Nina Burleigh (Pdf epub) Mirage Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt

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R finds from the ruins of the colossal pyramids to the smallest insects to the legendary Rosetta StoneThose who survived the three year expedition compiled an exhaustive encyclopedia of Egypt twenty three volumes in length which secured their place in history as the world's earliest known archaeologists Unraveling the mysteries that had befuddled Europeans for centuries Napoleon's scientists were the first to document the astonishing accomplishments of a lost civilization before the dark shadow of empire building took Africa and the Middle East by stormInternationally acclaimed journalist Nina Burleigh brings readers back to a little known landmark adventure at the dawn of the modern era one that ultimately revealed the deepest secrets of ancient Egypt to a very curious continen. Despite what I do for a living I get easily bored with history books Not this one A great cast of characters and a great setting It answered one of my biggest uestions as a tourist to the British Museum how did the Rosetta Stone end up in England if Napoleon discovered it As for Napoleon he comes off looking worse than expected his Egyptian expedition a bigger disaster than I d imagined

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Mirage Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt

F their laboratories studios and classrooms to embark on a thirty day crossing into the unknown some never to see French shores again Over 150 astronomers mathematicians naturalists physicists doctors chemists engineers botanists artists even a poet and a musicologist accompanied Napoleon's troops into Egypt Carrying pencils instead of swords specimen jars instead of field guns these highly accomplished men participated in the first large scale interaction between Europeans and Muslims of the modern era And many lived to tell the taleHazarding hunger hardship uncertainty and disease Napoleon's scientists risked their lives in pursuit of discovery They approached the land not as colonizers but as experts in their fields of scholarship meticulously categorizing and collecting thei. An interesting but poorly organized account of Napoleon s ill conceived invasion of Egypt While the subject matter was interesting and the prose engaging the author freuently repeated herself and many tidbits of information were repeated almost verbatim in several chapters There was an attempt I think to find a satisfying middle ground between a chronological account of the invasion and a biographical account for each of the scientists involved Regardless of organization I learned a lot about the time and the author s excellent use of primary source material painted a vivid picture of Egypt at the turn of the nineteenth century

Nina Burleigh ½ 4 Free read

Little than two hundred years ago only the most reckless or eccentric Europeans had dared traverse the unmapped territory of the modern day Middle East Its history and peoples were the subject of much myth and speculation and no region aroused greater interest than Egypt where reports of mysterious monuments inscrutable hieroglyphics rare silks and spices and rumors of lost magical knowledge tantalized dreamers and taunted the power hungryIt was not until 1798 when an unlikely band of scientific explorers traveled from Paris to the Nile Valley that Westerners received their first real glimpse of what lay beyond the Mediterranean SeaUnder the command of Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Army a small and little known corps of Paris's brightest intellectual lights left the safety o. In 1798 the young French Republic is at war with just about everyone in Europe who doesn t want the French brand of revolution to spread The nation needs a victory somewhere and Napoleon never one to pass up an opportunity decides to take the French Army to Egypt to secure a base by which grow an empireIn addition to ships and men to mount this expedition Napoleon takes a group of 150 scientists along to document this strange land that belongs to no European power and has little factual documentation that didn t originate from the Crusades centuries earlierThe invasion is a disaster from the get go The French raid Malta for gold and then lose it at sea They arrive in Alexandria and no one local takes them seriously Unprepared for the desert and dressed for Europe the French uickly succumb to the heat the sand fleas the gnats the sand induced eye infections and mosuitoes All this before they even face their first battleThey slaughter the Mamelukes outside of Giza and try to rule from Cario The locals don t like these hairy white men that don t bathe and live in filth and the French don t like these non Christian sexually deviant people who are ignorant of public sanitation and uncivilizedSuch a match made in Hell can only get better Napoleon launches an utter failure of a offensive against the British never getting close to his target of Syria His army collapses due to the plague as the British destroy his entire navy in portLike the Rudy Giuliani or George W Bush of his day he was never one to let reality get in the way of his vision and was uite unscrupulous when it came to saving his own skin Under the cover of darkness he abandons his stranded army in Egypt for France because because France needs him His underlings who are really pissed about this deal as best they can for the next few years before the British uite mercifully allow what s left this army to return homeThis is the background for this book that is about the scientists their activities and the birth of modern ArcheologyThey were treated as second class citizens by the soldiers and only because it was Napoleon leading this mission did they live to see Egypt The General fancied himself a scientist of sorts and accorded them military escorts and private accommodations once Cairo fell This didn t go over well with the Army but they couldn t complain too much The point is that the scientists were the first post Enlightenment academics to visit Egypt with the purpose of cataloguing everything they could Those that signed on to this adventure weren t sure on the final outcome but they felt their careers would be immeasurably advanced by being the first in recent memory to come to the Nile and its environsWith most of their gear sunk in the harbor at Alexandria they had to make due and they did such a great job that they were improvising all kinds of materials for the Army to use that they weren t going to receive anytime soon from France The scientists explored insects the local flora the climate the phenomenon called a mirage and the remains for the Pharaonic civilization Their drawings were unparalleled and their research exacting for its time Hoping to get a leg up on their contemporaries they mailed off findings and reports back to Paris that never made it due to British interception Undeterred by the lack of response they established their own Academy in Cairo and proceeded as an official scientific institution of inuiry and discoveryAs the French situation deteriorated so did the physical conditions of the scientists Their research was increasingly forced to be pragmatic for the French cause ways to build a Suez canal medical care for soldiers and supplying water for the localsEventually the French capitulated to the British and as part of the negotiations they asked for the findings of the scientists having followed their developments throughout the occupation Negotiations ensue and the British get the Rosetta Stone but not after the French had copied the contents This is what leads to the cracking to the Egyptian glyphs by the French years later and making the mystical legibleUpon their return the Egyptians as these scientists call themselves find the world has blown past them With most of them unable to find work as they once had and obsessed by visions of the desert they began to put their works together What results is a multi volume book begun in1802 and finished in 1828 called the Description of Egypt that became a runaway smash and cause a sensational in the fashion and design worlds for anything EgyptianIt wasn t the reaction the scientists expected but it seemed to be welcome nonethelessA good read about a great topic


10 thoughts on “Mirage Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt

  1. says:

    In 1798 the young French Republic is at war with just about everyone in Europe who doesn’t want the French brand of revolution to spread The nation needs a victory somewhere and Napoleon never one to pass up an opportunity decides to take the French Army to Egypt to secure a base by which grow an empireIn ad

  2. says:

    The stories recounted in this book are fascinating and it's sobering to realize how readily men's lives were thrown away because of Napoleon's delusions I found the author's style sensationalist at times She was also occasionally incorrect with small details As an art historian the one that leapt out to me was her discussion of a famous painting of Napoleon at Jaffa as by Jacues Louis David The painting in uest

  3. says:

    Napoleon’s core of scientific adventurers in Egypt is arguably the greatest singular event to straddle those two reductive “Ages” of European history—ie the Enlightenment and the Romantic It is also a comp

  4. says:

    An interesting but poorly organized account of Napoleon's ill conceived invasion of Egypt While the subject matter was interesting and the prose engaging the author freuently repeated herself and many tidbits of information were repeated almost verbatim in several chapters There was an attempt I think to find a satisfying middle ground bet

  5. says:

    At the end of the 18th century France eager to establish itself as a colonial power on a par with its neighbor and rival England sent General and celebrity Napoleon at the head of an army to Egypt to secure the land At the t

  6. says:

    I found this to be a great introduction into the scientific and political climate of the time period I had no real knowledge of what Egypt was like at this time so I was particularly interested in how the people lived and how the soldiers an

  7. says:

    Despite what I do for a living I get easily bored with history books Not this one A great cast of characters and a great setting It answered one of my biggest uestions as a tourist to the British Museum how did the Rosetta Stone end up in England if Napoleon discovered it? As for Napoleon he comes off looking worse than expected his Egyptian expedition a bigger disaster than I'd imagined

  8. says:

    I really don't like Napoleon

  9. says:

    I wanted to like this book than I did It's filled with colorful characters adrift in unfamiliar surroundings forced to imp

  10. says:

    Very disappointing This book is about the scientists and scholars that accompanied Napoleon in his uest to invade Egypt in 1798 not about the invasion itselfSadly the author has a typical orientalist view of the French invasion or ex

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