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This series of beautifully filmed docu-dramas included nicely-controlled acting, and is centred around the hitherto undiscovered antiquities of Ancient Egypt and the men who brought them, and their meanings, to the attentions of the world.
|S01E01||The Search for Tutankhamun||30/10/2005||Carter's fledgling career in Egyptology suffers a blow when a tomb he opens to huge fanfare is found to be empty. Undeterred from his ambitions, Carter parts company from his partner, Thedore Davis, and resumes his work as an archaeological artist and desperately hopes he will find a new patron. A meeting with the maverick Lord Carnarvon is to change Carter's life forever. Carnarvon - who has come to Egypt to recover from a horrific car accident - has become obsessed with finding an undamaged tomb and teams up with Carter in the search for the elusive burial site of the Boy King Tutankhamun. They begin digging but are unable to excavate The Valley of the Kings as Carter's old rival, Davis, owns the only concession to excavate. By 1912, Davis believes he has discovered all the major finds in The Valley, including the tomb of Tutankhamun. Carter, certain that Tutankhamum remains undiscovered, persuades Carnarvon to secure the permit to continue to excavate in The Valley of the Kings. However, just as the team begin work, war breaks out with Germany and the dig is suspended. Carter and Carnarvon resume their work with renewed vigour when the war ends and The Valley of the Kings is explored piece by piece. Excavations continue until 1922, when, frustrated with the lack of progress and nearing financial ruin, Carnarvon decides to pull out. Carter is devastated and pleads with him to reconsider, even offering to pay for the dig himself. Eventually Carnarvon relents and, while excavating the very last plot, the water boy discovers a step that appears to be part of a tomb. Carnarvon and his daughter, Evelyn, watch nervously as Carter makes a hole in the first plaster-sealed entrance. Placing a candle through the opening, he is stunned by what he sees: an antechamber filled with all sorts of Royal possessions, including amazing golden chariots and other 'wonderful things' to take the Pharaoh to his afterlife. Instead of immediately summonin|
|S01E02||The Curse of Tutankhamun||06/11/2005||The story of the tomb of Tutankhamun captivates the world's media and propels Carnarvon and Carter to instant celebrity status around the globe. The ultimate prize that Howard Carter has sought all his adult life yields more than he could ever imagine: thousands of priceless artefacts, eventually crowned by the solid gold coffin and death mask of Tutankhamun. However, Carter is uneasy with his new-found celebrity status, and the absence of any real historical information frustrates him. As the dig progresses in the heat of the Egyptian desert, tensions between Carter and his team begin to boil over... Carter is working in the full gaze of publicity - everything he does is under the watchful eyes of packs of international journalists. He realises that in order to preserve the tomb's contents for posterity, his work has only just begun. Meanwhile, Carnarvon is desperately trying to keep the press at bay. In order to minimise the disturbance for those working at the site, he strikes an exclusive deal with The Times. This angers other journalists, especially Weigall from The Daily Mail, who starts writing stories claiming the tomb is cursed. With all the material from the antechamber removed, Carter's team begin to break through to the chamber beyond. Finally, it is the day Carter has been waiting for all his life and he is delighted when he can officially open the burial chamber of Tutankhamun. Unfortunately, under the terms of Carnarvon's agreement with the Egyptian Director-General of Antiquities, if the site contains an intact Pharaoh's tomb its contents must revert back to the Egyptian Government. Carnarvon and Carter play for time and persuade the authorities to let them excavate the rest of the chamber. From the opening of the burial chamber, things begin to go badly wrong. Carter becomes increasingly irritated and sacks key colleagues. Carnarvon and Carter argue over his pedantic management of the tomb, and Carter's '|
|S01E03||The Pharoah and the Showman||13/11/2005||Belzoni fails to please Pasha Ali of Egypt and his new career in 'water mechanics' fails. He is penniless and stranded in Cairo without work. Just 16 years after the invasion by Napoleon, the enthusiasm of Europeans for all things Egyptian is growing and there is intense rivalry between explorers and collectors - the rivalry is particularly intense between the French and the British. In Cairo, Belzoni meets two men who will change his life for ever. The first is John Lewis Burkhardt, who, disguised as an Arab, has travelled to unknown Egyptian temples that have remained lost from the world for centuries. The other is Henry Salt, the British Counsel General, keen to make his name as a collector. Inspired by the tales of Burkhardt, Salt offers Belzoni a job: to travel down the Nile to Thebes to collect a giant seven-ton granite bust named the 'Younger Memnon' from an Egyptian temple. The French have tried and failed to lift it, so Anglophile Belzoni rises to the challenge in order to bring it back for the British Museum. At the time, nobody can yet read hieroglyphics but the 'Youger Memon' is, in fact, the likeness of Ramesses II, the greatest of all Pharaohs. Belzoni discovers he has the perfect skills for the job: vast strength, engineering knowledge, maverick intelligence and wit combined with bravery and cunning, and the head of Ramesses II is soon on its way to Henry Salt back in Cairo. Flushed with success, Belzoni and his crew decide to travel further down the Nile to search for more collectable artefacts for Salt. Near the border with modern-day Sudan, they arrive at an amazing temple carved directly out of the mountain – unbeknown to them, they have found Ramesses the Great's Temple at Abu Simbel. However, to Belzoni's frustration, he cannot find the entrance as most of the temple is covered in tons of sand. Intrigued and fascinated, Belzoni vows to return… In parallel with Belzoni's story, the programm|
|S01E04||The Temple of the Sands||20/11/2005||The Great Belzoni, actor, strongman, and engineer, has now turned all his attentions to becoming a famous adventurer. In episode four of Egypt, Belzoni makes some of his greatest discoveries, and uncovers the entrance to The Temple Of Ramesses at Abu Simbel. Belzoni's new ambition is to be the greatest collector in history, but in the fashion of all good swashbuckling tales, he has a rival. Drovetti, the tenacious French collector, is waiting to thwart him at his every turn. Henry Salt asks Belzoni to go back to Thebes and Philae to find more artefacts for the British Museum. However, Belzoni doesn't realise that Salt is using him to furnish his own collection and sell artefacts to the highest bidder. Belzoni is only a few miles down the Nile when he runs into Drovetti's men, who are also on their way to Thebes. A race across the desert then follows as Belzoni tries to prevent Drovetti's men from stealing his precious collections at Thebes. But when he arrives, Belzoni finds he is too late and Drovetti is well advanced in the process of removing everything he can from the great temples. This setback only firms Belzoni's resolve and he finds another beautiful and colossal statue. Infuriated, Drovetti threatens Belzoni so, under the cover of darkness, he slips anchor and heads south. On reaching Abu Simbel, Belzoni has the problem of shifting the tons of sand surrounding the opening to the temple. It proves an impossible task; every time they try to dig a hole, more sand flows in to fill it. Soon, the labourers lose patience and leave. Then Belzoni has an idea. To make the sand easier to dig he wets it with water from the Nile, and then builds a palm tree fence around the opening of the temple to prevent sand from flowing in. Eventually, they break through the top of the temple's doorway and slip inside. The interior of the temple is spectacular, featuring colossal statues of Ramesses II which support the ceiling, and fabulous r|
|S01E05||The Mystery of the Rosetta Stone||27/11/2005||This is the story of Jean-François Champollion, the brilliant linguist, genius and one of the first true Egyptologists. The programme begins in Egypt in 1798, when the country had been virtually closed to Europeans for centuries and its ancient culture lost and forgotten for over a thousand years. Napoleon has with him scholars, including antiquarians and linguists, whose job it is to unravel the mysteries of ancient Egypt. But they were able to achieve little more than to paint its beautiful ruined monuments and wonder what it all meant, for Egypt's secrets were locked in the strange ancient writings, the hieroglyphs. Meanwhile, Napoleon's soldiers have unearthed an extraordinary object that offers a crucial clue. The Rosetta Stone has written on it a proclamation by Pharaoh Ptolemy V, in three different texts, Greek, and the common writing of the time, the sacred script of the hieroglyphs. However, before a translation can begin, the British defeat Napoleon and The Rosetta Stone is taken as a spoil of war to the British Museum. The French are left only with copies… Back in Europe, the Stone proves impossible to decipher, and the greatest minds in the continent give up. Authorities on either side of the Channel search for a genius. Anglo–French rivalry intensifies when the two geniuses recruited for the task begin work. Englishman Thomas Young, a great scientist with a razor-sharp analytical mind, and a brilliant linguist, the young Frenchman Jean-François Champollion, start the race to crack the hieroglyphics. Young takes a typically methodical approach, essentially using mathematics - comparing the scripts to analyse how often certain words or hieroglyphs appear. He makes a number of breakthroughs, including working out how to read the name of the Pharaoh Ptolemy. Young always believes that the ancient hieroglyphs are really just symbols (like road signs) and do not make sounds in the same way as words do – to him, The Rosetta Stone is nothin|
|S01E06||The Secrets of the Hieroglyphs||04/12/2005||In the final episode of Egypt, Jean-François Champollion has unlocked the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs but, in doing so, faces opposition from the Church and a challenge to his own beliefs. The programme begins in 1815, when everyone in Europe has been infected with a fascination for Ancient Egypt. The King of France buys - at huge cost - a relief, removed from the ceiling of the temple of Dendera in Egypt. A number of experts believe this to be an ancient temple. There is much excitement about just how old it really is. If it was much older than 2,000 BC, it threatens the established chronology of the Bible. Jean-François Champollion is invited to give an opinion by one of the King's aides, the Duc de Blacas. This is the first test of his ability to understand hieroglyphs. Known as a free thinker, his presence makes the Church nervous. However, to everyone's surprise, Champollion declares, quite definitely, that the relief was made after the birth of Christ, due to the crude quality of its art and the existence of some hieroglyphs that spell the name of a Roman leader. It is the first dramatic and very public demonstration of Champollion's understanding of the hieroglyphs. In 1824 he is invited to Italy to see some of the world's greatest collections of Egyptian artefacts. While there, he discovers, to his delight, that he can read quite easily all the hieroglyphs he sees. He is also able to decipher ancient lists of Egyptian Pharaohs and parts of the book of the dead, describing the journey of the Pharaoh through the afterlife. He is the only person in the world who understands how to read hieroglyphs, but not everyone believes him. Jealous academics in Paris and elsewhere are waiting to disprove him. Now Champollion is desperate to test his skill in the temples and tombs of Ancient Egypt but, as a poor country boy, cannot fund his own voyage. The Church hears of Champollion's desire to travel to Egypt and they offer to support h|