National Geographic and the stars of Egyptology


Putting yourself in the shoes of archaeologists, living their daily lives, in 40 degrees without shadow, to the rhythm of hopes, small and large discoveries… This is the originality of this documentary series, the third season of which is broadcast in January. A safe and unpretentious value, which can be viewed with pleasure, even by non-archaeologists or those who know nothing about Egyptology.

Pleasure for the eyes above all in the impressive setting of the left bank of the Nile, which houses some sixty tombs of the main pharaohs of the New Kingdom (around – 1500 to – 1000 BC), but also queens and princes and the elites of the XVIIIe, XIXe and XXe dynasties that reigned over this period, from Thutmose Iis to the line of Ramses.

Read also Ramses II and Tutankhamun, pharaohs superstars for “Secrets of history”

Ramses II, Tutankhamun, Cleopatra …

The series is intended for the general public. Hence the historical reminders produced in animated form whose pointillist graphics echo the omnipresent sand. And the themes chosen: only “superstars” from ancient Egypt, such as Ramses II (tonight), Tutankhamun (2 episodes), Cleopatra… Without forgetting the ultra-popular subjects such as tomb robbers, mummies, sarcophagi. …

Regulars will also immediately find some recurring “characters” of Egyptology, such as the eccentric Colleen Darnell, omnipresent in the episode. The Ascension of Ramses II. Depending on the mood of each one, this American with the false air of Louise Brooks, dressed in the fashion of the Roaring Twenties, will amuse or annoy, while serving as a guide – scholar, her research on Egyptian military history is authoritative – in the maze. vestiges of the temple of Karnak and the stronghold of the famous pharaoh Ramses II “the Great”, the vast architectural complex of Thebes.

Programmed as a result, The time of the mummies loses in extravagance what it gains in originality and authenticity. Thus in Saqqarah, south of Cairo, a vast necropolis in the Memphis region known to house the funeral complex of King Djoser and his step pyramid, the viewer meets Salima Ikram, a Pakistani woman born in 1965, professor of Egyptology. at the American University in Cairo. Falling in love with Egypt at the age of 9, the young woman is now specialized in the study of mummies of all kinds – human, but also cats, dogs, lions …

Read also “A treasure”: more than a hundred sarcophagi discovered intact in the necropolis of Saqqara in Egypt

A spectacular 3D reconstruction allows you to sneak through a corridor entirely covered with paintings and to enter a burial chamber where, from the debris found, the mummy is reconstituted before our eyes.

The childish side of scientists is refreshing, always ready to go into ecstasies in front of a piece of pottery. « Let’s go ! », thus launches Basem Gehad, before opening what looks like a small elongated coffin. “Will he find a mummy?” “, asks the voice over for comments. Built according to the same scenario, each episode ends with a sort of final bouquet of discoveries. A beautiful journey… back in time to start the year.

The Lost Treasures of the Valley of the Kings, by Gwyn Williams, Mat Stimpson, Andy Bailey et Miles Carter (RU – EU, 2021, 8 x 45 min): Tutankhamun, unloved and Kings of the pyramids (in Replay on MyCanal); The Ascension of Ramses II and The time of the mummies (January 9); Secrets of the queens of Egypt and Pyramid looters (the 16th); The Secrets of Tutankhamun and Cleopatra, last pharaoh (the 23).