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."
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses
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.
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.
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.
I would have appreciated a bigger picture narrative and assessment of ancient Egypt, rather than one that focuses so much on archaeology.
There is far too much focus on the minutiae of the archeological record.
Yes; a book that gives a better overview of Egyptian politics, economics and society.
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.
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.
The presentation was perfect, in other words, the lesson plan was very well thought out and executed perfectly. Great top down approach that kept a linear path through and made sure you kept up along the way with small reminders pasted in here and there. I was able to retain a lot more than usual because of the effective teaching style of hinting at something to motivate, elaborating on the details then systematic reminders.
I loved the use of historical data to speculate on daily life or personalities.
He talks to you like he really LOVES Kmt (Egypt for the unlearned ;P) and does so in a very friendly way.
This Audiobook touched me and left me a little misty when the instructor signed off. I didn't want it to end.
This one is a definite keeper. I enjoyed these lectures precisely because they were not dry, filled with dates and dull facts. Each lecture told a story.
I felt as if I was on a personal tour with Dr. Brier in Egypt as we walked through the museum, the pyramids, Karnak, the Valley of the Kings and Au Simbel.
I've seen him on various television documentaries on ancient Egypt.
We are all ancient Egyptians!
The professor organized this course in an understandable, accessible way. I learned much and it was entertaining.
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
When it comes to fantasy archeologists, no one comes close to Harrison Ford's 'Dr. Henry Walton 'Indiana' Jones, Jr. ("Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", 1994, and etc.). In real life, Egypt's former Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass has the fedora and matinee screen idol presence, but Great Courses Lecturer Bob Brier is the dashing adventurer and clever thinker.
When Brier talks about pyramids, temples and tombs, it's with the familiarity of someone who's been in them so many times, he knows all the secret hiding places, and maybe - just maybe - is making arrangements for a sarcophagus of his own. He dishes about pharaohs, families, feuds and fashion like Cleopatra wad a Kardashian sister. Ancient Egypt - especially during the reign of Rameses the Great felt real to me.
Brier starts with prehistoric Egypt and moves to Narmer, arguably the first Pharaoh around 3,000 BCE; and moves to the last dynasty, which ended almost at the same time Jesus was born. There are separate chapters on the Rosetta Stone and hieroglyphs; Biblical Egyptian history; and mummification. Brier's an expert on that - he made a mummy in 1994. That's in this Great Courses "The History of Ancient Egypt".
48 lectures sounds like a lot (pun intended!) but that's 3000 years and the start of organized civilization and recorded history.
Brier's really enthusiastic about Egyptology, and it's easy to imagine him animatedly lecturing in front of a college classroom. He does have a heavy New York accent, but he's so thrilled with what he's teaching, I forgot about that. Unfortunately, he does have a verbal tic that I noticed eventually - he uses the word 'right' as a bridge. Better than 'like', I guess. I probably wouldn't have noticed it if I listened to it like most Great Courses - one lecture a day, on the way home from work. I was so interested in this one, I finished the whole course in 3 1/2 weeks.
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"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
"The Longest Story Ever Told. Right?"
Audible’s tie-up with The Great Courses ought to be a winner, not least because we can now experience the latter’s wares for a fraction of their usual price. If you can stand the canned applause and other flattering pretence that these are university lectures and not just studio-recorded documentaries for amateurs, there’s little not to like. And the subject of this course is a great one. What’s best is the many set-pieces that fill in the detail you were missing if, like mine did, your knowledge of ancient Egyptian culture consists of disconnected trivia. I learnt plenty and, at least initially, liked the boundlessly energetic enthusiasm of the speaker, ‘Professor’ Bob Brier.
I’d two serious reservations. First, 48 talks are far too many for a history spun at many points from woefully thin evidence. It’s one thing that, by the time we reached the glorious 19th dynasty (Tutankhamun’s), I already felt I’d heard more than enough meaningless pharaonic monickers. Worse was the fact that Doc Brier is happy to speculate wildly on the basis of pure conjecture, in a way that’s more Hollywood than Harvard. His populist talking-up of Cleopatra towards the end matches the very trashiest of trash TV.
Second is his infuriating habit of saying things twice. Twice. This, combined with his at times painfully slow delivery, not only pads out hours of the course; it also sounds like he’s addressing an audience of children. Here’s a verbatim example: “He’s carrying sandals. He’s carrying a pair of sandals. He is the sandal bearer to the king. He carries the king’s sandals”. Worse, he continually punctuates his sentences with “Right?” as though you might not have got it, even when he’s stating the blooming obvious; e.g. “The red pyramid is called the red pyramid because, when it shines in the sun – you know, the sun is on it, shining – it looks a little bit red. Right?” You’ll appreciate that, after 24 hours of this, you can learn to get sick of even someone as engaging as Dr Bob. Right?
Good, would like more tangents. If you get it, you will enjoy, learnt a lot.
"Easy listening and fascinating"
The Professor had an excellent tone for listening to so many lectures, kept me interested all the way to the end.
"Informative and accessible"
Professor Brier has a nice way of drawing the listener in and conveying his own enthusiasm and knowledge. It is broken down into manageable chunks and the listener is never overwhelmed with superfluous information.
As this is an historical text, this question is somewhat irrelevant. There are many, many historical figures described in the book. I do quite like Akhenaten though.
Again, this question isn't applicable to this text.
No! There are 48 lectures, the majority of which are 30 minutes in duration.
The publishers try to maintain the illusion that Professor Brier is talking to a lecture theatre full of students and we are lucky enough to be able to sit in! Alas, this isn't the case and I'm not convinced there is a need for canned applause at the beginning and the end of each lecture.
Professor Brier has a languid delivery which may not be to everyone's taste but I quite liked it. As another reviewer has noted, he does tend to repeat things quite a bit and some of his theories have, since the book was published, proved to be nonsense (the murder of Tutankhamun for instance.)
There are a couple of lectures that I think could have been omitted (magic in Ancient Egypt for instance - unremittingly dull) but, all things considered, this a fantastic and informative set of lectures that I found very interesting.
"It's true - I wish all lectures were like this!"
Having just finished the last of the 48 lectures, I'm a little dazed by the amount I feel I've absorbed! Despite the length, and what you might think is quite a dry subject (no pun intended - in fact one of the things that might surprise you is how afraid the Egyptians were of the desert!) - I actually want to listen again soon and try and memorise every Pharaoh! The facts are presented with just the right amount of fun, of reminding you who is who and what is what, so you're never lost, and with such genuine enthusiasm that you find yourself smiling as you hear about the different 'characters'. The subject is fleshed out beautifully by Professor Brier's asides (obelisks, medicine, mummies - his speciality, though at times when he describes his modern-day experiments, it's not for the faint of heart!) - one of my favourite parts was his description of bringing an obelisk to New York on a budget - and I certainly will never forget his explanation as to how they were carved!
I'm not ashamed to say that I love this narrator, and only wish that other readers could bring to their undoubted knowledge this feeling of companionship!
My first purchase from the Great Courses series was their shorter series, The Historical Jesus - and whilst the subject was interesting, and again, it revealed some historical truths that were at points startling, it didn't have the magic this one did - again, I can only attribute this to narration.
I have not, but certainly would in future! I may in fact go out of my way to find him!
This series makes history manageable - over 3000 years of history (in fact, he does cheekily go back to, if I remember rightly, about 700,000 BC for a while!) in just over 24 hours leaves you not only wiser, but with a profound respect for anyone who would take on the challenge of Egypt's history - let alone those early archaeologists, crawling into collapsed tunnels to discover complexes sometimes more than 130m long, dug into the bedrock, or containing perhaps 150 rooms. And the architecture above ground I couldn't begin to describe here. Maybe if I hint that one temple had columns on the top of which 100 men could stand, you'll want to learn more about this fantastic civilisation.
It's a real ten out of ten listen. Sometimes I'd find out something so amazing, I'd have to call someone just to tell them about it.
Thanks again, professor!
"Good book, bad speaker"
Every ozher book about history, cause I like this stuff.
He is a awful speaker. He can`t right stress the words and sentence. I`m from Germany, and for myself his speaking is hard to understand. Sometimes he is speaking sluggish, than he fired like a bren gun, and most bad: He can`t speak accented and plain. Sorry for the very good text!
Professor Brier shouldn`t speak audiobooks.
"This guy is special!"
YES! No feeble words of mine can express how much I like this series of lectures. Like Egypt? this guy is the best. Nuff said.
Good value first class
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