#StayHome and Discover The World of Egyptology with Dan Snow | Historical past Hit LIVE on Timeline

published on July 2, 2020

hello everybody welcome to this next

episode of history hit live last week

was great

if you haven't uh watched them go back

and check out all the films we made

about the second world war the end of

the second world war in europe

we had historians from all around the

world talking from four continents

talking we had veterans

all sorts of stuff so please go check

that out this week well today in fact

we're talking about egyptology we're

going all the way to the other end of

the spectrum

hello cat b in the us hello sally glad

you're excited hello morgan the martian


hello and czech here good to see you and


in exeter and and as always good to see

you in derby

um so we've got egypt egyptologist chris

nonsen on the uh live podcast

now you guys have heard chris monson on

my podcast before because

he's constantly on there because he's a


legend and there he is very happy man

hello chris how are you

i'm very well dan yeah under the

circumstances very goose yeah how are


very good thank you because we are here

bear in mind everyone every single

monday every single wednesday every

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at 8 00 am pacific time 11 am eastern


4 pm uk time remember people have been

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fund if you want to donate you can do

that people have been donating so far

very very kind of you all

just use the little dollar sign next to


comment and then that's a good way of

making sure that i definitely put your

question to chris norton as well because

that puts

the top of the pile so uh so let's

definitely do that now chris

chris good to have you here man you've

got some egyptian stuff behind you so

you're obviously the real deal

yeah absolutely genuine well no i

shouldn't say that should i

genuine genuinely bought in the market


of the time of the 1990s probably

you went there as a kid obviously um

good morning in alberta one of my

favorite places in the world good to see

you bobby

uh in knoxville tennessee hey chris how

you doing okay now listen

um chris i'm gonna try not to ask you

all the questions i always do but i

suspect i will do because they're just

unendingly fascinating um okay actually

i gotta come on let's we're gonna start

with it because

you can't do it um in you've got a list

of pharaohs

yeah okay and extremely important people

that we know have got amazing tunes

okay how many people are on that list

and how many of those tombs have we


or excavated so just for you dan

uh i had a look at my list just uh just

before i came on

um my my list which gets wheeled out in

lectures and

and was kind of the backbone um for the

research i was doing for a book a little

while ago

has 212 names on it

um so so that is as sort of definitive a


of egyptian kings from the beginning of

ancient history beginning of

the first dynasty down to the time of

antonin cleopatra

and the absorption of egypt into the

roman empire so roughly 3000 years

212 names and of those

um just over a hundred

of the tombs of those individuals and

our assumption would be that each one of

them would have had their own tomb they

wouldn't be buried

in groups um about a hundred of those

are missing

so we've got more than half of them and

as i was looking at this again i was

i was kind of struck as i always am by

by two things really

one how astonishing it is and even as

somebody who looks at this all the time

i'm kind of amazed

that for for individual people

and a civilization so far distant in


we can still say who who those people

were what their names were

and where they were buried in more than

half the cases

but of course the other half of this the

other side of the story is there are

still those teams missing

and in a lot of cases to be honest with


those are um those are kings among our

200 and well 212 on the list for whom we

generally have very little evidence so

they're probably

ephemeral they may not have reigned very

long they weren't very powerful

they didn't build a grand tomb if they

built anything at all

um so that probably explains some of it

but there are still nonetheless

conspicuous gaps

um where people who we really

would expect to have had a sensational

team those teams are still

somewhere out there oh my goodness it's

just too exciting for words buddy i mean

we got

uh so basically you're saying the era of

monumental discoveries

may not be over in ancient egypt i i no

i don't think it is

um i mean um you know overviews of the

history of discovery and exploration

in egypt um you know of course

might concentrate on times when

sensational discoveries were being made

one after another

but actually you know you can take that

story more or less right up until the

present day

um and and discoveries that are worthy

of that

history are still being made um and

there are

dozens maybe even low hundreds of

archaeological teams working every year

as you know and they're they've they're

finding stuff you know they're finding

things it's

you know it's a matter of sort of

opinion how how exciting and impressive

these things are but i'm i have no doubt

that we're going to continue to get

intact tombs and there's a strong

possibility that

in that at some sometime we're going to

find something that belongs to one of

these missing

hundred or so from our our our grand

list of

um of missing pharaohs it's very funny

laura hardy thank you very much for

donating that's

much appreciated and as ever thanks for

being such a great fan and watching uh

all of these

um chris i was thinking about captain

tom here in the uk everyone we've got a

veteran who's just raised something like

30 million

pounds of more than that number of us

dollars for our

national health service when he was born

when he was born

no one had heard of tutankhamen it was


good isn't that cool he's just had a

hundred so like what you know what could

be waiting under those sands for us

and i know that you're gonna find it

buddy and we are gonna be there with you

that's my plan

um well just quickly run me through the

big ones that just for everybody

with cleopatra and alexander the great i

guess but are the other

some of the big ticket tombs that you

think might still be out there

i well for my money though um the

earliest one on my sort of top hit list


is imhotep who who lived in the third


became a kind of a folk hero in the

following centuries and was and

had become a god by the time of the 26th


round about sort of 650 bc by that point

he was he's

he was worshipped as a god but he was a

real you know he was a real person in

his lifetime he would have had a

monumental tomb

i'm fairly sure that tom is at north

sakara somewhere

um so that's him jose of course who

gives rise to the character in the in

the mummy hollywood

mummy movies as well um

and north sakara is the step pyramid

isn't it it's it's the the

yeah yeah exactly yeah so the step

pyramid is kind of in the middle and

imhotep in fact is the is the person

who's credited with the

design of the step pyramid which is the

first of the pyramids as well so that's

part of his legend

is that he's this great all-round


wise um white you know kind of guy

right hand man to pharaoh but that's

legendarily that's his great achievement

um and and the plateau to the north of

there is where high-ranking people

at the time the pyramid was being built

were buried and it's never been fully


um and that's and that that's that story

applies in lots of these places

so in the valley of the kings for

example where you might think

surely surely you know every last stone

and limestone shipping has been

uncovered but actually there's still

unexcavated areas there and from the


18th dynasty around the time of


the story of what happened leading up to

his reign is a little bit

um confused and confusing but it's the

time of akhenaten

and nefertiti and nefertiti is you know

one of the great

celebrated figures of the ancient world

one of the great beauties

um in my view her tomb hasn't been found


and in my view it's most likely that

that's that is where it was it was in

the valley of the kings

if that were to be found potentially if

i mean if it was intact that could knock

two ton come in for six um

and then i think the other two that i

would pull out are the ones you


um alexander the great who perhaps not

many people would know

was i think certainly was buried in


um and then cleopatra both of them

probably in alexandria um

alexandria sprang up as a modern

city uh before really any archaeological


could be done at the end of the 19th

century so there is absolutely

i would put my neck on the line there's

no question

there's a whole lot of ancient

alexandria under the modern city

and once technology allows for us to see

underneath i think that's probably the

way this is going to happen

then we're going to see some some good

stuff speaking of technology we got a

question from sierra one

um her question is how have they not

found all those teams for example you


sakara because we've got the satellites

we've got the radars i mean come on

what's going on

well there so those non-invasive


are incredible and they have

revolutionized archaeology

but they they can only really detect

shapes at the moment so um

you know and in some cases shapes

depending on the context

might tell us quite a lot um

so we know thanks to um ground

penetrating radar and magnetometry that

there are some very large rectangular

objects underneath the sand at north


where we think the tomb of impotent

might be but until we can actually go

and do some old-fashioned digging

move the sand get in there see see what

see what's in those i mean they are

tombs dan

no question see what's in there what we

need ultimately and there's no

there's no scientific way of um other

other than excavating there's no other

way of doing this yet you need to get in


and see uh inscriptions and you need to

read a name

and again this sort of in egyptology

there's these sort of two sides to this

in that

we're incredibly fortunate to have such

an abundance

of inscribed material texts and names

that allows us

to say this set of human remains is

really is this person this is ramses the

great or this is tutankhamen

um but the technology doesn't allow us

to see that

it just sees the shapes so so excavation

is still in

in that way irreplaceable

well that's good news for people like

you who love a bit of execution

let's go we're going to talk now about

the history of egyptology all the way

back to what the romans and greeks made

of it but let's quickly watch a little

bit of a documentary available in the


uh youtube channel about egypt

egyptians and their relationship with

death let's take a look

yet in egypt living was only half the


because what really sets the ancient

egyptians apart

is their view of death

to them death wasn't the end of life but

a new beginning

a transformation from the world of the

living into an everlasting afterlife

and such a belief would shape egypt's

most mysterious practice

and my favorite subject



although the origins of this enigmatic


are only now becoming clearer the burial

of their dead

had a strong significance from the very

earliest times

this is a typical burial from around

3400 bc

the body is curled into the fetal

position and here placed within a

reconstructed pit

grave surrounded by the belongings he

might have had

in his earthly life like pottery

jewelry and a palette for preparing


so i'm back with egyptologist chris

norton we've just seen

a little little clip there about uh


ancient egypt and their relationship

with death and some of their rituals

and uh chris i i never really think

about it

it's ancient egypt uh it's so long ago

it says you know tutankhamun was as as

long before

um the cleopatra

as you know chaucer was to us or

something i mean you know

it's it's astonishing right um

whatsoever what did the what did the

ancient greeks and romans make of that

what was even then quite an ancient


were they kind of aware of it they were

yeah good question

and they were they were kind of awed by

it actually

um so you know but by the time

somebody to take an example let's say

alexander the great is

marauding around that part of the world


egypt is already a country which is full

of mighty

mighty impressive um ancient standing


so the the you know word of the great

the greatness of the pyramids um is


sort of spreading around the ancient

world and egypt

is an embedded part of that sort of

mindset and the cultural

um understanding of the world um from

the from from a long time before sort of

classical greece and

uh you know roman empire let's say so

egypt is mentioned

by homer it crops up in in the iliad and

the odyssey as this sort of distant

magical place um odysseus refers to it

as being

being somewhere that's you know many

many um

days weeks months travel away um

and by the time of a historian like


um egypt is a place that is considered

certainly by him to be very much

worthy of investigation and he's able to

go there and

and to see in person the pyramids and to

visit temples and priests

and egypt seems like a very sort of


magical um but you know long established


ancient um very grand

uh land and and that that makes its way

via homer through early historians and

then by the time

of let's say the beginnings of the roman


where there's um or towards the end of

classical greece into the roman empire

there's there's much more of an appetite


understanding the world and that means

that means journeying around the known

the known world

describing what's there and trying to

tell something of

of past events so herodotus is a

is a very good if if very flawed

source of our for our early

understanding or your early european


understanding of what happened in

egypt's past

um and so by the way actually this gives

us a this gives us a clue into the fact


the egyptians themselves actually had

quite a strong

sense of their own history um so you

were absolutely right that you know the

distance in time between

king tut and cleopatra is is huge it's

it's well over a thousand years

um the distance in time from the

building of the great pyramid to


is similar um so you know the whole span

is really enormous and the egyptians

managed records and kept records and had

had a sense of events having unfolded in

the past and that gets passed down

yeah no cleopatra lives closer to

you and me than to the first dynasty


yeah that's right yeah yeah that's right

it is nuts isn't it yeah yeah

exam officer thank you just given five

pounds to the covered relief fund really

grateful to

uh really grateful to all of you for

your donations it's a great cause thank

you very much

um just just quickly on on the ancient

on the ancient travelers

were they aware of the tombs because

obviously for us i mean there's they're

a monumental architecture above ground

which is exciting and fascinating

but the tombs of ancient egypt for me

are i

just have never seen anything like that

anywhere else in the world were they

starting to come to light by that stage

yes they were um yeah so again um

i suppose my hero from the point of view


sites and monuments classical authors

writing about sites and monuments

um is strabo who was writing

at around the time of of cleopatra's


actually just a little bit afterwards um

he visited egypt with

um the first appointed roman governor

um of the province and unlike some of

the other

writers who had visited maybe as far as

memphis which

relatively speaking is quite far north

in egypt um strabo went a long way

further south and visited the valley of

the kings

um and so he was able to see the tombs

um or at least some of them um

to see that they were incredibly

beautifully decorated

um monumental architecturally inside the


so i mean he was he was absolutely wowed


but he he also provides what turned out

to be quite

well a very interesting sort of driver

for archaeology

um in the early 19th century

in that he tells us that there are some

40 or so tombs in the valley

some of those tombs actually they stayed


from antiquity down until the present

so some of them became buried as you

know as you will know some of the

they were of course originally mostly

all buried for security but then


re-excavated robbers re-burial by the

authorities etc

um some of them subsequently simply

disappeared thanks to the elements but

others were left

left open um and it's by the time of the

early 19th century

there were maybe just over a dozen open

so at that point if you if you or i had

visited um the valley of the kings

let's say for the sake of argument in


ad current era we could have gone

quite easily if we found the right place

we could have just wandered into a few

of these teams

and the decoration would have been

astonishing you know

but with a copy of strabo in hand you'd

know that there should be about 40 tombs

and hang on

you know there's only a dozen or so here

so there's got to be more

and that becomes like i say a great

driver for archaeology once people

realize well wait a second where are

these other ones

let's get digging that starts the whole

thing off

that is just two exciting words shane as

ever thank you very much for your

donation you're so generous thank you as


let's rattle through because i'm just

getting carried away and we're gonna i'm

taking too much of your time

napoleon we often chart the first uh

sort of modern spasm of egyptology to

napoleon his invasion of egypt which is

just after 1750 as you say it's around

about 1800

what what why does he head there and and

why do we credit him with this sort of

with this rebirth of egyptology well

you're absolutely right that is um

that is very much a line in the sand

when it comes to the history of

egyptology um napoleon um

wanted to conquer egypt

um partly for partly in order that he

could exploit it

and that france could exploit it for

natural resources

uh etc but it was also he was hoping and

the french government were hoping

are going to allow him to strike a blow

against the british

it was going to uh helped disrupt

um trade routes between india

um and britain so he was quite keen on

on on cutting that off so he he thought

if he could take control

of this part of north africa then he'd

have a good chance of

of uh of providing um an annoyance to

the brits

um so that all of that you know it has

nothing to do with egyptology it's all

just politics and

uh you know military activity that kind

of thing but he's

enlightened enough or somebody was on on

his behalf

to bring along um a commission of

scientists and artists

who would join the troops um

and while the troops were going about

their business taking the country over

by force

which they did um these the so-called


would journey around the country and

with the intention of making

a description delay a description of


and it was going to be absolutely

comprehensive they were going to record

the natural landscape plants

animals the manners and customs of the

people modern architecture

but and this is as you say this is one

of the great moments

of uh sort of advancement in in


uh and egyptology and they were going to


a as thorough uh survey and description

as they could of ancient sites and

monuments and this is the first time

we have a comprehensive

scientific record of what was there and

it's a landmark

um those those records are still useful


because what they record is um is

is the remains of ancient egypt had a

snapshot in time

essentially before archaeology got going

but also

before a lot of the damage and


of monuments that occurred in the 19th

century and onwards

but it also helps to raise awareness and

excitement about ancient egypt in europe


and that really fires egyptology up

what does napoleon and his french

saddles i mean

are they interested in taking things

back do they do they loot do they

buy you know we're on obviously uh these

terms are loaded

do they take antiquities back they

yes that was that was part of uh

the project was to um

to collect antiquities that could be

brought back to france

um to furnish the great museums

specifically the louvre um so

they didn't do they didn't actually but

by later standards they didn't do a lot

of digging

but they were certainly interested in in

sniffing around and seeing what they

could find

and recording things and in some cases

then removing things

and in in some cases those are what you

might call portable antiquities

so in other words things that could be

moved relatively easily

and the kinds of things that these days

would have to be moved

to a museum for safety and security in

other cases

they were moving rather larger things

and disturbing architecture

um probably the most famous thing that

they gathered at this at this time

was a um a lump of stone

with an inscription in three different

scripts on it greek

demotic egyptian and hieroglyphic

egyptian and we know that

uh lump of stone now as the rosetta


and although it was found by the french

the french were

eventually defeated um by

a sort of combination of british and

ottoman forces

and having having won this battle the

british decided that they

uh would rather have this collection of

antiquities to furnish their own museum

and so the rosetta stone was among these

things it was taken off the french

and made its way to london to the

british museum instead of

to the louvre and then how how soon

before they were able to crack the code

of the rosetta stone and read the

hieroglyphs that are on that bit of

papyrus behind you

well i'm not even sure if um if if

anybody could read these uh

uh luxor souvenir market i guess but

anyway um it was about it was about two


um so then that's two decades of fairly

frantic activity

on the part of a handful of scholars

mostly in britain and france

making use of the inscriptions on the

rosetta stone that's really the key


because of the three different scripts

and the fact that one of them could be

read perfectly well

the ancient greek um but also also

other texts which were beginning to


accessible to scholars thanks to

travels to egypt and also thanks to the

presence of increasing numbers of

antiquities in museums

so there's a 20-year period when

there was an awful lot of um

activity in looking at monuments and

copying inscriptions and

you know looking at them very closely

and desperately frantically trying to

figure out what they say

and some scholars went off on on

terrible tangents

and completely the wrong direction and

you know tried to read things and

read meaning into things where they

really weren't along the right lines at

all but eventually

jean francois sean pollion uh the


announced that he had he had cracked the


and was able to read inscriptions and he

made that announcement in 1822

um so we have a big anniversary coming

up actually

joey finley thank you very much giving

us 10 bucks that's very kind of you

really really appreciate it

um chris i've got a this is a this is a

layman's question right

i i get a bit frustrated by hieroglyphs

when i'm in egyptian tombs okay because

they are all over the place yeah and

you're like this is brilliant okay

if this was a biography of the person or

what battles they fought

how many kids they but like a lot of the

time the hieroglyphs are just like

a bit repetitive like religious like


is that just me or or is that true

because you walk in you think my god the

information here but it's just

endless endless talking about certain

kind of religious rights

no i can tell you've got your eye in dan

and you've started to

you can read a bit i i guess because no

you're absolutely right

um depending on where you are um

hieroglyphic inscriptions are often not

very much more than

labels in some cases so you know when

you're looking at a scene a typical


of uh you know people people are

standing on on on their

on sideways on according to the um

canons of art

um and then you see all these tiny gifts

above them and you think oh wow i wonder

what that says

and actually all it's saying is here is

a man carrying a pot

here is a man carrying a different kind

of pot um

so that so that sounded kind of stuff

isn't you know it wasn't

terribly insightful and then a lot of

the time as well

particularly in state temples and the

grandest of the

inscribed monuments so think about

temples like karnak is a very good one

luxor those

huge monuments you know lots of columns

lots of hieroglyphs everywhere

again often if you've got your eye in

i'm sure you've noticed this

um those are often just just giving you

either sort of the labels showing you

what's what's in the in the scenes

or it's just the name of the king over

and over and over

and over and in those cases it's almost


um wallpaper or something like that you

know it's

it's like there's a there's a gap or

there's a space here what should we do

i'll just plaster it with his name again

um so again you know we're not learning

a huge amount from that kind of


having said that um there are other

contexts in which

you get an inscription which tells you a

lot more and

much of our understanding of egyptian

culture and history

has come from those kinds of

inscriptions the the key

is actually they're the ones maybe i'm

generalizing a bit here but they are the

ones that tend not to look so pretty

because when the point is to say

something the signs tend to be smaller

and you get a kind of a

wall of um of nothing but text so

you know maybe not so much of the

glorious sort of beautiful figures

gods and goddesses and kings and that

sort of thing but just a wall of text

it's those longer texts that tend to

tell us something interesting

nice okay listen we're gonna have a

quick look now at that uh documentary

again available on

on timeline youtube's best history

channel this is all about mummification

and the first pyramid check it out

a combination of the salts in washing

soda and bread soda

which made up natron were applied to the

body to remove

all moisture and so preserve the mummy

of the pharaoh

but the mastaba was much too humble for

an eternal pharaoh

it was here at sakhara that egypt saw

its first

pyramid the stepped pyramid of jose

six moustabas of decreasing size piled

one atop the other but the journey to

the beyond

was perilous


these are the passwords to the afterlife

carved almost four and a half thousand

years ago

prayers advice and magical incantations

jose's stepped pyramid was an act of

faith a stairway to the stars for the


it was also a prototype for a tomb that

would be the artistic and architectural

high point

of ancient egypt

we are lucky enough to be joined by

chris norton the egyptologist that was a

bit of a documentary there go that's

available on timeline go and check it


we got chris naughton he is one of

britain's leading egyptologists and

we've just

been talking about all the tombs and

what's there and what's yet to be

discovered the rosetta stone opponent

let's come on to the 19th century now

chris i'm really interested in this guy

belzoni can you

tell the crew who belzoni was it sounds

like a figure from

fiction yeah he does and giovanni

batista belzoni ism

is an italian who came to london early

on in his life

uh went through a series of jobs

including um

as a circus strongman he was he was a

something like six foot seven

giant uh strong guy so became a


um but as a lot of people did in the

first couple of decades of the 19th


he eventually found kind of wanting you

know was looking for something more in

life looking to make his fortune


and eventually made his his way towards


um he he he was also something of a kind

of engineer and logistics kind of man


at this time after napoleon's defeat

egypt had come to be ruled by um an


soldier actually an albanian called

muhammad ali who was rapidly modernising

the country and looking for people with

skills and expertise to help him

and belts only had an idea to help

muhammad ali with irrigation and went

to egypt to try and sell this to him it

didn't work but in the process

he fell in with the british vice council

at the time a guy called henry salt

who was um greedily collecting

antiquities like nobody's business

and he was interested in moving big

heavy objects

for his own collection and ultimately

for dispatch to london so belzoni said

well look i can do this i'm a big strong

guy with a

an eye for engineering so he was

dispatched to upper egypt which is um

which is where

all the antiquities were being found at

the time and to luxor

and he was his first job was to move

um a colossal it's the upper part of the

statue of ramesses ii which has come to

be known as the young of memnon

it's a giant thing and nobody could move

it the french had said there's no way

it's impossible you can't do it

so sensing a challenge bells only went

down there um managed it managed to get


from the site at the temple of ramses

the second the ramesseum down to the

nile onto a boat for transport to cairo

in a matter of about two weeks

and from that point on he's established

as uh you know the the new man in town

the man for um removing uh

removing large antiquities so he he he

spends the next few years

partly on behalf of salt partly on his

own digging things up and making a whole

sequence of

amazing discoveries um in fact as we'll

talk about in a second

carmen's tune was robbed just very very

shortly after he was in two years as we

were talking about so

um with belzoni was he smashing stuff up

i mean looking back is it do we just is

it your head in your hands

a little bit yeah a little bit um

he wasn't the only one um he probably

wasn't even the worst

but he certainly had a nose for


there's no question about that he made a

whole series of um

astonishing discoveries in the valley of

the kings including the discovery of the

tomb of seti the first which is still

most people who know the tombs will tell

you is

is the the grandest the biggest the most

beautifully decorated

um bill's only discovered that um but

a little story about you know how how

inadvertent they think you know

things could get damaged um these teams

in the valley of the kings often feature

um wells so they're essentially

corridors dug

down into into the rock but at a certain

point they often have a sudden deep drop

and that's to uh that's to prevent


from getting in belzoni uh came across

the tombstone that first found the well

and realized it was going to make it a

bit difficult for him to get in and out

so he filled it up

and the following summer there was a

flash flood in the valley

and actually those wells had also

performed a very useful function of

diverting flash

flood water away from the main parts of

the tomb

and of course once belzonia had filled

it up it went crashing white ray through

the tomb

which is now open and accessible and um

an awful lot of damage was done

the other thing of course is that in all

the work of digging things up and

removing things belzoni was doing

what by today's standards was almost no

documenting of the process so

there's an awful lot of antiquities in

museums now which

he and others found where we can only

really say

found in luck store when what we really

want to be able to say

is found in the north west corner of the

the hyperstyle hall in the 18th dynasty

levels you know that that sort of thing

all of that information which would be


helpful to us is gone um

approximately how many teams do we think

um this guy found

he found about he found about 10 in the

valley of the kings

of those um about half were undecorated

and you know unfinished so in other

words not very much more than

um than roughly cut chambers into the


but at the same time he found the tomb

of ramses the first he found the tomb of

seti the first he found the tomb of i

the successor of tutankhamun and those

are all finely decorated tombs of

highly important individuals from from

the late 18th into the early 19th so

it's a great it's an amazing sequence

i've been lucky enough to travel to lots

of world heritage sites all over the

planet from every different period

i don't think i have ever seen anything

like those magnificent tunes in the

valley of kings

i was so pleased when i was hearing this

when you went it's great oh gosh i'll

tell you

um let's let's come forward now uh to

the well let's go beyond belzoni um and

before we get to the famous

1920s uh is it becoming an industry now


are they opening up teams regularly is


and conversely is a lot of this heritage

being this inadvertently destroyed

yeah yeah yeah sadly yes um

around around the middle of the 19th


um two two things happen um

which are very significant for the

country and and the development of

archaeology and interest in egyptology

one is that a guy establishes that for

for trade

and to get from india to um to britain

he established a route which went across


from the red sea um across land to the

mediterranean and he was able to do that

he was able to do that incredibly

quickly which meant that

it it became quicker to go that way than

right way around africa um and up around

the west of the west of that continent

and back into europe

and that had the effect of bringing lots

more people into

egypt and not long after that

um a man called thomas cook began to


um sort of mass tourism in egypt

um and that brought

many many more people into the country

than had been coming before and that

fires interest fires interest in


means there's lots more people at the

monuments lots more digging going on

um and at this at the same time there is

a conscience developing

about the destruction of monuments and

the need to preserve them but the

destruction is still sort of going on at

the same time

so an awful lot was lost um

but standards of excavation are

improving and improving all the time as

well so by the end of the 19th century

um again we we enter a period

from the uh around about let's say 1890

we enter a period of very rapid uh

discovery in the valley of the kings

some very very very important


uh sensational discoveries made

um some of the sort of best halls of

treasure we've ever had from egyptian


turn up in that period of 10 20 years

and the documentation by this point is

better there are photos there are notes

descriptions the archaeology is being


but still from the point of view of our

modern very scientific way of doing

things and very sort of forensically

detailed way of doing things

there are times when you think oh my god

we could only just go back there and

just say well

just stop can you just can you just do a

drawing or

you know whatever it is so you know

we're sort of

halfway somehow between treasure hunting

and destruction

and today's modern forensic science

we're going to watch a clip of truth and

carmen's tomb in just a second but

before we do let's talk about stephen

khan but

in that placing it in that kind of

modern context because

howard carter who discovers tomb comes


how how strong is his claim to be the

kind of first modern

archaeologist i mean how happy are you

with his his techniques

and his and his documentation that's


that's a very good question um

carter can't what carter is doing in

excavating the valley of the kings has a

kind of old-fashioned

whiff to it even in even at the time

that he discovered the uh the tomb of


he he was already looked down upon by

some of his colleagues by this point it

was thought to be treasure hunting

sensationalist you know there are a

couple of other excavators around i'm

thinking of people like flinders petrie

the british excavator george reisner the


who were who were they're really the

founding fathers of modern

scientific archaeology and they didn't

really like this

treasure hunting in the valley of the

kings but for all of that

carter's discovery is a completely

legitimate bona fide one and incredibly


and his documentation of what is by far

in a way

the biggest and most important single

discovery ever made in egypt and i would

say quite possibly anywhere in the world

he did an

incredibly good job of organizing

the removal of the material under under

pressure like no archaeologist before or

since has ever experienced

and the documentation is very good he


i so i'd say yeah he's not the he's not

the first

modern scientific excavator but in the


it would be it would be very unkind to

say that

you know he hadn't done a a really good

job in the circumstances

okay so coming up next we're going to be

asking egyptologist chris nonten about

that most famous of archaeological

discoveries i think anywhere in the

world at any point in our history

ticking too from carmen

to a pharaoh tube in commons tomb but

first of all let's look at this

clip of howard carter's grandson going


and visiting king tut's tomb


the son of the lord carnavan reputedly

killed by the mummy's curse

never put a foot in egypt his son

the present lord carnavan has but

avoided this cursed place


geordi is to be the first carnavan to

re-enter the tomb of tutankhamun


and this is a carter first found this

step around

here over here this is underneath this

this one

it is this is there

this is the first the first door

yeah because he said there were the

steps that after the door there was an

angle down deeper which is this next

part but it wasn't instead

it was a sloping corridor




i can just imagine my great grandfather

being here and see

seeing wonderful objects having a feast

for the eyes you could just

sit and stare at it all for some time

welcome back everybody that was king

tutankwick's student carmen's tomb in

the valley of the kings i'm joined now


chris nonson legendary egyptologist

chrissy we just referred to it slightly

before there but i mean try and give me

a sense of how

important and unusual

carmen's tomb is well the tomb um

i think really is the it's the most

important single archaeological

discovery i would argue ever ever made

um it's an intact tomb of a pharaoh

who ruled egypt at a time when the

country was extremely rich and powerful

there were over 5000 objects discovered

in the tomb

representing just about every class of

object that survives from

anywhere at any time in ancient egypt

and most in most cases

those things represent the finest

materials and the finest standards of


so it is an absolutely staggering

hall of material and every one of those

objects has the potential to tell us


about some aspect of life in ancient


and there are still lots of questions um


tutankhamun and his life and his times


in some ways we still don't really know

a lot about

the boy the man what he did what he

thought about

but we don't probably know really any

less about about that for him than we do

for most other

characters in ancient egypt and

meanwhile the treasures

have revealed a huge amount lots of


um about the period as well um and most

of it has still never

really been thoroughly studied because

it's just outstripped egyptology there's

just too much stuff it's too precious

um so there's no question that that that


is going to be the gift that keeps on

giving for egyptology for i would

i would say years decades probably

well listen everyone we've got a few a

few minutes left at the end please get

your questions in now

aaron porter wants to know we did talk

about this earlier but let's just have a

quick one

so just trying to put you on the spot

chris what discovery would overtake

uh tut's discovery you know would what

would what would you what do you think

could be even better than two uh the

intact tomb of nefertiti

his probable immediate predecessor if if

it's out there and it is possible that

it is

um we could expect it to be bigger

and even more blingy and glitzy and

full of treasure and that would also

help solve um

an awful lot of questions about the

period as well

um just a quick question here we've got

shane wants to know

do we know how they built the pyramids

and there are lots of theories about um

how the pyramids were built

the short answer is no we don't know

this for sure and

um it is still true that some of the

blocks that some of the pyramids were

built with

um are so massive that we would struggle

to move them an inch

today so there is still and there is

still an

an element of uncertainty about that yes

no wonder the history channel is full of

alien shows

this is why that answer is so

unsatisfactory is i have to tell you

it is true we just do not know okay

thot asks how dangerous is it um

excavating in egypt and sudan these days

i'm not at all i mean where where there

there are parts

of those countries which it is

unfortunately not really possible to


or uh to excavate into a very good


is for example the northern part of

sinai which um

sadly for a few years now has been off

limits for travel

um and there's some very important

archaeological sites in that in that


but in the areas of those two countries

egypt and sudan which are secure and

safe there's no problem at all

and they remain very beautiful and

lovely and peaceful places to go

so there isn't a problem uh rm bailey's

got a lovely question here how would

middle and lower classes be buried in

ancient egypt oh that is a very good


um that again so most of our evidence

comes from the elite

um as i'm sure the questioner realizes


we are lucky enough that in some rare

instances we have

the cemeteries of the lower classes so a

good example of this is

a mana where tutankhamun was probably

born and raised

um and we that's that's a city that was

founded a few years before he was born

and abandoned shortly afterwards so it's

a bit like a kind of sealed

time capsule of a period of about 10

years and

we have a royal tomb there or a series

of royal tombs we have high status tombs

of the elite

courtiers and in the last 20 or 30 years

we've discovered the next level down

and in the last few years um the

cemetery of of

the the lowest class that we have

probably the people who built the city

and they were buried in simple pit

graves but with some grave goods

including wooden coffins um jars etc

and we have the human remains which is

allowing us to see to say something


um their health in life and in death

which is

all kinds of interesting that's

fantastic yeah thanks for that question

i i didn't know that that's great chris

um now chris norton how can people stay

in touch with you because you're doing

lectures online and stuff during this

lockdown so let them know how to stay in

touch with you

i am the bit so thanks dan the best um

the best way is for them to visit my

website and wwwchrisntoncom on the


there you'll find a little something

about lockdown lectures

uh so there's plenty of lockdown

lectures going on uh and your most

recent book is brilliant which is called

uh the one the new one is called

egyptologist notebooks which is

um a kind of history of egyptology and

exploration that's coming out in


fingers crossed okay well make sure you

go and buy that everybody

uh thank you very much indeed chris that

was just as ever

so fascinating it's such a it's a it's a

magical part of history that

um thank you for joining us on history

hit live you can go to history hit tv

which is like my netflix for history you

can listen to more podcasts with chris

over there and look at my exclusive tour


some of tutankhamun's treasures if you

go there and use the code timeline you

get extended period

of using that for free so go and check

that out in the meantime

we're here every monday wednesday and

friday 8 am pacific 11 am eastern and

4 pm uk time see you next episode

bye-bye hi everybody thank you for

watching history hit

live we are here for the long haul it's

going to be a regular slot

4 pm on timeline that's youtube's best

history channel 4 pm uk time 11 am

eastern we're going to be doing mondays

wednesdays and fridays and we want you

to tell us

what topics you'd like us to cover we're

going to go from

the eruption of mount vesuvius right up

to the fall

of the berlin wall so let me know and

when you do

please use history hit live

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