Chinese Isis?


Welcome to another edition of Weird Places We Find Isis.

This is an odd story and it connects two phenomena of the 17th century: Egyptomania and Chinoiserie. At the time, Europeans were obsessed both with ancient Egypt and China. What’s more, there was a theory going around that the Chinese civilization had Egyptian roots. I know.

Athanasius Kircher

The person who initially came up with that theory is also known as “the father of Egyptology.” His name was Athanasius Kircher, a German Jesuit scholar. He became fascinated with ancient Egypt (and China). He taught himself Coptic and argued, correctly, that Coptic was the last form of the ancient Egyptian language. He also pointed out the connection between Egyptian hieroglyphs and hieratic, a script form of the hieroglyphs that the priests could write more quickly than drawing the glyphs.

The Father of Egyptology

His giant tome on Egyptology—which earned him…

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