History of Ancient Egypt

Course No. 350
Professor Bob Brier, Ph.D.
Long Island University
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Course No. 350
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What Will You Learn?

  • Learn the differences between mythology, religion, and philosophy, as well as the role each played in ancient Egypt.
  • Examine what might have changed after Dynasty IV, when the Pharaohs stopped building pyramids.
  • Learn how to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian manner.
  • Explore why Egyptian history was known as a "tale of two cities" during Dynasty XXI.

Course Overview

Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand that our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. Consider time. Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. When the young pharaoh Tutankhamen ruled Egypt, the pyramids of Giza had already been standing well over 1,000 years. When Cleopatra came to power, Tutankhamen had been in his tomb more than 1,000 years.

Consider scale. The only one of the Eight Wonders of the Ancient World still standing, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, was the tallest building in the world until well into the 1800s. It covers 13.5 acres at the base and contains 2.3 million limestone blocks, weighing 5,000 pounds each on average. Tens of thousands of men labored to raise this tomb—but they were not slaves; they were free farmers and artisans. The social organization alone of this project humbles most modern achievements. And it was built in 2550 B.C., roughly 2,000 years before Rome was founded.

Consider its mystery. Egypt was the most advanced of any ancient civilization. Yet, even after deciphering the hieroglyphs, Egypt remains one of the most mysterious. Scarabs, mummies, obelisks, sphinxes—their civilization was extraordinary and yet so "other" from what we live today.

Professor Bob Brier regularly hosts and contributes to programs on ancient Egypt for The History Channel and The Learning Channel. He has served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities "Egyptology Today" Program and has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar. He is also the recipient of the David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence. He is the perfect guide to take you through the tombs, mummies, and history of Egypt.

Professor Brier combines the precision and care of a scientist with a novelist's feel for plot, action, and character. His approach brings together the best that the narrative and scientific schools of history have to offer.

"Professor Brier's style of presentation is as impressive as it is engaging, and combines the skills of a master teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. The History of Ancient Egypt is enthusiastically recommended."

—Harold McFarland, Regional Editor, Midwest Book Review

"In these lectures on ancient Egypt, the enthusiasm of Professor Brier is so infectious, the material chosen so fascinating, and the presentation so pleasant that any adult listener could enrich his knowledge of history with enjoyment."

AudioFile magazine

The Big Picture

In this course, you chronologically survey the full 3,000 years of recorded ancient Egyptian history. Because Egyptian history lasted so long, Egyptologists divide it into three periods called Kingdoms:

  • The Old Kingdom saw the beginnings of nationhood for Egypt under one supreme ruler, the pharaoh. During this time, the pyramids were built and the rules of Egyptian art were established that would govern for 3,000 years.
  • The Middle Kingdom, a period of stabilizing after the Old Kingdom collapsed, saw a nation fighting to regain its greatness.
  • The New Kingdom, the glamour period of ancient Egypt, was when all the stars—Hatshepsut, Tutankhamen, Ramses the Great, Cleopatra, and others—appeared.

Professor Brier begins with a note on his approach.

"To a great extent, the fun of history is in the details. Knowing what kind of wine Tutankhamen preferred makes him come alive.

"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 in the summer, we will feel a kinship with our long-dead counterparts.

"As we wind our way chronologically through 30 centuries of history, we will pause repeatedly to look at the details that make up the big picture."

The Base

The first five lectures are foundational. Professor Brier shows what Egypt was like before writing, how Egyptologists piece together the history of ancient Egypt, and how hieroglyphs were deciphered. These lectures show how Egyptology has been one ongoing detective story—and reveal Napoleon's massive contribution to what we know.

The Old Kingdom

In Lectures 6–10, you see the Egyptians rise to a greatness far surpassing any other people in the Near East, learn of a king who united Egypt by might, and discover a pharaoh who showed Egypt how to build the pyramids.

While you see how the pyramids were built, you learn just what it was that made Egypt great. At the end of these lectures, you see Egypt collapse into a dark age about which little is known, and with Professor Brier, you try to assess what happened.

The Middle Kingdom

Lectures 11–15 discuss Egypt's successful attempt to pull itself together, only to collapse once again. You study heroic kings from the south who battle to unite the country and establish a peace that would last for two centuries—as long as the United States has existed. Then Egypt is invaded by the mysterious people called the Hyksos, as the kings of the south battle Egypt back to greatness. These lectures also look in detail at the Old Testament story of Joseph in Egypt to see what light it might shed on this period.

The New Kingdom

Lectures 16–25 deal with the fabulous Dynasty XVIII, the period of Egypt's greatest wealth and personalities. Examining in-depth the kings and queens of this period, you study:

  • Hatshepsut, the woman who ruled as king and whose history was systematically erased from Egyptian records
  • Akhenaten, the first monotheist—and, arguably, the first individual—in history, who changed the religion of Egypt
  • Tutankhamen, the son of Akhenaten, who became the most famous of Egypt's kings when his undisturbed tomb was discovered in 1922
  • Egyptian medicine and why Egyptian physicians were justly the most famous in the ancient world.

Lectures 26–28 are a brief excursion into Professor Brier's specialty: mummies. You even learn how to make one. You also see that mummies are like books—packed with information—if you know how to read them.

Lectures 29–35 focus on the end of the New Kingdom, the last great epoch of Egyptian history, dominated by Ramses the Great. Professor Brier discusses the unnamed pharaoh of the Exodus, as well as Egyptian magic.

Greatness, but under Greek Rule

Lectures 36–41 recount the invasion of Egypt by a series of conquering peoples, including Nubians, Libyans, and Persians. Professor Brier examines the causes of Egypt's decline and the ways the falling pharaohs reached back 1,500 years to grasp at greatness.

Lectures 42–47 chart the rule of the Ptolemies, Greek kings. This period begins with the conquest of Alexander the Great and ends with Cleopatra. For 200 years, once-mighty Egypt was ruled by kings named Ptolemy, all of whom descended from General Ptolemy, who served under Alexander. These lectures examine what life was like for an Egyptian under the oppressive rule of their Greek masters. And they detail some of the achievements of this period, including the library at Alexandria.

Lecture 48 concludes the series with a summary of Egypt's legacy and suggestions for continuing study.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    What makes ancient Egypt so interesting? How do we know what we know about it? What can you, as a student, expect from these lectures? x
  • 2
    Prehistoric Egypt
    In this lesson, we will see just how old "old" is. The basic divisions of prehistory will be discussed, and each category will be defined and its specific characteristics delineated. Once these categories are clear, we will discuss the difficulties of studying a prehistoric civilization. x
  • 3
    Ancient Egyptian Thought
    What distinguishes mythology, religion, and philosophy from one another? What role did each play in the lives of the ancient Egyptians? x
  • 4
    Napoleon and the Beginnings of Egyptology
    Why does modern Egyptology begin with Napoleon? How was Egypt studied before he and his army arrived with 150 scientists in tow in 1798? How did the monumental Description de l'Egypte that Bonaparte's savants produced become the benchmark for all future publications in the field? x
  • 5
    The Rosetta Stone, and Much More
    The Rosetta Stone is a large granite stela, carved under Ptolemy V and unearthed by French troops in 1799. With inscriptions of the same text in Greek and Egyptian, it provided the key to deciphering the ancient Egyptian language. Learn the four scripts in which ancient Egyptian can be written, as well as the three ways hieroglyphic signs can be used. x
  • 6
    The First Nation in History
    How did Egypt become history's first nation? Once King Narmer unified Upper and Lower Egypt, it took only a few hundred years to build a power that would dominate the Near East for millennia. Learn why the political structure of ancient Egypt made this possible and how the "Narmer Palette" tells this story. x
  • 7
    The Rise of the Old Kingdom
    As Egypt becomes a great nation led by a single all-powerful ruler, traditions arise that will last for millennia: a capital city, separate burial places (and eventually mighty pyramids) for the kings, solar boats for the trip to the next world, and more. x
  • 8
    Sneferu, the Pyramid Builder
    This lecture will present a portrait of the founder of the "Fabulous Fourth" Dynasty, Sneferu. Using trial and error, he figured out how to build a true pyramid. His reign also saw Egypt's blossoming as an international power and the setting of artistic standards that would last for thousands of years. x
  • 9
    The Great Pyramid of Giza
    From leveling the foundation to setting the capstone, here are—as best as we can make out—the "nuts and bolts" of the Egyptians' most literally "monumental" feat: pyramid building. This lecture also discusses the 144-foot solar boat that was found in 1954, buried near the Great Pyramid. x
  • 10
    The End of the Old Kingdom
    After the fantastic achievements of Dynasty IV, something—no one knows what—changed. Pharaohs stopped building pyramids and seem to have adopted sun worship. Dynasty VI resumed pyramid building on a small scale, but the death of its last king plunged Egypt into chaos. x
  • 11
    The First Intermediate Period
    After centuries of power, pyramids, and prosperity, Egypt totally collapsed. Why? A look at this period also shows the methods that Egyptologists use to reconstruct history where the resources are scant. x
  • 12
    The Middle Kingdom—Dynasty XI
    The Middle Kingdom is the story of Egypt's resurrection. Dynasty XI is the dynasty of reunification, slowly bringing Egypt back to unity and greatness. x
  • 13
    The Middle Kingdom—Dynasty XII
    The seven kings of Dynasty XII built pyramids, fostered great literature (often for political purposes), and consolidated power once again in the center. x
  • 14
    The Second Intermediate Period
    Ancient Egypt is the only civilization in history to have been eclipsed twice and bounced back to prominence on both occasions. Dynasties XIII through XVII saw the Middle Kingdom's decline, the advent of foreign rule, and finally, the expulsion of the Hyksos by a heroic prince of Thebes and his two sons at the end of Dynasty XVII. x
  • 15
    Joseph in Egypt
    The Bible describes a lengthy sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt. We examine the Joseph story in the Book of Genesis to see what light Egyptology might shed on its authenticity. x
  • 16
    The Beginning of the New Kingdom—The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty
    Practices we think of as defining ancient Egypt—including the use of a standing army to exact foreign tribute and the burial of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings—have their origins in this seminal period. We will also take a detailed look at what warfare was like in the ancient world. x
  • 17
    Queen Hatshepsut
    One of the greatest individuals in Egyptian history, Hatshepsut appears in no official Egyptian record. When she died, she was "King of Upper and Lower Egypt." How did she handle the three core activities of kingship—building, warfare, and trading expeditions? Why was her name later systematically expunged? x
  • 18
    Obelisks are a purely Egyptian invention. Quarrying, transporting, and erecting one is perhaps an even greater engineering feat than the building of a pyramid. Learn the origins and religious significance of obelisks. x
  • 19
    Tuthmosis III—King At Last
    For 22 years, Tuthmosis III was second fiddle to his aunt Hatshepsut, who ruled as a king although she was a woman. When she died and he ruled by himself, he became one of the greatest military pharaohs Egypt had ever known. Learn what it meant to be a great king by tracing the epic events of his reign. x
  • 20
    The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty Rolls On
    Witness this glorious dynasty continue through two superior pharaohs and then one great one, Amenhotep III, "The Sun King." x
  • 21
    Akhenaten the Heretic Pharaoh
    The most enigmatic and controversial pharaoh in Egypt's history, Akhenaten rocked the pillars of Egyptian society. He may have been the first monotheist and the first "individual" in history. x
  • 22
    The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb
    Unearthed by Howard Carter in 1922, the burial place of this young son of Akhenaten is the only royal tomb to have been found substantially intact. Follow the careful research and planning that led up to Carter's discovery, and learn the significance of the thousands of artifacts found. x
  • 23
    The Murder of Tutankhamen—A Theory
    Was Tutankhamen the victim of foul play? Do his mummified remains hold clues? Who might have wanted him dead, and why? Sift the physical and circumstantial evidence for this intriguing hypothesis and form your own conclusion. x
  • 24
    Medicine—The Necessary Art
    The physicians of Egypt were famous throughout the ancient world. Probe the justification for this fame by examining medical papyri. We will see that there were really two approaches to medicine: clinical and magical. x
  • 25
    The End of Dynasty XVIII
    What happened when a pharaoh died without issue? Find out by looking at three such cases that arose toward the end of Dynasty XVIII. Tutankhamen, Aye, and Horemheb, the last king of the dynasty, left no children. x
  • 26
    Mummification—How We Know What We Know
    Mummification was a trade secret. The Egyptians left no records of how they did it. Detective work is needed, and fortunately, there are four papyri that offer some clues. x
  • 27
    What Mummies Tell Us
    The primary source for figuring out how the Egyptians mummified their dead is the mummies themselves. What distinguishes mummies from the Old Kingdom, the New Kingdom, and the Late Period, respectively? How have Egyptologists reconstructed this ancient art? By the end of this lecture, you will be able to look at a mummy and tell how old it is. x
  • 28
    Making a Modern Mummy
    Here you'll learn how Professor Brier mummified a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian manner to determine how the Egyptian embalmers did it. The purpose of the project was not to make a mummy, but to gain knowledge of the instruments, substances, and surgical procedures used during the process. x
  • 29
    Dynasty XIX Begins
    After three childless pharaohs in a row, Egypt desperately needed stability. Thus, the first pharaoh of Dynasty XIX may have been selected not for his ability, but because of his heirs! x
  • 30
    Ramses the Great—The Early Years
    Ramses the Great ruled for 67 years and was considered one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs. The pillars of his reputation were classic: warfare and building. x
  • 31
    Ramses the Great—The Later Years
    There is a bit of a mystery about Ramses's reign. Its last 40 years were rather sedentary. In considering what might have happened, you will see how a pharaoh with the resources of Ramses prepared himself and his family for the next world. x
  • 32
    The Exodus—Did It Happen?
    The Book of Exodus, so fundamental to the history of the Jewish people, is the section of the Old Testament most closely tied to Egypt. What light can Egyptology shed on the biblical account? x
  • 33
    The Decline of Dynasty XIX
    Short reigns and a lack of major building projects betray the beginnings of Egypt's long slide from greatness. x
  • 34
    Dynasty XX—The Decline Continues
    After Ramses III's brief attempt to restore Egypt's stability, the downward slide continued. Who were the mysterious Sea Peoples? How did they contribute to the weakening of Egypt? x
  • 35
    Ancient Egyptian Magic
    Magic was a central concern of the ancient Egyptians. What were its basic elements and practices? x
  • 36
    Dynasty XXI—Egypt Divided
    Egypt's long slide continued as rival dynasties ruled from Thebes and the Delta. Egyptian history had become "a tale of two cities." x
  • 37
    Dynasty XXII—Egypt United
    Libyans ruled from the Delta city of Bubastis for 200 years and fought to restore Egypt's greatness. During this time, Egypt became involved with the biblical kingdoms of Judah and Israel. In the end, Egypt suffered division once more, but this time the two halves did not fight one another. x
  • 38
    Dynasty XXV—The Nubians Have Their Day
    Nubians had been permitted to grow independent, with their leaders taking the title of pharaoh. They were also devoted to Amun, so in a sense, Egypt was their spiritual home. We will see a warrior from the south (Kush) battling a confederation of Egyptian "kings" and unifying Egypt once again. x
  • 39
    Dynasty XXVI—The Saite Period
    Egypt fell under and then escaped Assyrian control only to face a new menace in the form of Babylon. As if they knew it was the last gasp, the pharaohs of Dynasty XXVI looked back to the Old Kingdom for inspiration. x
  • 40
    Dynasty XXVII—The Persians
    The Greek traveler Herodotus gives three different reasons Persia invaded Egypt. How do his accounts compare with Egyptian records? How did Egypt express its unbending will to be free under this latest group of foreign rulers? x
  • 41
    Dynasties XXVIII to XXXI—The Beginning of the End
    Four very brief dynasties ruled in succession. When the last native-born ruler, Nectanebo II, was forced to flee into Nubia, Egypt's glory was over. x
  • 42
    Alexander the Great
    Alexander the Great began 300 years of Greek control of Egypt. We will trace his extraordinary career as a young general, as pharaoh, and as legendary conqueror. x
  • 43
    The First Ptolemies
    The Greek kings known as the Ptolemies ran Egypt like a business. Taxes were heavy; government was oppressive. There are two great Hellenistic achievements, however: the Pharos Lighthouse and the famed Library of Alexandria. x
  • 44
    The Middle Ptolemies—The Decline
    A TV show about the Middle Ptolemies might well be called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Murderous." With few exceptions, the members of this dysfunctional dynasty were violent, debauched, and generally neglectful of the country they ruled. The Egyptians hated them and frequently rebelled, forcing some to flee for their lives. With each Ptolemy, Egypt sank deeper, making a return to greatness impossible. x
  • 45
    Animal Mummies
    The Ptolemies had a fascination with mummies, especially animal mummies. We will take an in-depth look at the practice of animal mummification, which became a major industry during the Ptolemaic period. x
  • 46
    Cleopatra's Family
    For a Ptolemy, dodging assassination by one's own kin was often the hardest part of ruling. Learn how Cleopatra's father managed this task, and trace the course of Egypt's growing—and ultimately fatal—interaction with the rising power of Rome. x
  • 47
    Cleopatra—The Last Ptolemy
    Although Cleopatra is one of the most famous women who ever lived, she remains an enigma—we don't even know her mother's name. History is written by the victors, and Cleopatra lost. Can ancient records help fill out her story? x
  • 48
    The Grand Finale
    This last lecture crowns the course by briefly summarizing 3,000 years of Egyptian history; outlining Egypt's legacy to us; surveying images of Egypt in film and literature; and listing ways you can pursue your interest in this remarkable civilization. Your learning needn't stop here! x

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  • Download 48 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
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  • 48 lectures on 8 DVDs
  • 172-page printed course guidebook
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  • 172-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Hieroglyph Alphabet
  • Suggested readings

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Your professor

Bob Brier

About Your Professor

Bob Brier, Ph.D.
Long Island University
Dr. Bob Brier is an Egyptologist and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Hunter College and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Brier has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar and has received Long Island University's David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his achievements as a...
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Also By This Professor


History of Ancient Egypt is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 275.
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great teacher. 1999 copyright is too old. The prof for this series is great - enthusiastic, engaging. 1999 copyright is too old. Needs an update. Lots has happened in Egyptology in the last 19 years. The teacher is still around. Just get a couple of "update " lectures instead of redoing the whole series
Date published: 2018-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastic, engaging instructor Dr. Brief is obviously fascinated by his subject, and he communicates this well. Each half hour talk teaches me something new. If you are interested in ancient Egypt get this course.
Date published: 2018-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great In-Depth Look at Ancient Egypt Professor Brier is an engaging expert on Ancient Egypt and, indeed, his skill as a lecturer is one of the reasons I bought this course. From the mythology and geography to mummification and medicine, this course is a great comprehensive history of ancient Egypt. The course contained images and maps when needed (I am not a specialist in Egyptian history). I should mention that this is not the most up-to-date in terms of presentation: the technology is a little dated. With that being said, do not let that dissuade you from an otherwise excellent series of lectures presented by a dedicated Egyptologist.
Date published: 2018-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great -- but needs a 2nd Edition Not much more needs to be said by me that all the 4- and 5-star reviews haven't already said. I don't know when TGC started making video courses rather than audio, but this was done in 1999 and the video quality shows its age. The studio is SO dark. It doesn't detract from in information, it just looks like it was their first foray in to video production. I'm sure making a second edition of a 48-lecture series is a big undertaking, but it could use a freshening up. That's the only reason I didn't give it an overall rating of 5.
Date published: 2018-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorites from the Teaching Company I have listened to over a dozen different courses and counting. This one is top 3! I think I can go to the Met Museum in NYC and actually have a clue now when looking at Ancient Egypt. This one is long, 48 lectures...but then so is 3500+ years of history. I would like to see the final couple lectures refreshed to reflect new discoveries.
Date published: 2018-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top notch instructor Professor Brier makes the ancient history of Egypt come alive.
Date published: 2018-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr Brier is great I took Dr Brier’s Great Course in how to read Hyroglyphs, and that convinced me that this course would a good idea, since I was planning a trip to see Ancient Egyptian sites. My wife and I are binge watching, and enjoying every lecture.
Date published: 2018-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very engaging and educational Dr. Bob Brier is a most enthusiastic and capable lecturer. His expertise is simply amazing. He is not just an academic. He has actually been there, done that and has brought back the t-shirt (and what a t-shirt) to share with us. I could write pages about the course. If you have any interest in Ancient Egypt this is the course to take. Definitely buy it in a visual format. One short caveat, if you have already taken the “Great Pharaohs” course, parts one and two of this course have some duplicate material but parts three and four really swing.
Date published: 2018-02-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring The lecturer is not a specialist, he has a Ph. D. in... Philosophy. As for Egypt, he is just a story-teller. Lots of calories, no protein.
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent lecture series! I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this lecture series. The speaker is very engaging and I almost can’t wait to go to work so I can listen more!
Date published: 2018-02-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from This guys repeats himself to no end. To no end The lecturer repeats himself to no end. To no end. He says something and then he says it again. Says it again.
Date published: 2018-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting Course After a two week trip to Egypt in October, I returned with a desire to deepen my knowledge and understand of the history of this great civilization. I looked up the courses available in the Great Courses menu and found the "History of Ancient Egypt" with Professor Bob Brier. Although I have not yet finished all lessons I am extremely happy with the program. Professor Brier is not just knowledgeable on the subject but also very passionate about it. His style is very natural an convincing.
Date published: 2017-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought this course because I was merely mildly curious about Ancient Egypt. Now I am almost obsessed, due mainly to this Professor's enthusiasm and ability to communicate that to me. I was fascinated by almost everything he had to say and some of the individual lectures are little masterpieces in their own right. They have transformed my experience of visiting museums. I can get to Oxford's Ashmolean and the British Museum in London and the experience of visiting them is totally different now I understand so much of what I am looking at. This course is a tremendous achievement and I have already bought half a dozen books to continue my interest on Egypt.
Date published: 2017-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of Egypt Great course! Professor makes it come alive! Very happy I bought this course
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A little biased I have been watching this and enjoyed his knowledge. My issue is in requires to his labeling israel as Palestine even when there was no Palestine. If you dont mind feeling israel is written off the map or that this is some sort of bds advocate then i would recommend it
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of Ancient Egypt Outstanding! Bob is able to get useful and interesting information across to the "students". I wouldn't take it in audio mode -- the pictures are too interesting to miss.
Date published: 2017-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best I purchased this course several months and have been captivated by Ancient Egypt ever since. Dr. Brier presents the material in an interesting and comprehensive way and clearly has an obsession with the subject. I couldn't recommend this course more strongly, even if you have a passing curiosity of the subject. I am a big fan of Great Courses and have enjoyed many of their offerings. This course is by far my favorite.
Date published: 2017-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging anecdotes My spouse and I have been taking this course together. We are learning with fascination starting with the earliest history of this part of the world.
Date published: 2017-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Appropriate for the topics covered We are using the course as a follow up to our trip to Egypt this year. Dr. Brier makes following the chronology of 3000 years of Egyptian history less confusing than it was while visiting multiple temples and tombs. I like his style ... more story teller than lecturer. I wish you as producer and he would add more visuals to his lectures. Charts, pictures, drawings, etc would add to his lecture. Since this course is approaching 20 years old, an update-supplement based on recent findings would add to the contents.
Date published: 2017-04-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not everyting he teaches is "fact" I've been studying Ancient Egypt most of my life, and have spent many recent years looking for and trying to understand many alternative ideas. While this course has been mostly fun and enjoyable, if I was a student in this lecture, I would have been ousted because I asked too many questions. Several things he noted as fact as ONLY only of several possibilities, and I was very disappointed he would not teach it as such. He also skipped over many things that should have been discussed to disprove some of what he seemed 100% sure was true. Any good teacher would never teach ideas as fact. I finally stopped watching because I couldn't interject to ask him specifics of his theories or about one of a dozen things that didn't fit into his straight historical lines. If you don't know anything about Egyptian history, this will probably be enjoyable but the truth is, had I signed up for, and attended it in person, he would have been tired of me asking him for further proof an d if he didn't kick me out for being a free thinker, I would have eventually just stopped going.
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course Great teacher, and great course, except that I wish secular teachers would keep their noses out of theology. There is no way, Biblically, that Ramses II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus!
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and Entertaining! I absolutely love this course. Dr. Bob Brier aka "Mr. Mummy" is such a thoughtful, insightful teacher. He is an expert Egyptologist and really knows his stuff. I learned so much about more obscure periods like the Middle Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period. Documentaries on these particular eras are scarce. He goes into great detail on the Silver Pharaoh (one of my favorites) and also the Libyan and Nubian dynasties. I also appreciate his balanced and fair approach to the story of Joseph and the Exodus from the Bible. He has an open mind unlike many others, particularly the theologians on the history channel who just write off the possible historical ties to these myths entirely. He also addresses controversial issues like afro-centrism and euro-centrism in a very delicate and considerate manor. Bob Brier has a great sense of humor and makes the course so accessible to the non-specialist, like myself. He is so smart yet humble and upbeat. Lots of positive energy.Thank you Dr. Brier.
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable and informative I had for decades been curious about hieroglyphs. I finally splurged and bought Prof. Brier's course on it, even though I can't imagine any practical applications I would have for it. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Prof. Brier's enthusiasm for ancient Egypt was evident and contagious. When I saw that he had a highly recommended set of 48 lectures on the history of Egypt, I knew I had to have it. I'm now in the middle of lecture 33 and am practically binge watching them. Sure, I supplement the lectures with some digging of my own on certain topics or to cement some dates, but his approach focuses on easy-to-remember people and trends rather than dates, and I think that keeps the whole thing moving. I am thoroughly enjoying the course.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Presentation just draws me in ... over and over Professor Brier's enthusiasm for Egyptian history makes this course interesting to listen to even if history isn't your 'thing'. I have listened to this series over and over always hearing something new and fascinating about Egypt's peoples.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Ancient Egypt is always a fascinating subject, but the depth of knowledge shown and the captivating way Professor Brier presents his material kept me interested for the two months it took me to complete the audio recordings. I am only saddened I didn't have the DVD or additional materials. However, his passion can clearly be heard. I love how he presented ideas and theories, some of his own, but remained objective. His goal was to educate the class and challenge them to think but to allow them to think on their own and come up with their own conclusions with the information provided.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Solidly Good Course on 3,000 Years of History 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 archeological 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! Pluses: • 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) Minuses: • 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.
Date published: 2017-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course I just read a review by Blink who said he picked up this course because he was planning on going to Egypt in Nov 2016. Well, ditto. I also am going to Egypt in November 2016 and bought this course for a quick brush up. Perhaps we'll meet. It's a fascinating history and Bob tells the story so well. It's done chronologically with each lecture generally covering a dynasty (if not too much is know) or a particular topic. For example, there are several lectures on Ramses the Great and one on Tutankhamen, but the 2nd intermediate period which has several dynasties is one lecture. There are also interesting breaks in the chronology with topics such as Egyptian art and mummification. So if you are planning to go to Egypt and want a great overview this is the course. But there is one caveat, Dr. Brier wants to present everything as if there is one answer. He states his belief about it and tends to rule out other interpretations. That's not great scholarship, in my opinion, so please consider this course only an introduction. There are many interpretations to much of what is said. Other than that, this is a great course and perfect for my needs. I also learned to write my name in hieroglyphs (although some of the letters in my name don't exist in ancient Egyptian). Dr Brier's course in hieroglyphs is an excellent companion course although I haven't finished that yet. In fact, the hieroglyphs course has much better graphics. You probably would not miss much if you did this course as an audio course.
Date published: 2016-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable course I am planning to go to Egypt in early November 2016 and I have never been to such a foreign country! Understandably I was a little anxious/apprehensive. When I saw this course on the Great Courses catalogue, it seemed like I just had to purchase and view it. I learned something from the very first half hour and each video makes you want to learn more. I am now very excited to go to Egypt having some background knowledge on its ancient history. Thank you, Professor Brier, for sharing your knowledgeable expertise and for making it so interesting.
Date published: 2016-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't stop binge-watching this course A truly great course, masterfully presented by prof. Brier.
Date published: 2016-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Perfect I can't praise this series enough, I was never interested in Ancient History until I took an ancient history community college course back around 2007. I became very interested in Ancient Egypt coming out of that course and wanted to learn more than I could get from the standard TV documentaries on egypt which are hyped up and provide about 2 minutes of detail during a 60 minute show. This series really provided. I bought it several years ago and first enjoyed it then, I am coming out of my second playthrough watching and felt I should write a review. Spending nearly 50 hours watching these series should show just how good they are. If I had to complain it would be that the series is a little dated, and occasionally I have had trouble with the playback (like odd audio pops and quality transitions) But as for the content, not a whole lot of new discoveries have been made since this series aired and it is still 99%+ relevant and valid even now in 2016.
Date published: 2016-08-28
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