You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


History of Ancient Egypt

Chronologically survey the full 3,000 years of recorded ancient Egyptian history led by an Egyptologist and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.
History of Ancient Egypt is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 377.
  • y_2023, m_6, d_4, h_22
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.35
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_26, tr_351
  • loc_en_CA, sid_350, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 5.91ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well done, and a memory refresher For us, the extensive photography of archaeological sites and artifacts incorporated in the forty-eight lectures triggered memories of our 2000 journey through Egypt —Cairo, Saqqara, Gisa, Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el-Medina, Dendera, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Aswan, Agilkia Island and the Philae Temple, Abu Simbel, Alexandria, Ismailia, Sharm El-Sheikh and the Israeli Bar Lev Line in the Sinai Peninsula that was overrun by the Egyptian Army in 1973. So much history. HWF & ISF, Mesa AZ
Date published: 2023-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent series with minor sound issues. Prof. Briers' series is one of the best on The Great Courses. He has first-hand knowledge of the subject, his personal style is endearing and his matter-of-fact description of his participation in eviscerating and mummifying a human cadaver is interesting to say the least... Prof. Brier comes from a time when academia, scholarship and science were not subjugated to political correctness and ideological agendas, he can talk about the facts plainly as they are. Perhaps a minor foible would be his tendency to repeat things twice in a row, but let's not get persnickety. The only complaint I have is that there seems to be an audio issue throughout many episodes which sounds like a cow-bell or like someone washing dishes; it is rather annoying. A gem.
Date published: 2023-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Enjoyable... Excellent Overview! History of Ancient Egypt is thoroughly enjoyable--an excellent overview with terrific insights provided by Dr. Brier. I am an amateur student of history with focus on the Roman Empire / Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval Period, in addition to military history. I like to take time to focus on developing a deeper understanding of other periods when possible. Dr. Brier's style of lecture makes it effortless for the student to listen. He is gifted in weaving together the events, personas, stories, and monuments into a living illustration. It's captivating. There was some critical feedback posted by a reviewer about dates and other aspects of the course. While there are dates and periods posted on screen during the lectures, Dr. Brier does not constantly refer to them. Knowing that, if the student wants to plot dates strictly during this course, it would be very easy to use any number of books or online encyclopedias to do so. However, the intent and strength of the course is for the student to understand major concepts--accurate brush strokes that come to life in the mind of the student as painted by Dr. Brier . The course really delivers in that regard! The course is video lecture with some visual aids--mostly photos of locations and pictures of hieroglyphs and basic maps. I found that I could listen to Dr. Brier without video and follow along quite well. The lecture covering the origins of Egyptology/Napoleon in Egypt was a favorite of mine as was the session on the Rosetta Stone. I found these strengths unique to Dr. Brier. For me, the net result is that I have a greater understanding of Ancient Egypt--my misconceptions have been corrected, I understand a lot more about major pharaohs and the periods during which they ruled AND I'm interested to do some further reading or attend another Egyptology course. As explained by Dr. Brier, there are different approaches to Egyptology--as there are different approaches to all sorts of problem solving. I found this lecture course quite worthy. There are also other excellent courses in different formats. For example, I also thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Fletcher's Story of Egypt which is a brief overview filmed on location and narrated by the professor. These very much motivate me to further my understanding of this great civilization, and I know they will motivate you as well!
Date published: 2023-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ancient Egypt History Dr. Bob Brier's series on Ancient Egypt History is one of the very best series I have every seen! I have been interested in Egypt's history for as long as I can remember. I read and watch everything I can find on it. Dr. Brier presents his views on Egyptian history so everyone can understand it and want to see more of that he does. I can see watching this series again and again to learn more and more. I highly recommend his course, as well as many more offered by Great Courses - one must never stop learning, and this is an excellent way to do it!
Date published: 2023-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course Bob is magnificent. The best course I have seen and I have seen/heard over 50 courses
Date published: 2023-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Among a list of fantastic presenters, Dr. Brier may be the best...the content was also exemplary...
Date published: 2022-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of ancient Egypt I bought this course around a month ago.It’s Superb.Dr.Brier’s style of teaching and explaining the subject is so good that you get glued to the subject. Thank you so much
Date published: 2022-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Biblical Links My initial listen to this 2009 course rapidly became baffling, given its 3000 years of personalities, often appearing only as gossipy tidbits. The Guidebook helps "connect the dots" and the video would be useful. Brier’s Scope sympathizes: “Dates will be minimally important-you’re not going to remember them anyway." Interestingly, biblical study often makes some sense out of Egyptian history. In the unstable "first intermediate period", (L11) 300 pharaohs ruled in a mere 200 years. Invaders came and the first “lamentations" were written. These described a divine order where bad things could happen in the world because of the Pharaoh’s higher power. This remarkably resembles the Elizabethan Great Chain of Being: world events occur because of God’s plan. The biblical Kush was a chain of forts built by Sesostris I (1971-1926 BC) to control the gold supply (L13). Unfortunately (L14) much of Dynasty XIV literature about ruling foreigners is lost in Egypt’s watery delta. L16 describes Genesis 37-50 including the similarities between the Poiphar’s wife and the Egyptian "Tale of Two Brothers". "An Egyptian Dream Book…confirms Joseph’s skill at interpreting prophetic dreams and the pharaohs’ dreams are not written in the Egyptian magicians’ dream book. The biblical description of the embalming /mourning practice of Joseph and Jacob match Egypt’s rules. And "...a stela on Sehel Island...tells of a seven year famine.” L18 discusses obelisks from the Aswan pink granite quarries. The largest, weighing as much as two jumbo jets was “pounded out with dolorite balls" to avoid chisel marks! L18 also observes that dying outside of Egypt ended immortality and so Egypt did not colonize. Unfortunately its “…religion created a constant state of war.” L19 describes Tuthmosis II’s Battle of Megiddo. Many of the pharaohs of "the fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty including the “heretic" Pharaoh Akhenaten (the first monotheist) are described in my September 2018 review of Brier’s course “The Great Pharaohs”. It cross-references the Great Course “Cities of the Ancient World" by Tuck who drawn quite different conclusions about Akhenaten’s holy city of Amarna than Brier. L32 states that no written evidence can be expected for the biblical Exodus: “...the ancient Egyptians didn’t record defeats”. The cities of Pithom and Ramses existed in the Delta. The Egyptian reference to “two stones" was to birthing stools. There is a papyrus describing distributing grains to stone transporters with a group name sounding like “Hebrew". The Merneptah Stela stating “Israel is laid waste, its seed is not” and seems to date Exodus to year 20 of Ramses. L36: Egyptian daughters are now "marrying out" and David married one of Pharaoh Siamum’s. L37: Sheshonq I, a prisoner turned pharaoh, chased Israel’s Jeroboam north to Meggido where he erected a stela (as did Tuthmosis II) claiming Israel. Meanwhile, Judah's Rehoboam “bought off” Sheshonq. L38: In the 700s BC, the Nubians had taken parts of Egypt. Both Herodotus and the biblical book of Kings confirm an Assyrian disaster the night before Shabaka battled them in Judea (though the mechanism varies from mice chewing bowstrings to Angels destroying). L39: Under Ashurbanipal, the Assyrians would take all of Egypt. By 620 BC Necho I, an Assyrian vassal, had a son (Psamtik I) who rebuilt the Egyptian army and ousted the Assyrians. His son, Necho II recaptured Palestine (see second Book of Kings). Necho I’s great grandson Psamtik II minimally supported Zedekiah against Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar II and Jerusalem was destroyed. The Babylon Captivity saw 1/3 of the Jews taken to Babylon, another 1/3 were left behind and the last 1/3 sent to Elephantine Island in Egypt. This last group “…was probably the most important in…preserving the faith.” L43: After the Persian decline came the Ptolemies whose lasting work was neither the famed Library at Alexandria nor the Pharos Lighthouse but Ptolemy II’s commission of the Old Testament into Greek by 70 rabbis (the Septuagint). SECULAR FINALE: L46-47: A daughter, Bernice, ousted Ptolemy XII from Egypt. The Second Roman Triumvirate (Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar) returned Ptolemy XII who murdered Bernice and left his eldest daughter, Cleopatra VII to rule after his death. We know that story but may be shocked to learn how she tested various poisons on prisoners as she watched - before settling on the bite of an asp. Egypt slowly declined.
Date published: 2022-11-07
  • y_2023, m_6, d_4, h_22
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.35
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_26, tr_351
  • loc_en_CA, sid_350, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 4.08ms


Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand that our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. If you're awed by the Great Pyramid, amazed by the magnificent golden mask and other treasures of Tutankhamen, curious about how this longest-lived of all ancient cultures has influenced us, or just intrigued by the mysterious hows and whys of all things Egyptian, then you must own this comprehensive and entertaining course by one of our most popular professors.


Bob Brier

To a great extent, the fun of history is in the details. Knowing what kind of wine Tutankhamen preferred makes him come alive.


Long Island University

Dr. Bob Brier is an Egyptologist and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Hunter College and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Brier has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar and has received Long Island University's David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his achievements as a lecturer. He has served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities' Egyptology Today program. In 1994, Dr. Brier became the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian style. This research was the subject of a National Geographic television special, Mr. Mummy. Dr. Brier is also the host of The Learning Channel's series The Great Egyptians. Professor Brier is the author of Ancient Egyptian Magic (1980), Egyptian Mummies (1994), Encyclopedia of Mummies (1998), The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story (1998), Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (1999), and numerous scholarly articles.

By This Professor

Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
History of Ancient Egypt
History of Ancient Egypt



01: Introduction

What makes ancient Egypt so interesting? How do we know what we know about it? What can you, as a student, expect from these lectures?...

32 min
Prehistoric Egypt

02: Prehistoric Egypt

In this lesson, we will see just how old "old" is. The basic divisions of prehistory will be discussed, and each category will be defined and its specific characteristics delineated. Once these categories are clear, we will discuss the difficulties of studying a prehistoric civilization....

31 min
Ancient Egyptian Thought

03: Ancient Egyptian Thought

What distinguishes mythology, religion, and philosophy from one another? What role did each play in the lives of the ancient Egyptians?...

30 min
Napoleon and the Beginnings of Egyptology

04: Napoleon and the Beginnings of Egyptology

Why does modern Egyptology begin with Napoleon? How was Egypt studied before he and his army arrived with 150 scientists in tow in 1798? How did the monumental Description de l'Egypte that Bonaparte's savants produced become the benchmark for all future publications in the field?...

30 min
The Rosetta Stone, and Much More

05: The Rosetta Stone, and Much More

The Rosetta Stone is a large granite stela, carved under Ptolemy V and unearthed by French troops in 1799. With inscriptions of the same text in Greek and Egyptian, it provided the key to deciphering the ancient Egyptian language. Learn the four scripts in which ancient Egyptian can be written, as well as the three ways hieroglyphic signs can be used....

30 min
The First Nation in History

06: The First Nation in History

How did Egypt become history's first nation? Once King Narmer unified Upper and Lower Egypt, it took only a few hundred years to build a power that would dominate the Near East for millennia. Learn why the political structure of ancient Egypt made this possible and how the "Narmer Palette" tells this story....

30 min
The Rise of the Old Kingdom

07: The Rise of the Old Kingdom

As Egypt becomes a great nation led by a single all-powerful ruler, traditions arise that will last for millennia: a capital city, separate burial places (and eventually mighty pyramids) for the kings, solar boats for the trip to the next world, and more....

30 min
Sneferu, the Pyramid Builder

08: Sneferu, the Pyramid Builder

This lecture will present a portrait of the founder of the "Fabulous Fourth" Dynasty, Sneferu. Using trial and error, he figured out how to build a true pyramid. His reign also saw Egypt's blossoming as an international power and the setting of artistic standards that would last for thousands of years....

30 min
The Great Pyramid of Giza

09: The Great Pyramid of Giza

From leveling the foundation to setting the capstone, here are-as best as we can make out-the "nuts and bolts" of the Egyptians' most literally "monumental" feat: pyramid building. This lecture also discusses the 144-foot solar boat that was found in 1954, buried near the Great Pyramid....

30 min
The End of the Old Kingdom

10: The End of the Old Kingdom

After the fantastic achievements of Dynasty IV, something-no one knows what-changed. Pharaohs stopped building pyramids and seem to have adopted sun worship. Dynasty VI resumed pyramid building on a small scale, but the death of its last king plunged Egypt into chaos....

30 min
The First Intermediate Period

11: The First Intermediate Period

After centuries of power, pyramids, and prosperity, Egypt totally collapsed. Why? A look at this period also shows the methods that Egyptologists use to reconstruct history where the resources are scant....

30 min
The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XI

12: The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XI

The Middle Kingdom is the story of Egypt's resurrection. Dynasty XI is the dynasty of reunification, slowly bringing Egypt back to unity and greatness....

30 min
The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XII

13: The Middle Kingdom-Dynasty XII

The seven kings of Dynasty XII built pyramids, fostered great literature (often for political purposes), and consolidated power once again in the center....

31 min
The Second Intermediate Period

14: The Second Intermediate Period

Ancient Egypt is the only civilization in history to have been eclipsed twice and bounced back to prominence on both occasions. Dynasties XIII through XVII saw the Middle Kingdom's decline, the advent of foreign rule, and finally, the expulsion of the Hyksos by a heroic prince of Thebes and his two sons at the end of Dynasty XVII....

30 min
Joseph in Egypt

15: Joseph in Egypt

The Bible describes a lengthy sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt. We examine the Joseph story in the Book of Genesis to see what light Egyptology might shed on its authenticity....

30 min
The Beginning of the New Kingdom-The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty

16: The Beginning of the New Kingdom-The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty

Practices we think of as defining ancient Egypt-including the use of a standing army to exact foreign tribute and the burial of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings-have their origins in this seminal period. We will also take a detailed look at what warfare was like in the ancient world....

30 min
Queen Hatshepsut

17: Queen Hatshepsut

One of the greatest individuals in Egyptian history, Hatshepsut appears in no official Egyptian record. When she died, she was "King of Upper and Lower Egypt." How did she handle the three core activities of kingship-building, warfare, and trading expeditions? Why was her name later systematically expunged?...

30 min

18: Obelisks

Obelisks are a purely Egyptian invention. Quarrying, transporting, and erecting one is perhaps an even greater engineering feat than the building of a pyramid. Learn the origins and religious significance of obelisks....

30 min
Tuthmosis III-King At Last

19: Tuthmosis III-King At Last

For 22 years, Tuthmosis III was second fiddle to his aunt Hatshepsut, who ruled as a king although she was a woman. When she died and he ruled by himself, he became one of the greatest military pharaohs Egypt had ever known. Learn what it meant to be a great king by tracing the epic events of his reign....

30 min
The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty Rolls On

20: The Fabulous XVIIIth Dynasty Rolls On

Witness this glorious dynasty continue through two superior pharaohs and then one great one, Amenhotep III, "The Sun King."...

30 min
Akhenaten the Heretic Pharaoh

21: Akhenaten the Heretic Pharaoh

The most enigmatic and controversial pharaoh in Egypt's history, Akhenaten rocked the pillars of Egyptian society. He may have been the first monotheist and the first "individual" in history....

30 min
The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb

22: The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb

Unearthed by Howard Carter in 1922, the burial place of this young son of Akhenaten is the only royal tomb to have been found substantially intact. Follow the careful research and planning that led up to Carter's discovery, and learn the significance of the thousands of artifacts found....

30 min
The Murder of Tutankhamen-A Theory

23: The Murder of Tutankhamen-A Theory

Was Tutankhamen the victim of foul play? Do his mummified remains hold clues? Who might have wanted him dead, and why? Sift the physical and circumstantial evidence for this intriguing hypothesis and form your own conclusion....

30 min
Medicine-The Necessary Art

24: Medicine-The Necessary Art

The physicians of Egypt were famous throughout the ancient world. Probe the justification for this fame by examining medical papyri. We will see that there were really two approaches to medicine: clinical and magical....

30 min
The End of Dynasty XVIII

25: The End of Dynasty XVIII

What happened when a pharaoh died without issue? Find out by looking at three such cases that arose toward the end of Dynasty XVIII. Tutankhamen, Aye, and Horemheb, the last king of the dynasty, left no children....

31 min
Mummification-How We Know What We Know

26: Mummification-How We Know What We Know

Mummification was a trade secret. The Egyptians left no records of how they did it. Detective work is needed, and fortunately, there are four papyri that offer some clues....

30 min
What Mummies Tell Us

27: What Mummies Tell Us

The primary source for figuring out how the Egyptians mummified their dead is the mummies themselves. What distinguishes mummies from the Old Kingdom, the New Kingdom, and the Late Period, respectively? How have Egyptologists reconstructed this ancient art? By the end of this lecture, you will be able to look at a mummy and tell how old it is....

30 min
Making a Modern Mummy

28: Making a Modern Mummy

Here you'll learn how Professor Brier mummified a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian manner to determine how the Egyptian embalmers did it. The purpose of the project was not to make a mummy, but to gain knowledge of the instruments, substances, and surgical procedures used during the process....

30 min
Dynasty XIX Begins

29: Dynasty XIX Begins

After three childless pharaohs in a row, Egypt desperately needed stability. Thus, the first pharaoh of Dynasty XIX may have been selected not for his ability, but because of his heirs!...

30 min
Ramses the Great-The Early Years

30: Ramses the Great-The Early Years

Ramses the Great ruled for 67 years and was considered one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs. The pillars of his reputation were classic: warfare and building....

30 min
Ramses the Great-The Later Years

31: Ramses the Great-The Later Years

There is a bit of a mystery about Ramses's reign. Its last 40 years were rather sedentary. In considering what might have happened, you will see how a pharaoh with the resources of Ramses prepared himself and his family for the next world....

31 min
The Exodus-Did It Happen?

32: The Exodus-Did It Happen?

The Book of Exodus, so fundamental to the history of the Jewish people, is the section of the Old Testament most closely tied to Egypt. What light can Egyptology shed on the biblical account?...

30 min
The Decline of Dynasty XIX

33: The Decline of Dynasty XIX

Short reigns and a lack of major building projects betray the beginnings of Egypt's long slide from greatness....

30 min
Dynasty XX-The Decline Continues

34: Dynasty XX-The Decline Continues

After Ramses III's brief attempt to restore Egypt's stability, the downward slide continued. Who were the mysterious Sea Peoples? How did they contribute to the weakening of Egypt?...

30 min
Ancient Egyptian Magic

35: Ancient Egyptian Magic

Magic was a central concern of the ancient Egyptians. What were its basic elements and practices?...

31 min
Dynasty XXI-Egypt Divided

36: Dynasty XXI-Egypt Divided

Egypt's long slide continued as rival dynasties ruled from Thebes and the Delta. Egyptian history had become "a tale of two cities."...

31 min
Dynasty XXII-Egypt United

37: Dynasty XXII-Egypt United

Libyans ruled from the Delta city of Bubastis for 200 years and fought to restore Egypt's greatness. During this time, Egypt became involved with the biblical kingdoms of Judah and Israel. In the end, Egypt suffered division once more, but this time the two halves did not fight one another....

30 min
Dynasty XXV-The Nubians Have Their Day

38: Dynasty XXV-The Nubians Have Their Day

Nubians had been permitted to grow independent, with their leaders taking the title of pharaoh. They were also devoted to Amun, so in a sense, Egypt was their spiritual home. We will see a warrior from the south (Kush) battling a confederation of Egyptian "kings" and unifying Egypt once again....

30 min
Dynasty XXVI-The Saite Period

39: Dynasty XXVI-The Saite Period

Egypt fell under and then escaped Assyrian control only to face a new menace in the form of Babylon. As if they knew it was the last gasp, the pharaohs of Dynasty XXVI looked back to the Old Kingdom for inspiration....

29 min
Dynasty XXVII-The Persians

40: Dynasty XXVII-The Persians

The Greek traveler Herodotus gives three different reasons Persia invaded Egypt. How do his accounts compare with Egyptian records? How did Egypt express its unbending will to be free under this latest group of foreign rulers?...

30 min
Dynasties XXVIII to XXXI-The Beginning of the End

41: Dynasties XXVIII to XXXI-The Beginning of the End

Four very brief dynasties ruled in succession. When the last native-born ruler, Nectanebo II, was forced to flee into Nubia, Egypt's glory was over....

30 min
Alexander the Great

42: Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great began 300 years of Greek control of Egypt. We will trace his extraordinary career as a young general, as pharaoh, and as legendary conqueror....

30 min
The First Ptolemies

43: The First Ptolemies

The Greek kings known as the Ptolemies ran Egypt like a business. Taxes were heavy; government was oppressive. There are two great Hellenistic achievements, however: the Pharos Lighthouse and the famed Library of Alexandria....

31 min
The Middle Ptolemies-The Decline

44: The Middle Ptolemies-The Decline

A TV show about the Middle Ptolemies might well be called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Murderous." With few exceptions, the members of this dysfunctional dynasty were violent, debauched, and generally neglectful of the country they ruled. The Egyptians hated them and frequently rebelled, forcing some to flee for their lives. With each Ptolemy, Egypt sank deeper, making a return to greatne...

30 min
Animal Mummies

45: Animal Mummies

The Ptolemies had a fascination with mummies, especially animal mummies. We will take an in-depth look at the practice of animal mummification, which became a major industry during the Ptolemaic period....

30 min
Cleopatra's Family

46: Cleopatra's Family

For a Ptolemy, dodging assassination by one's own kin was often the hardest part of ruling. Learn how Cleopatra's father managed this task, and trace the course of Egypt's growing-and ultimately fatal-interaction with the rising power of Rome....

30 min
Cleopatra-The Last Ptolemy

47: Cleopatra-The Last Ptolemy

Although Cleopatra is one of the most famous women who ever lived, she remains an enigma-we don't even know her mother's name. History is written by the victors, and Cleopatra lost. Can ancient records help fill out her story?...

31 min
The Grand Finale

48: The Grand Finale

This last lecture crowns the course by briefly summarizing 3,000 years of Egyptian history; outlining Egypt's legacy to us; surveying images of Egypt in film and literature; and listing ways you can pursue your interest in this remarkable civilization. Your learning needn't stop here!...

31 min