The Great Tours: A Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt

Unearth the mysteries of ancient Egypt in this tour of its treasures of art, stunning monuments, mythic cosmology, and fabulous history.
The Great Tours: A Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 23.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully Taught and Very Detailed This is an outstanding course for any with a deep interest in learning about the architectural structures, and other tangible remnants, of the cultures of ancient Egypt. This includes their physical layout; the means of constructing them; the hieroglyphs and artwork on their walls and in other forms, such as statues and caskets; and some discussion of the history and geography, and of the religious and political aspects of the culture, as it relates to the structures seen on the tour. Professor Hartwig is wonderful. She seems to know everything that can be known, and speaks clearly, eloquently, and with enthusiasm about this field which she clearly loves. The visuals are likewise excellent, and thankfully are plentiful. There are many, many photos and helpful diagrams, maps, and other illustrations. (I did actually wish for more, as sometimes our professor would describe something for which there was no picture. Also, for the first third or so of the course, it was often difficult to determine which aspect of a complex or busy illustration was being discussed. Suddenly arrows and highlighting started to very helpfully appear, as if the powers-that-be belatedly realized how valuable this would be. These are minor points, however. I have visited many of the places discussed, and I saw much more here than I can remember from my trip!) Obviously, video would be far preferable to audio. And the Course Handbook is complete and well done. I would only add that if you know nothing of ancient Egypt, I would first take at least one of Bob Brier's two magnificent courses, "History of Ancient Egypt" and "Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt." Enjoy!
Date published: 2021-07-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I am overwhelmed, but also overwhelmed. The presenter is charismatic, excited about her subject and clearly knowledgeable. Sign me up for her tour of Egypt! However, the huge amount of material covered is completely overwhelming. Indeed, I felt like I was on a bus tour jumping from place to place and era to era with no idea where I was today or had been yesterday - lost and confused. Although there is a wealth of pictorial and video material presented, the average clip is only shown for 2-3 seconds which is no where near long enough to spot exactly what she is referring to, much less study and understand it. The majority of air-time is spent on Professor Hartwig lecturing in front of a very busy and distracting background which has nothing to do with the specific topic of the lecture. I feel like this course is not up to The Great Courses standards. I can watch presentations like this on Discovery Channel or History Channel for free.
Date published: 2021-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous! An excellent and most informative course. I could see the excitement and love of Prof. Hartwig's love of her subject in her eyes which was transmitted in her excellent delivery. What I really appreciated was her ability to make ancient Egyptians real people and how the realities of everyday life is reflected in their artwork. Also appreciated were her exposition of the many details and clues found in the artwork and the symbolism of the architecture. Most enjoyable course!
Date published: 2021-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Expert instructor Not all description of art and tomb decoration actually showed what was being described. Instead we watched the instructor talking. Ver frustrating to me. Sometimes difficult to decipher work shown, especially when damaged. Drawings of what is being discussed could be done for subjects difficult to photograph or in poor condition.
Date published: 2021-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! Dr. Hartwig does an excellent job of blending history into the program and giving context to the sites visited.
Date published: 2021-07-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring As boring as you were afraid it might be. Too much talk about minor deities, not enough pictures, no videos.
Date published: 2021-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Decoding Hieroglyphics I gave this to a dear friend and he was thrilled. He wondered how I knew this was a subject of special interest for him.
Date published: 2021-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a guided tour of ancient egypt This course did what i had envisioned it would. The Professor spoke with authority, knowledge and brought you back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. I worked in Cairo and this course gave me an in depth knowledge I never had of these people. I would have liked to see the quarry that the stones for the pyramids cam e from and the method used to cut these large blocks of stone out of without breaking them
Date published: 2021-07-08
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Overview

The wonders of ancient Egypt have intrigued and dazzled humanity for thousands of years. This course takes you deep inside the tombs, temples, palaces, and dwellings of the ancient Egyptians, where you’ll explore the structure and meaning of the Egyptian pyramid, delve into Egyptian cosmology, relive elaborate mystical rituals, discover sublime treasures of art, and learn in detail how the ancient Egyptians lived and died.

About

Melinda Hartwig
Melinda Hartwig

Let's travel up the Nile together and explore the epic, exotic, transcendent, land of the pharaohs.

INSTITUTION

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Dr. Melinda Hartwig is an Egyptologist and Curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum. Her distinguished teaching career includes positions as Professor of Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology at Georgia State University and at The American University in Cairo. She holds a PhD in Near Eastern Art and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.

Melinda’s expertise is recognized internationally. She has led tours and documentation projects in Egypt for 40 years. She has curated national exhibitions on ancient Egyptian art and culture, and received awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the United States Agency for International Development. She is past President of the Board of Governors of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE).

Melinda is the author or editor of numerous books, including Tomb Painting and Identity in Ancient Thebes, The Tomb Chapel of Menna, and A Companion to Ancient Egyptian Art, which received the 2016 PROSE award for Single Volume Reference in Humanities & Social Sciences. Melinda is a popular lecturer and a frequent on-air expert for television documentaries on the BBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, Science Channel, Smithsonian Channel, and Travel Channel.

By This Professor

The Great Tours: A Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt

Trailer

Exploring the Gift of the Nile

01: Exploring the Gift of the Nile

For the ancient Egyptians, the Nile was the source of all life. Grasp the Nile’s integral role in ancient Egyptian culture and trace the path the course will take along this vital river, visiting Egypt’s ancient cities and monuments. Discover the rich pantheon of Egyptian gods; the role of Egyptian kings as divine intermediaries; and the fascinating symbolism of Egyptian architecture, art, and ritual.

30 min
The Major Museums of Cairo

02: The Major Museums of Cairo

Using objects from Cairo’s three great museums, trace 5,000 years of Egyptian history and culture, and the 31 dynasties that comprised ancient Egypt. Observe how the famous Narmer Palette set the conventions for Egyptian art, and see what a statue of King Khafre, the sphinx of Amenemhet III, Tutankhamun’s golden throne, and Seti I’s mummy tell us about Egypt from the Early Dynastic Period to the Late Period.

28 min
How to Build a Pyramid

03: How to Build a Pyramid

Investigate the origins of the Egyptian pyramids and the symbolism of their architectural form. Delve into the complex methods of pyramid building, the pyramid’s orientation to the cardinal points, how the work was organized, and the techniques of construction, and visualize the funerary rituals that accompanied royal interments.

31 min
The Great Pyramid: The Last Ancient Wonder

04: The Great Pyramid: The Last Ancient Wonder

Take the measure of Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid, and marvel at the engineering and administrative feat of the pyramid’s construction. Travel the pyramid’s network of internal passages and funerary chambers, examine their ingenious architectural features, and observe how the burial chambers were sealed. Learn also about the royal necropolis complex that adjoins the pyramid.

30 min
The Great Sphinx and the Giza Plateau

05: The Great Sphinx and the Giza Plateau

Continue your visit to the stunning monuments of the Giza Plateau. Explore the pyramid complex of Khafre and its remarkable necropolis. Then study the legendary Sphinx and its symbolism, as well as the Sphinx Temple and the richly adorned tomb of Queen Meresankh. Conclude with the pyramid complex of Menkaure and its innovative architecture, and the recently discovered Lost City of the Pyramid Builders.

32 min
The Step Pyramid: Djoser’s Stairway to Heaven

06: The Step Pyramid: Djoser’s Stairway to Heaven

King Djoser’s Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara was a milestone in the development of monumental architecture. Learn how a traditional mastaba tomb was transformed into the famous Step Pyramid. Then travel the astonishing 37-acre complex, with its courtyards, chapels, palaces, temples, and underground tombs and galleries, highlighting their extraordinary architectural features and decor.

30 min
The Capital at Memphis and the Saqqara Tombs

07: The Capital at Memphis and the Saqqara Tombs

Here, encounter Memphis, ancient Egypt’s great capital, an epicenter of trade, religion, and education. Make an in-depth visit to the massive Temple of Ptah, taking stock of its remarkable statuary, shrines, and cult structures. Then proceed to the Necropolis of Saqqara and study the artistic riches of the Pyramid of King Unas, the Tomb of the Two Brothers, and the Tomb of Nefer and Kahay.

31 min
Old, New, and Late Saqqara

08: Old, New, and Late Saqqara

Delve further into the extraordinary treasures of Saqqara. First, explore the New Kingdom cemetery, containing mastaba tombs with unparalleled relief carvings. Then visit the Pyramid of King Teti and the spectacular tombs of his officials, Mereruka and Kagemni, with their exquisitely carved decoration. Finish with a visit to the Serapeum, the sacred burial ground of the Apis bulls.

29 min
Saqqara’s Famous Fifth-Dynasty Tombs

09: Saqqara’s Famous Fifth-Dynasty Tombs

Now visit what many consider to be the Old Kingdom’s finest mastaba tombs. Begin at the 5th-Dynasty mastabas of Akhethotep and Ptahhotep II, father and son viziers, focusing on the magnificent painted reliefs of daily life. Continue with the elaborate mastaba of Ti, an important 5th-Dynasty official, taking account of the superlative artistry, symbolism, and detail of the painted reliefs.

27 min
King Sneferu and the First True Pyramid

10: King Sneferu and the First True Pyramid

Learn how builders under the ambitious King Sneferu, through trial and error, constructed the first smooth-sided pyramids. At the pyramid complex of Meidum, view its masterpieces of decoration, and investigate the structural issues which led to the pyramid’s collapse. Study the many architectural innovations that produced the Bent Pyramid and Sneferu’s final achievement of the Red Pyramid.

28 min
Power and Revolution: Beni Hasan and Amarna

11: Power and Revolution: Beni Hasan and Amarna

Over two lectures, learn about the spiritual revolution of King Akhenaten, and the majestic monuments that bear witness to it. Begin with a look back at an earlier necropolis that influenced Akhenaten, that of Beni Hasan, containing some of the most beautiful painted tombs in Egypt. Continue to the vast capital city of Amarna, the splendorous setting for Akhenaten’s religious reformation that focused on the sole worship of the sun god Aten.

29 min
Akhenaten’s City at Amarna and Hermopolis

12: Akhenaten’s City at Amarna and Hermopolis

Look deeper into the history of Amarna, stopping first at the northern tombs, with their extraordinary wall decoration. Then visit the enigmatic Royal Tomb, with its numerous burial chambers. Walk Amarna’s Royal Road to the Central City and view the buildings that served as a stage for Akhenaten’s political and religious agenda. Finish at the Greco-Roman necropolis of Tuna el-Gebel.

29 min
Abydos: The Religious Center of Osiris

13: Abydos: The Religious Center of Osiris

Abydos, the ancient center for the worship of Osiris, is your next stop. Learn about the importance of Osiris in Egyptian cosmology as you visit the vast site, highlighting the Commemorative Temple of Seti I, with its breathtaking painted reliefs and mysterious interior rooms; the dramatic Funerary Temple of Ramesses II; and the site of Um el Qu’ab, burial place of the earliest Egyptian kings.

29 min
The Temple of Hathor at Dendera

14: The Temple of Hathor at Dendera

Learn about gods’ temples in ancient Egypt, as they served as a model of the cosmos and a home for the deities. Then explore the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, one of the most spectacular gods’ temples in Egypt. Study the imposing features of the temple interior, their symbolism, and the temple rituals aimed at satisfying the gods. Also, view the massive relief of Cleopatra VII, among the few in Egypt.

28 min
The Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak

15: The Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak

The resplendent Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak stands as one of the world’s greatest religious monuments. Trace how successive kings, over 1,500 years, built structures here to celebrate their relationship with the god. Take in the splendor of the Hypostyle Hall and its massive columns with varied capitals, the Festival Temple, and other buildings within this truly awe-inspiring complex.

30 min
Luxor Temple and the Opet Festival

16: Luxor Temple and the Opet Festival

Follow the events of the ancient Opet festival, the spectacular royal procession of bark shrines from Karnak to Luxor, that regenerated the pharaoh, the god Amun, and the cosmos itself. Visualize the temple rituals, whereby the pharaoh and Amun were mystically joined and recharged. Then explore the setting for the rites of divine kingship and view the sublime artworks in the Luxor Museum.

29 min
Royal Tombs in the Valley of the Kings

17: Royal Tombs in the Valley of the Kings

As insight into the Egyptian conception of the afterlife, study the Amduat, which illustrates the sun god’s voyage through the 12 hours of the night, through which both the sun god and the pharaoh are reborn. See the stunning paintings of the Amduat within the tombs of the King’s Valley. Also, relive the legendary 1922 discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen and study the tomb’s unusual decor.

29 min
Valley of the Queens and Workmen’s Village

18: Valley of the Queens and Workmen’s Village

Take an in-depth look at the superlative tomb of Nefertari, beloved queen of Ramesses II. View the exquisite artwork that adorns the antechamber and burial chamber walls, known as the Sistine Chapel of ancient Egypt. From there, visit the workmen’s village of Deir el-Medina, and witness life as it was for those who decorated the royal tombs 3,000 years ago.

28 min
The Colossi of Memnon and Hatshepsut’s Temple

19: The Colossi of Memnon and Hatshepsut’s Temple

In this visit, see ancient Egypt’s memorial temples, the “Houses of a Million Years,” and begin at the cult temple of Amenhotep III, the largest of its kind, with its majestic colossal statues of the king. Then encounter Hatshepsut, the famous woman who declared herself the pharaoh, and marvel at the phenomenal temple whose decoration portrayed her as male and elaborately legitimized her right to rule.

28 min
Theban Tombs: The Necropolis of Nobles

20: Theban Tombs: The Necropolis of Nobles

Study the cultural functions and symbolic meaning of the tombs of the Nobles’ Necropolis on the Nile’s west bank, a tomb complex that bustled with activity. Observe how a noble’s tomb was a ritual complex ensuring the owner’s transfiguration and eternal well-being and witness the intimate and moving humanity of the decoration in the standout tombs of Menna and the viziers Rekhmire and Ramose.

28 min
Ptolemaic Temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo

21: Ptolemaic Temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo

The Greek Ptolemies, foreign rulers of Egypt, built Egyptian temples to win the peoples’ hearts and minds and legitimize their rule. As a prime example, explore the monumental Temple of Horus at Edfu, and the major festivals that honored Egypt’s traditional religious beliefs. Also, visit the temple at Kom Ombu, with its hybrid decoration, a rare double temple to the gods Sobek and Haroeris.

26 min
The Ancient Egyptian Frontier: Aswan

22: The Ancient Egyptian Frontier: Aswan

In the area surrounding Aswan, discover ancient Egypt’s southern frontier. Begin on the island of Elephantine, one of the only preserved urban settlements from ancient Egypt, and explore its remarkable temples, shrines, and mudbrick houses. Then visit the tombs of Aswan’s ancient governors, cut into the hill of Qubbet el-Hawa, and view objects from all Nubian periods in the Nubian Museum.

28 min
The Temples at Philae and Abu Simbel

23: The Temples at Philae and Abu Simbel

Travel the magnificent complex of the goddess Isis on the island of Philae. Visit the Temple of Isis, and learn about the rituals surrounding her cult. Continue to one of Egypt’s most famous monuments, the Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel. Take in the spellbinding grandeur of the temple and that of the small temple to Queen Nefertari and learn the amazing story of their rescue and relocation.

28 min
Alexandria and the Lost City of Tanis

24: Alexandria and the Lost City of Tanis

Conclude your tour with a visit to Alexandria, the intellectual and cultural capital of the Hellenistic world. Reconstruct the great city of antiquity, highlighting its famous lighthouse, library, and magnificent Roman-era structures. Finally, tour the “lost city” of Tanis, and grasp how the fabulous tomb treasures found there rivaled those of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

32 min