It is difficult to (over) estimate the impact of Egyptian civilization in antiquity. Greece and Rome were indebted to Egypt in the spheres of art and literature. Egypt was an economic and social power for such a long time it is almost impossible to consider social trends of the eastern Mediterranean without taking Egypt into account. Egyptian influence has even been suggested for cultures as far away as England, where Stonehenge was thought at one time to be the product of Egyptian colonists. Stonehenge, however, after the introduction of carbon dating, was found to be earlier.(1) Structures were found in Europe that pre-dated the rise of Egyptian civilization. Yet here the main issue is perception. Egypt loomed so large in the minds of even the scholars of the age that the only way Stonehenge could be explained was via Egypt. The impact of ancient Egypt on modern life is also great. In recent decades the inclusion of ancient Egyptian motifs into science fiction has been pronounced. To the layman it would appear that such an advanced civilization requires contact with extraterrestrials. Indeed, this interest in extraterrestrial forces was also evidenced in Victorian times, though it was expressed in a different manner than today.
The re-discovery of Egypt by the West in the last several centuries led to an enormous interest in archaeology. It has been stated many times that Sir Flinders Petrie, who specialized in ancient Egypt, could be considered the father of all archaeologists, no matter what geographical specialization they may have. Indeed, this may be an over-simplification, but there are some grounds for making the claim. Yet, as with many human endeavors, there is no simple answer as to why archaeology started as a science when it did. Indeed, a major focus of much archaeology is to study religious trends over time.
The Victorians are well known for their interest in proving that the peoples and places listed in the Bible are true. It was largely this interest that led to the modern archaeological obsession with dating. The events in the Bible are not provided with clear dates, this is where the importance of Egypt emerges. Egypt used a detailed chronological system based on the years a given King reigned. In some cases, not only did it prove possible to confirm that the broad historical events in the Bible were true, but also to date them with greater accuracy than would be possible from the evidence of the Bible alone.
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