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The destruction of Ancient Egyptian antiquity

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  1. Introduction
  2. The attempts to bring the head depicting Ramesses II back to Europe
  3. Belzoni's experiences
  4. Major events and players who have shaped the face of Egyptology
  5. Fagan's argument
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

The chapter ?The Destruction of the Pharaohs? discusses how much of the heritage of the pharaohs was destroyed by tomb robbers and casual tourism. As the pharaohs were laid in their tombs with considerable wealth, the first tomb robbers were contemporary Egyptians themselves. Later, tourists would be responsible for much of the destruction of the remnants of the civilization they were seeking to catch a glimpse of: ?Egyptology became a fashionable subject or the wealthy and curious?.

Herodotus is discussed in ?The Father of History and the First Tourists.? Even during Herodotus' time, the Egyptians civilization was considered to be remarkable, powerful, and stable. Herodotus was respected during his time as well, and though his standards don't measure up to modern standards, ?A mass of information and misinformation resulted from Herodotus' leisurely journey?, the writings on Egypt do allow a certain amount of insight into the ancient culture, at least how it was viewed by an outside civilization.

[...] The chapter describes a tomb that Belzoni found that later turned out to be the tomb of Sethy who was the father of Ramesses II. The tomb had been robbed previously, but there were paintings and an alabaster sarcophagus which was different from what had previously been seen by European archaeologists. ?Pyramidical Brains? finds Belzoni wishing to return to the Valley of Kings, though he was short on money and his wife was tiring of the Nile and wished to see Jerusalem. [...]

[...] Eventually Mohammed Ali published an ordinance banning all removal of Egyptian antiquities at the behest of Jean Francois Champollion pleas, though unfortunately the ordinance was hardly enforceable and did little to curb collectors. ?There is One More Powerful Than discusses those who followed Champollion who helped to legitimize and found Egyptology, curbing the outright pillaging of various sites and helping in the deciphering of hieroglyphics and the keeping of better records. John Gardner Wilkinson and Robert Hay were two such men who were interested in the preservation of Egyptian artifacts. [...]

[...] The second section of the book, as it concentrates mostly on Belzoni, drags out a bit as it goes into minute detail about the expeditions. It is important, though, to follow the precise patterns that Belzoni established as there were so many to follow him. The general readability of the book is good, though it tends to be rather dry at times. There are extensive details given which can to an extent be overwhelming, though this helps to give a clearer picture of the subject matter. [...]

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