On the origins of Ancient Egyptian civilization, e-lecture by E. Christiana Köhler

On the origins of Ancient Egyptian civilization

e-lecture by Univ.-Prof. Dr. E. Christiana Köhler
Institute for Egyptology, University of Vienna

Egypt has always been considered one of the great civilizations in the ancient world; it has drawn admiration from early on because of its long history and fascinating monuments. Even before Egyptology was conceived as an academic discipline in the early 19th century, European scholars have been intensively studying Ancient Egypt, be it in relation to biblical references or in the context of global history. An important aspect has long been the question when and how this ancient civilization began, and interestingly, where it supposedly originated. It is especially that last question that has been investigated in numerous studies, which have dominated the literature until the advanced 20th century. This lecture will discuss different related aspects, including the significance of biblical narratives in early modern scholarship as well as colonial politics and racialist ideologies, which both influenced research during the 19th and 20th century. The application of such concepts in early scholarship often gave rise to the idea that Ancient Egyptian civilization apparently did not originate in Africa, but was the result of external influence and migrations from other parts of the ancient world. Furthermore, such migrations were often framed in a culture-historical narrative leading to the emergence of Pharaonic Egypt. Although scholarly writings of today are largely devoid of the ideologies underpinning these ideas, a critical assessment of the current literature reveals how vestiges of these narratives have persisted and how they have been adapted to suit the modern academic context. "
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