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The Egyptomania Craze

From Wedgwood China to the Washington Monument

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Abstract

By the end of the eighteenth century, the spinning jennies and smoke-spewing factories of the Industrial Revolution had transformed England into the richest nation in Europe. Trade with North and South America and the all-important India was booming. The British boasted the largest merchant marine in the world and an unrivaled navy to protect it. The French, in contrast, were reeling from the chaos that followed the French Revolution. The ruling Directory sought revenge on the British, who had caused colonial losses in America and Asia. They turned to Napoleon Bonaparte, the charismatic young general who had won electrifying victory in the Italian Campaign. In 1798, the general called his troops to Marseilles, spreading fears of invasion throughout Europe and the Ottoman Empire. No one knew that Bonaparte had a secret mission. He planned to hoist the French flag over the pyramids.

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“Soldiers,” said Napoleon, “from the summit of yonder Pyramids forty ages behold you!” And the battle began.

—F. de Bourienne, Bouriennes Memoirs of Napoleon

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© 2008 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc.

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Parramore, L. (2008). The Egyptomania Craze. In: Reading the Sphinx. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230615700_2

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