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The History of Ancient Egypt | [The Great Courses]

The History of Ancient Egypt

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.
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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."

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

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  •  
    Nassir Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 07-09-13
    Nassir Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 07-09-13 Member Since 2005
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    "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.

    23 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Travis Greene Monroe, NC 09-27-13
    Travis Greene Monroe, NC 09-27-13 Member Since 2013
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    "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.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Philadelphia, PA, United States 09-18-13
    Emily Philadelphia, PA, United States 09-18-13 Member Since 2010
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    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Rancho Cordova, CA 09-07-13
    Michael Rancho Cordova, CA 09-07-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Earth Shattering"
    What did you love best about The History of Ancient Egypt?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the use of historical data to speculate on daily life or personalities.


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

    He talks to you like he really LOVES Kmt (Egypt for the unlearned ;P) and does so in a very friendly way.


    Any additional comments?

    This Audiobook touched me and left me a little misty when the instructor signed off. I didn't want it to end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bernica BRYANT, AR, United States 08-25-13
    Bernica BRYANT, AR, United States 08-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Worth the time"

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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mohammed Albany, CA, United States 08-20-13
    Mohammed Albany, CA, United States 08-20-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Unlike any course you will ever take!"
    Would you listen to The History of Ancient Egypt again? Why?

    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.


    What did you like best about this 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.


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

    I've seen him on various television documentaries on ancient Egypt.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    We are all ancient Egyptians!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brian SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA, United States 08-13-13
    brian SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA, United States 08-13-13 Member Since 2012
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    "An amazing storyteller!"
    If you could sum up The History of Ancient Egypt in three words, what would they be?


    Any additional comments?

    Prof Bob Brier obviously knows his stuff, but what sets him apart in this series of lectures is how deeply he draws you into the characters and stories of Ancient Egypt.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken new york, NY, United States 04-18-14
    Ken new york, NY, United States 04-18-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Brings Egypt to life"
    What did you love best about The History of Ancient Egypt?

    Lots of great information presented in an entertaining and easy to digest manner.


    What did you like best about this story?

    There were so many stories with multiple interpretations allowing you to make up your own mind.


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

    Prof. Bob Brier is a passionate storyteller about Egypt. He makes history fun to listen to. You get the sense of sitting around a fire while your uncle who happens to be an amazing historian regales you with ancient tales of Egypt.


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

    I'd like to but not quite possible since it's 24 hours long. It's a very fast 24 hours though.


    Any additional comments?

    This rekindled my love of Egyptian history. I visited some Egyptian collections here in NYC after listening to this and the carvings and paintings seemed to come to life as the stories replayed in my head. Highly recommend this to any fans of Egyptian history or history in general.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hyrum Orem, UT, United States 04-18-14
    Hyrum Orem, UT, United States 04-18-14 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great History of Ancient Egypt"
    Would you listen to The History of Ancient Egypt again? Why?

    yes, very interesting author know his stuff and is excited about it


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    King tut


    Which character – as performed by Professor Bob Brier – was your favorite?

    only 1 character


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

    the end


    Any additional comments?

    Very interesting and comprehensive author doesn't repeat himself though and keeps the subject interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L'Ara Centreville, VA, United States 04-18-14
    L'Ara Centreville, VA, United States 04-18-14 Member Since 2010

    I am losing my eyesight. Always been an avid reader but had to stop reading. So gave audio a try. Took me awhile; now I love listening best!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This Lecturer is not worth time/credit!"

    I love listening to the great courses. We expected the Ancient Egypt course to be great, as the history is so rich.
    However this lecturer was very disappointing. My husband and I, both ardent listeners to the various courses, and we love to learn more deeply about many subjects from linguistics to history to ... well, see the Course list! We listen with great interest to many of the various lectures... we got hooked when some of them were offered in a BOGO sale. The best for us was the History of Language, what an engaging speaker. However the lecturer ron Egypt, though an expert in his field, repeats almost everything he says, and truly does not seem to have a high regard for his audience. I must say that he has a great love of his subject that shines through, but he loses his audience, or at least he did at my house, with too many self-important opinions that seemed to us to come off as some sort of inside snide statements. He is bothersome to listen to for all those hours, which we have not minded at all in most of the other Courses. We couldn't actually finish it because it was just too much of an ego trip for him, perhaps, and some of the lectures were not substantitive or interesting. We don't suggest at all that you give up on the Great Courses series. There are very many we have listened to with joy and discovery. We don't recommend the Medical Myths one, scary bad) but many others that we recommend, with the best being the History of Language course due to the lecturer.. So far, of the many that we have so enjoyed,the faults of those two have very much more to do with the lecturer than his subject. Good luck! Hope this helps. L'Ara & John

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 25 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • A Manning
    London
    10/18/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jamie Wilkins
    Frome, United Kingdom
    4/20/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Informative and accessible"
    What made the experience of listening to The History of Ancient Egypt the most enjoyable?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Bob Brier – was your favourite?

    Again, this question isn't applicable to this text.


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

    No! There are 48 lectures, the majority of which are 30 minutes in duration.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • FM Veteran
    UK
    4/16/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jodie
    Baldock, United Kingdom
    2/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It's true - I wish all lectures were like this!"
    What did you like most about The History of Ancient Egypt?

    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!


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

    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.


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

    I have not, but certainly would in future! I may in fact go out of my way to find him!


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bernd
    Kassel, Germany
    11/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good book, bad speaker"
    Would you try another book written by The Great Courses or narrated by Professor Bob Brier?

    No.


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

    Every ozher book about history, cause I like this stuff.


    What didn’t you like about Professor Bob Brier’s performance?

    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!


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Professor Brier shouldn`t speak audiobooks.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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