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Obelisk and the Englishman : The Pioneering Discoveries of Egyptologist William Bankes (Hardcover)

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William John Bankes (1786–1855) was a pioneer in the nascent study of the language, history, and civilization of ancient Egypt. At the Abydos Temple he discovered the King List — a wall of cartouches listing Egyptian kings in chronological order — which was vital to the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. At Philae he uncovered a fallen obelisk, which he arranged to be transported back to England. And in modern-day Jordan he was the first European to make sketches and site plans of the “lost” city of Petra.Bankes’s life was rich and full, and his discoveries have proven to be quite valuable and influential. But, living in an era when homosexuality was a capital offense, he was persecuted for being gay and threatened with imprisonment and execution. His decision to travel and pursue his love of art and architecture went against his father’s wishes that he follow in his footsteps and become a politician. Despite such obstacles, Bankes’s pioneering work on ancient temples and artifacts now enriches the knowledge of modern Egyptologists, and his art collection and decorative talents can be enjoyed by those who visit his home, a National Trust estate — with the obelisk from Philae still raised on the south lawn.Enhanced by many of Bankes's drawings and paintings, this engaging story is full of vivid detail about the beginnings of Egyptology, Regency England, and a fascinating individual, and it sets the record straight about Bankes's crucial role in setting the stage for the work of later scholars.
Scholarly, mischievous, and driven by curiosity about the unknown, William John Bankes (1786-1855) was a complex and talented member of England's landed gentry. A friend of Lord Byron, he achieved recognition on several fronts: as a daring explorer of ancient lands, notably Egypt and Petra; as a brilliant art collector, illustrator, and remodeler of Kingston Lacy, his family estate in Dorset; and, unfortunately, as the focus of a homophobic sex scandal, which forced him to leave his homeland.

Bankes made key discoveries as he explored the archeology and history of Egypt and Syria. He traveled deeper into Egypt and Nubia than any other European before him and prepared over 1,400 site plans and drawings of temples, many now lost to the sand or under the waters of the Nile. At the Abydos Temple he discovered the King List?a wall of cartouches listing Egyptian kings in chronological order?which was vital to the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. At Philae he uncovered a fallen obelisk, which he arranged to be transported back to England. And in modern-day Jordan he was the first European to make sketches and site plans of the ?lost? city of Petra.

William?s life was rich and full, if not always comfortable and secure. In an era when homosexuality was a capital offense, he was persecuted for being gay and threatened with imprisonment and execution. But his pioneering work on ancient temples now enriches the knowledge of modern Egyptologists, and his art collection and decorative talents can be enjoyed by those who visit his home?with the obelisk from Philae still raised on the south lawn.

Enhanced by many of Bankes's drawings and paintings, this engaging story is full of vivid detail about the beginnings of Egyptology, Regency England, and a fascinating, multifaceted individual.
Number of Pages: 30416
Genre: History, Biography + Autobiography, Social Science
Sub-Genre: History
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Random House Inc
Author: Dorothy U. Seyler
Language: English
Street Date: May 12, 2015
TCIN: 16892921
UPC: 9781633880368
Item Number (DPCI): 247-42-2838

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