James Henry Breasted (1865–1935) had a career that epitomizes our popular image of the archaeologist. Daring, handsome, and charismatic, he traveled on expeditions to remote and politically unstable corners of the Middle East, helped identify the tomb of King Tut, and was on the cover of Time magazine. But Breasted was more than an Indiana Jones—he was an accomplished scholar, academic entrepreneur, and talented author who brought ancient history to life not just for students but for such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and Sigmund Freud.
In American Egyptologist, Jeffrey Abt weaves together the disparate strands of Breasted’s life, from his small-town origins following the Civil War to his evolution into the father of American Egyptology and the founder of the Oriental Institute in the early years of the University of Chicago. Abt explores the scholarly, philanthropic, diplomatic, and religious contexts of his ideas and projects, providing insight into the origins of America’s most prominent center for Near Eastern archaeology.
An illuminating portrait of the nearly forgotten man who demystified ancient Egypt for the general public, American Egyptologist restores James Henry Breasted to the world and puts forward a brilliant case for his place as one of the most important scholars of modern times.
Around the turn of the last century, James Henry Breasted took on the challenge of assembling all the available historical documents of ancient Egypt and translating them into English. This prodigious undertaking involved traveling to the monuments extant in the Nile valley and in outlying areas of Egyptian conquest, as well as to museums throughout Europe where Egyptian relics were housed. Breasted made his own copies of hundreds of Egyptian records inscribed on papyrus or leather or carved in stone and engaged in a thorough study of the published records of Egyptian history in conjunction with his own transcription of the documents themselves. This five-volume compendium is the result.
Breasted's monumental work, originally published from 1906 to 1907, encompasses twenty-six dynasties spanning more than three millennia: from ca. 3050 B.C. to 525 B.C. For each document, Breasted provides information on location, condition, historical significance, and content. Beginning with the earliest known official annals of Egypt, the Palermo Stone, Breasted catalogs the realm's official activities, including royal succession, temple construction, property distribution, and foreign conquest. He tracks the careers of scores of kings, queens, government officials, military leaders, powerful statesmen, and influential courtiers, reproducing their autobiographies, letters of favor, paeans, mortuary gifts, and tomb inscriptions. Clearly annotated for the lay reader, the documents provide copious evidence of trade relations, construction activities, diplomatic envoys, foreign expeditions, and other aspects of a vigorous, highly organized, and centrally controlled society.
Breasted's commentary is both rigorously documented and accessible, suffused with a contagious fascination for the events, the personalities, the cultural practices, and the sophistication these records indicate. A herculean assemblage of primary documents, many of which have deteriorated to illegibility in the intervening century, Ancient Records of Egypt illuminates both the incredible complexity of Egyptian society and the almost insuperable difficulties of reconstructing a lost civilization.
This first paperback edition of Ancient Records of Egypt features a new introduction and supplementary bibliographies by Peter A. Piccione. Setting Breasted's work in the context of the development of American Egyptology, Piccione discusses Breasted's establishment of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, with corporate support by John D. Rockefeller and other benefactors, and surveys the ambitious body of publications with which Breasted laid the foundation for future Egyptian studies.
This volume extends Breasted's remarkable documentary history through the reign of King Tutankhamun. By providing the first definitive transcription and the first English version of hundreds of historical records inscribed on papyrus or leather or carved in stone, Breasted gave unprecedented access to details of royal succession, military conquest, religious upheaval, administrative complexity, and other aspects of ancient Egyptian civilization. Originally published in the first decade of the twentieth century, his monumental work appears here in paperback for the first time.
The Eighteenth Dynasty saw the consolidation of the cult of Amun and the expansion of the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, as well as a religious revolution under King Akhenaten that involved abandoning Thebes as a religious capital and royal residence and founding a new city devoted to the service of the new solar god, Aten. Breasted presents records of the biography and coronation of Queen Hatshepsut, including reliefs that depict the queen's expedition to the land of Punt. Also in this volume are the annals of Thutmose III, providing the most complete account of the military achievements of any Egyptian king; scenes representing the supernatural birth and coronation by the gods of his son, Amenhotep II; and inscriptions from the tomb of Rekhmire, prime minister or vizier under Thutmose III, that include a listing of taxes paid to the temple and foreign tribute proceeding from the king's two decades of military activity in Asia.
A herculean assemblage of primary documents, many of which have deteriorated to illegibility since its original publication, Ancient Records of Egypt illuminates both the incredible complexity of Egyptian society and the almost insuperable difficulties of reconstructing a lost civilization.
Volume 3 of Ancient Records of Egypt opens on the chaotic aftermath of King Akhenaten's religious revolution. Breasted chronicles the precarious reigns of Akhenaten's successors and the political and legal reforms of King Horemheb, who succeeded to the throne after the passing of the last members of the royal family. This volume contains the important edict of Horemheb, intended to prevent the oppressive abuses connected with the collection of taxes from the common people, and the inscriptions of Roy, high priest of Amon, showing the first transmission from father to son of the office of the high priest.
In the context of a long history of mutilating and altering reliefs for political purposes, Breasted discusses the insertion into a relief of the figure of Ramesses II in order to reinforce his claim to the throne. This volume also includes the treaty of alliance that sealed peace with the Hittites under Ramesses II; a series of documents that record the invasion of Libyans and Mediterranean Sea people during the reign of Merneptah; and the Great Temple of Abu Simbel, the most remarkable of the rock-cut temples of Egypt.
This first complete paperback edition of Breasted's five-volume Ancient Records of Egypt makes available to a new audience a milestone in Egyptology and in the compilation of documentary histories. Clearly annotated for the lay reader, the documents provide copious evidence of trade relations, construction activities, diplomatic envoys, foreign expeditions, and other aspects of a vigorous, highly organized, and centrally controlled society. Breasted's commentary is both rigorously documented and accessible, suffused with a contagious fascination for the events, the personalities, the cultural practices, and the sophistication these records indicate
With volume 4 of Ancient Records of Egypt, James Henry Breasted brings us to the end of the self-governed era of ancient Egyptian civilization. Chief among the documents contained in this volume are the inscriptions from the Medinet Habu Temple, one of the most completely preserved temples of Egypt, and the great Papyrus Harris, the largest (133 feet long) and most sumptuous papyrus extant, 95 percent of which Breasted was the first to study closely. Together these documents present a detailed record of the reign and benefactions of Ramesses III, whose reign lasted more than thirty years.
Volume 4 includes intriguing records of the harem conspiracy and legal documents that indicate the extent of robberies of royal tombs. Records of the Nile levels at Karnak provide important chronological landmarks, while the Stela of Piye (Piankhi), which documents the Nubian kingdom already in existence as a full-fledged power, provides information on the internal political climate of Egypt during a time when no aggressive monarch controlled the whole country. Breasted also notes where these ancient Egyptian records intersect with accounts of the same events from other sources, such as the mutiny of Psamtik I's troops as inscribed on the alabaster statue of Nesuhor and as narrated by Herodotus.
In effect, Ancient Records of Egypt offers a valuable dual record. On the one hand, Breasted presents the events and personages of ancient Egypt as recorded in the documents. On the other hand, he presents a history of the documents themselves. Fragmentary or partially destroyed, carved on temple and tomb walls or written on fragile scrolls of leather or papyrus, even inscribed on the coffins and temple linens of the royal and priestly mummy wrappings, these records offer an irreplaceable primary source on a fascinating civilization.
An indispensable companion to any of the other volumes of Ancient Records of Egypt, the Supplementary Bibliographies and Indices facilitates direct access to specific information on the people, places, and inscriptions catalogued by James Henry Breasted. Exhaustively compiled and intelligently arranged, these indices include the kings and queens, temples and geographical locations, divine names, and titles and ranks encompassed by three thousand years of Egyptian history. Also provided are indices of all Egyptian, Hebrew, and Arabic terms mentioned in the texts, as well as a complete listing of the records with their location in Lepsius's Denkmäler.
This first paperback edition of Ancient Records of Egypt features the important addition of bibliographies by Peter A. Piccione, together with an introduction that puts Breasted's historical commentaries into modern perspective. These bibliographies offer valuable guidance on new translations and modern treatments of the inscriptions included in Ancient Records of Egypt. Professor Piccione points the reader toward recent studies of Egyptian chronology and modern scholarship on Egyptian and Nubian history. He also provides information on anthologies of Egyptian texts in translation and topographical bibliographies that suggest further reading on specific ancient Egyptian monuments, texts, and reliefs.