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
#1 Breaking Benjamin Fan
I don't normally write reviews on anything, but this was more then worthy. If you have a love for history, and especially ancient Egypt, you need to listen to this.
Dr. Brier does an amazing job at covering Egypt from the beginning (Narmer, and even a bit earlier) until the Roman era. This "book" is actually a series of lectures and Dr. Brier does an amazing job at bringing the characters to life. By the end you really start to feel like you have an idea who these people really were. I definitely have a deeper respect and level of admiration for the Ancient Egyptians.
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!
• 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)
• 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.
My wife and I planned a trip to Egypt and wanted to try and get a handle on the history before we went. This course fully prepared us for the trip and we got so much more from the sites and places we visited. We were able to talk to our guides about details of what we were seeing an not just the basic "how old is this thing." The guides loved that we knew some history and they really opened up. They also know of prof Bob Brier and studied his work in their classes. The lectures are awesome, Prof Bob does a great job bringing the history to life.
If you are interested in Egypt's history, this is a great, bite-sized place to start (or refresh).
I call it the Egyptian History Anabolic Steroid because, it's going to pump up a lot of Egyptian history into you in a very short amount of time.
1. Bob Brier.
2. Covers most aspects of Egyptian history without you getting bored.
3. The voice, accent and the vocabulary is such that it can he enjoyable to listen by any person who knows English across the continents.
1. You will hear your Mom/Wife complain you should not keep your earphones in throughout the day.
2. You will not be able to concentrate much on your work.
3. You will search for more audio books by Great Courses and end up burning a hole in your pocket.
Professor Bob Brier
Very passionate about subject.
After listening to Prof Brier, I decided to rent 3D documentary Mummies: Secrets on the Pharaohs. Halfway through the documentary guess who shows up? It's Bob Brier! I also recommend you watch this documentary in 3D. I felt like i visited the pyramids already after listening to this book and watching the documentary. All this without even leaving my home. Sure beats the hassle out of traveling to Egypt.
I really enjoyed this course as a thorough exploration of Egypt's incredible history. Professor Brier organizes the course to take you through the chronological history while also taking nice side detours on interesting topics about the Egyptians (hieroglyphs, mummies, etc). Highly recommend the course for anyone that is interested in the learning more about this incredible civilization and its influence on the world. Thanks Professor Brier!
These lectures are a complete masterpiece, start to finish. Incredibly organized, in a chronological order with a few fascinating side trips, this not only gave me a satisfying amount of information on the subject, but also ignited a new found passion for ancient history.
The depth of Bob Brier's knowledge and passion is truly nothing less of inspiring. He is meticulous when it comes to the smallest details, and that served to breathe real life into the characters he was describing, as well as create detailed descriptions of specific times, scenes from ancient history.
Detailed, coherent story from the beginning to the end, I believe this is a must not only for someone like myself, an amateur history enthusiast, but for a more seasoned scholar as well.
Excellent, course. The professor repeats himself about every 20 or so seconds so that becomes irritating pretty quickly. The content is very well organized and presented. Piqued my interest for sure.
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