Egyptologist brings lost civilisation to life for television series


A researcher at the University of Liverpool has written a book about the lives of the world's most famous Egyptologists to accompany BBC One's major new documentary series, Egypt.

Egypt: How a Lost Civilisation was Rediscovered by Dr Joyce Tyldesley, covers the history of Egyptology, from the end of the Dynastic age to the present, beginning with little known Egyptians who investigated the country's ancient monuments to famous archaeologists such as Howard Carter, who uncovered the resting place of the boy king, Tutankhamen.

Dr Tyldesley, from the University's School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, said: "Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 sparked a huge interest in the country's ancient civilisations. Stories of lost treasure and mummies gripped the public's imagination and the world became obsessed with everything Egyptian. Explorers and collectors who went in search of Egyptian artefacts produced some of the first Egyptologists and a new area of scientific study. Amongst these 'explorers' are some of the most fascinating characters in modern history."

The book also looks at current archaeological research, such as underwater archaeology at Alexandria and the work of Dr Steven Snape in the excavation of Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham that is now the centre of one of the biggest projects currently in progress in Egypt, a fortress-town built by Ramesses II in the 13th century BC.

Dr Snape, from the University's School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, said: "Ramesses II built the fortress-town to protect Egypt from invasion by Libyans and to guard Egypt's international trade routes. Because the site is so far from what the ancient Egyptians considered to be 'Egypt' it was abandoned after less than 50 years of occupation. It seems to have been abandoned very suddenly and the site was then unoccupied and buried over time.

"So far we have found a cluster of small buildings with equipment for baking, cooking and brewing and storerooms containing examples of imported pottery from all over the eastern Mediterranean. We have also found a Governor's residence, belonging to a man called Neb-Re. This includes a small temple containing a life-size limestone statue of Neb-Re himself."

Dr Tyldesley also discusses the work of Giovanni Belzoni who discovered the tombs of Amenhotep III and Ramses I, and Jean-Francois Champollion in his quest to be the first to decipher Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

Egypt - a six-part series in which audiences are able to go on their own archaeological expeditions is the first broadband drama to be broadcast on the BBC. Egypt: How a Lost Civilisation was Rediscovered is published by BBC Books.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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