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Wonderful ThingsA History of Egyptology: 1: From Antiquity to 1881$
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Jason Thompson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789774165993

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774165993.001.0001

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Ancient Egypt in the Renaissance

Ancient Egypt in the Renaissance

(p.57) 3 Ancient Egypt in the Renaissance
Wonderful Things

Jason Thompson

American University in Cairo Press

Although the Renaissance is intimately associated with the discovery, application, and reinterpretation of the forms of classical antiquity, the recovery of classical antiquity also brought with it ancient Egypt, and strong Egyptian threads ran through Renaissance culture. While attempts to decipher the hieroglyphs made scant progress, Latin and Greek scholarship made major advances that were prerequisites to the recovery of Egyptian antiquity by making available the works of Herodotus, Ammianus Marcellinus, Horapollo, and the highly influential Hermes Trismegistus. Obelisks were uncovered, re-erected, and studied, pointing the way back to ancient Egypt. Western travel to Egypt became more frequent, as did their travel accounts, including several serious scholarly surveys. Mummies were mined for their supposed medicinal properties. The Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher, though baffled in his energetic efforts to decipher the hieroglyphs, contributed substantially to Coptic studies which would be an essential element in the recovery of the ancient Egyptian language.

Keywords:   Renaissance, Humanism, Ammianus Marcellinus, Horapollo, Hermes Trismegistus, obelisks, Pietro della Valle, Johann Michael Wansleben, Athanasius Kircher

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