Development of the field:
Egyptology investigates the range of Ancient Egyptian cultures (language, literature, history, religion, art, economics, and ethics) from the 5th millennium BC up to the end of Pagan religion in the 4th century AD.
Some of the first historical accounts of Egypt was given by Herodotus, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus and the largely lost work of Manetho, an Egyptian priest, during the reign of Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II in the 3rd century BC.Progress was made by Muslim historians in Arab Egypt from the 9th century AD. The first known attempts at deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs were made by Dhul-Nun al-Misri and Ibn Wahshiyya in the 9th century, who were able to at least partly understand what was written. Abdul Latif al-Baghdadi, a teacher at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University in the 13th century, wrote detailed descriptions on ancient Egyptian monuments.
European exploration and travel writings of ancient Egypt commenced from the 13th century onward, with only occupational detours into a more scientific approach, notable John Greaves Claude Sicard, Benoît de Maillet, Frederic Louis Norden and Richard Pococke. With Napoleon’s scholars recording of Egypt’s flora, fauna and history, published as “Description de l’Egypte”, the study of many aspects of ancient Egypt became more scientific oriented. The British took over Egypt from the French and gained the Rosetta Stone. Modern Egyptology is generally perceived as beginning around 1822.
Jean François Champollion and Ippolito Rosellini were some of the first Egyptologists of wide acclaim. The German Karl Richard Lepsius was an early participant in the investigations of Egypt; mapping, excavating, and recording several sites. Champollion announced his general decipherment of the system of Egyptian hieroglyphics for the first time, employing the Rosetta Stone as his primary aid. The Stone’s decipherment was a very important development of Egyptology. With subsequently ever-increasing knowledge of Egyptian writing and language, the study of Ancient Egyptian civilisation was able to proceed with greater academic rigour and with all the added impetus that comprehension of the written sources was able to engender. Egyptology became more professional via work of William Matthew Flinders Petrie, among others. Petrie introduced techniques of field preservation, recording, and excavating. Howard Carter expedition brought much acclaim to the field of Egyptology. Around 1830, Rifa’ al-Tahtawi was one of the first main works of Egyptian Egyptology. Egyptian Egyptology developed slowly compared to its Western scholars, primarily because Islamic identity (and the disdain of pre-Islamic antiquity by some Muslims) and Western imperialism (till decolonization in the 1920s). Islamic and modern Egyptian civilization has been influenced by the pre-Islamic Egyptian culture of which Egyptology is concerned with.
In the Modern era, the Supreme Council for Antiquities control excavation permits for Egyptologists to conduct their work. The field can now use geophysical methods and other applications of modern sensing techniques to further Egyptology. The Egyptian languages (such as Hieratics and Coptic) and the Egyptian writing systems are still of importance in Egyptology.
Egyptology has attracted various pseudoscientific theories of which most are widely discounted by many Egyptologist, though not all. This includes esoteric, or extraterrestrial, subjects which are considered ahistorical, quasihistorical, and pseudohistorical overall. Few in Egyptology entertain views of the “New Age”, ufology, occultism, “secret societies”, or Atlantis theories.
Problems and mysteries
There are many open problems concerning Ancient Egypt, and some of them may never be solved. Egyptian archaeology is in a state of constant transition, with much of the terminology and chronology in dispute. The archaeological record is incomplete, with countless relics and artifacts missing or destroyed. New archaeological discoveries can call into question previous conclusions about Ancient Egypt. Furthermore, there are internal problems of overall cohesion of various dynasties and there are problems reconciling the Egyptian civilization with other concurrent civilizations.
Origins and chronology
Ancient Egypt appeared as a unified state no earlier than 3300 BC. It survived as an independent state until about 300 BC. Archaeological evidence suggests that a developed Egyptian society may have existed for much longer. The creation of a reliable Chronology of Ancient Egypt is a task fraught with problems. There is a “Conventional Egyptian chronology” that has a general consensus. While the overwhelming majority of Egyptologists agree on the outline and many of the details of a common chronology, disagreements either individually or in groups have resulted in a variety of dates offered for rulers and events. This variation begins with only a few years in the Late Period, gradually growing to a decade at the beginning of the New Kingdom, and eventually to as much as a century by the start of the Old Kingdom. The reader is advised to include this factor of uncertainty with any date offered either in Wikipedia or any history of Ancient Egypt.
Temples and pyramids
Many Egyptian temples are still standing today. Some are in ruin from wear and tear, while others have been lost entirely. The Egyptian structures are among the largest man-made constructions ever conceived. They constitute one of the most potent and enduring symbols of Ancient Egyptian civilization.
Burial and Tombs
Mummification of the dead was not always practised in Egypt. Once the practice began, an individual was placed at his or her final resting place through a set of rituals and protocol. The Egyptian funeral was a complex ceremony including various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in the deads’ honor. The poor, who could not afford expensive tombs, were buried in shallow graves in the sand; because of the arid environment they were often naturally mummified.
The ancient Egyptians are featured in the Old Testament, and played a prominent role in the early Hebrews’ life, from Joseph’s capture to the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt to later interaction with the Kingdom of Israel. There are several unanswered questions as to the precise influence each had on the other.