ARTISTS, ARCHAEOLOGISTS, TRAVELLERS AND THE REDISCOVERY OF ANCIENT EGYPT

 

The ancient Egyptian civilisation is iconic and well-known throughout the world by travellers, tourists and archaeologists.  Today our knowledge of the ancient Egyptians has grown through continued excavations in Egypt and under the Mediterannean sea on the north coast of Egypt.  Ever since the 18th century with the Napoleonic campaigns there has been a demand and a hunger for Egyptomania, which reached its zenith with the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922.

 

This lecture will chart the re-discovery of ancient Egypt beginning with the first tourists to Egypt in the Roman period, who were amazed at the great monuments and temples which they were unable to understand.  With the collapse of the Roman empire the lost civilisations of ancient Egypt were not experienced until early travellers in the 15th century visited Egypt and left, invariably, widely garbled and fantastic accounts of what they actually saw.  In the 16th and 17th centuries a growing interest in Roman obelisks found in Rome led to expeditions, particularly to visit the Giza pyramids.

 

The continued expansionist campaigns of Napoleon led to the campaign in 1798 to the Ottoman occupied land of Egypt.  Accompanying the army was a band of historians, artists and adventurers who spent considerable time looking at all the surviving monuments along the Nile, their work resulted in the first detailed account of the remains of ancient Egypt with their published descriptions.  The finding of the Rosetta Stone led the French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion and the Englishman Thomas Young to begin the race to decipher the lost language of Egyptian hieroglyphs.  The deciphering of the lost language allowed, for the first time, the surviving text on temples and tombs to be read and heralded the birth of modern Egyptian archaeology. 

 

With the opening up of Egypt in the later 19th century travellers, artists, tourists and adventurers flocked to the Nile to experience ancient Egypt in the flesh.  Using diaries and images we can follow their exploits and their wonder of the surviving remains of ancient Egypt.

 

Linked lectures are 'Egypt before the Pharaohs' and 'Arabian Travellers and the Rediscovery of Arabia and Petra'.

Proposed Lecture

 

Experience

Mike Stone spent the major part of his professional life working in the heritage industry with experience as a practising archaeologist, lecturer in archaeology and tourism and museum curating.   He has excavated in Italy, France and throughout the UK and curated in five museums.  Since retirement he acts as a freelance expert lecturer and tour manager for UK and European specialist heritage providers.  He has given specialist lectures on land and at sea in Libya, Egypt, Italy, Greece, France and Norway.

 

Mike has lectured extensively in Further Education colleges and was a visiting guest lecturer at Universities of Bath, Bristol and Southampton.  He regularly leads specialist archaeological tours for a national organisation to countries around the Mediterranean.

 

Mike has also written and published five books on history and appeared on National television, BBC Radio 4 and has made numerous local radio broadcasts in the West Country.

Prepared for

The Royal Geographical Society - HK

Michael Stone, BA (Hons), CertEd, MITG, FRPH