The importance of ancient egyptian history

July 21,2022

Arts And Humanities

Introduction to the study of Egyptology

Egypt, known as the land of Pharaohs and pyramids, is known worldwide for the same reason. Egypt and its vast treasures and hidden mysteries are stories of every household. The credit should go to Hollywood and movies such as The Mummy and Indiana Jones. In this article, we are trying to give you a brief introduction to the study of Egyptology.

Egypt in the West

Egypt has always been a land of wonders for the West; Shakespeare called Cleopatra, who was an Egyptian queen, the most beautiful woman in the world. Everything that came from Egypt has always been the most beautiful. This is why museums like the Turin museum of Egyptology in Italy, the Bolton museum of Egyptology and the British Museum of Egyptology( Petrie Museum) are among the most searched tourist destinations in Europe. And the wonders Egypt offers keep wondering the world. 

This fascination with the west was not always good for the Egyptians. Due to this, Egypt had always been a target for all ambitious leaders. Alexander conquered it, Romans did it again, the Crusaders repeated it, Napoleon repeated it, and the British colonised Egypt in recent history. All these great armies failed to see the hidden treasures underneath the great cities of Egypt. The world started hearing about these hidden treasures from the European pirates and pillagers looting who were looting those historical monuments. Just like it is shown in movies like the Mummy. But, later, it was discovered that what they found as treasures were just the tip of the iceberg. 

With modern technologies such as ultrasound scanners and robots, archaeologists could get into many exciting discoveries in recent decades.

What is Egyptology? 

The study of Egyptology focuses exclusively on ancient Egypt. It is primarily concerned with the archaeology, language, literature, history, religion, and art of that culture. In recent decades, the study of Egyptology has expanded geographically to include research into Nubia (modern northern Sudan), which was a part of the ancient Egyptian empire.

Current research in Egyptology is not a distinct field of study but a subfield of 'Area Studies.' Egyptologists examine every element of ancient Egypt they can, spanning the time from around 7,000 BC to the early middle centuries. They approach their work from various angles, utilising techniques and methodologies ranging from literary theory in the humanities to hard sciences such as radiocarbon dating.

Between around 400 AD and the decipherment of the hieroglyphic writing, which Jean-François Champollion reported at a meeting of the Académie des Inscriptions in Paris on 27 September 1822, we lost the knowledge of ancient Egyptian language and texts. The study of Egyptology is closest to archaeology due to the break-in tradition between antiquity and today. Archaeology, textual studies, and the study of monuments in Egypt and artefacts in museums like Turin museum of Egyptology in Italy, Bolton museum of Egyptology and the British Museum of egyptology continuously expand our understanding. This is why it is important to study Egyptology. 

The study of Egyptology

The discovery of the 3500-year-old tomb

Draa el-Naga, the Egyptian necropolis situated near the Valley of the Kings, was the discovery site of the ancient tomb. This was huge Egyptology news after years in the Egyptology circles. Believed to have been initially occupied by Amenemhat, a goldsmith from the 18th Dynasty (extending from 1550 to 1292 BC), during rulers such as Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and most famously Tutankhamun, the tomb is in a small room on the ground level. Eight metres below is a burial chamber housing four mummies.

Zahi Hawass, a leading figure in Egyptology and a former minister of antiquities in the country, remarked on the discovery as an important one since it housed the remains of a nobleman of the era. Dr Mostafa Waziry, who leads the excavation, called it a good sign and added that there could be more tombs in the area. The present minister of antiquities in Egypt, Khaled Alnani, also said it was a significant scientific discovery, a milestone for Egyptologists and great Egyptology news.

The tomb also contains skeletons and a range of funerary artefacts, including 150 'ushabti' statues representing servants for the afterlife, apart from four wooden sarcophagi, funerary cones and jewellery. The tomb had four funerary cones, 40 of which belonged to other officials whose remains are expected finding in the upcoming years. 

Egyptologists located nearby two coffins, and they could be from anywhere during the Middle Kingdom, running roughly from 2050BC to 1800BC. And there are signs that they reused the tomb during the Third Intermediate Period, which corresponds roughly to 1070BC to 664BC. According to Alnani, there are many mummies, besides the artefacts, sarcophagi and poetry. And all of these need to be researched and studied. This could bring significant results in several fields, he said.

Excavations in the area

Excavations and the current research in Egyptology in the area began with discovering a judge's tomb a few months earlier. The work is far from complete, Alnani said. He remarked that 2017 had been a golden year for archaeologists. The series began in March with the unearthing of an eight-metre quartzite statue of Psamtik I of the 26th Dynasty of Egypt, who ruled from 664 BC to 610 BC. It was mistaken to be that of the pharaoh Ramses II of the 19th Dynasty; archaeologists found his statue in Mataria, a suburb in east Cairo.

Much of ancient Egypt lies buried underneath modern Egypt, said Hawass. According to him, the current findings don't add up to more than 30%.

Archaeological crisis in Egypt

Archaeology and the study of Egyptology have been going through a period of stagnation post the 2011 Arab Spring protests. Tourism has seen a steep decline in the years since then. The 2015 bombing of a passenger jet from Russia, killing 224 people, only worsened matters. 2016 saw less than 5 million tourists to Egypt, hardly a third of the tourist influx in 2010. Tourist sites along the Nile valley were the worst affected. There was a 95% decline in revenue from these ancient monuments. 

The drop in revenue has also affected the ministry's maintenance and restoration programs. It has also affected the current research in Egyptology. Due to this, many of the excavations are at a halt. The Egyptian government's multimillion-dollar ad campaign to give the tourism industry a facelift is yet to bear fruit. Several of the ministry's projects, like the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum at the Giza plateau, need funds. Hawass calls the museum the 21st century's most important cultural project, and it has been overdue for several years.

Egypt and its history have a significant place in human history. What lies underneath those lands is what has left of a great civilisation far ahead of its time. Preserving those treasures is not just the duty of Egypt. Everyone around the globe is responsible for doing so as we should preserve it for the upcoming generations. They should be able to learn and enjoy these magnificent structures. 

There is another crisis in Egyptology going on now; many recent native Egyptologists believe that the museums in Europe, such as the Turin museum of Egyptology in Italy, Bolton museum of Egyptology and the British Museum of Egyptology, are there only because of the stolen artefacts from Egypt. Hawass is a great proponent of this movement in international forums. 

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