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ETERNAL EGYPT (article first published : 2005-12-25)

The Search for Eternal Egypt is an hour-long series starting on the History Channel on DStv on December 27 at 20h30.

Combining interviews with the world's top Egyptologists, specially-shot location footage, dramatised re-enactments, archive images and computer graphics, The Search for Eternal Egypt tells the dramatic story of the development of Egyptology over the last 200 years.

Starting in 1798, with the arrival of Napoleonic scholars, the film reveals how their systematic survey of the country became the cornerstone of modern research into Ancient Egypt. It also explains how their discovery of the “Rosetta Stone” allowed the writings of the ancient Egyptians to be read for the first time in 1500 years.

Part 2 tells how this early scholarship was followed by decades of looting, when European antiquity dealers scoured the Nile Valley in search of objects to sell to collectors or museums back home. Much damage was done but in the process, these early archaeologists did discover many new sites and treasures. The act ends with the foundation of Egypt's first museum - and a concerted attempt to regulate the antiquities trade and keep some of the country's heritage in Egypt.

Part 3 covers the development of modern archaeological techniques and reveals some of the results. It features the story of the “father of modern archaeology”, Flinders Petrie, and ends with Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922.

The fourth act brings the story up to date, by featuring some of the most fascinating discoveries of the last 20 years; the tombs of the pyramid builders, their lost city, and the rediscovery of the largest tomb in the Valley of the Kings - KV5.

Part 5 finishes the story by exploring the threat posed to the remains of ancient Egypt by population growth, pollution and mass tourism. It reveals how many Egyptologist are focused on conservation - and tells the story of Eternal Egypt, an ambitious project to document Egypt's past and make it available to a worldwide audience over the internet.




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