The Mummy and Napoleon

To be quite honest, I get the question “Why are you studying anthropology anyway?” or “So what are you going to do with that” a lot now that I have been in school for a while.  As unrealistic as it would be for me, I would love to go to Egypt and study its history and the archeological sites.  Before I decided to major in anthropology I was always fascinated with Egypt and its history.  I loved all the movies or TV shows and series that were about treasure hunters and Egypt.  As bad of an actor Brendan Fraser is, I was a sucker for The Mummy or The Scorpion King.  Now that I have taken more classes and especially after this lecture I realize most of what directors and producers embellish on the history and actual events and glorified the fact that their characters were robbing the country or “the rapping of Egypt”.  I can believe people would see Egypt’s commercial potential.  It had not only biblical and religious but “new world” appeals as well.

I did not realize Napoleon played as important of a role as he did before today’s lecture.  I also learned he had an interest in Egypt’s history.  Because he brought a variety of historians, artists and scientists, we have documents and sketches of the Nile Valley and the sites surrounding it.  These documentations and pictures were then turned into the Description de LEgypt.  It is a good thing Napoleon had such an interest because all that information might not have carried through over the years like it has and we wouldn’t know what we do.

In a way it makes me sad to think of how much history and culture has been lost to antiquarians and treasure hunters.  But at the same time I think we know quite a bit about this ancient civilization compared to others which history has been completely lost.

1 thought on “The Mummy and Napoleon

  1. I had a similar discussion about Egypt’s history being “robbed” as well. I can definitely see where you are coming from because I too am a very huge fan of films and tv shows that are centered around Egyptian history, and I also enjoy the idea of someday traveling to Egypt to visit monuments and archaeological sites. I am undoubtedly a fan of the film, The Mummy Returns myself. So I can definitely see how the history kind of gets lost and altered once the entertainment world gets their hands on it.
    With that being said, I can agree that I dismissed the importance of Napoleon throughout Egypt’s history. A lot of his work gets slipped under the radar, I feel, when he is portrayed in films etc. His publication of Description de l’Egypte is absolutely fascinating and I find it rather ingenious. The detailed sketches/drawings were really cool and I am glad we got to skim through it during class. It is also a good thing to have because we are able to see what certain places looked like before temples, like Abu Simbel, were moved. In addition, the book also features drawings of people, so it is a pretty good resource to have for ethnographic purposes as well.

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