Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. It lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. Its Great Pyramid of Cheops was the tallest building in the world until well into the 19th century and remains the only Ancient Wonder still standing. And it was the most technologically advanced of the ancient civilizations, with the medical knowledge that made Egyptian physicians the most famous in the world.
Yet even after deciphering its hieroglyphs, and marveling at its scarabs, mummies, obelisks, and sphinxes, Egyptian civilization remains one of history's most mysterious, as "other" as it is extraordinary. This chronological survey presents the complete history of ancient Egypt's three great Kingdoms: the Old Kingdom, when the pyramids were built and Egypt became a nation under the supreme rule of the pharaoh and the rules of Egyptian art were established; the Middle Kingdom, when Egypt was a nation fighting to restore its greatness; and the New Kingdom, when all the names we know today-Hatshepsut, Tutankhamen, Ramses the Great, Cleopatra, and others-first appeared. Professor Brier's 48 lectures glisten with the kind of vivid anecdotes and human glimpses that make this ancient world breathe again.
"The fun of history is in the details," he notes. "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 mountains in the summer, we will feel a kinship with our long-dead counterparts."
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses
As a current student studying ancient history this was a fantastic addition for me.
It would also be brilliant for anyone interested in learning more about one of the greatest civilisations of all time.
The lecturer is very knowledgable and engaging.
Easy 5 stars here.
Prof Bob Brier is clearly an extremely knowledgeable guy. But much more than that, he loves his Egyptology, and it is infectious, even exciting.
I've gone through a number of the Great Courses, and although all that I've listened to have been worthwhile, there are few that I've been eager to relisten too like this one - and it's 48 lectures!
I once had the opportunity to listen to this series, and I did so twice. Now the opportunity to own it on Audible has put tears in my eyes, literally tears in my eyes. This series won't make you an Egyptologist, but you will know so much by the end of it that the uninitiated might mistake you for one. I once visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a friend and when we hit the Egypt section I turned into a tour guide. After explaining how the Temple of Dendur ended up in New York, I turned and drew her attention to the interesting art style of the Amarna panels, and at this point she stopped me and asked, "How do you know all this?" This is how I know all this. I once held a group of people around a campfire in Eastern Washington spellbound for an hour as spoke on what we owed to the Egyptians, the basic ways of thinking and acting that we owe to them. I'm serious... spellbound (it helped that everyone was a bit intoxicated.)
This series will make you interesting. They might as well stick a guarantee on it.
Just to give you an idea... there's a half hour on mummified animals. Mummified ANIMALS. There's already about two solid hours on human mummies, but Brier feels that to be complete you need to know about the animals as well. If you are thinking, "How am I going to get through thirty minutes on dried up animals, let alone 24 solid hours on Egypt?" let me assure you, it will be over before you know it and before you want it to be. I've listened to a lot of Teaching Company lectures in my time, and while they never have anyone truly boring you often are reminded that these people are all university professors. But Brier's delivery is almost mesmerizing, his enthusiasm for the subject positively boyish. This series will never require your patience.
There may be special interest to those with an interest in Biblical history, whether you are Christian or otherwise. Whenever you reach a point where Biblical history intersects with Egyptian, Brier will stop and discuss it. There are several lectures devoted exclusively to the topic. I'll lay it out: Brier is a historian and therefore does not regard the Bible stories as literal truths, but he treats them with true sympathy and interest. His conclusions really surprised me, especially regarding the Exodus. His speculations on Joseph are perhaps more of a stretch.
The one rather slight downside to the whole series is that Brier has some rather fanciful theories about the life and times... and death... of Tutankhamen, a lot of which have been, if I'm not mistaken, disproven in the years since this first came out and which anyway were never taken seriously in mainstream Egyptology. Speculating about the Bible is one thing, but Brier doesn't pretend it's anything but speculation. His Tutankhamen material is, despite disclaimers, told with the passion of a true believer, which makes it slightly tragic when you discover afterwards that some of the basic facts just aren't there. It makes for an interesting listen, at least.
Overall, this is a MUST PURCHASE. Everyone needs a pair of really good shoes, a couple of good jackets, and a lecture series on Ancient Egypt. Do not hesitate.
"Excellent Lecture Series"
The professor is engaging and a great story teller. He gives you all the information you could want without boring you. He does an excellent job of making you want to learn more about Ancient Egypt. I feel like I got an accurate portrayal of the psychology, religion, architecture, medicine, magic, technology, and sociology of the Ancient Egyptians.
Absolutely. I listened to to for hours at a time and never lost interest.
"Well spoken and informative introduction"
I have been an audible customer for many years now with over 1000 books in my library but this is my first review. I write it because of another review of this book that I found to be completely off the mark. This course is an introduction and as such, it is basic history and background. With over 2,500 years worth of history to cover, it would be impossible to go into much detail. Having said this, Dr. Brier does an excellent job of making the history and culture come alive. His knowledge of,and passion for, the subject come through in vivid detail. The course touches on history, religion, culture and legacy of the oldest and longest lasting civilization on the planet, not an easy task for a single course.
The review which prompted this response stated that Dr. Brier seemed to talk down to his audience and pushed forward his own opinions too much. He did, but with reason. Dr. Brier is famous as the PBS star who's films have educated an entire generation about the wonders of Egypt. He is the world's foremost expert on the process of making mummies and is the only one in modern times to successfully reproduce an authentic mummified body. There is no one who better combines the expertise, knowledge, experience and showmanship then Dr. Brier. For basic overview and general knowledge this course is excellent, informative and enjoyable. If you desire more in depth knowledge, then a more specific title would be more valuable to you. If you like mummies, this course has more specific information then any other I have found.
"Captivating story of Kmt"
Dr. Brier does an excellent job delivering this series of lectures -- they are a true pleasure to listen to. If you're shopping for your next Great Courses series and you're not immediately jazzed about ancient Egypt, after the first couple of lectures you will be, or at least I was. He keeps the narrative free from too much jargon while still packing in richly detailed descriptions. I also enjoyed the frequent anecdotes on the early Egyptologists and their contributions to the field.
Dr. Brier will bring up some details often enough to feel redundant, but to be fair, I will probably never forget now that the Nile flows North and the winds blow South, making it trivial to navigate. However, my biggest gripe having only the audio available was his aversion to giving dates. I agree with him that the relative dating is more important, but if you're familiar with other Near Eastern ancient history, it makes it pretty difficult to align with other events in the Fertile Crescent. Not worth taking any stars off though, it just means looking up some things in a reference as or after you listen.
"So well taught! So interesting!"
Yes, I would recommend this to anyone who has even a passing interest in the topic.
This is a series of lectures. I have listened to several such programs. This one is so far my favorite.
I have heard nothing else by Mr. Brier. I would however like to.
The lecturer did an amazing job keeping this interesting. It is broken into half hour lectures and each one was a joy to experience.
If you are like I was and you keep looking at the Great Lectures wondering if you might enjoy them then this is the perfect place to start.
"Vast History of Ancient Egypt Made Manageable"
I used to think that the history of Ancient Egypt was as overwhelming and daunting as a trek across the desert. Professor Brier takes the listener step by step and breaks it down into manageable sections, like a traveler going from oasis to oasis, with time for review and reflection between segments. He also tells some great campfire stories about colorful Egyptologists in history, his own experiences in Egypt, and his work on creating a modern mummy.
Bob Brier does a lot of television documentaries, and he's just the same in his lectures. He gives his own theories about historical events, as well as theories by others, and lets the listener decide.
I enjoyed his lectures about Egyptians referenced in the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament. Specifically, Joseph and Moses.
The lecture about how he created a modern mummy was kind of gross, but so interesting that I listened to it more than once!
I'm not sure if this is because he's from New York, but he talks about the ancient Egyptians in the way someone would talk about people in their neighborhood or their extended family. For example, he called Pharaoh Snefru a great builder, but also a bit of a nerd. He loves the Ancient Egyptians so much that he tries to present as complete portrait as he can: the good, the bad, and the quirky.
"Worth the time"
The professor organized this course in an understandable, accessible way. I learned much and it was entertaining.
"Really nice overview, very Relaxing"
I love listening to this right before I go to bed. It's nice and lulling and the professor gives you a good overview of Egypt. He tells you interesting little stories, and also is very clear when he is giving opinion and when he is giving fact. This is highly enjoyable, and I would recommend this to any one!
Word of warning, he has a very distinct and thick accent. Prepare for him you say "you know?" at least 5 times a lecture. But he does sound very friendly.
"I can't stop listening!"
I love the way Professor Bob relates the information. He makes it sound like an interesting story rather than boring history.
It was all interesting.
I keep listening to the lectures over and over again. I find the stories fascinating and the narration excellent. You can tell that Professor Bob loves his work and the subject of Egypt. What an inspiring professor. We need more educators like him.
"So, so good."
These lectures are incredible. I have done a few of the Great Courses series here on audible, and I am usually bored and a little lost by the last few lectures. I had the opposite experience with this one...I was actually more enthralled and intrigued as they went on, and I mourned the last lecture when it was over because I didn't want the story to end!! So much magic, intrigue, mystery and drama. I can't say enough good things about this. It was so good that I'm actually starting it over to listen to it again. I never knew I would be so into Egyptology, but really, what's not to like?? It's amazing!! Bob Brier does a wonderful job, he is fun to listen to, New York accent and all. Truly amazing stuff here.
Cleopatra and Hatshepsut...girl power!! Snefru and Rameses the Great were awesome too! Really all the "characters" presented here are super interesting.
He seems really passionate about what he's taking about. He is never boring.
I constantly found myself saying "woooow" and "cooool" out loud while listening to these lectures on my headphones, eliciting some strange looks from my boyfriend.
Just listen, and become obsessed!! I did!!
"fascinating, and a joy to listen to"
one of the best
the narrator and of course all the Pharaohs- and explorers
voice, pace, content
Egypt- the first civilisation
"Compelling, Fascinating, Educational"
This is a really great lecture series. Fascinating material that is wonderfully presented. The lecturer's personality really comes through. I knew very little about Ancient Egypt before starting this and the course really gripped me. It is roughly chronological but with a few tangential lectures focussing on specific topics (e.g. mummies). At 48 lectures it is a long course, but for me the time really sped by. Highly recommended.
"Extremely Intteresting and a Joy to Listen To"
The narrator/lecturer obviously has a great passion for the subject and it was infectious to the listener.
The stories of the early pharaohs.
I have an interest in the subject and was pleased to see this series of lectures. I started listening and very soon my husband was drawn in too; we both enjoyed it immensely.
"A very enjoyable listening & learning experience"
Yes, I would definitely recommend this to a friend. While after a while, the canned applause and the music at the start can start to grate, the enthusiasm of the speaker shines through the delivery as well as his sense of humour. I learned a great deal from this course and was greatly entertained by it. What more can you ask for?
None, so far
Enthusiasm for the subject, fascination about an ancient civilization and an infectious sense of humour
There was the odd snicker from something Prof, Brier said, but it was more I guess a morbid fascination with the subjects covered
"Couldn't stop listening"
Absolutely fascinating. I only knew a little about the more famous parts of Egypt history but this has been an amazing experience that has opened my eys to the true Wonder of Egypt...
Loved every second of it. Bob Brier delivered a fantastic 48 chapter lecture as always. This is suitable for all, novice to expert. Highly recommend.
"super nice the way of teaching"
was a really nice series. I enjoyed the way the professor chose to follow a chronological line but also making little trips with details about the Egyptians' life. if you like history and pyramids you'll love it
I loved all the lectures of the series. Bob Brier is very good narrator for his lectures. He creates interest and maintains it.
I will go back to this lectures.
"Ancient Egypt brought to life !"
Lectures covering 3000 years of ancient history could be pretty dull but with Bob Brier they really come to life. I loved these lectures ! He delivers the material with a conversational style that I found very engaging. It is true that there's the same piece of music at the beginning of each half hour lecture and canned applause at the end which some people have disliked but I found them useful 'punctuation' for the series. Also Bob recaps quite often - personally I found this very helpful especially with such a long historic span and 24 hours of audio book but again I can see this might irritate some listeners.
I would not recommend these lectures as a first introduction to ancient Egypt. If you really don't know much at all I'd recommend getting a 'coffee table' book lavishly illustrated in colour and a bit of text to whet your apatite. If that fascinates you and you want to learn more then these lectures are an ideal follow on. Also, do remember to download the pdf file of lecture notes that go with the course, reading these really helps consolidate what you have heard.
All in all I learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed these lectures and they are fantastic value - highly recommended
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