History of Ancient Egypt

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging and Well Balanced Bob Briar PH.D. was a fantastic lecturer with extensive knowledge of the subject matter and interesting personal experiences that made this course an absolute joy!
Date published: 2020-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Each Lesson Is A Masterpiece! Just before the COVID Pandemic overtook the world, I fortunately bought The Great Courses Plus. This was lucky for me and soon lucky for my grandson who would start a public middle school in a distance learning academy. His social studies class essentially started with a review of the history of ancient Egypt. Unfortunately his text book glossed over what I knew to be a subject of fascinating and important dimensions. I suggested we supplement his studies with Professor Brier's course. Five weeks later we are still enjoying the excellent lessons and both of us look forward to the next installment. Ancient Egypt is interesting on its own by virtue of its age, its art and its monuments, but Professor Brier's great knowledge of, as well as, enthusiasm and love for the subject is clearly expressed in the most natural and clear manner. We appreciate his delivery that serves to emphasize important ideas and facts. We also appreciate that Professor Brier has taken the time to share his life's work with us and we are grateful for the opportunity provided by The Great Courses Plus.
Date published: 2020-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots of History in easy bits I have always been interested in Egyptology. Took several courses in college in Art History, and Archaeology, that covered parts of this material. Prof. Bier (sp?) lecture was well structured, engaging while being educational. I enjoyed being reminded of my joy of Archaeology & Art History. Fleshing out the bones of Egypt.
Date published: 2020-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lots of Information, Verbal Quirks, Very Engaging If you know people from the Bronx, the verbal mannerisms of this instructor will feel familiar. Bob Brier lectures like he's walking down the street with a friend, telling a story with immediacy as if it all happened just today and he's still processing it all in his head. Hence, all the feints into digressions but he cuts himself off with, "But I'll get to that later." Plus he has his biases and prejudices. In his view, Egyptian religion is mythology whereas the Bible is not, for example. But, except for that subject, he's upfront about his biases. All in all, he's unfailingly engaging. In many ways, he reminds me of the wonderful ancient Egyptian documentaries created in the '80s by John Romer (Romer's Egypt, Ancient Lives) who also never lost his original lower class dialect - more striking in Romer's case as he's English. Romer's work was more focused on the daily lives of people, and less on the elites, but both don't merely know their subject, they inhabit it.
Date published: 2020-11-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't buy this course! I found this course to be exasperating and frustrating due to the presentation of Dr. Brier. First of all, he is very, VERY slow. He repeats himself constantly. He is forever saying, "I want to tell you about..." or "Let me tell you about..." until I want to scream, "Just tell me!". He reviews ad infinitum. The final impression I had was that he thought he was presenting to grade schoolers not too interested in the topic. There was so little of facts, dates, or really basic historical information that I felt this course needed an accompanying course to flesh it out. I did hear a lot of information about mummies which left me feeling that it would be too soon if I heard any more.
Date published: 2020-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great professor! I really enjoy this professor. He's knowledgeable and easy to listen to as well as pay attention to. The course is well planned and highly informative. This is my favorite course on here. Excited to see if he may have other courses eventually.
Date published: 2020-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully executed by masterful teacher I would NEVER have imagined that anyone could THRILL mevwith a course on Egypt. Nothing against Egypt, just massively UNinformed. Thd man couldvteach me anyyhing! That, combined with his,sillful weaving ovvghe saga of 3 millennia, full of lifegiving details. I heard/read fromother skillful writers, but this man is the very best!
Date published: 2020-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course given by a great story-teller Dr. Brier brings 3000 year of Egyptian history to life in this course. Even though it was 24 hours long, I enjoyed every minute! I admit I was already very interested in the subject, but if you have any interested in Egyptian history at all, this is a must see.
Date published: 2020-09-18
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History of Ancient Egypt
Course Trailer
Introduction
1: Introduction

What makes ancient Egypt so interesting? How do we know what we know about it? What can you, as a student, expect from these lectures?...

32 min
Prehistoric Egypt
2: Prehistoric Egypt

In this lesson, we will see just how old "old" is. The basic divisions of prehistory will be discussed, and each category will be defined and its specific characteristics delineated. Once these categories are clear, we will discuss the difficulties of studying a prehistoric civilization....

31 min
Ancient Egyptian Thought
3: Ancient Egyptian Thought

What distinguishes mythology, religion, and philosophy from one another? What role did each play in the lives of the ancient Egyptians?...

30 min
Napoleon and the Beginnings of Egyptology
4: Napoleon and the Beginnings of Egyptology

Why does modern Egyptology begin with Napoleon? How was Egypt studied before he and his army arrived with 150 scientists in tow in 1798? How did the monumental Description de l'Egypte that Bonaparte's savants produced become the benchmark for all future publications in the field?...

30 min
The Rosetta Stone, and Much More
5: The Rosetta Stone, and Much More

The Rosetta Stone is a large granite stela, carved under Ptolemy V and unearthed by French troops in 1799. With inscriptions of the same text in Greek and Egyptian, it provided the key to deciphering the ancient Egyptian language. Learn the four scripts in which ancient Egyptian can be written, as well as the three ways hieroglyphic signs can be used....

30 min
The First Nation in History
6: The First Nation in History

How did Egypt become history's first nation? Once King Narmer unified Upper and Lower Egypt, it took only a few hundred years to build a power that would dominate the Near East for millennia. Learn why the political structure of ancient Egypt made this possible and how the "Narmer Palette" tells this story....

30 min
The Rise of the Old Kingdom
7: The Rise of the Old Kingdom

As Egypt becomes a great nation led by a single all-powerful ruler, traditions arise that will last for millennia: a capital city, separate burial places (and eventually mighty pyramids) for the kings, solar boats for the trip to the next world, and more....

30 min
Sneferu, the Pyramid Builder
8: Sneferu, the Pyramid Builder

This lecture will present a portrait of the founder of the "Fabulous Fourth" Dynasty, Sneferu. Using trial and error, he figured out how to build a true pyramid. His reign also saw Egypt's blossoming as an international power and the setting of artistic standards that would last for thousands of years....

30 min
The Great Pyramid of Giza
9: The Great Pyramid of Giza

From leveling the foundation to setting the capstone, here are-as best as we can make out-the "nuts and bolts" of the Egyptians' most literally "monumental" feat: pyramid building. This lecture also discusses the 144-foot solar boat that was found in 1954, buried near the Great Pyramid....

30 min
The End of the Old Kingdom
10: The End of the Old Kingdom

After the fantastic achievements of Dynasty IV, something-no one knows what-changed. Pharaohs stopped building pyramids and seem to have adopted sun worship. Dynasty VI resumed pyramid building on a small scale, but the death of its last king plunged Egypt into chaos....

30 min
The First Intermediate Period
11: The First Intermediate Period

After centuries of power, pyramids, and prosperity, Egypt totally collapsed. Why? A look at this period also shows the methods that Egyptologists use to reconstruct history where the resources are scant....

30 min
The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XI
12: The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XI

The Middle Kingdom is the story of Egypt's resurrection. Dynasty XI is the dynasty of reunification, slowly bringing Egypt back to unity and greatness....

30 min
The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XII
13: The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XII

The seven kings of Dynasty XII built pyramids, fostered great literature (often for political purposes), and consolidated power once again in the center....

31 min
The Second Intermediate Period
14: The Second Intermediate Period

Ancient Egypt is the only civilization in history to have been eclipsed twice and bounced back to prominence on both occasions. Dynasties XIII through XVII saw the Middle Kingdom's decline, the advent of foreign rule, and finally, the expulsion of the Hyksos by a heroic prince of Thebes and his two sons at the end of Dynasty XVII....

30 min
Joseph in Egypt
15: Joseph in Egypt

The Bible describes a lengthy sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt. We examine the Joseph story in the Book of Genesis to see what light Egyptology might shed on its authenticity....

30 min
The Beginning of the New Kingdom-The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty
16: The Beginning of the New Kingdom-The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty

Practices we think of as defining ancient Egypt-including the use of a standing army to exact foreign tribute and the burial of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings-have their origins in this seminal period. We will also take a detailed look at what warfare was like in the ancient world....

30 min
Queen Hatshepsut
17: Queen Hatshepsut

One of the greatest individuals in Egyptian history, Hatshepsut appears in no official Egyptian record. When she died, she was "King of Upper and Lower Egypt." How did she handle the three core activities of kingship-building, warfare, and trading expeditions? Why was her name later systematically expunged?...

30 min
Obelisks
18: Obelisks

Obelisks are a purely Egyptian invention. Quarrying, transporting, and erecting one is perhaps an even greater engineering feat than the building of a pyramid. Learn the origins and religious significance of obelisks....

30 min
Tuthmosis III-King At Last
19: Tuthmosis III-King At Last

For 22 years, Tuthmosis III was second fiddle to his aunt Hatshepsut, who ruled as a king although she was a woman. When she died and he ruled by himself, he became one of the greatest military pharaohs Egypt had ever known. Learn what it meant to be a great king by tracing the epic events of his reign....

30 min
The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty Rolls On
20: The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty Rolls On

Witness this glorious dynasty continue through two superior pharaohs and then one great one, Amenhotep III, "The Sun King."...

30 min
Akhenaten the Heretic Pharaoh
21: Akhenaten the Heretic Pharaoh

The most enigmatic and controversial pharaoh in Egypt's history, Akhenaten rocked the pillars of Egyptian society. He may have been the first monotheist and the first "individual" in history....

30 min
The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb
22: The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb

Unearthed by Howard Carter in 1922, the burial place of this young son of Akhenaten is the only royal tomb to have been found substantially intact. Follow the careful research and planning that led up to Carter's discovery, and learn the significance of the thousands of artifacts found....

30 min
The Murder of Tutankhamen-A Theory
23: The Murder of Tutankhamen-A Theory

Was Tutankhamen the victim of foul play? Do his mummified remains hold clues? Who might have wanted him dead, and why? Sift the physical and circumstantial evidence for this intriguing hypothesis and form your own conclusion....

30 min
Medicine-The Necessary Art
24: Medicine-The Necessary Art

The physicians of Egypt were famous throughout the ancient world. Probe the justification for this fame by examining medical papyri. We will see that there were really two approaches to medicine: clinical and magical....

30 min
The End of Dynasty XVIII
25: The End of Dynasty XVIII

What happened when a pharaoh died without issue? Find out by looking at three such cases that arose toward the end of Dynasty XVIII. Tutankhamen, Aye, and Horemheb, the last king of the dynasty, left no children....

31 min
Mummification-How We Know What We Know
26: Mummification-How We Know What We Know

Mummification was a trade secret. The Egyptians left no records of how they did it. Detective work is needed, and fortunately, there are four papyri that offer some clues....

30 min
What Mummies Tell Us
27: What Mummies Tell Us

The primary source for figuring out how the Egyptians mummified their dead is the mummies themselves. What distinguishes mummies from the Old Kingdom, the New Kingdom, and the Late Period, respectively? How have Egyptologists reconstructed this ancient art? By the end of this lecture, you will be able to look at a mummy and tell how old it is....

30 min
Making a Modern Mummy
28: Making a Modern Mummy

Here you'll learn how Professor Brier mummified a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian manner to determine how the Egyptian embalmers did it. The purpose of the project was not to make a mummy, but to gain knowledge of the instruments, substances, and surgical procedures used during the process....

30 min
Dynasty XIX Begins
29: Dynasty XIX Begins

After three childless pharaohs in a row, Egypt desperately needed stability. Thus, the first pharaoh of Dynasty XIX may have been selected not for his ability, but because of his heirs!...

30 min
Ramses the Great-The Early Years
30: Ramses the Great-The Early Years

Ramses the Great ruled for 67 years and was considered one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs. The pillars of his reputation were classic: warfare and building....

30 min
Ramses the Great-The Later Years
31: Ramses the Great-The Later Years

There is a bit of a mystery about Ramses's reign. Its last 40 years were rather sedentary. In considering what might have happened, you will see how a pharaoh with the resources of Ramses prepared himself and his family for the next world....

31 min
The Exodus-Did It Happen?
32: The Exodus-Did It Happen?

The Book of Exodus, so fundamental to the history of the Jewish people, is the section of the Old Testament most closely tied to Egypt. What light can Egyptology shed on the biblical account?...

30 min
The Decline of Dynasty XIX
33: The Decline of Dynasty XIX

Short reigns and a lack of major building projects betray the beginnings of Egypt's long slide from greatness....

30 min
Dynasty XX-The Decline Continues
34: Dynasty XX-The Decline Continues

After Ramses III's brief attempt to restore Egypt's stability, the downward slide continued. Who were the mysterious Sea Peoples? How did they contribute to the weakening of Egypt?...

30 min
Ancient Egyptian Magic
35: Ancient Egyptian Magic

Magic was a central concern of the ancient Egyptians. What were its basic elements and practices?...

31 min
Dynasty XXI-Egypt Divided
36: Dynasty XXI-Egypt Divided

Egypt's long slide continued as rival dynasties ruled from Thebes and the Delta. Egyptian history had become "a tale of two cities."...

31 min
Dynasty XXII-Egypt United
37: Dynasty XXII-Egypt United

Libyans ruled from the Delta city of Bubastis for 200 years and fought to restore Egypt's greatness. During this time, Egypt became involved with the biblical kingdoms of Judah and Israel. In the end, Egypt suffered division once more, but this time the two halves did not fight one another....

30 min
Dynasty XXV-The Nubians Have Their Day
38: Dynasty XXV-The Nubians Have Their Day

Nubians had been permitted to grow independent, with their leaders taking the title of pharaoh. They were also devoted to Amun, so in a sense, Egypt was their spiritual home. We will see a warrior from the south (Kush) battling a confederation of Egyptian "kings" and unifying Egypt once again....

30 min
Dynasty XXVI-The Saite Period
39: Dynasty XXVI-The Saite Period

Egypt fell under and then escaped Assyrian control only to face a new menace in the form of Babylon. As if they knew it was the last gasp, the pharaohs of Dynasty XXVI looked back to the Old Kingdom for inspiration....

29 min
Dynasty XXVII-The Persians
40: Dynasty XXVII-The Persians

The Greek traveler Herodotus gives three different reasons Persia invaded Egypt. How do his accounts compare with Egyptian records? How did Egypt express its unbending will to be free under this latest group of foreign rulers?...

30 min
Dynasties XXVIII to XXXI-The Beginning of the End
41: Dynasties XXVIII to XXXI-The Beginning of the End

Four very brief dynasties ruled in succession. When the last native-born ruler, Nectanebo II, was forced to flee into Nubia, Egypt's glory was over....

30 min
Alexander the Great
42: Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great began 300 years of Greek control of Egypt. We will trace his extraordinary career as a young general, as pharaoh, and as legendary conqueror....

30 min
The First Ptolemies
43: The First Ptolemies

The Greek kings known as the Ptolemies ran Egypt like a business. Taxes were heavy; government was oppressive. There are two great Hellenistic achievements, however: the Pharos Lighthouse and the famed Library of Alexandria....

31 min
The Middle Ptolemies-The Decline
44: The Middle Ptolemies-The Decline

A TV show about the Middle Ptolemies might well be called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Murderous." With few exceptions, the members of this dysfunctional dynasty were violent, debauched, and generally neglectful of the country they ruled. The Egyptians hated them and frequently rebelled, forcing some to flee for their lives. With each Ptolemy, Egypt sank deeper, making a return to greatne...

30 min
Animal Mummies
45: Animal Mummies

The Ptolemies had a fascination with mummies, especially animal mummies. We will take an in-depth look at the practice of animal mummification, which became a major industry during the Ptolemaic period....

30 min
Cleopatra's Family
46: Cleopatra's Family

For a Ptolemy, dodging assassination by one's own kin was often the hardest part of ruling. Learn how Cleopatra's father managed this task, and trace the course of Egypt's growing-and ultimately fatal-interaction with the rising power of Rome....

30 min
Cleopatra-The Last Ptolemy
47: Cleopatra-The Last Ptolemy

Although Cleopatra is one of the most famous women who ever lived, she remains an enigma-we don't even know her mother's name. History is written by the victors, and Cleopatra lost. Can ancient records help fill out her story?...

31 min
The Grand Finale
48: The Grand Finale

This last lecture crowns the course by briefly summarizing 3,000 years of Egyptian history; outlining Egypt's legacy to us; surveying images of Egypt in film and literature; and listing ways you can pursue your interest in this remarkable civilization. Your learning needn't stop here!...

31 min
Bob Brier

To a great extent, the fun of history is in the details. Knowing what kind of wine Tutankhamen preferred makes him come alive.

ALMA MATER

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

INSTITUTION

Long Island University

About Bob Brier

Dr. Bob Brier is an Egyptologist and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Hunter College and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Brier has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar and has received Long Island University's David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his achievements as a lecturer. He has served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities' Egyptology Today program. In 1994, Dr. Brier became the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian style. This research was the subject of a National Geographic television special, Mr. Mummy. Dr. Brier is also the host of The Learning Channel's series The Great Egyptians. Professor Brier is the author of Ancient Egyptian Magic (1980), Egyptian Mummies (1994), Encyclopedia of Mummies (1998), The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story (1998), Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (1999), and numerous scholarly articles.

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