iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Archaeology and Imperialism

Play now 45 mins

Archaeology and Imperialism

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 14 April 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the link between archaeology and imperialism. In 1842 a young English adventurer called Austen Henry Layard set out to excavate what he hoped were the remains of the biblical city of Nineveh in Mesopotamia. On arrival he discovered that the local French consul, Paul Emile Botta, was already hard at work. Across the Middle East and in Egypt, archaeologists, antiquarians and adventurers were exploring cities older than the Bible and shipping spectacular monuments down the Nile and the Tigris to burgeoning European museums.

What was it about the ancient cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia that so gripped the 19th century imagination? How did nationalism and imperialism affect the search for the ancient past and how did archaeology evolve from its adventuresome, even reckless, origins into the science of artefacts we know today?

With Tim Champion, Professor of Archaeology, University of Southampton; Richard Parkinson, Assistant Keeper in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum; Eleanor Robson, Lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

  • Further Reading

    For the history of Mesopotamian archaeology:

    Seton Lloyd, Foundations in the dust: the story of Mesopotamian exploration, 2nd ed., London: Thames and Hudson, 1980. (Covers all the 19th century and the first half of the 20th)

    Mogens Trolle Larsen, The conquest of Assyria: excavations in an antique land, 1840-1860, London: Routledge, 1996. (On Layard, Rawlinson, and their rivals)

    Bruce Kuklick, Puritans in Babylon: the ancient Near East and American
    intellectual life, 1880-1930, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.

    The British Museum has a new guide to the Rosetta Stone (availale from the musem as part of the Objects in Focus series) It tells the story of its discovery and decipherment as well as the wider intellectual climate at the time)

    Reid, Donald Malcolm; Whose Pharaohs? (American University Press) Richard Parkinson recommends this as a good introduction to the history and ideas of Egyptology. It is available at the British Museum bookshop but should be in other good bookshops as well.

  • .

    These books are recommended on the British Museum website :

    Champollion, J.-F., Monuments de l'Egypte et de la Nubie. Editions de Belles-Lettres, Geneva 1972 (2 vols, reprint of 1835 ed.).

    Clayton, P. A., The Rediscovery of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London 1984.

    Curl, J. S., The Egyptian Revival. George Allen and Unwin London 1982.

    Dawson, W. R. and Uphill, E. P., Who was Who in Egyptology (3rd ed., revised, M. Bierbrier). Egypt Exploration Society, London 1995 (in press).

    Dewachter, M. and Gillispie, C. C., Monuments of Egypt: The Napoleonic Expedition. Princeton Architectural Press, Princeton, New Jersey 1987.

    James, T. G. H., Egypt Revealed: Artist-Travellers in an Antique land. London, The Folio Society 1997

    Lepsius, C. R., Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. Editions de Belles-Lettres, Geneva 1975 (3 vols, reprint of 1849-59 ed.).

Broadcasts

Featured in...

  • 19th Century

    Browse the 19th Century era within the In Our Time archive.

  • History archive

    Historical themes, events and key individuals from Akhenaten to Xenophon.

  • Mesopotamian

    Browse the Mesopotamian era within the In Our Time archive.

  • Prehistoric

    Browse the Prehistoric era within the In Our Time archive.

  • Victorian

    Browse the Victorian era within the In Our Time archive.

In Our Time Downloads

melvyn-bragg.jpg

Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.

Free downloads

  1. Image for In Our Time Archive: Culture

    In Our Time Archive: Culture

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature…

  2. Image for In Our Time Archive: History

    In Our Time Archive: History

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

  3. Image for In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the…

  4. Image for In Our Time Archive: Religion

    In Our Time Archive: Religion

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of…

  5. Image for In Our Time Archive: Science

    In Our Time Archive: Science

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from…

  6. Image for In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss