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The History of Ancient Egypt

Narrated by: Bob Brier
Length: 24 hrs and 25 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.8 out of 5 stars (230 ratings)

Non-member price: $77.56

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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about The History of Ancient Egypt

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Amazing

Such an interesting series of lectures. The telling of history through stories makes it so engaging and I learned so much. Only distraction was the narrator’s inability to pronounce the letter H - YUGE!

5 people found this helpful

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Great, well worth it

It's well worth it, but honestly I felt like it went too fast and didn't cover enough detail. But the course was still 48 episodes of great information! It's just Egyptian history is so long. This is the book to read to get a map of Ancient Egypt in your head. It's an intro, and you could spend another 6 episodes on each episode in the course.

4 people found this helpful

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incredibly interesting and fascinating

I found myself coming back to this every evening before sleeping to wind down. the lecturer is very knowledgeable and great at presenting the Egyptian history in a way that makes sense and left me wanting more. might just listen to it all again. if you're interested definitely pick this up.

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Captivating

Bob creates a perfect mix of facts and story telling that keeps you wanting more. He has a special talent for narrating and his passion is very addictive. The book is perfectly laid out and split into manageable chapters. I'm having a great experience.

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The style of the lecturer is repetitive, annoying.

I found this too slow moving and, coupled with the lecturer's repetitive style, just not worth the time; I gave up after three tries. The subject is fascinating, however, and I will look for another source.

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excellent!

Loved it from start to finish, fascinating stuff told in a very easy to follow way. For people worried about reviews complaining about how the narrator repeats himself, if you have a regular attention span and appreciate a person's individual mannerisms as being part of their personality and charm, you'll be AOK.

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The. BEST.

Bob Brier is a brilliant lecturer and this course is a fascinating look at all aspects of Egyptian history and culture. A must listen!

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Both informative & entertaining

It’s quite a long book but the author does a great job of guiding the listener not just through each chapter but also the book overall. It outlines goals & provides focus. Generally speaking I prefer English/European narrators (sorry if that offends anyone!!), but I do very much like an author who narrates his/her own work. I found Bob Brier to be informative & entertaining.

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Fantastic

I’ve had a life long interest in ancient history and Egypt has always been at the centre of it. This book/course was completely enthralling with never a dull moment. It covers everything you could imagine and more. The author/narrator is very knowledgable, interesting and easy to listen to. He could repeat things a little less, however it doesn’t detract. Knowing it came with notes and a bibliography means I can continue my interest. Highly recommended.

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Loved it!

I downloaded the audiobook as some holiday listening and loved it! I thought it was very informative and easy to understand and I would definitely recommend it!

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  • Nassir
  • 09-07-2013

Incomprehensibly complete

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.

220 people found this helpful

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  • brian
  • 24-07-2014

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.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Sara M. Loera
  • 10-08-2014

So, so good.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Cleopatra and Hatshepsut...girl power!! Snefru and Rameses the Great were awesome too! Really all the "characters" presented here are super interesting.

What about Professor Bob Brier’s performance did you like?

He seems really passionate about what he's taking about. He is never boring.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

Just listen, and become obsessed!! I did!!

19 people found this helpful

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  • Tommy D'Angelo
  • 11-01-2017

Solidly Good Course on 3,000 Years of History

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This is a solidly good course. Covering 3,000 years of history in 48 lectures is not easy (some lectures covered 200 years of history: the entire length of the existence of the United States---Imagine doing that in 30 minutes!). The professor is an encyclopedia on the topic.

Because this is ancient history and not a lot is definitively known about the actual historical events of the time (be it political, religious, or military), more of the course is focused on the archaeological discoveries of artifacts and royal tombs as well as descriptions of the ancient structures and temples built than the recounting of actual historical events. But a lot of history is covered. I can't exactly put my finger on it but the professor’s style of recounting it didn't fully resonate with me. Maybe I expected more from a general storytelling theme perspective. Not sure I can articulate it well but it is hard for me to rate this higher than a 3.5 compared with other Great Courses.

Most of the course focused on the Pharaohs and not a lot of time spent on the everyday ancient Egyptian. This is neither a plus nor a minus but thought I'd call it out if you are looking for the latter!

Pluses:
• A chronological recounting of ancient Egyptian history from the earliest known humans to 30 BC
• The course provided insight into archaeology and it's tips and tricks on how to infer what the unearthed discoveries tell us about ancient civilizations and how history occurred (especially when no historical documents exist)
• Best lectures: 15 (assessing the authenticity of the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis in the Bible), 28 (How to make a mummy), 32 (assessing the authenticity of the story of the Exodus in the Bible), and 47 (Cleopatra)


Minuses:
• Hard to follow discussions on the architecture of the burial structures and the pyramids via audio (perhaps video would’ve made a difference)
• The professor rarely provided dates when explaining historical events or certain dynasties; While I’m sure dating would be difficult and speculative for much of the time period covered, it would’ve been nice to hear the commonly accepted view of scholars on when these events occurred or dynasties existed; Otherwise the discussion ends up sounding like an endless stream of Pharaohs and kings with no sense of placement in time

• While it would be unrealistic to expect the professor to cover every single Pharaoh, I was a tad disappointed that as far as I can remember he did not at least provide a total number of kings (for completeness sake) even though he discussed the list of Pharaohs found in certain ancient temples


Bottom line: I recommend this course to anyone interested in ancient history or even non history buffs who find themselves intrigued by ancient Egyptian society. You will especially find this course thrilling if archaeology is your passion.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Patralis
  • 27-04-2014

Well spoken and informative introduction

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Travis Greene
  • 27-09-2013

Excellent Lecture Series

What made the experience of listening to The History of Ancient Egypt the most enjoyable?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely. I listened to to for hours at a time and never lost interest.

22 people found this helpful

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  • aaron gilbert
  • 24-06-2014

So well taught! So interesting!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I would recommend this to anyone who has even a passing interest in the topic.

What other book might you compare The History of Ancient Egypt to and why?

This is a series of lectures. I have listened to several such programs. This one is so far my favorite.

Have you listened to any of Professor Bob Brier’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have heard nothing else by Mr. Brier. I would however like to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The lecturer did an amazing job keeping this interesting. It is broken into half hour lectures and each one was a joy to experience.

Any additional comments?

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 14-12-2016

Fabulous time travel to anchient times

I have always loved ancient Egypt. It seems so distant, alien almost magical. This magnificent lecture cycle brings this world to vibrant life. The danger of going in depth in history is that it can get dull. At no point does this epic set become boring. The author and presenter Professor Bob Brier sounds like your average New Joysey taxi driver which is charming and always interesting. He makes the content approachable, even fun. It’s fascinating at every turn. He plots the 3,000 years of the oldest greatest civilization on earth in fulfilling, thought provoking detail. If you have any interest in this area you will be delighted, even if you have never gotten further than India Jones in archeology you will be highly entertained. Give it a shot. It’s a ton of very interesting content for a single credit. There can be no better way to soak up a commute than 24 solid hours of ancient history made comprehensible to the modern mind.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Bernica
  • 25-08-2013

Worth the time

The professor organized this course in an understandable, accessible way. I learned much and it was entertaining.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Emily
  • 18-09-2013

Vast History of Ancient Egypt Made Manageable

What did you love best about The History of Ancient Egypt?

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.

What other book might you compare The History of Ancient Egypt to and why?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

I enjoyed his lectures about Egyptians referenced in the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament. Specifically, Joseph and Moses.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The lecture about how he created a modern mummy was kind of gross, but so interesting that I listened to it more than once!

Any additional comments?

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.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 01-10-2014

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.

14 people found this helpful

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  • gi
  • 27-10-2017

Wonderful Lecture

I purchased this lecture because I was going for a short trip to Egypt and wanting to understand a little bit about Egypt.
I got more than that, I seriously got hooked to learn more and really enjoyed this Professor Brier. I wish I could attend his lecture in person one day and can have a tea with him.
His goal has been met on me; I was the guide for my husband as we stroll through the great pyramids of Giza sand Cairo museum.
Thank you Professor Brier.

8 people found this helpful

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  • William J
  • 09-02-2018

A great story, well told.

Neatly compressed story of ancient Egypt, delivered with brio and authority. Generally accepted facts enriched along the way with personal theories and historic asides. Very enjoyable.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew UK
  • 18-10-2013

fascinating, and a joy to listen to

Where does The History of Ancient Egypt rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

one of the best

Who was your favorite character and why?

the narrator and of course all the Pharaohs- and explorers

What about Professor Bob Brier’s performance did you like?

voice, pace, content

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Egypt- the first civilisation

12 people found this helpful

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  • Niall
  • 12-01-2015

A very enjoyable listening & learning experience

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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?

What other book might you compare The History of Ancient Egypt to, and why?

None, so far

What does Professor Bob Brier bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Enthusiasm for the subject, fascination about an ancient civilization and an infectious sense of humour

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There was the odd snicker from something Prof, Brier said, but it was more I guess a morbid fascination with the subjects covered

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kindleblorp
  • 19-03-2018

Excellent.

Great audiobook. Could've trimmed a few of the less interesting lectures, but perhaps that's just down to taste. Overall excellent. Will be listening to more from The Great Courses.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Molly Moon
  • 13-04-2015

Excellent

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-07-2020

horrible horrible horrible listen

Evry time the narrator smacks his lips you jump out of your skin, which at a frequency of every 10 seconds is a lot. By the end of one chapter you have so much aggression build up you could just hit him. Additionally his constant pandering to the uneducated American is unbearable. He repeats the most simple sentences a million times and doesn't give real context. I guess kudos must be given for taking the most interesting topic and turn it into a torture to listen to. I came to the conclusion that that the author/narrator must be mind numbingly stupid himself, otherwise I can't explain how someone can speak in sentences and with a vocabulary of a 3 year old. Intelligent people: stay away from this book ! total waste of your patience.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-12-2018

Educational but tricky to listen to.

This audiobook has a great deal of interesting information in it but I found it frustrating. I listen to audiobooks to relax and learn but I found I couldn't relax this time. Perhaps I have just been spoiled by some of the other lecturers in the Great Courses collection, however I found him quite hard to follow. I felt as if he was constantly interrupting and repeating himself. I have to admit I did not persevere after lecture 5 so it may have got more straightforward to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Robin300378
  • 04-08-2019

Supposed to be factual. feels very opinion based

Couldn't get through this. narration/lecture style very irritating. I am also very skeptical of anyone who is a scholar saying that other people are wrong.....fact. I don't have to let you tell me. You can just tell me. you will understand this if you get any further than one lecture. shame

1 person found this helpful