A stunning guide to the history of Egyptian studies
A stunning new book has just been published by Thames and Hudson. Egyptologists' Notebooks: The Golden Age of Nile Exploration in Words, Pictures, Plans and Letters, by Chris Naunton, is a gorgeous book on many levels. It describes the history of Egyptian studies from the 17th century, and is a celebration of the intimate diaries and journals that captured the excitement of the golden age of Egyptology. It is beautifully reproduced, starting with its embossed spine and cover and continues with the high quality illustrations and maps. It even has a pull out of one of Joseph Hekekyan's massive diagrams of Heliopolis and the Nile Valley.
For centuries the ruins of Egypt provided an endless source of fascination for explorers, antiquarians, treasure hunters and archaeologists. All, from the very earliest travellers, were entranced by the beauty and majesty of the landscape: the remains of tombs cut into the natural rock of hillsides and the temples and cities gently consumed by drift sand. These early adventurers were gripped by the urge to capture what they had seen in writings, sketches, paintings and photographs.
The book is full of reproductions of the original notes and drawings from the early visitors to Egypt
The book is divided into five sections which run chronologically and give an overview of the history of Egyptian studies. It starts with the seventeenth century German priest and Antiquarian, Athanasius Kircher, who was one of the first modern scholars to devote serious attention to the decipherment of hieroglyphs and ends with Walter Bryan Emery, one of the last British Archaeologists to excavate in Egypt on a monumental scale. It includes early adventurers to Egypt, scholars and of course archaeologists, as well as a member of Napoleon's expedition.
This is a sumptuous volume and can be recommended without hesitation for those who are interested in Egyptology and also the history of the study of the subject as well.
Those featured in the book include more familiar names such as Giovanni Battista Belzoni, Jean-François Champollion or Howard Carter, but there are also many that will be less well-known to readers. They include Athanasius Kircher; George Sandys; Frederik Ludwig Norden; Richard Pococke; Dominique Vivant Denon; Pascal Xavier Coste; Frédéric Cailliaud; William John Bankes; James Burton; Edward William Lane; Robert Hay; Nestor l’Hôte; John Gardner Wilkinson; Hector Horeau; Karl Richard Lepsius; Jean-Jaques Rifaud; Joseph Hekekyan; Luigi Vassalli; Amelia Edwards; W. M. F. Petrie; Marianne Brocklehurst; Victor Loret; Percy Newberry; Norman & Nina de Garis Davies; George Andrew Reisner; Ernesto Schiaparelli; Hassan Effendi Hosni; John Pendlebury and Walter Bryan Emery.
The Egyptologists' Notebook is beautifully laid out
The author, Chris Naunton, was an archaeologist and excavated at Abydos and western Thebes in Egypt. He worked for many years at the Egypt Exploration Society and served as its Director from 2012-2016. Nowadays he is more involved in writing and making documentaries on Egypt.
It must have been a very difficult choice choosing the material to include in the book, as there was so much on offer. How wonderful it must have been to peruse the original notes, drawings, sketches and photos of the early excavators such as Flinders Petrie, John Gardner Wilkinson or John Pendlebury. But thanks to this book, we can now enjoy some of their fascinating work.
This is a sumptuous volume and can be recommended without hesitation for those who are interested in Egyptology and also the history of the study of the subject as well. It is highly informative, well written, has beautifully reproduced illustrations and is a delight to read.
Egyptologists' Notebooks: The Golden Age of Nile Exploration in Words, Pictures, Plans and Letters
Published by: Thames & Hudson Ltd
Published: October 2020