1724). The object, then'in Montpellier, was acquired by- the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon in 1835. Below Group of small objects - that were in the Bodleian .' Library in Oxford, including some received from the collection of Archbishop Willi-am Laud [1573—1645) in 1635. The two figures on the left are ' _ genuine, but those on the lower . right are forgeries. No. 32 may imitate an "Isis~knot” amulet; D is a seventeenthmentury pseudo- shawa bty. Oxford, Ashmolean' ' Museum. Blizom View of rockvcut shrines and inscriptions at Gebel e1- Silsila, from F. L. Norden, Voyage d'Egypte at de Nubia (Copenhagen, 1755). I rs to Egygt and Sudan 2 1800 ‘ f9 owns and sites marked are mnment in the records of ' ._1 s before Napoleon's . "fdiiiiou of 1798. Some of the” mes-anii the dates of their 'are given in bold type. blished on their return to min-Fe More than 200 accounts tmvclrrs whose journeys rtded Egypt survive from mum. hristo h Ffirer van gym'endérg aged 69, dated 33; from Itinerarium Aegypgi ' he, Syriae, aliumque '_ orientalium (Nfirnberg, 'rer' ean de T hevenot £83967), frontispiece of quages .15 M. are Thrdvenot rm 'e,_ A'sie & Afrique A stéi‘daim, i727: originally Pink/1665} The inscription says d, you may know the Bottom Obelisk of Senwosret I at I ”le35; the hierogiyphs are egtble but quite urn—Egyptian in sivle} and the landscape is pean. From Gemelli Careri, jagé'a’u tour (it: mande 5’aris, 29 whose text implies that elisk was in Alexandria. I _itine . -s'rle visiletjl by 1h . missus ' modern name aléssicél name Aswan. MEMPHIS acetatasououa. .'_dj. . '19 ms 1-!qu Land whp also bayafled tn Egypt. . -. ._ name 01 £351 Fabrj mmugn Sinai. 1453 - -- umj'avan mum'tmme'nnaemefied Séa' " -' .- _Dl'l the 15M'Qentuyy map'Egyprus naveioj ' of French Jesuits and italian - - Fransctscane naming to Emiupia,-169§-1TI n ‘itin'erani or'mees'arnee; 17714.2 _ '. S'i1e_ visited Ynn’ls Chflsfian associations . Hi 92° MEDtTEHHANEANjSEA THE STUDY OF ANCIENT EGYPT . 4 - 2 }%g;fSlAmhbn I R Lamar! IH Monastery dis: Pam . A ura 1:195- 't'é'gmy r422 FfSFq-IISCJTIS .- Tu etaebel ' ' mnoamtts! 5i?” "m5 _ Vuuteb mm; film! ems E ' i i i 1 i “was? i Grangcrs‘nx 4 . n ._..t N {I of e Kin em cm I a By mama Frriaun¥ols1fisesé 7“ - Armant_?_/ Lucas 1116‘ Panache 1731‘ } quei el-Silsila Pocockn 1737 Mania-11137 ”w ' flabud- magma a a I Jaws" 11337' FEEE“ I Sah—a—g a 1 Iei-Dakka. \Gm Harden 1738 , elSebu'a Nurden 1738 ‘Amada Harden 1738 L ta Kum ()th . 7 n ' ELEPH N ‘ a "‘"Medicé‘? i PHME—\ Slamming???“ " 3| \ ‘ Monasiéryiof rt \\ E5;: @212: \Gusair ' ' Baum: da lmnln 74m . "Sibrit" { w \_ . _ ' ' Genassi 1....1 W ' _ _ g Noreen 1745 a 3 g 3 i . Dendurl 3. .____ _% '- 31 a 'Manghiha'uh\,\\= E Holden 1138 sséin -9;th 2%. FUN KING ' '3mnyénfiona] itineréry'oi muse medieval piigrinie '9 anonymous Venetian In 1589 '- El Cllrllaudl _ Musaww atelx‘Sufi-a I . “Linemde landnaz1;_- '3 ca: laud132_2 I Na 3' . LI maeBeIMonduam; . . THE STUDY OF ANCIENT EGYPT made toward a decipherment. Antiquarian and iin— guistic interest in Egypt culminated with the Dane Georg Zoéga [1755—1809], whose two major works, a treatise on obelisks, which includes a section on the hieroglyphic script, and a catalog of Coptic manu— scripts in the Vatican collections, are of lasting value. The 1797 work on obelisks marks a peak in Egypt— ian studies before Napoleon's expedition in 1798. Although the script could, and no doubt would, have been deciphered without the discovery of bilingual inscriptions, Egyptology as we know it is a product of that expedition, during which the Rosetta Stone was unearthed, of the associated surge of enthusiasm for Egypt, and of graduai changes in the intellectual climate of western Europe. Napoleon’s expedition was accompanied by a vast team of scholars who were sent to study and record all aspects of Egypt, ancient and modern. The Rosetta Stone soon passed into British hands, but the team produced a fundamental multi-volume work, the Description dc I'Egypte, first published in 180%30. This was the last, and much the most important, such work produced before the decipherment of the script by Jean—Francois Champollion le Jeune (1790—1832} in 182.2724, which signals the beginning of Egyptol— ogy as a distinct subject. Champollion and the Pisan Ippolito Rosellini (1800—43) mounted a joint expedi— tion to record monuments in Egypt in the late 18205, but by that time they were latecomers on the scene. In the previous twenty years numerous travelers had visited Egyptian and Lower Nubian sites and had rifled them for antiquities, written books about them, or both. Prominent among them were several consuls of European nations, the Italian strongman Giovanni Belzoni (1778—1823), the French sculptor Jean Jacques Rifaud [1786—1852], the Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (1784—1817), and the Franco-German Franz Christian Gau (1790—1853). The collections some of these men gathered formed the nuciei of the Egyptian sections of the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmu- seum van Oudheden in Leiden, and the Museo Egizio 26 in Turin [there was no Egyptian Museum in Cairo until the late 18505). In the first half of the 19th cen— tury digging in Egypt was primarily for objects. The recovery of information, as against objects, came a poor second. Before his death in 1832 Champoliion had made great progress in understanding the Egyptian lan- guage and in reconstructing Egyptian history and civilization, but this work had little impact, both because of deiays in publication and because of its strictly academic nature. By 1840 the first generation of Egyptologists was already dead, and the subject retained a precarious existence in France, with Vicomte Emmanuel de Rouge [1811—72], in Holland with Conrad Leemans [180%93], and especialiy in Prussia with Carl Richard Lepsius [islthti]. Lepsius's Above Frontispiece of F. L. Norden, Voyage d‘Egypte a: tie Nubia (Copenhagen, 1755]. The central aliegory shows: Fame: Ancient Egypt displaying her treasures; a Iion with the arms of ancient kings of Denmark; and the Nile. There is also a Classical figure of Isis, as weli as Egyptian monuments and other motifs. Left Pyramidion of the obelisk of . . Psammetichus It by the Palazz-J di Montecitorio in Rome; from G. Zoéga, De origine at am cber‘iscorum (Rome, 1797]. The copy is accurate and legible, but its style is rather unvEgyptian. xcavan'ons in the First Intermediate period town at ydos, south of the Osiris temple, 1979 season. The site is dug in squares that are extended a trenches, with the sections as a' check on stratification. is is one of relatively few __wnsites that have been excavated in Upper Egypt. PennsylvaniaFYalewlnstitute of " e Arts expedition to Abydos. lZ-volume Denkmaefer ans Aegypten and Aethicpien [184%59], the result of an expedition up the Nile as far as Meroe in 1842—45, is the earliest reliable pub- lication of a large selection of monuments, and remains of fundamental! importance. The English pica neer Wilkinson is treated in detail on pages 106%)7. The growth of Egyptology In the mid-19th century Lepsius, his younger con“ temporary Heinrich Brugsch (1827—94), and a hand- f ul of other scholars continued to advance the subject, while Auguste Mariette {1821e81}, a Frenchman who was originally sent to acquire Coptic manuscripts for the Louvre in 1850, placed work in Egypt on a per— manent footing. Mariette entered the service of the Khedive Said in 1858, excavated at many sites before and after that date, and founded the Egyptian Museum and Antiquities Service {now Supreme Council of Antiquities). The aims of the latter were to preserve and record the monuments, to. excavate, and to administer the museum. Until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 its directors were European, the best known of them being Gaston Maspero (1346—1916). The aims of scientific excavation in Egypt were first stated in 1862 by the Scot Alexander Rhind (1833—63), but they were not realized on any scale until the work of Sir William Matthew FlinderslPetrie (185371942). Petrie first went to Egypt in 1880 to make measurements of the Great Pyramid for the sup— posed arcane secrets it embodied — a pursuit gener- ally termed ”pyramidology”. He was soon convinced of the spuriousness of pyramidology and went on to excavate at sites all over Egypt, publishing a volume almost every year on the results of the preceding win— ter. Among his excavations were major discoveries, but his work was far more important in providing a framework of method, information, and typology about the different areas and periods, often resulting from reworking sites that had already been excavated THE STUDY 0F ANCIENT EGYPT summarily by others. During his own lifetime Petrie's standards were overtaken, notably by the American George Andrew Reisner {1867—1942}. but Reisner published relatively little of his results. From about 1880 to 19M there was much archaeo— logical work in Egypt, and sites in Nubia came into prominence with the completion and subsequent raising of the first Aswan Dam [1902 and 1907). The end of the 19th century saw major advances in the understanding of Egyptian language and chronology, made in Berlin by Adolf Erman (185471937) and Eduard Meyer (185 5—1930} respectively, and the dis covery of sites from all historical periods, as well as Predynastic phases from Naqada I on. Work since then has developed knowledge greatly in all areas, but only in a few has it changed the outlines funda- mentally. In comparison, the 19th century was a time of continuous change. Until about 1870 most Egypv tological knowledge related to late stages of the civ- ilization, while there was no proper division of the physical remains or of the language into periods. As knowledge advanced, interest tended to focus on the earlier, more “classical” phases of both. Excavation in the 20th century The public image of 20th century excavation was dominated by a...
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