Archaeology and Ancient Egypt
English edition  
March  2015
352 pp.
Hardbound
15X23 cm
$39.95
LE250
ISBN 9789774165993
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Wonderful Things

A History of Egyptology: 1: From Antiquity to 1881 Jason Thompson
Foreword by Jaromir Malek

The first part of the first comprehensive history of the study and understanding of ancient Egypt, from ancient times to the twenty-first century

The discovery of ancient Egypt and the development of Egyptology are momentous events in intellectual and cultural history. The history of Egyptology is the story of the people, famous and obscure, who constructed the picture of ancient Egypt that we have today, recovered the Egyptian past while inventing it anew, and made a lost civilization comprehensible to generations of enchanted readers and viewers thousands of years later. This, the first of a three-volume survey of the history of Egyptology, follows the fascination with ancient Egypt from antiquity until 1881, tracing the recovery of ancient Egypt and its impact on the human imagination in a saga filled with intriguing mysteries, great discoveries, and scholarly creativity. Wonderful Things affirms that the history of ancient Egypt has proved continually fascinating, but it also demonstrates that the history of Egyptology is no less so. Only by understanding how Egyptology has developed can we truly understand the Egyptian past.
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Jason Thompson is the editor of Edward William Lane’s Description of Egypt (AUC Press, 2000) and An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (AUC Press, 2003), and the author of Sir Gardiner Wilkinson and His Circle, A History of Egypt: From Earliest Times to the Present (AUC Press, 2008), and Edward William Lane, 1801–1876 (AUC Press, 2010).

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"Wonderful Things: A History of Egyptology: From Antiquity to 1881 is an excellent first installment on something the field has long been lacking--a comprehensive history of Egyptology. After surveying the Greeks and Romans, medieval writers, and the European scholars and travelers of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, Jason Thompson hits full stride with the nineteenth-century. The French expedition and Champollion’s decipherment gave birth to modern Egyptology, and this is the century in which Thompson—the author of definititve biographies of Egyptologists and Orientalists Gardiner Wilkinson and Edward William Lane—feels most fully at home. After the Description de l’Égypte and Champollion come Richard Lepsius, Heinrich Brugsch, Samuel Birch, and Auguste Mariette. All the great figures and landmarks are there, and many lesser ones as well. Both scholars and general readers will eagerly anticipate the second and third volumes to carry the story down to the present."—Donald M. Reid <br><br>"This well-researched and authoritative account of the history of Egyptology will become the definitive reference tool for anyone interested in the development of this academic discipline. In this first volume of his study, the author has delved deep into the surviving archives to undercover the growth of Egyptology from antique times until the astonishing success of Mariette. Unlike previous works which only dealt with the highlights of Egyptian archaeology, he covers both the academic and archaeological aspects of the subject and shines a light on many unsung heroes of Egyptology who had been edged out of the limelight by the more well known. When completed, this study will form a lasting memorial to the men and women who in their various ways rescued the past of Egypt.—Morris Bierbrier<br><br>

“[Wonderful Things] is a remarkable achievement: a scholarly work packed with facts but one which is also genuinely readable. It is ambitious in its scope and detail. To follow the growth of an arcane but also a highly romantic branch of learning becomes in Thompson’s book something close to an adventure. The author successfully convey his infectious enthusiasm for the subject but writes with a degree of detachment that allows him to be refreshingly and occasionally almost ruthlessly trenchant and critical.” —from the Foreword by Jaromir Malek <br><br>

“Thompson’s account demonstrates the multiple array of events, personalities, political developments and intellectual inclinations that contributed to shaping the field of Egyptology as it emerged as a self-conscious discipline. Moving beyond the familiar recounting of great discoveries in Egypt, . . . Wonderful Things seeks to demonstrate the power and complexities of Egyptological activities in fashioning the story of ancient Egypt. We learn much about the less acknowledged characters in the narratives of Egyptology, appreciating the different types of contributions individuals made beyond the practices of ‘digging and writing’. The new insights Thompson provides on those who simply ‘made things happen’ is not only fascinating but serves as an extremely valuable contribution to the evaluation of Egyptology’s legacy. This is an incisive anatomy of a discipline that challenges our all too familiar assumptions about how Egyptology came to be.”—Stephanie Moser<br><br>"Jason Thompson has written what is by far the best history of Egyptology yet. Filled with fascinating facts and characters, Thompson's book is comprehensive and eminently readable and certain to become the standard history of the field for many years to come."—Kent Weeks<br><br>"At last a definitive history, which does justice not only to the major players but to lesser lights as well. Wonderful Things will be immensely valuable."—Brian Fagan, author of The Rape of the Nile<br><br>"Remarkably thorough and yet refreshingly readable, this action-packed history of Egyptology is driven by some extraordinary characters—mostly men but some notable women—who needed to learn everything they could about the culture, land, and language of ancient Egypt. As much a study of European colonialism in Egypt as a historiography of seventeenth- to nineteenth-century scholarship, this volume is an absolute necessity for anybody with an interest in pharaonic Egypt."—Kara Cooney<br><br>"Wonderful Things is not only a definitive study of the early history of Egyptology, but an entrancing read. Thompson knows how to tell a story, and does so in vivid yet measured prose, which brings what could be a dull subject to life in memorable ways. He wears his scholarship lightly, which makes this beautifully crafted book a joy for the general reader."--Brian Fagan, Current World Archaeology<br><br>

“Historian Jason Thompson has written a book that comprehensively addresses the history of Egyptology from its earliest inklings up to the year 1881. It’s titled Wonderful Things and is, itself, a wonderful thing. . . . It’s not often that I find a book in which I can confidently state that I found something interesting on nearly every page. And as one who likes to consider himself an historian of archaeology, I learned much. Anyone with a serious interest in Egyptology surely will benefit from reading Wonderful Things. This volume is the first of three and I eagerly await the two which will follow.”—Donald P. Ryan, KMT<br><br>"Wonderful things is a rare treasure of Egyptology and historiography, based on meticulous, often very obscure, research and turned into a mellifluous narrative. This is no catalogue of heroes and villains, but a balanced and measured account that is a definitive history and a first-rate read at the same time. One eagerly awaits the two forthcoming volumes in this remarkable story, written by a scholar with considerable academic and literary gifts. . . . By any standards, this book is a remarkable achievement."—Antiquity<br><br>"A book that the Egyptological world and, surely, the world at large was waiting for for a long time. It fills a gap that was getting bigger as time passed by."—André J. Veldmeijer, PalArch<br><br>

“A comprehensive and thoroughly-researched work, in which a huge quantity of data has been synthesised and expounded. . . . The book is a mine of information and succeeds in being both authoritative and highly readable.”—John H. Taylor, ASTENE Bulletin<br><br>"Wonderful Things deserves to become the essential resource for decades to come.”—Rosalind Janssen, Egyptian Archaeology<br><br>

“While Wonderful Things would be an entertaining and informative read for any interested person, it should be considered essential reading for every Egyptologist and aspiring Egyptologist.”—Melinda Nelson-Hurst, JARCE

"Thompson offers a well written, informed, and at times exciting account of the exceptional accomplishments of the individuals and institutions that pioneered the field of Egyptology. Jaromir Malek's informed foreword offers a critical context for unfolding the Egyptological undertaking."—Choice

"A more readable companion to the now-standard biographical reference work Who Was Who in Egyptology."—Ancient Egypt

"This is an incredible yet concise and most readable account of the really formative years in Egyptology. Thompson is the well-known author of major individual studies of some of the 'greats' (E.W. Lane, J.G. Wilkinson) and his productivity is enormous. Hopefully it will not be long before the trilogy will be completed and become an essential and very worthy addition to the shelves of every Egyptologist, professional or dedicated amateur."—Peter A. Clayton, Ancient Egypt

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