History of Ancient Egypt

Course No. 350
Professor Bob Brier, Ph.D.
Long Island University
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Course No. 350
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Learn the differences between mythology, religion, and philosophy, as well as the role each played in ancient Egypt.
  • numbers Examine what might have changed after Dynasty IV, when the Pharaohs stopped building pyramids.
  • numbers Learn how to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian manner.
  • numbers Explore why Egyptian history was known as a "tale of two cities" during Dynasty XXI.

Course Overview

Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand that our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. Consider time. Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. When the young pharaoh Tutankhamen ruled Egypt, the pyramids of Giza had already been standing well over 1,000 years. When Cleopatra came to power, Tutankhamen had been in his tomb more than 1,000 years.

Consider scale. The only one of the Eight Wonders of the Ancient World still standing, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, was the tallest building in the world until well into the 1800s. It covers 13.5 acres at the base and contains 2.3 million limestone blocks, weighing 5,000 pounds each on average. Tens of thousands of men labored to raise this tomb—but they were not slaves; they were free farmers and artisans. The social organization alone of this project humbles most modern achievements. And it was built in 2550 B.C., roughly 2,000 years before Rome was founded.

Consider its mystery. Egypt was the most advanced of any ancient civilization. Yet, even after deciphering the hieroglyphs, Egypt remains one of the most mysterious. Scarabs, mummies, obelisks, sphinxes—their civilization was extraordinary and yet so "other" from what we live today.

Professor Bob Brier regularly hosts and contributes to programs on ancient Egypt for The History Channel and The Learning Channel. He has served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities "Egyptology Today" Program and has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar. He is also the recipient of the David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence. He is the perfect guide to take you through the tombs, mummies, and history of Egypt.

Professor Brier combines the precision and care of a scientist with a novelist's feel for plot, action, and character. His approach brings together the best that the narrative and scientific schools of history have to offer.

"Professor Brier's style of presentation is as impressive as it is engaging, and combines the skills of a master teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. The History of Ancient Egypt is enthusiastically recommended."

—Harold McFarland, Regional Editor, Midwest Book Review

"In these lectures on ancient Egypt, the enthusiasm of Professor Brier is so infectious, the material chosen so fascinating, and the presentation so pleasant that any adult listener could enrich his knowledge of history with enjoyment."

AudioFile magazine

The Big Picture

In this course, you chronologically survey the full 3,000 years of recorded ancient Egyptian history. Because Egyptian history lasted so long, Egyptologists divide it into three periods called Kingdoms:

  • The Old Kingdom saw the beginnings of nationhood for Egypt under one supreme ruler, the pharaoh. During this time, the pyramids were built and the rules of Egyptian art were established that would govern for 3,000 years.
  • The Middle Kingdom, a period of stabilizing after the Old Kingdom collapsed, saw a nation fighting to regain its greatness.
  • The New Kingdom, the glamour period of ancient Egypt, was when all the stars—Hatshepsut, Tutankhamen, Ramses the Great, Cleopatra, and others—appeared.

Professor Brier begins with a note on his approach.

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

"Knowing that Ramses the Great was crippled by arthritis for the last decade of his long life makes us more sympathetic to the boastful monarch who fathered more than 100 children.

"If we understand what it was like to be a miner sent to the turquoise mines in the Sinai in the summer, we will feel a kinship with our long-dead counterparts.

"As we wind our way chronologically through 30 centuries of history, we will pause repeatedly to look at the details that make up the big picture."

The Base

The first five lectures are foundational. Professor Brier shows what Egypt was like before writing, how Egyptologists piece together the history of ancient Egypt, and how hieroglyphs were deciphered. These lectures show how Egyptology has been one ongoing detective story—and reveal Napoleon's massive contribution to what we know.

The Old Kingdom

In Lectures 6–10, you see the Egyptians rise to a greatness far surpassing any other people in the Near East, learn of a king who united Egypt by might, and discover a pharaoh who showed Egypt how to build the pyramids.

While you see how the pyramids were built, you learn just what it was that made Egypt great. At the end of these lectures, you see Egypt collapse into a dark age about which little is known, and with Professor Brier, you try to assess what happened.

The Middle Kingdom

Lectures 11–15 discuss Egypt's successful attempt to pull itself together, only to collapse once again. You study heroic kings from the south who battle to unite the country and establish a peace that would last for two centuries—as long as the United States has existed. Then Egypt is invaded by the mysterious people called the Hyksos, as the kings of the south battle Egypt back to greatness. These lectures also look in detail at the Old Testament story of Joseph in Egypt to see what light it might shed on this period.

The New Kingdom

Lectures 16–25 deal with the fabulous Dynasty XVIII, the period of Egypt's greatest wealth and personalities. Examining in-depth the kings and queens of this period, you study:

  • Hatshepsut, the woman who ruled as king and whose history was systematically erased from Egyptian records
  • Akhenaten, the first monotheist—and, arguably, the first individual—in history, who changed the religion of Egypt
  • Tutankhamen, the son of Akhenaten, who became the most famous of Egypt's kings when his undisturbed tomb was discovered in 1922
  • Egyptian medicine and why Egyptian physicians were justly the most famous in the ancient world.

Lectures 26–28 are a brief excursion into Professor Brier's specialty: mummies. You even learn how to make one. You also see that mummies are like books—packed with information—if you know how to read them.

Lectures 29–35 focus on the end of the New Kingdom, the last great epoch of Egyptian history, dominated by Ramses the Great. Professor Brier discusses the unnamed pharaoh of the Exodus, as well as Egyptian magic.

Greatness, but under Greek Rule

Lectures 36–41 recount the invasion of Egypt by a series of conquering peoples, including Nubians, Libyans, and Persians. Professor Brier examines the causes of Egypt's decline and the ways the falling pharaohs reached back 1,500 years to grasp at greatness.

Lectures 42–47 chart the rule of the Ptolemies, Greek kings. This period begins with the conquest of Alexander the Great and ends with Cleopatra. For 200 years, once-mighty Egypt was ruled by kings named Ptolemy, all of whom descended from General Ptolemy, who served under Alexander. These lectures examine what life was like for an Egyptian under the oppressive rule of their Greek masters. And they detail some of the achievements of this period, including the library at Alexandria.

Lecture 48 concludes the series with a summary of Egypt's legacy and suggestions for continuing study.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 18
    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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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." x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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! x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 35
    Ancient Egyptian Magic
    Magic was a central concern of the ancient Egyptians. What were its basic elements and practices? x
  • 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." x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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 greatness impossible. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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! x

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  • 172-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Hieroglyph Alphabet
  • Suggested readings

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Your professor

Bob Brier

About Your Professor

Bob Brier, Ph.D.
Long Island University
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...
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History of Ancient Egypt is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 300.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Introduction I already knew a little about Ancient Egypt and primarily bought this course because it was bundled with a course on Hieroglyphs, but I am very glad I bought it. Professor Brier's passionate presentation made this course a joy to watch, and he gives a lot of neat details and theories regarding the artifacts that you will see in museums or on a trip to Egypt. A couple caveats for anyone looking to buy this course: 1) This is primarily a course about political and military history. If you are looking for a history about daily life in Egypt, look elsewhere. This course touches briefly at times on average life but mostly focuses on the royalty and priests (and a lot about mummies, which is Professor Brier's specialty). 2) As others have mentioned, Professor Brier does not use many dates. When he introduces a new Pharaoh, the name and approximate dates of the Pharaoh are usually displayed at the bottom of the screen (and if you miss them there, they are also in the course guidebook). So if you are someone who extensively depends on having dates, you have been forewarned. So if those two points don't bother you, and you are looking for a good overview of the History of Ancient Egypt, I highly recommend this course. I certainly enjoyed it.
Date published: 2019-02-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Terrible. The lecturer makes so many mistakes that this whole course is a complete embarrassment. The worst course I have sat through from The Great Courses. There are so many errors that I won't be bother. I would suggest that this course be withdrawn and replaced with a lecturer who actually knows something about the History of Egypt. Bob Brier has Ph.D. in Philosophy. He has no degree in history. Just because he is obsessed with mummies and mummification does not in any way qualify him to teach a history course.
Date published: 2019-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from FANTASTIC course. In the first few minutes I wasn't sure I would like the professor's delivery style, but it quickly became one of my favorite aspects of the course. His enthusiasm for the subject is obvious, and I learned far more about Egypt and those who inhabited it than I thought I would. I was sad when I got to the last lecture! 48 lectures is a long course, but I could have happily gone another 48. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2019-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining and informative Brier makes me want learn more about Egypt in a classroom setting with HIM as the teacher. I teach English. He is all that a lecturer should be. I was riveted.
Date published: 2019-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from About to leave for a trip to Egypt I bought this before my trip to Egypt. It will be good to have all this great information before seeing the incredible sites for myself. I just wish the video would broadcast to my TV, having to watch on my computer was not as nice. My tablet tried to broadcast to my television but would not connect. The problem might be with my tablet....
Date published: 2019-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course is worth it!! I bought this course in anticipation of seeing the King Tut exhibit (the last time it will come around, now it will be housed in Egypt). It was spectacular and it gave me so much insight into what I was seeing and the lives of the Pharohs. It is always engaging and interesting and his side trips add to the richness of the presentation.
Date published: 2019-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good content but lots of missed opportunities When I was a school kid, we often visited the Field Museum in Chicago, where my favorite exhibit was the Egyptian mummies. I remember being on a field trip where I spent my “souvenir money” on a brochure about mummies and Egyptian burials. So I discovered a kindred spirit in Dr. Bob Brier, the Egyptologist who presents these 48 lectures. He’s a mummy expert, and he mixes in a few mummy-centric lectures along with the straight history. And there is a LOT of history. The Prof is friendly and casual, and clearly knowledgeable, but after 24 hours some things begin to wear thin: his habit of repeating the ends of phrases, or ending with “right?” or “hmm?”; leaning on the lectern for much of the lecture, something which TGC has made impossible in recent days; wearing the same shirt and trousers for the entire series (including, humorously enough, a picture taken in an Egyptian tomb!). Another petty annoyance was his slangy attempt to be “cool” by over-using phrases such as “my man Sneferu.” And that leads to the main problem: This series is now 20 years old. It uses the old set, has no captions, has VHS-quality video, and is missing 20 years of research. Prof. Brier’s bibliography was extensive in 1999, but is clearly missing a lot of material. Even when I was watching these lectures (Dec. 2018) there was a news story about a significant discovery in Egypt, and I’m sure there have been many others since the recordings were made. Another negative is the paucity of video elements. Dozens of times, the Prof referred to some place or object and tried to describe it verbally…with no picture to show. He talked several minutes in the final lecture about mummy movies, but only showed ONE movie still. The same map is used again and again, and some of the illustrations look like they were culled from old Sunday school papers. Certainly the Prof himself must have had a lot more slides from his explorations, not to mention access to photo libraries. I also could have done without the Prof’s speculations about the influence of Egypt on Christian theology. It’s all guesswork, and a bit silly. He did link a couple of Biblical events to Egyptian history, but there were more that could have been used. His carelessness about these subjects was tipped off early, when he went to great lengths about the “Bishop of Usher” who dated the creation at 4004 BC, with a later crony narrowing it down to a particular date and time. A bit of research would have revealed there was no “Bishop of Usher” but rather a “Bishop Ussher” (his name, not his diocese) who did all the date work himself. The Prof showed surprise that those odd dates actually appeared in Bibles in the 17th century. Surprise! They were still being published in some editions as late as the 1960s, and maybe still today, take that as you will. His repeated insistence that Egyptians invented monotheism is based only on the fact that they are the first to have left inscriptions about it around 1350 BC during the reign of the heretic Akhenaten. However, Abraham and his descendants were following a monotheistic faith at least 300 years earlier. The handbook has very brief summaries (usually 3 pages) of each lecture. The timeline and glossary are both very small, and the bibliography is good but outdated. There’s one HUGE question that the Prof never answered. In one fascinating lecture, he describes how he and colleagues actually mummified a 20th-century body using Egyptian techniques. Professor: WHERE DID YOU GET THAT BODY?
Date published: 2019-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must before going to Egypt My husband and I listened to these tapes before our trip to Egypt. Bob Brier was fantastic and added a tremendous bonus to our Egyptian trip. I can't imagine going without having heard his lectures. He is funny, passionate, knowledgeable and I think blends just the right mix of all aspects of ancient Egypt.
Date published: 2018-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A terrific series that teaches a great amount about Egypt. Also, anyone who lectures can learn how to lecture from Robert Brier.
Date published: 2018-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ancient Egypt I bought this a week ago and It’s worked out great
Date published: 2018-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful course Professor Brier provides an enormous amount of knowledge in an engaging, brilliant package. It is not just the history of ancient Egypt, it is the personalities of the Pharaohs, their lives, and the system that brought them to (or removed them from) power, how the pyramids were built, daily lives of Egyptians, and on and on.. I bought this series because we are traveling to Egypt soon, and I wanted to have a background for what I will be seeing. I have now urged this course on my friends who will be going with me.
Date published: 2018-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Coverage - Detailed and Interesting I purchased this series to prepare for a visit to Egypt in March 2019 and am only about a third of the way through. Thus far I am extremely pleased with the quality of the presentation and the contents of the series. The instructor is very well qualified and presents the material in a very understanding manner. The approach is chronological in time with a few side trips to better explain and cover the subject matter. This is definitely a series I will watch a couple of times before making my trip. I know that doing this will better prepare for the adventure.
Date published: 2018-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfies a voracious appetite These programs provide no nonsense acquisition of the exact material I wish to study.
Date published: 2018-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 1/2 way through and it’s excellent! I knew enough about Egypt to be dangerous, now I’m getting real dangerous! Great course, great professor!
Date published: 2018-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nice overview of Egypt & the lecturer cares very deeply about his subject. He has a infectiously enthusiastic style which makes the lectures fun to watch. It is a little disappointing that there is no warning that the course is now quite old – the course book has a copyright of 1999. Ancient history, being ancient, is not going the change but the way we can examine it has changed a lot in the last twenty years- any chance of an update? (Still well worth watching even considering the age of the course.)
Date published: 2018-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging and entertaining This excellent survey course combines perfectly with the course on reading Egyptian hieroglyphs. Very entertaining. Great visuals.
Date published: 2018-09-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very disappointing I've been spoiled by Professors Daileader and Harl. I expect in-depth analysis, not superficial touristy chit-chat. Brier is no scholar, at least, not of Egyptology. He makes unsupported statements about Egypt having accomplished something-or-other first in the world. There are always dissenting views to this sort of claim, but Brier doesn't present them -- Daileader and Harl would have. Brier talks like a used-car salesman -- "Step up, get your fully guaranteed pre-owned pyramid here! You won't find a better deal anywhere!". While I don't look for political correctness in courses, especially ancient history courses, I was amazed to hear Brier state -- repeatedly -- that the pyramids were built with "free" labor, not slave labor. He had previously stated -- repeatedly -- that Egypt really got rolling when it acquired a king who was an absolute monarch, because an all-powerful king can really get stuff done. Yes, an all-powerful king can require his subjects to build pyramids. Were the workers able to tell the king, "No thanks", and walk away from the job? I don't think so. Maybe the workers weren't technically slaves in the sense of being owned, but to call this free labor is really torturing the meaning of the word "free". This course will be returned.
Date published: 2018-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Helpful and entertaining This a terrific course and provided much needed background information prior to our trip to Egypt later this year. The presenter was exceptional in his enthusiasm for the subject and knowledge.
Date published: 2018-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Lectures My husband and I are going to Egypt in a few months and wanted to learn more about the history. Bob Brier is an outstanding teacher. His love of Egyptian history shows in his enthusiasm for each period. We will be well prepared for our journey and have enjoyed this course. We highly recommend it.
Date published: 2018-08-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A "Golly! Gee, whiz!" account of Egyptitian histor I've watched or listened to dozens of Great Courses and rarely have found one so irritating and frustrating. I kept wanting to shake the professor by his shoulders and say, "Listen, you're speaking to adult learners, not children. Stop condescending, stop repeating, stop giving simplistic explanations!" I was very surprised to see how highly rated by customers this course is. Several other negative reviewers have noted the professor's habit of repeating the object of every sentence. Of every sentence. This is irritating, but a tic you can get used to. How to summarize the real problems? First, this is history by anecdote. Stories are great, but not the whole story. There is only the most superficial analysis of social, cultural, or economic trends. Every reign or period is reduced to the most simplistic terms: "X pharaoh is great because he went north into Syria!" "Y pharaoh is great because he went south into Nubia!" Second, remarkably, no dates are given throughout almost the entire course. A listening with no prior knowledge of Egyptian history would have no idea of the dating of the Old Kingdom, New Kingdom, reign of Tutmosis III, or any other period or event. A corollary of this is that rarely in the course does the listener get any concept of what's going on contemporaneously in other parts of the Middle East . In other words, there is no effort to compare and contrast Egyptian civilization with the various civilizations of Mesopotamia or elsewhere. Third, simplistic analyses are often taken to an extreme. For example, why did the Persians invade Egypt? The professor spends almost the majority of his lecture on Persian control by retelling 3 stories from Herodotus, e.g.one about an eye doctor, one about a woman who was sent by the pharaoh (posing as his daughter) to Cambyses. When she was exposed, Cambyses got angry and invade Egypt, etc. Whoa! What about scholarship on this subject? These leaders were not morons. Their motivations were political and economic--not fanciful grudges. Finally, a comment about the professor's stories of the Hebrew people. One lecture is devoted to Joseph, another to Moses and the Exodus. The problem is that the great majority of biblical scholars agree that the patriarch Joseph is legendary, and there is no evidence that the Hebrews (as a people) were ever in Egypt. Perhaps Moses was an historical person, but he certainly didn't lead vast numbers of slaves out of Egypt. Most insulting to genuine Jewish history are the professors throw-away comments on the three groups of Israelites that existed after the Babylonian conquest: some were taken to Babylon, some poor people remained in Israel, and some "escaped" to Egypt. He states that those who went to Babylon were probably assimilated and disappeared (in fact, they probably were converts to Islam!!! -- 1200 years too early for that), and the modern Jewish faith probably stems from the exiles in Egypt. Doesn't this guy know anything about Judaism? In fact, the returnees from Babylon under Cyrus redacted the Pentateuch, collected the writings of the prophets, and initiated the pure monotheism of Judaism. I could go on and on, but won't. Let me end by saying that the Great Courses series offers wonderful ancient history courses, including, for example, histories of ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Persia, civilizations of Anatolia, as well as Greece, Rome, "barbarian empirs of the steppes," China, and India. This is the only clunker.
Date published: 2018-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A lot of history to cover in 48 lectures I only had a rudimentary knowledge of Egypt, mostly from high school history. I am planning a trip to Egypt next year and thought I should be more informed before I went. When I saw the number of classes was 48 (each 30 minutes long) I thought there would be a lot of repetition or it would get bogged down in details. Not the case. I learned so much in this course. It wasn't just history and dates to remember. There certainly was a lot of that, but there was so much information of their culture, way of life, and influences on the rest of the world. Some lectures just pertained to mummification, or the reasons the pyramids were built. (he didn't get into how they were built, I would still love to know that). Overall this course was very interesting. The instructor was engaging, funny at times, and never boring. The video series provided numerous pictures or maps that helped enhance the lecture. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to know about one of the greatest civilizations.
Date published: 2018-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great overview and narrative I listened to this course during my morning and afternoon commute over a period of a couple of weeks. It was absolutely an enjoyable set of lectures containing just enough detail to give a good base level knowledge of ancient Egypt. Like some others have mentioned, I do wish there was a bit more attention to dates just to keep things in perspective. As the instructor mentions, this is done intentionally so that the student doesn't get caught up trying to remember all the dates. This course was very helpful is putting the pieces I already knew together. Like most people, I was aware of King Tut, Cleopatra, the pyramids, et cetera, but this course provided the mortar for piecing all that together into a continuous narrative while adding plenty of new information and perspective.
Date published: 2018-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You will love this course I've listened to dozens of the Great Courses and really like about 90% of them. This one however is really special. I listen to these in my car in an attempt to deal with Chicago traffic. Now I actually relish heavy traffic so I can listen a few minutes longer. As a result of Prof Brier's course, I've booked a three week trip to Egypt. Probably others have done the same. Bravo!
Date published: 2018-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of Ancient Egypt I love the great courses! I have watched Professor Brier on several tv specials and enjoy the passion he exudes. That passion is also evident in this course. I find him interesting, engaging and a joy to listen to.
Date published: 2018-07-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great teacher. 1999 copyright is too old. The prof for this series is great - enthusiastic, engaging. 1999 copyright is too old. Needs an update. Lots has happened in Egyptology in the last 19 years. The teacher is still around. Just get a couple of "update " lectures instead of redoing the whole series
Date published: 2018-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastic, engaging instructor Dr. Brief is obviously fascinated by his subject, and he communicates this well. Each half hour talk teaches me something new. If you are interested in ancient Egypt get this course.
Date published: 2018-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great In-Depth Look at Ancient Egypt Professor Brier is an engaging expert on Ancient Egypt and, indeed, his skill as a lecturer is one of the reasons I bought this course. From the mythology and geography to mummification and medicine, this course is a great comprehensive history of ancient Egypt. The course contained images and maps when needed (I am not a specialist in Egyptian history). I should mention that this is not the most up-to-date in terms of presentation: the technology is a little dated. With that being said, do not let that dissuade you from an otherwise excellent series of lectures presented by a dedicated Egyptologist.
Date published: 2018-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great -- but needs a 2nd Edition Not much more needs to be said by me that all the 4- and 5-star reviews haven't already said. I don't know when TGC started making video courses rather than audio, but this was done in 1999 and the video quality shows its age. The studio is SO dark. It doesn't detract from in information, it just looks like it was their first foray in to video production. I'm sure making a second edition of a 48-lecture series is a big undertaking, but it could use a freshening up. That's the only reason I didn't give it an overall rating of 5.
Date published: 2018-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorites from the Teaching Company I have listened to over a dozen different courses and counting. This one is top 3! I think I can go to the Met Museum in NYC and actually have a clue now when looking at Ancient Egypt. This one is long, 48 lectures...but then so is 3500+ years of history. I would like to see the final couple lectures refreshed to reflect new discoveries.
Date published: 2018-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top notch instructor Professor Brier makes the ancient history of Egypt come alive.
Date published: 2018-04-04
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