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 first of a three-volume survey of the history of Egyptology, follows the fascination with ancient Egypt from antiquity until 1881, tracing the recovery of ancient Egypt and its impact on the human imagination in a saga filled with intriguing mysteries, great discoveries, and scholarly creativity. 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 the Egyptian past.
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).