Inventing Egypt: Creating Multiple Pasts for Multiple Presents

When:17 Mar 2015, 12:30pm - 1:45pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Dr Robin Derricourt, UNSW
Robin Derricourt - Public Lecture

History Seminar Series

Abstract

From 2nd century fake manuscripts to 21st century television documentaries, Pharaonic Egypt has been the subject (or victim) of numerous imagined pasts. Such constructions may serve the needs of a new spiritual movement or cult, help rewrite the history of a national or ethnic group, or just proselytise the theories of an eccentric writer. They may inspire religious movements, or political campaigns, or just contribute income to popular authors and film makers. Their creators range from Roman Hermeticists to Renaissance mystics, from pioneer racists to Afrocentrist campaigners, from Orientalist ideologists of imperialism to New Age web bloggers, from best-selling authors of “alternative” history (including distinguished 19th and 20th century scientists) to operators of “Mystical Egypt” tours. These constructions of the past may tell us more about the time and place of their origin than about the ancient Nile Valley. They may be dismissed as Egyptosophists, pyramidiots, hyperdiffusionists, or pseudoarchaeologists peddling pseudohistory. This talk considers a range of these alternative Egypts, asking “Why Egypt?” what roles were served by such invented pasts, and what links there are between them.

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