Each of the four separate episodes -rather independent chapters- presents some of the findings of Egyptology, largely in the form of realistically presented docudrama, a splendid spectacle ... See full summary »
Growing evidence is suggesting a missing chapter in human history. West explores evidence of a sophisticated science behind the unexplainable accomplishments of Ancient Egypt, the inheritor of knowledge from an even earlier civilization?
John Anthony West,
Lon Milo DuQuette
Dramatization of the great discoveries of ancient Egypt, from the exploration of tombs in the early 1800s, to the unraveling of the Rosetta Stone to translate the ancient language on the tombs, to the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb.
Many images shown in this episode are totally inaccurate. First of all, the ancient Egyptians during the New Kingdom (1560 BCE-1080 BCE) never ate "corn" (maize) - which is a visual error repeated throughout this episode. Maize never existed outside of the Americas until after Columbus in 1492 CE. If the producers and writer were referring to the biblical reference in Genesis 42:3 of the Old Testament "So the ten brethren of Joseph went down, to buy corn in Egypt", the old word "corn" actually means "grain", which refers to barley or wheat. The Egyptians were very fond of beer, so a more accurate set of images would have been fields of wheat or barley waving along the river banks of the Nile.
The other major error displayed in this episode are the images of metalsmithes hammering and forging steel. Unfortunately, this was not likely from the beginning of "Part I" with Makare Hatshepsut to the end of Usermare Ramesses II (1503-1212 BCE) in "Part III" because refined iron tools and weapons did not start to transition out of the Eastern Mediterranean until around 1200 BCE . Richard Cowen, Geology, University of California, Davis (1967-2003) states that even though Nebkheprure Tutankhamun (reign:1334-1325) was found with an ornamental iron dagger and several small iron chisels, "(w)rought iron was usually softer than well-manufactured bronze, and rusted quickly". So how could they have carved a hard stone like granite? With, as others have suggested and shown, equally hard stones like dolerite. I know this because I have done a fair amount of stone sculpting myself. As long as your tool-stones (pounders and mauls) are harder than the working stone, you can do it. Interestingly, PBS has a NOVA online "Secrets of Lost Empires - Pharaoh's Obelisk" which explains some of these possible techniques.
It makes me wonder if there were other errors made of which I am not aware. What is most disturbing and intellectually dangerous about these colourful documentaries are that they are simple to understand and are also probably very popular, therefore they are like "anti-educational" tools, creating ignorance instead of knowledge. If you were to ask any child after watching this show "What were some of the foods eaten by these Egyptians?", I would bet you one of those rings of gold that they will say "corn" in the list of items. My suggestion is to look elsewhere for accurate educational information on Ancient Egypt.
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