Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs

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Overview

The world has always been fascinated with ancient Egypt. When the Romans conquered Egypt, it was really Egypt that conquered the Romans. Cleopatra captivated both Caesar and Marc Antony and soon Roman ladies were worshipping Isis and wearing vials of Nile water around their necks. What is it about ancient Egypt that breeds such obsession and imitation? Egyptomania explores the burning fascination with all things Egyptian and the events that fanned the flames—from ancient times, to Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, to...

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Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs

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Overview

The world has always been fascinated with ancient Egypt. When the Romans conquered Egypt, it was really Egypt that conquered the Romans. Cleopatra captivated both Caesar and Marc Antony and soon Roman ladies were worshipping Isis and wearing vials of Nile water around their necks. What is it about ancient Egypt that breeds such obsession and imitation? Egyptomania explores the burning fascination with all things Egyptian and the events that fanned the flames—from ancient times, to Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, to the Discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb by Howard Carter in the 1920s. For forty years, Bob Brier, one of the world’s foremost Egyptologists, has been amassing one of the largest collections of Egyptian memorabilia and seeking to understand the pull of ancient Egypt on our world today. In this original and groundbreaking book, with twenty-four pages of color photos from the author's collection, he explores our three-thousand-year-old fixation with recovering Egyptian culture and its meaning. He traces our enthrallment with the mummies that seem to have cheated death and the pyramids that seem as if they will last forever. Drawing on his personal collection — from Napoleon's twenty-volume Egypt encyclopedia to Howard Carter’s letters written from the Valley of the Kings as he was excavating — this is an inventive and mesmerizing tour of how an ancient civilization endures in ours today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Mr. Brier is proficient at elucidating Egyptology, and his passion is so sincere and good-humored that his book is rather charming.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Egyptomania does a good job of tracing the chronology with which Egypt fever caught on." —The New York Times

“A lively account combining history and popular culture with guidelines for possible future collectors.”   —Kirkus Reviews

“Obelisk-envy, international politics, psychology and the mania generated by the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb all appear, broken into readable chunks by amusing subheadings and illustrations. [Egyptomania] is enjoyable and informative - everything one could want from a history book.” —Press Association Review, UK

“This is a delightful romp through key formative events that shaped our popular passion for all things ancient Egyptian. Bob Brier's always entertaining style keeps the pace moving, yet manages to inform and educate with historical context as well. Not many scholars today can write with equal comfort about Napoleon's invasion and King Tut's Party Mix, the harrowing tale of towing an obelisk to London and ‘Cleopatra had a Jazz Band’." —Peter Der Manuelian, Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology, Harvard University            

“Ancient Egypt has captivated people from Caesar to Cher and this entertaining and highly readable account by television’s “ Mr. Mummy,” Bob Brier is an informative and engaging overview of the subject.  From its engaging forward by none other than Egypt’s premier archaeologist, Zahi Hawass to its discussion of the “King Tut” exhibition, Egyptomania chronicles every aspect of the subject including cigarette packs, Boris Karloff and the thrilling and sometimes harrowing efforts to move the great obelisks.” —Dr. Peter Lacovara, Senior Curator, Carlos Museum, Emory University

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-28
A leading Egyptologist explains how a 4,000-year-old culture continues to fascinate. Brier (Senior Research Fellow/Long Island Univ.; The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery, 2009, etc.), known as "Mr. Mummy," contends that ancient Egypt excites people in ways no other country can, possibly due to the age, monuments like the pyramids, mummified rulers or something less concrete. When asked for their greatest attractions, he writes, nearly all museum curators will answer, "Egypt and dinosaurs." Brier is an expert on mummies and mummification and also collects objects associated with ancient Egypt. Some, like the letters Howard Carter, the discoverer of Tutankhamen's tomb, sent his sponsor, Lady Amherst, are close to his professional expertise. Others, like the packaging for Kamut breakfast cereal or sheet music for songs like "Old King Tut was a Wise Old Nut" or "Cleopatra had a Jazz Band," reflect more of the popular interest exploited by marketers and entertainers. Brier became convinced that there is a kind of stratification in the production of these mass-market objects that is related to the different phases of the growth of knowledge of ancient Egypt. In the modern era, the beginning is marked by Napoleon's ill-fated invasion and the first large-scale scientific expedition. The author shows how the transport of three obelisks--to France, Britain and the United States--in the 19th century shaped a culture in which coverage by news media heated up public enthusiasm for all things Egyptian. There followed dinner sets, ladies' fashion accessories, sheet music and hit songs, and movies about mummies. Brier is sure that the fascination will continue. A lively account combining history and popular culture with guidelines for possible future collectors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137278609
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/12/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 233,257
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Brier, known as Mr. Mummy, is a Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University/LIU Post and the author of eight books, including The Murder of Tutankhamen. He has conducted pioneering research in mummification practices and has investigated some of the world’s most famous mummies, including King Tut, Lenin, Ramses the Great, Evita, and the Medici family of Renaissance Italy. He has conducted research in pyramids and tombs in 15 countries and was the host of several award-winning television specials for TLC, including the blockbuster series Pyramids, Mummies & Tombs and Mummy Detective. In 2010 National Geographic TV presented his documentary "Secret of the Great Pyramid." A contributing editor to Archaeology Magazine, he also writes articles for many other magazines, including Smithsonian, and KMT. He lives in the Bronx, NY.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 29, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Egyptomania rises again and again in history like some mummies t

    Egyptomania rises again and again in history like some mummies that never die. Europe gorged itself on the wave of discoveries made in Napoleon's time and again when King Tutankhamen's tomb was discovered. All this makes for a most readable and informative book by the master mummy unwrapper, Bob Brier, in real life a serious and dedicated Egyptologist, who obviously had great fun writing this book.  Bob Brier tells us all the secrets involved in the evolution of this craziness and provides some great color photos of the range of decorations. Our fascination with ancient Egypt pops up in the strangest places, souvenirs, films, plays, operas, candy, cigarettes, ashtrays, cigar boxes and most spectacular of all the Egyptian obelisks that transformed Place de la Concorde, and provide panache to special places in Central Park and the Thames Embankment. 

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