MES 310 • Introduction to Ancient Egypt
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
This course is for the beginner. There are no pre-requisites other than a fascination for what has always seemed mysterious and powerful. We shall explore the most important chapters of Egypt's story, beginning with what is known of the pre-historical period from 13,000 B.C. down to the Neolithic and Pre-Dynastic era, 6,000 to 4,000 B.C. We shall then study the Old Kingdom, its first dynasties, monuments, personalities, culture, development of the hieroglyphic system, earliest mythological traditions (3100 to 2125 B.C.). The same inclusive review of language, culture, and history will be presented for the Middle Kingdom (2125 to 1550 B.C.) and New Kingdom (1550 to 1069 B.C.) In every instance we shall compare the Egyptian way of thinking with the cultural styles of the major Near Eastern civilizations. It will be particularly instructive to discover the ways in which Egyptian traditions were altered as we move down through the centuries. A startling example is the transformation of Set from a captain of Ra in the Old Kingdom who drove off the underworld Serpent to a base deceiver in the New Kingdom, or of Osiris, a disturbingly powerful force among the Dead in the Old Kingdom, into a more welcoming "St. Peter" in King Tut's funeral chamber (New Kingdom).
Grading: Three Examinations, each counting 33 13% of total grade
Vivian Davies and Renee Friedman, Egypt Uncovered (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, NYC), 1998. Manley, Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt Time-Life Books, What Life Was Like on the Banks of the Nile