The discovery of ancient Egypt and the development of Egyptology are momentous events in intellectual and cultural history. The history of Egyptology is the story of the people, famous and obscure, who constructed the picture of ancient Egypt that we have today, recovered the Egyptian past while inventing it anew, and made a lost civilization comprehensible to generations of enchanted readers and viewers thousands of years later. This, the second of a three-volume survey of the history of Egyptology, explores the years 1881-1914, a period marked by the institutionalization of Egyptology amid an ever increasing pace of discovery and the opening of vast new vistas into the Egyptian past. Wonderful Things affirms that the history of ancient Egypt has proved continually fascinating, but it also demonstrates that the history of Egyptology is no less so. Only by understanding how Egyptology has developed can we truly understand ancient Egypt.
Jason Thompson is currently a visiting associate professor at Bates College. He is the editor of Edward William Lane's Description of Egypt (AUC Press, 2000) and An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (AUC Press, 2003), and the author of Sir Gardiner Wilkinson and His Circle, A History of Egypt: From Earliest Times to the Present (AUC Press, 2008), and Edward William Lane, 1801-1876 (AUC Press, 2010).