Sir Gardner Wilkinson and His Circle

Overview

Following in the footsteps of Napoleon's army, Europeans invaded Egypt in the early nineteenth century to gaze in wonder at the massive, inscrutable remains of its ancient civilizations. One of these travelers was a twenty-four-year-old Englishman, John Gardner Wilkinson. His copious observations of ancient and modern Egyptian places, artifacts, and lifeways, recorded in such widely read publications as Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians and Handbook for Travellers in Egypt, made him the leading early ...

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Sir Gardner Wilkinson and His Circle

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Overview

Following in the footsteps of Napoleon's army, Europeans invaded Egypt in the early nineteenth century to gaze in wonder at the massive, inscrutable remains of its ancient civilizations. One of these travelers was a twenty-four-year-old Englishman, John Gardner Wilkinson. His copious observations of ancient and modern Egyptian places, artifacts, and lifeways, recorded in such widely read publications as Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians and Handbook for Travellers in Egypt, made him the leading early Victorian authority on ancient Egypt and paved the way for thc scientific study of Egyptology.

In this first full-scale biography of Wilkinson (1797-1875), Jason Thompson skillfully portrays both the man and his era. He follows Wilkinson during his initial sojourn in Egypt (1821-1833) as Wilkinson immersed himself in a contemporary Egyptian lifestyle and in study of its ancient past. He shows Wilkinson in his circle of friends—among them Edward William Lane, Robert Hay and Frederick Catherwood. And he traces how Wilkinson continued to use his Egyptian material in the decades following his return to England.

With the rise of professional Egyptology in the middle and later nineteenth century, Sir Gardner Wilkinson came to be viewed as an amateur and his popularity diminished. Drawing upon recently opened sources, Thompson returns Wilkinson to his rightful place within centuries of Egyptian scholarship and assesses both the vision and the limitations of his work. The result is a compelling portrait of a Victorian "gentleman-scholar" and his cultural milieu.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the History of Archaeology - Richard B. Woodbury
Thompson's fine biography of Gardner Wilkinson has a dual value—bringing attention to the largely forgotten life and accomplishments of a pioneer in Egyptian studies and casting a vivid light on the aims and practices of early nineteenth century scholars, as they moved from antiquarianism to archaeology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292754843
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2013
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 The Origins of an Egyptologist 1
2 The Origins of Egyptology 12
3 Egypt 31
4 Life in Cairo and a Trip into the Eastern Desert 44
5 More Explorations: Geographic, Antiquarian, and Hieroglyphic 62
6 British Colleagues in Egypt 82
7 Life among the Tombs 100
8 "One Seems Tied Down to It for Life" 115
9 England Again 129
10 Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians 141
11 Sir Gardner Wilkinson 160
12 A Gentleman Scholar 182
13 Brynfield 207
Epilogue 221
Appendix: A Note on the Wilkinson Manuscripts 227
Notes 229
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