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BOOK REVIEW - The Monuments of Ancient Egypt - Charles C. Gillispie & Michel Dewachter

Updated: Jun 19, 2021


In 1801 the army of Napoleon invaded Egypt. In the course of his conquest, he commissioned a team of architectural engineers to conduct a survey of the monuments and artifacts discovered there. The result was to significantly change the way scholars and scientists viewed the world and give rise to the study of Egyptology. All of their meticulously drawn plates pertaining to Egyptian antiquities have been reproduced in this extraordinary volume.

Temples, monuments, hieroglyphs and plans of sites have been rendered with remarkable detail. It was on this expedition that the Rosetta Stone, which turned out to be the key to decoding hieroglyphics, was discovered. An introduction by the Princeton professor, Charles Coulston Gillipsie provides context and background to more than 480 pages of plates.

Their accurate drawings and diagrams were compiled in ten volumes called the Description de l'Egypte which became the foundation of future archaeological study from that point forward. Comprising of 837 copper engravings, many of these contained multiple illustrations that numbered over 3,000 in all.

This work has been reproduced over the years and a current version is available through the book entitled, The Monuments of Ancient Egypt, by Charles Gillispie and Michael Dewatcher. This publication contains the complete first five volumes of the description de l'Egypte. These volumes contained the actual engravings of temples, pyramids, and tombs as observed at the time of the Napoleonic Expedition.

The other half of the original collection, which has been omitted from the current publication, contained engravings of maps, animals, plants, and local Arab artifacts during the time of the Napoleonic invasion.


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