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Ancient Egypt. Egyptology. n. The study of the culture and artifacts of the ancient Egyptian civilization

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  • n.
  • The study of the culture and artifacts of the ancient Egyptian civilization
  • Study of pharaonic Egypt from the putative beginnings of Egyptian culture (c. 4500 BC) to the Arab conquest (AD 641). Egyptology began with discovery of the Rosetta Stone (1799) and the publication of Description de l\'Égypt (1809 – 28) by scholars accompanying Napoleon I. In the 19th century the Egyptian government opened Egypt to Europeans, many of whose collecting activities amounted to little more than plundering. In 1880 Flinders Petrie brought controlled, scientifically recorded excavation to Egypt, revolutionizing archaeology and pushing theories on Egyptian origins back to 4500 BC. The discovery of Tutankhamen\'s tomb in 1922 heightened public awareness. In 1975 the First International Congress of Egyptology convened in Cairo. Many sites remain that have been only slightly explored.
rosetta stone
Rosetta Stone
  • A basalt tablet bearing inscriptions in Greek and in Egyptian hieroglyphic and demotic scripts that was discovered in 1799 near Rosetta, a town of northern Egypt in the Nile River delta, and provided the key to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Inscribed stone slab, now in the British Museum, that provided an important key to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. An irregularly shaped block of black basalt with inscriptions in hieroglyphs, Demotic Egyptian, and Greek, it was discovered by Napoleon\'s troops near the town of Rosetta (Rashid), northeast of Alexandria, in 1799. The text concerns the deeds of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205 – 180 BC) and dates from the ninth year of his reign. Its decipherment was begun by Thomas Young, who isolated the proper names in the Demotic version, and decisively completed by J.-F. Champollion, who grasped that some hieroglyphs were phonetic.

jean francois champollion
Jean-Francois Champollion
  • (born Dec. 23, 1790, Figeac, France — died March 4, 1832, Paris) French scholar. He played a major role in the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Champollion was a linguistic prodigy who had immersed himself in Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, and Coptic as well as Greek and Latin by age 19.

After study of the Rosetta Stone and other texts, Champollion demonstrated decisively in Summary of the Hieroglyphic System of the Ancient Egyptians (1825) that a phonetic value could be assigned to some hieroglyphs. He became curator of the Louvre\'s Egyptian collection (1826) and conducted an archaeological expedition to Egypt (1828 – 30).


Champollion\'s brother, Jacques Joseph Champollion-Figeac, published a number of Champollion\'s works posthumously, including an Egyptian grammar (1836-1841), a hieroglyphic dictionary (1841-1844), and, the most famous, Monuments de l\'Egypte et de la Nubie … (4 vols., 1835-1847).

giovanni battista belzoni
Giovanni Battista Belzoni
  • 1778-1823, Italian adventurer and antiquities dealer. He lived (1803-12) in England and there invented a hydraulic machine, which he attempted to introduce into Egypt in 1815. He subsequently became involved in securing Egyptian antiquities in order to sell them to European collectors. He opened (1817) the rock temple of Abu-Simbel, and he discovered (1817) the tomb of Seti I at Thebes.

Active at a time before the emergence of scientific archaeology and the government protection of Egyptian antiquities, Belzoni was a major participant in the recovery of Egyptian monuments and antiquities that took place in the early 19th cent. at the behest of European collectors, museums, and governments. It resulted in the removal of many Egyptian treasures to Europe and the destruction and disruption of numerous monuments and much archaeological material. His exploits are recorded in his Narrative (1820).

seti i
Seti I
  • Seti I (also called Sethos I after the Greeks) was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt (Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt), the son of Ramesses I and Queen Sitre, and the father of Ramesses II. As with all dates in Ancient Egypt, the actual dates of his reign are unclear, and various historians claim different dates, with 1294 BC – 1279 BC[4] and 1290 BC to 1279 BC[5] being the most commonly used by scholars today.

The name Seti means "of Set", which indicates that he was consecrated to the god Set (commonly "Seth"). As with most Pharaohs, Seti had several names. Upon his ascension, he took the prenomen mn-m3‘t-r‘, which translates as Menmaatre in Egyptian,which means " Eternal is the Justice of Re."[1] His better known nomen, or birth name is technically transliterated as sty mry-n-ptḥ, or SetyMerenptah, meaning "Man of Set, beloved of Ptah". Manetho incorrectly considered him to be the founder of the 19th dynasty.

valley of the kings
Valley of the Kings
  • Narrow gorge, Upper Egypt, near the ancient city of Thebes. It is the burial site of nearly all of the kings (pharaohs) of the 18th – 20th dynasties (1539 – 1075 BC), from Thutmose I to Ramses X. The valley contains 62 tombs, virtually all of which were robbed in antiquity. Only the tomb of Tutankhamen escaped pillage; after its excavation in the 1920s, its treasures were placed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The longest tomb belongs to Queen Hatshepsut, whose burial chamber is nearly 700 ft (215 m) from the entrance. The largest tomb, built for the sons of Ramses II, contains scores of burial chambers. The valley is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site (designated 1979) centred on Thebes.
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abu simbel nubia
Abu Simbel, Nubia
  • Abu Simbel temples refers to two massive rock temples in Abu Simbel (أبوسمبل in Arabic) in Nubia, southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 230 km southwest of Aswan (about 300 km by road). The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Nubian Monuments,"[1] which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae (near Aswan).
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The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors. However, the complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.

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ramesses ii
Ramesses II
  • (flourished 13th century BC) King of ancient Egypt, 1279 – 13 BC. His family came to power some decades after the reign of Akhenaton. Ramses set about restoring Egypt\'s power by quelling rebellions in southern Syria and fighting the Hittites inconclusively at the Battle of Kadesh. He captured towns in Galilee and Amor, but, unable to defeat the Hittites, he assented to a peace treaty in 1258 BC.

He married one and perhaps two of the Hittite king\'s daughters, and the later part of his reign was free from war. Its prosperity may be measured by the amount of construction he undertook. Early on he built himself a residence city in the Nile delta as a base for military campaigns and resumed construction of the temple of Osiris, begun by his father. He added to the temple at Karnak and completed a funerary temple for his father at Luxor. In Nubia he built six temples, most famously those at Abu Simbel.

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howard carter
Howard Carter
  • Howard Carter discovered and excavated the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamen. Carter got his start as an artist, tracing Egyptian hieroglyphics for others, before becoming an archaeologist himself. His search for the tomb of King Tut took nearly a decade, including a lengthy interruption during World War I, and was supported financially by George Herbert, the earl of Carnarvon.
on king tut
On King Tut
  • Carter discovered the tomb of Tut on 4 November 1922 and opened the tomb after Lord Carnarvon\'s arrival at the site on the 26th of November. Ironically, Tutankhamen had been practically unknown before the discovery, but news coverage of Carter\'s amazing find made "King Tut" a household name.

Carnarvon, already in very frail health, died of an infected mosquito bite and pneumonia shortly after the opening of the tomb in 1923. Without his powerful patron, and due to his stubbornness, Carter soon got into trouble with the Egyptian authorities who temporarily took his concession away from him. He finally completed his work on the clearing and the conservation of the tomb objects in 1932. A three-volume work on the discovery of the tomb and its contents, called The Tomb of Tutankhamen, much of it ghost written by Carter\'s friend Percy White, appeared between 1923 and 1933. Carter was preparing a definitive report on the tomb in six volumes, when he died in London on March 2, 1939. Although Carter died both famous and wealthy, he was given no public honors by either the British or other governments.

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tutankhamun s tomb
Tutankhamun’s Tomb
  • One of the best-preserved tombs ever found, it was filled with thousands of artefacts, and the golden death mask which covered his mummy is now a famous relic of the ancient world. Before Carter\'s discovery, Tutankhamen was practically unknown, and his life still remains something of a mystery; probably he was the 12th ruler in Egypt\'s 18th Dynasty. Tut most likely was the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (also known as Akhenaten), and was married to his probable half-sister Ankhesenamun, the daughter of Akhneten and the famous Queen Nefertiti. Tut died when he was about 18, having ruled for nine years, and so is often called the Boy King. Tut\'s death has also been something of a mystery. X-rays taken in 1968 indicated he may have been killed by a blow to his head, and testing in 2005 suggested death by infection from a broken leg. But DNA analysis a few years later showed that Tut had a severe form of malaria that affected his brain and probably killed him.

Standing on the west bank of the Nile, across from ancient Thebes (now Luxor), the Valley of the Kings is one of Egypts most sensitive archaeological sites. Further discoveries in 2005 and 2008 have put the total number of tombs in the necropolis at 63 and these range from simple, single pits to lavish complexes, the largest of which comprises 120 chambers.


The tombs contain important artwork helping scholars to piece together information about ancient Egyptian burial rites and beliefs and, although most of the tombs were plundered centuries ago, they still convey the oppulence and luxury which characterised the lives of their occupants. The first tombs in the valley are thought to belong to Amenhotep I and Thutmose I, whose tomb bears notes recording that its location was selected by the king\'s adviser, Ineni. Further tombs are cut into the peak of al-Qurn, which would once have been guarded by special tomb police.


Though Khafre\'s pyramid is shorter than his father Khufu\'s nearby Great Pyramid, Khafre made up for it by building at a higher elevation and surrounding his pyramid with a more elaborate complex.

  • Within the burial chamber, explorers discovered a small pit cut in the floor—perhaps designed to hold the first canopic chest in a pyramid. Canopic chests held jars carved in the shapes of protective spirits. These jars, in turn, held the preserved liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines of the deceased. The brain would have been discarded, and the heart left in the body.
  • Outside the pyramid all the typical elements of a pharaonic mortuary temple are seen in one place for the first time: entrance hall, colonnaded courtyard, niches for royal statuary, storage chambers, and interior sanctuary. Later pyramids would be significantly smaller, with greater emphasis on these mortuary temples.

Intended to hold his mummified body, Pharaoh Djoser\'s Step Pyramid at Saqqara began as a traditional, flat-roofed mastaba. But by the end of his 19-year reign, in 2611 B.C., it had risen to six stepped layers and stood 204 feet (62 meters) high. It was the largest building of its time.

  • Imhotep—architect of the Step Pyramid, physician, priest, and founder of a cult of healing—was deified 1,400 years after his lifetime.
  • It also tells him something incredible about the age of the world. The tomb belongs to a man called Menofre who was Royal hairdresser to a King called Djedkare – a King who lived during the fifth dynasty, one that predated Noah\'s Flood and, according to the Church and the Bible, could not have existed.
  • More on this topic:
  • Monumentality
    • What is monumentality? How would you describe Egypt’s art and architecture?
  • “Life is a preparation for death.”
    • Explain this. What is the pre-occupation of Egypt’s art and culture. Why?
  • Compare and contrast Ancient Egyptian art and culture from that of Filipinos.
for more on ancient egypt
For more on Ancient Egypt: