One thought on “How has the emergence of Ancient Egypt influenced human history?

  • October 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm
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    A good place to start is the article in Wikipedia entitled Ancient Egypt in the Western Imagination at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt_in_the_Western_imagination.

    Napoleon invaded Egypt and took artists with him. There’s a paragraph on this at http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/G/great_excavations/treasure.html#0.2, which I quote:

    "The 26-year-old French general Napoleon lands in Egypt [in 1798], marches on Cairo and defeats its rulers at the Battle of the Pyramids.

    As well as soldiers, Napoleon brings with him groups of French artists, scientists and engineers, who begin to study the remains of Ancient Egyptian civilisation.

    They set up a Scientific and Artistic Commission in Cairo, to examine and study every aspect of this ancient land, as well as an institute to evaluate all scholarly work on the subject.

    One of the huge statues found in ruins by the French is that of Ramesses II, which is 20 metres (60 feet) high.

    This massive statue becomes a legend in Europe not only because of its size, but also because the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley writes an evocative poem, called ‘Ozymandias’, about it."

    (This web page also mentions several other instances of Western countries stealing Egyptian statuary and art, e.g. 1805 – Belzoni and The Valley of the Kings, 1843 – Lepsius and Giza, and 1880 – Mariette and the Museum of Cairo).

    Due to Napoleon and the archaeologists that followed, the people of Victorian England became fascinated with Egypt, to the point where you would find stained glass windows with Egyptian themes in churches (see article at http://victorianpeeper.blogspot.com/2008/04/victorian-things-stained-glass-window.html).

    In the U.S. in the 1970’s, a fascination began with Tutankhamun (popularly known as King Tut) when a collection of treasures from his tomb went on a tour of the U.S. organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (see article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6631690/) It was so popular and had such an impact on the media and the public at the time that Steve Martin, then a cast member of Saturday Night Live, wrote and performed his song "King Tut," which you can see at: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/clips/king-tut/976141/?__cid=nbceditorial.

    Tutankhamun toured the world again in 2005 thanks to National Geographic, AEG Exhibitions and Arts and Exhibitions International, with cooperation from the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. (see article: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/tutexhibit.htm)

    This is one angle you could take, if you were asking the question to get ideas on writing a paper for a class. A more straightforward approach would be to talk about developments in agriculture, astronomy, etc. If you go to http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_461511156_4/Ancient_Egypt.html and scroll down to the section entitled "VII Contributions and Legacy" you’ll get a good article about how Ancient Egypt influenced human history.

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