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  • Well, good evening everyone.

  • Thank you for coming.

  • My name is not Zahi Hawass despite what

  • you see on the book there.

  • I'm Peter Manuelian.

  • I'm Director of the Semitic Museum

  • and teach Egyptology in the [INAUDIBLE] Anthropology

  • Department here.

  • And I'm very, very happy to welcome tonight's special guest

  • speaker.

  • Dr. Bob Brier is recognized as one of the world's

  • foremost experts on mummies.

  • A Senior Research Fellow at the CW Post Campus of Long Island

  • University in Brookville, New York,

  • he conducts pioneering research in mummification practices,

  • and has investigated-- get this list-- investigated

  • some of the world's most famous mummies

  • including King Tut, Vladimir Lenin, Ramses the Great, Eva

  • Peron, and the Medici family of Renaissance Italy.

  • I dare you to find someone else in the world who's worked

  • with all of those people.

  • Dr. Brier earned his bachelor's degree

  • from Hunter College of the City University

  • of New York, and his Ph.D. In philosophy

  • from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • He taught philosophy and Egyptology

  • at CW Post Campus in Long Island for 33 years

  • before being appointed Senior Research Fellow in 2004.

  • I think that means you don't have

  • to teach anymore so I'm curious to learn more about that.

  • Affectionately known as Mr. Mummy--

  • and I kid you not-- Dr. Brier was the first person in 2,000

  • years to mummify a human cadaver using the exact techniques

  • of the ancient Egyptians.

  • He's conducted research in pyramids and tombs

  • in 15 countries, and was the host of several award winning

  • television specials for The Learning Channel,

  • and in 2010, National Geographic TV

  • presented this documentary called "The Secret

  • of the Great Pyramid."

  • This discussed a new theory of how the great pyramid was

  • built. He's the author of several scholarly and popular

  • books including The Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians,

  • The Murder of Tutankhamen, Egyptian Mummies,

  • Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art,

  • Ancient Egyptian Magic, Encyclopedia of Mummies,

  • and The Secret of the Great Pyramid

  • with Jean-Pierre Housing.

  • Dr. Brier's research has been featured

  • on CNN, 60 Minutes, the New York Times, and Archaeology

  • Magazine.

  • In March 2011, the New York Times

  • ran a feature article about his extensive collection

  • of Egyptomania that fills three, no less than three, apartments.

  • This is the subject of his most recent book,

  • hot off the presses, and I might add available

  • right after this lecture for a book signing

  • and reception at the Semitic Museum right next door,

  • so please join us.

  • And the book and tonight's lecture

  • are both entitled Egyptomania, Our 3,000 Year Obsession

  • with the Land of the Pharaohs.

  • Please join me in welcoming Dr. Bob Brier.

  • You want to get down first and then I'll turn the lights off.

  • I can find my way.

  • Hi.

  • What I'd like to do tonight, and of course,

  • I'm going to talk about Egyptomania,

  • but I'd like to do three things.

  • One is I'd like to try to explain why we all

  • have this fascination with Egypt, what

  • is it about Egypt that draws people in

  • rather than say what Greece doesn't have.

  • Then, I'd like to talk about some events that

  • have fanned the flames of Egyptomania,

  • trying to show those events that really get people going nuts

  • over Egypt.

  • And then I'd like to show some of the collectibles

  • that those events have spawned.

  • So let me start with a question though.

  • What does this have to do with Egyptomania?

  • Anybody know?

  • Nobody?

  • Come on.

  • Way in the back.

  • Thought I saw a hand.

  • No?

  • OK.

  • I'll tell you.

  • The Statue of Liberty was originally intended for Egypt.

  • True.

  • It was intended for the opening of the Suez Canal,

  • and the sculptor Bartholdi had designed a maquette already

  • of it, but Egypt went bankrupt, and they couldn't afford it.

  • So Bartholdi went back to France and sold the French government

  • the idea of buying it and giving it as a present to America.

  • And so this is what it was supposed to look like.

  • It was a peasant woman, and it was called "Egypt Enlightening

  • Asia" and it was supposed to be at the entrance

  • to the Suez Canal.

  • So that's a little bit of Egypto-trivia.

  • But the next time you look at the Statue of Liberty,

  • think Egypt.

  • Now, as I said, I'd like to talk about what

  • is it about Egypt that draws people in.

  • I did interview two days ago, I think it was, on NPR,

  • and the fellow who was interviewing me,

  • John Hockenberry said, is it that Egypt

  • is the source of civilization, is that what it is?

  • And he was surprised when I just said, no.

  • I'm quite sure it isn't, because Greece

  • is the one that always hypes itself

  • as the source of Western civilization,

  • and Greece doesn't quite have the appeal of Egypt.

  • If young children are put in a museum like the MFA,

  • they'll go towards Egypt not towards Greece

  • or the Mayan exhibits or whatever.

  • And every New Ager who thinks he or she is reincarnated

  • was an ancient Egyptian in the previous life, never

  • a Viking or a Maya or whatever.

  • So there is something about Egypt.

  • I've been talking a little bit about it

  • with several friends who collect Egyptomania or the things

  • that Egypt has produced.

  • And I came upon one thing that's pretty sure that Egypt

  • has that other civilizations don't that may be part

  • of the attraction-- mummies.

  • There is something special about a mummy.

  • When you look at it you're looking

  • at a person who lived 3,000 years ago,

  • but he hasn't turned to dust.

  • He's not just a pile of bones.

  • He's still a recognizable human thing.

  • And I think maybe we look at it and there's

  • a little bit of envy.

  • It's almost as if he's cheated death.

  • Now, it's appropriate that this mummy is Ramses the Great,

  • and we're next to the Harvard Semitic Museum,

  • so we've got the pharaoh of the Exodus.

  • And this is probably the only face from the Bible

  • that you will ever see.

  • But Egypt not only has the monuments,

  • we've actually got the people who built them.

  • So mummies are one attraction, I think.

  • Just one, and there's not a bunch, but it's a big one.

  • Another one, I think, is hieroglyphs.

  • There was always a feeling that these hieroglyphs

  • were mysterious.

  • Now, for 1,500 years, the ancient Egyptian language

  • was a dead language.

  • The last inscription in hieroglyphs

  • is on Philae Temple.

  • It's about 394 AD, and that's the last dated inscription

  • we have, and then it becomes a dead language.

  • So throughout the Middle Ages, hieroglyphs

  • are these mysterious characters that no one can translate,

  • and all kinds of theories pop up about what they are,

  • and they're mistranslated by people.

  • This is just a book of the dead and the hieroglyphs, of course,

  • they were deciphered.

  • And you usually read towards the mouths of the birds,

  • right to left, this is a right to left reading text

  • except over here.

  • So I think hieroglyphs are part of the draw,

  • these mysterious things.

  • I used to teach a course in Middle Egyptian at the New

  • School for Social Research in New York,

  • and I had as many as 100 people wanting to do hieroglyphs.

  • And these were mostly people who were already

  • in the middle of their careers.

  • They didn't want to become Egyptologists.

  • These weren't 20-year-olds.

  • These were 40 and 50-year-olds.

  • And there was just something drawing them to hieroglyphs.

  • There was something, perhaps it was escapism,

  • perhaps it was just the art of them,

  • but I would repeatedly get 100 people in a class.

  • So there is something about hieroglyphs also.

  • And I think there's one more thing that really draws people

  • to Egypt.

  • It's the sense of lost worlds and discovery.

  • It's like the Indiana Jones syndrome.

  • And this is, of course, Carter looking at the gold coffin

  • with Tutankhamen still in it.

  • And it's a story that people love to hear over and over,

  • this idea of finding buried treasure.

  • That's, of course, the gold mask, the icon.

  • It's probably the most famous object from the ancient world.

  • I can't think of another one that's more recognizable.

  • And I think it's this sense of lost world's buried treasure.

  • Here's another Tutankhamen object that was on his body,

  • within the wrappings.

  • So you've got these three things.

  • You've got mummies that sort of scream immortality.

  • You've got the mysterious hieroglyphs that just seem

  • beautiful, but indecipherable.

  • And you've got the sense of lost worlds waiting

  • to be discovered.

  • So I think that's what draws people in.

  • What I'd like to talk mainly about tonight

  • is the events that fanned the flames, the things that

  • really got peoples interested.

  • Now, this is Bonaparte, age 29.

  • Napoleon is not yet the emperor, but I

  • think when he invades Egypt in 1798,

  • this is going to get people really interested in Egypt.

  • Now, here's the Gerome painting.

  • He's in Cairo.

  • Now, he's not an experienced man yet.

  • He's coming off of the Italian campaign.

  • He's undefeated.

  • He's undefeated, and he comes back to France, to Paris,

  • and they ask him, will you next invade England please?

  • And he says, no.

  • He's not interested in that.

  • But he suggests Egypt.

  • He's an Egyptophile.

  • He wants to go to Egypt to follow

  • in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, his hero.

  • And he even says it.

  • All great men's careers begin in the East.

  • So he wants to invade Egypt.

  • Now, this is a painting of Bonaparte on a camel.

  • It never happened.

  • Bonaparte came with five of his own horses.

  • As far as we know he never rode a camel,

  • but it's part of the Orientalist appeal.

  • He's going to fight the Mamelukes who

  • are very colorful.

  • They are an Eastern fighting force.

  • They are trained to be fighters.

  • Each one has a spear.

  • This guy's got his spear.

  • He's got a scimitar here, but they've also got two pistols.

  • Handguns.

  • And they way they fought, they're all horsemen.

  • No artillery, no foot soldiers really.

  • They go in on horses, and what they

  • do is they have servants running behind them,

  • and they fire their two pistols, throw them

  • over their shoulders, and the servants gather them up,

  • reload, given them back, and they're back, ready to fight.

  • So Bonaparte is going to fight the Mamelukes.

  • First big battle is the Battle of the Pyramids.

  • It is the first time that an Eastern fighting

  • group like the Mamelukes has come up

  • against a Western disciplined army.

  • Bonaparte's men form squares right there.

  • They have artillery at the corners.

  • There's five lines of riflemen here, and in the center,

  • you can see it over here in the foreground, are the cavalry.

  • So the idea is in case the squares are broken,

  • the cavalry comes out and saves the day.

  • The riflemen are going to fire sequentially.

  • First row, then they bow down, reload, next shot, next row,

  • and they go on.

  • So Bonaparte says, hold your