The Great Tours: A Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt

The Great Tours A Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt


In all of the world’s great historic civilizations, there is nothing quite like the splendor and magical allure of ancient Egypt. The wonders of ancient Egypt have drawn tourists for thousands of years; inspired Herodotus, Alexander the Great, Shakespeare, and Napoleon; influenced western art, decorative art, literature, and popular culture; and have enthralled countless millions of people around the world.

What is it about the ancient Egyptians that so deeply fires the human imagination thousands of years after their passing? Consider their legacy through:

  • Their breathtaking art—the unique style and sublime aesthetic beauty of their stone-carved reliefs, monumental sculpture, wall paintings, and decorative arts, which show a level of refinement and artistic accomplishment rarely rivaled in history;
  • A cosmology and religious mythology of fabulously rich complexity and dimensions, as revealed in iconic texts such as the Book of the Dead and the Book of Day and Night, and in the superlative decoration of a wide spectrum of tombs, temples, palaces, cities, and ritual objects;
  • An astonishingly vivid and intimate window onto daily life as it was thousands of years ago, which we can view through their hieroglyphic writing, decorative arts, papyri, and texts, and in sites such as the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders; and
  • Awe-inspiring monuments that still capture the world’s wonder and imagination, including sites such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, the great Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel, and numerous others.

And now you are invited to experience these extraordinary sites and Egypt’s multifaceted culture and to know better a place where history and archaeology combine in one of the most memorable travel destinations on the planet. In the 24 lavishly illustrated lessons of The Great Tours: A Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt, you’ll delve into the civilization of the ancient Egyptians in compelling and unforgettable depth. This remarkable course, presented by Professor Melinda Hartwig of the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, takes you on a richly detailed tour of Egypt’s greatest historical and artistic treasures—an exploration of Egyptian culture, art, and history on the ground, going far beyond guidebooks, conventional tours, and an ordinary series of lectures on Egypt.

Take the Measure of a Majestic Empire and Civilization

Professor Hartwig, an Egyptologist with 40 years of fieldwork in Egypt, walks you through an extraordinary range of the most outstanding sites, taking you deep inside the pyramids, tombs, temples, palaces, and dwellings of the ancient Egyptians. She guides you, in detail, on exactly where to go, what to see at each site, and how to understand and appreciate what you’re seeing.

In the process of exploring the sites, you’ll learn in-depth about ancient Egyptian life, culture, and history—exploring how their elaborate art and decoration deeply encoded information and meaning. You’ll also see the extraordinary symbolism of their architectural forms, how that symbolism functioned, and the meaning of their legendary tombs and burial practices. Along the way, you will come to understand their conception of the universe, religious mythology and pantheon of gods, funerary beliefs, cultural rituals and festivals, realities of daily life, and more.

Beyond the famous pyramids and Abu Simbel so often visited by tourists lies a stunning wealth of other works of monumental architecture, edifices, resplendent tombs, colossal statues, temples, artifacts, and artworks. In Professor Hartwig’s company, you’ll take a far-reaching look at these treasures, in a sequence that follows the flowering of ancient Egypt along the banks of the Nile, from Alexandria and Cairo in the north to Aswan in the south.

Along the way, you’ll take in sites such as the majestic Ptolemaic temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo; the monuments of Thebes (modern-day Luxor) and the Valley of the Kings; the great Temple of Hathor at Dendera; Abydos, the sacred city of Osiris, god of resurrection; Amarna, city of religious revolution; the elaborate Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut, the daring woman who proclaimed herself pharaoh, in Thebes; and the excellent necropolis complex of Saqqara.  

Whether you plan a trip to Egypt or would simply like to experience the sites from wherever you are, this brilliantly presented tour offers you an immersion into ancient Egyptian culture in all of its grandeur, mysterious beauty, and human intimacy.

Travel the Most Spectacular Archaeological Sites on Earth

In discovering the world of the ancient Egyptians, you’ll explore numerous outstanding features of their culture, such as:

  • Pyramids and Pharaohs—Across six lessons, uncover the origins of the Egyptian pyramid, the symbolism of its form, how the pyramids were built, and by whom; learn about the brilliant innovations of King Djoser’s Step Pyramid, the first smooth-sided pyramids built under the pharaoh Sneferu, and marvel at the iconic pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure at Giza.
  • The Wonders of Saqqara—Go on an extended visit to this vast necropolis, see the great Pyramids of Unas and King Teti, the spectacularly decorated tombs of the officials Mereruka and Kagemni, the mastaba tombs of Akhethotep and Ptahhotep II, and the Serapeum.
  • Ancient Texts—Delve into ancient Egyptian cosmology and funerary beliefs by studying the Amduat, a richly illustrated account of the journey of the sun god through the 12 hours of the night, comprising the rebirth of the god and the pharaoh; see the Amduat dazzlingly depicted in the Valley of the King’s tombs, and the elaborate reliefs of the Book of the Dead in the exquisite tomb of Nefertari.
  • Mystical Festivals and Rituals—Among key religious rites that you’ll study, relive the events of the royal Opet festival, the grand procession of sacred bark shrines from the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak to the Luxor Temple, where elaborate temple rituals regenerated the pharaoh and the god Amun. Also, witness the rites of the Valley Festival in Thebes, which allowed the living to communicate with the dead.
  • Monumental Temples and Tombs—Explore the Great Temple of Amun-Re at Karnakwith its towering pylons, obelisks, and shrines, arguably the greatest religious complex in the world; the vast memorial temple of Amenhotep III, with its colossal statues of the pharaoh; and witness the dramatic events leading to the discovery of the golden treasures of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the most sensational find in archaeological history.
  • Extraordinary Glimpses of Ancient Life—Learn how the ancient Egyptians lived, prayed, and died at sites such as the workmen’s village of Deir-el-Medina, with its tombs, preserved houses, and inscribed records of those who lived there. Visit the island of Elephantine, an urban settlement whose people left us detailed papyri and autobiographical texts. And explore the tombs of New Kingdom officials that have superb painted scenes of family life, hunting, and agriculture.  

Discover the Greatness of Egyptian Culture

Professor Hartwig’s extraordinarily detailed and perceptive knowledge of the sites, and of Egyptian art, texts, and history makes this a thoroughly enthralling journey, revealing fascinating insights in every segment.

Among numerous illuminating perspectives, you’ll learn how:

  • Egyptian religious rituals were undergirded by a perceived need to recharge and regenerate the gods, the pharaoh, and the cosmos;
  • Detailed reliefs and paintings of beermaking, smelting gold, shipbuilding, sculpting colossal statues, and moving massive stones show us about Egyptian culture; how Egyptian temples symbolically reenacted the birth and rebirth of divine kingship, legitimizing the pharaohs’ right to rule; and
  • The actual words and thoughts of the ancient Egyptians are heard through the inscriptions and captions on many reliefs and wall paintings, revealing how the Egyptians carried out their religious rituals, work duties, and daily tasks.

In The Great Tours: A Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt, you’ll discover a complex and mighty people whose spellbinding monuments, brilliant ingenuity, religious cosmology, and vision of the afterlife continue to captivate and dazzle the world.

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