Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Egypt: Rediscovering a Lost World

Part personal drama, part documentary, part history lesson, Egypt is a first class, six-part BBC production that manages to be at once edifying and entertaining. Whereas the History Channel, for example, might tell its tale with a mixture of reenactments, photos, interviews, and such, the makers of Egypt opt for complete dramatizations focusing on three men and their contributions to archaeology, with each story occupying two episodes.

I can't really put it any better than this editorial review found on Amazon. I've really been on something of a "documentary kick" lately and this particular one from the BBC is one of the most enjoyable I've seen yet. Besides the usual bits about Howard Carter finding Kig Tut's magnificent tomb, which actually were more informative than I expected, I learned about "The Great Belzoni" and the significant contributions of Jean-Fran├žois Champollion in solving the hieroglyphics mystery. I'd heard briefly of Champollion before, though I'd forgotten everything about him other than that he was French, but I never heard anything about Belzoni who appears from the documentary to have been quite a character. I'm pleased to see that Belzoni left us a couple of books about his exploits, which thanks to Archive.org, Volume 1 can be downloaded here while Volume 2 is here. These books should be enjoyable and are definitely going onto my reading list. As for the BBC documentary, I really liked it and recommend buying it, renting it or see if it can be found online... at say that place that starts with "You" and ends with "Tube".