Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (2023)

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (2)

Antiquarianism gave way to archeology as practitioners increasingly turned to empirical methods.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (3)

VonDr. Eleanor Dobson
Lecturer in 19th Century Literature
University of Birmingham


Passing through the large central door and entering the Sety I Temple is like stepping into a sci-fi "time machine".1

As Bradley Deane argues about the "Lost World" genre, which peaked between 1871 and 1914, its "stories set on every continent and pitting modern man against the imaginary remains of almost every man of antiquity and legend" "create Frontiers as a new uncanny space in which the grand narrative of progress collapses', and 'confronts Victorian and Edwardian men with their primitive past and challenges them to compete'.2I would add that the heyday of the genre coincides with the heyday of archaeology. The Lost World genre, with its newly identified civilizations often living in subterranean spaces, seems indebted to the burgeoning academic discipline that strove to understand ancient tracks unearthed beneath the feet of modern humans.

Antiquarianism gave way to archeology as practitioners increasingly turned to empirical methods in the last decades of the 18th century. During the course of the 19th century, landmark excavations stimulated public interest not only in the discoveries of the practice but also in archeology itself. Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli (1823-96), who oversaw excavations at Pompeii from 1863, filled in the cavities , who had left corpses under the ashes of Pompeii, again with plaster and made casts that repeated the forms of the ancient dead. A decade later, German businessman and archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-90) made the remarkable discovery of the Troy site. The first modern excavations of the Sphinx at Giza were led by Italian explorer Giovanni Battista Caviglia (1770-1845) in 1817, with the excavation of the Sphinx's chest and paws finally being achieved in 1887.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (4)

We can read a literary echo of such events in narratives related to the discovery of "lost" civilizations by modern westerners in popular texts such as Edward Bulwer-LyttonThe upcoming race(1871) and H. Rider Haggard's Hun (1886–7). Although these civilizations are not direct offshoots of ancient Egypt, they do share important Egyptian characteristics. The subterranean pyramid structures and beautiful Sphinx-like features of Bulwer-Lytton's subterranean people - the Vril-ya - suggest the author drew inspiration from ancient Egypt. Meanwhile, Nicholas describes DalySheas "in many ways a repressed Egyptian romance", identifying connections between the novel's Amahagger people and Victorian attitudes towards modern Egyptians, and between the ruins of Kôr and ancient Egyptian archaeological sites.3Later, in several narratives that drew a less ambiguous boundary between Egyptian archeology and the texts it inspired, civilizations presented as explicitly of ancient Egyptian origin were imagined as living below the surface of the earth. Subterranean Egyptian civilizations feature, for example, in Oliphant Smeaton's (1856-1914) adventure storyThe Mystery of the Pacific(1899) und Baroness Orczys (1865-1947)From God's beloved(1905).

Taking this starting point, where archeology is believed to have had a particular influence on the fin de siècle literary imagination, this article first addresses the encounter with ancient Egypt in texts from the Lost World, where offshoots of the ancient Egyptian Civilizations are imagined to be somewhere else spatially, either underground or some other geographically distant location. These works include Francis Worcester Doughtys (1850-1917)"I": a story of strange adventures(1887) and Jules Verneeating finks(1897). Next, stories by British author and illustrator Fred T. Jane that ancient Egyptians are believed to have existed on the planets closest to Earth will be discussedVenus in five seconds(1897) and the American astronomer Garrett P. Serviss (1851-1929)Edison's Conquest of Mars(1898), where it is imagined that the ancient Egyptians found a new home even further away. Finally, it concerns texts in which Egypt is not reached by leaving the planet, but where Egypt is encountered through time travel, with an emphasis on H.G. Wells (1866-1946).The time machine(1895) and E. NesbitsThe History of the Amulet(1905-6), before examining the time-travelling Ancient Egyptian Rames in William Henry Warner's (fl. 1919-34) novelThe Bridge of Time(1919) and finally the astronomer Camille FlammarionsThe end of the world(1894). I propose that these stories of various Egyptians, as experienced by representatives of the 19th and 20th centuries, arose out of a constellation of popular scientific interests in the second half of the 19th century that crystallized around archaeology: viz geology and astronomy. These sciences were themselves of intense fascination for occultists, who advanced new theories of the earth's history based on the insights of practitioners working in these fields, including an influential hypothesis that Egyptian civilization was an offshoot of the fabled utopia of Atlantis. Egypt, so often repre to introduce. .

Egypt elsewhere

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (5)

While disproved in the 18th century, 17th-century geological theories of a hollow earth had a significant cultural afterlife in 19th-century literature, where subterranean civilizations—often of ancient Egyptian or Atlantean origin—proliferated. That these societies have ancient Egyptian connections can be attributed in part to public enthusiasm for archaeology, which in the 19th century brought to light the remains of that civilization, often for public use in museums. The fact that Egyptology arose as a science from the late 19th century is shown, for example, by the regular inclusion of Egyptology articles in journals such as those of the British astronomer Richard A. Proctor (1837-88)Knowledge: an illustrated journal of science, established in 1881. Geological reassessments of the Earth's age have had monumental implications for the study of the ancient world, and also pointed to a far greater span of time that mankind had existed on Earth. Writers took up the challenge of imagining alternative histories that challenged the general archaeological understanding of some of the oldest human civilizations celebrated in modern culture.

In fact, archeology seems to have directly inspired several stories about the "lost world" of Egypt or Egyptian civilizations. Several such narratives use framing narratives that foreground an ancient artifact or manuscript as in She, lending a distinct archeological flavor to such narratives.4by American author Francis Worcester Doughty"I": a story of strange adventures(1887), unter dem Pseudonym Richard R. Montgomery iBoys of New York, for example, is apparently based in part on She, replacing the ancient Shard with its many scripts (including Egyptian hieroglyphs) with an ivory tablet on which Arabic script is highlighted in gold.5The "ancient race" "part Egyptian, part Assyrian" architecture that the protagonists locate suggests a composite past made up of a hodgepodge of collections that fill European and North American museums, while Revelation shows that the ancient people themselves was turned to stone by cataclysmic weather conditions with eerie white clouds and thunder and lightning, suggests that Doughty was also inspired by the destruction of Pompeii.6The protagonists' search for a version of the Old Testament written in ancient Egypt and their journey, during which they encounter the people described by Herodotus, is reminiscent of the ambitions of early Egyptologists: the first excavations funded by the Egypt Exploration Fund (established in 1882 ) about looking for evidence for the biblical Exodus. The Bible and classic writings served as guides as to what and where to look.

Baroness Orczy's short story "Ur-Tasens Rache" (1900), on the other hand, is presented as a narrative developed through Egyptological methods. The narrative's subtitle - "Notes Written on Some Papyrus Fragments Found in the Caves of the Temple of Isis (of the Moon) at Abydos" - immediately hints at the conceit of the story as a product of antiquity, which not only brought to light by archaeological excavations (which in the last decades of the 19th century had made, as David Gange puts it, "sudden advances in the direction of scientific technique") but also by the decoding of the ancient Egyptian language.7Meanwhile at Charles Dudley Lamps (1859-1943)Mirango the cannibal(1899), beginning the narrative with the narrator's purchase of a book containing "long descriptions of the country, its characteristics, products, and inhabitants," makes this work—after the discovery that the civilization is ancient Egyptian—a precursorDescription of Egypt(1809-29). This multi-volume work on Egypt, edited by Napoleon Bonaparte's (1769-1821) fans, is often cited as the first major milestone in the history of western Egyptian research.8

Unfortunately, many of these texts, of which Lamp's novel is a good example, are particularly notable today for their racist treatment of Africans and Arabs, who serve as a foil for the ancient Egyptians. The parallels, which these authors are keen to enforce by consistently portraying the Egyptians as more akin to the Western travelers they encounter, position modern Europeans as the rightful heirs of ancient Egyptian culture. This ideology was evidently useful in justifying the trials of Egyptology itself (and the shipment of ancient Egyptian artifacts to museums abroad) and the British occupation of Egypt in 1882.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (6)

The push to establish a direct link between ancient Egypt and modern European culture may also help explain the rise and continuation of hyper-diffusionist theories in the 19th and 20th centuries, which argued that there was a single ancient civilization from which all other civilizations emerged. . Gange credits the British Egyptologist Peter le Page Renouf (1822-97) in 1878 with "reviving the Enlightenment thought[...] that all the civilizations of the world sprang from a single source in a glorious imperial super-civilization that had known it divine knowledge but in its decadence was destroyed by the Noahic deluge'; Renouf again speculated "that ancient Egypt harbored memories, if only vague, of a sophisticated and divine civilization in the past".9Other Egyptologists such as Grafton Elliot Smith (1871–1937) suggested ancient Egypt as a starting point for cultural sophistication. Less common among Egyptologists, although popular with occultists, particularly theosophists, was the theory that Egypt had inherited its wisdom from the lost continent of Atlantis and could therefore be seen as an intermediary between modern civilization and an even older society. Bulwer-Lytton, whose own writings proved so influential on Theosophy, believed that all religions could be traced back to ancient Egypt as their original source, which is probably why the Vril-ya ofThe upcoming racehas an architecture reminiscent of Egypt and other ancient cultures.10

The later influence of hyperdiffusionist theories on literature can be read in The Green God (1916) by William Call Spencer (1892?–1925?), where an obelisk carved with hieroglyphs points to a common heritage between the ancient Egyptians, the Chinese and the Egyptians the Mexicans. In particular, novels written for children seem to draw inspiration from these theories. At Oliphant SmeatonThe Mystery of the Pacific, a Pacific island, is home to direct descendants of the ancient Romans and a community of black Atlanteans living in an underground city. In this example, a rare exception to the rule, the Atlanteans, whose depiction is heavily Egyptianized, are considered to be the more advanced civilization.

A significant number of the texts discussed in this article imagine that ancient Egypt inherited its scientific knowledge from Atlantis, an idea that entered popular cultural consciousness after the publication of American politician Ignatius L. Donnelly (1831-1901).Atlantis: the antediluvian worldin 1882. Donnelly's understanding of Atlantis was derived from a more literal interpretation of Plato's mythological writings about this fabled civilization. Donnelly's voluminous volume makes several key claims about Egyptian civilization in the opening pages: first, "that the mythology of Egypt and Peru represented the original religion of Atlantis, which was sun worship"; and second, "that the oldest colony founded by the Atlanteans was probably in Egypt, whose civilization was a reproduction of that of the Atlantic island".11

Donnelly's liberal citations of well-known authorities such as the paleontologist Richard Owen (1804–92) and some of the most famous archaeologists and Egyptologists of the 19th century - Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823), Jean-François Champollion (1783–1832), Karl Richard Lepsius ( 1810-84) and Reginald Stuart Poole (1832-95) - at times his text exudes an air of scholarly authority. Elsewhere, his reverence for Egyptian civilization, which comes closest to Atlantis, is expressed in passionate words: "Egypt was the splendour, the golden bridge, ten thousand years long, glorious with temples and pyramids, illuminated and illustrated by the most complete and most enduring records of human history"; nevertheless, he claims, "even this wonderful land of the Nile is but a feeble and imperfect copy" of Atlantean civilization.12

DonnellysAtlantiswas widely read and influenced not only fiction but also contemporary esotericism, especially theosophy. Charles Webster Leadbeater claimed to have obtained Atlantean knowledge through "astral clairvoyance," which in turn influenced the publication of his theosophical colleague William Scott-Elliot (1849-1919).The History of Atlantis(1896). In Scott-Elliot's text, the author claimed that the Atlanteans possessed such advanced technologies as airships, understanding that Atlantean science and technology was so mature that modern civilization was only just catching up with its achievements.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (7)
(Video) How Did Our Universe Emerge From Chaos?

Such writings provided clear depictions of lost worlds where ancient Egyptians meet modern humans. As heirs to Atlantean knowledge, they are often portrayed as magically and technologically advanced. Thanks to hyper-diffusionist theories, with both occultists and Egyptologists seriously considering the idea that Egyptian (or some even older progenitor) culture had spread across the globe, the possibility arose that archeology would provide evidence that such hypotheses were correct.

Jules Vernes (1828-1905) took the idea to extremeseating finks(1897), which has been translated into English asAn Antarctic Mysteryin 1898. In French, the novel's title and its illustrated front page depicting the monument prepare the reader for the discovery of an "ice sphinx" in Antarctica - perhaps the most surprising terrestrial location for such a monument - while the English Intriguing version keeps these details under wraps, perhaps in an attempt to build to a more exciting climax. The French and English editions share an illustration by French artist George Roux (1853–1929) of the Sphinx with a skull-like faceResults.13The accompanying description emphasizes the Greek connotations of the Sphinx, where Verne writes that the Sphinx the posture of the winged monster that Greek mythology put on the road to Thebes' ('in the pose of the winged monster that Greek mythology put on the road to Thebes').14However, there is also an Egyptian element; The original French edition of the text shows a closer view of the Sphinx, which is not included in the English version, with the Sphinx's appearance being more clearly Egyptian, similar to that on the cover of the French edition.15Its horizontal line on its back and the elongated shape of the cliff from the top of its skull, reminiscent of a Nemes headdress, give it a silhouette reminiscent of the Great Sphinx of Giza.

There is no explanation for how this sphinx materialized at the South Pole, making an Egyptian presence in this most inaccessible place a mystery. Conceived as a sequel to Edgar Allan PoeThe Story of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket(1838) - Verne's characters attempting to uncover the fate of Poe's eponymous protagonist - Le Sphinx des glaces - ends with a symbol of early human civilization that cannot be deciphered. As Will Tattersdill notes, the poles in 1890s fiction "offer not only an empty space on the map ... but also an imaginative space in which science seems confused". He notes that researchers trying to reach these points "encounter the uncanny folded together with the scientifically explainable, the real alongside the fantastic".16This is certainly the case in Verne's novels: an archaeological reading of the images that accompany Verne's text tells us that this is an Egyptian sphinx, but the sphinx itself is empty space: an unsolved riddle.

Tattersdill sees a pattern in science-based adventure literatureend of the centuryit applies to narratives interested in displaced ancient Egyptian societies. The poles of the earth, he observes, act as “a stepping stone to the stars, a place where spectrality and science, known and unknown, intersect with exploration and colonialism in a way that allows a genre to go off-planet “.17As we will see in the coming sections, the ancient Egyptians are sometimes thought of as space travelers and in other contexts as magical powers that allow them to travel through time, no longer occupying the empty spaces on the map, but escaped the map itself. If the poles offered a blank canvas for the imagination of a scientifically informed fantasist, so could Earth's closest neighbors: Venus and Mars. It is the night sky as another potential site of Egyptian knowledge and thus Egyptian presence that we are now turning our attention to.


Like archaeology, astronomy - once an elite occupation - became increasingly accessible to the middle class in the 19th century. With revolutions in printing, images depicting astronomy or astronomical phenomena also became more available. Among them were imaginative depictions of ancient astronomers.

The Despatch of French Scientist and Writer Louis Figuier (1819-94) Five volumesLives of Brilliant Scholars(1866-70), dedicated to the 'Savants de l'antiquité', contains numerous engravings by the great 'scientists of antiquity' standing before carefully rendered ancient Egyptian architecture. Such pictures show 'Pythagoras among the Egyptian priests” (“Pythagoras among the Egyptian priests”) in an impressive temple room; 'Euclid presents Ptolemy Soter with his Elements of Geography’ (‘Euclid presenting his geographical elements to Ptolemy Soter’) probably in Ptolemy’s palace; 'Apollonius im Museet in Alexandria' ('Apollonius in the Museum of Alexandria'), again in a building dominated by fine architectural detail; AndPtolemäus Soter builds the Museum in Alexandria"("Ptolemäus Soter builds the Museum of Alexandria").18In all of the above images, Figuier's work emphasizes the Egyptian environment as one associated with the giants of ancient philosophy and science, and elsewhere in this volume a particular visual connection between ancient Egyptian architecture and astronomy emerges.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (8)

Hipparchus am Observatory von Alexandria(“Hipparchus at the Alexandria Observatory”), for example, features the eponymous astronomer surrounded by considerable astronomical equipment and overlooking a starry sky over the city, recognizable Egyptian thanks to its pylon-shaped architecture together with a striking obelisk.19A later picture,'Claudius Ptolemeus am Observatory in Alexandria' ('Claudius Ptolemy in the Observatory of Alexandria') returns to this setting, albeit with an alternative view, with twin sphinxes flanking the scholar (Figure 2.1).20 Claudius Ptolemy (c. AD 100-170) studies a scroll in front of a huge globe They represent the constellations held aloft by seated ancient Egyptian figures who, like the sphinxes, are denoted as divine by their stylized beards. Such symbolism in these images reinforces the understanding of the ancient Egyptian deities as guardians of knowledge.

The last illustration of the volume entitled 'Death of the philosopher Hypatia in Alexandria'('The Death of Hypatia the Philosopher at Alexandria'), depicting a hectic scene before rather than within this impressive Egyptian architecture, as the philosopher and astronomer Hypatia (c. AD 370-415) is snatched from her chariot ( that of the chariot's high level of detail, suggesting that the unnamed artist consulted genuine ancient Egyptian sources just before they were killed (Figure 2.1).21Although the image does not show Hypatia with her scientific apparatus or in quiet contemplation like the other astronomers, her learning is suggested by the image's composition: a tall pylon shape in the background vertically divides the image into two, with Hypatia herself sitting atop the central one Position at the bottom of the scene. With the pylon towering above her inscribed with hieroglyphs, Hypatia conforms to hieroglyphic writing as a symbol of mystical learning, and is thus marked as an heir - and contributor - to the history of the ancients.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (9)

About the same time as FiguiersLives of Brilliant Scholars, astronomical observation spread to Egypt itself. The Khedivial Astronomical Observatory was founded in Cairo in 1868 and almost half a century later moved to a new site with better visibility in Helwan, built between 1903 and 1904. Photographic records of Halley's Comet were first produced here in 1909 and 1911. The popular press also promoted a connection between Egypt and astronomical phenomena, showing picturesque scenes of shooting stars streaking across Egyptian landscapes. In an example from an 1882 editionThe graphicentitled "The Comet as Seen from the Pyramids from a Sketch by a Military Officer" (Figure 2.2), the comet leaves an impressive trail of light that is reflected in the water of the Nile. As the accompanying article states, "The comet is seen in all its glory in Egypt, and the early morning view from the Pyramids (our sketch was taken at 4am) is described as unusually magnificent".22Earlier this year, one of the brightest comets of all time was sighted in Egypt; The comet, named after Mohamed Tewfik Pasha (1853-92), then Khedive of Egypt, Tewfik, was seen - and photographed - during a solar eclipse that had brought a multitude of British astronomers to Egypt and Egypt's reputation as a prime location for modernity solidified astronomical survey.

The marriage of interests in astronomy and ancient Egyptian civilization is of particular importance in understanding the science fiction that emerged in the early 20th century. In the second half of the 19th century, key figures interested in astronomy - particularly the planet Mars - also engaged in archaeological studies of ancient Egyptian sites; The combination of these two interests created the sub-discipline of archaeoastronomy. It is in this context, and based on the reputation of the ancient Egyptians as stargazers who had passed their knowledge on to the Greek astronomers, that some of the earliest works of science fiction depicting the ancient Egyptians as space travelers emerged. Fred T. Jane and Garrett P. Serviss - authors who have attracted little attention from literary scholars - both wrote novels that emerged from this context and produced narratives in which ancient Egypt was not only emblematic of the past, but also for future civilizations and technologies. One can see that these speculative fictions arose from the space devoted in works of popular scholarship to fanciful speculations about the fate of Egyptian monuments thousands of years into the future.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (10)

A fusion of astronomical expertise and interest in the Great Pyramid is best characterized by British astronomer Richard Proctor in the late nineteenth century.23Best known for his maps of Mars, Proctor understood the planet's dark spots to be oceans and the lighter spots to be landmasses. This work built on the images and observations of earlier astronomers, but Proctor's work would prove enormously influential in pinpointing and schematic mapping some of these areas. In the 1880s he also published on subjects such as the Great Pyramid as an astronomical observatory, again using technical drawings and details of precise measurements to support his hypothesis. Despite these qualities, Proctor's primary aim was to appeal to a popular rather than a purely scholarly, learned audience, as evidenced by the embellishment of his work with images to stimulate the imagination. These illustrations contained a representation of what ancient Egyptian astronomers might have seen of the night sky from the Great Pyramid appearing in several astronomical publications from 1891 to at least 1912 (Figure 2.3), designed by French illustrator Louis Poyet, whose work appeared. in a number of popular scientific venues in the late nineteenth century.24

The Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835-1910) built on Proctor's mapping of Mars, with his own charts giving more detail to the surface than Proctor's. Between the 1870s and 1880s an interesting change can be seen in Schiaparelli's images, where some of the dark lines he could see on the planet's surface became much straighter and more regular. Schiaparelli continued Proctor's work, naming these lines after rivers on Earth and mythological figures. These included the names of Egyptian gods: Anubis, Apis, Athyr (Hathor), Isis, and Thoth. There was even a Mars Nile: Nilus.

Egyptian designations entered astronomy in the 19th century. Asteroids have been given Egyptian names since the 1850s, although the first, the naming of the asteroid Isis by British astronomer Norman Robert Pogson (1829–91), was actually in honor of his daughter Elizabeth Isis Pogson (1852–1945). Isis, as she was known, was an astronomer in her own right who would go on to become the first woman to be nominated for election as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.25Subsequently, a meteor discovered by Canadian-American astronomer James Craig Watson (1838-80) in 1876 was named Athor after the Egyptian goddess of motherhood, love, sexuality, music and dance. The German-American astronomer Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters (1813-90) named a meteor he discovered in 1889 Nephthys after the Egyptian goddess associated with mourning, protection and the night (Nephthys was the last of the 47 meteors, discovered by Peters, who was probably running out of his favorite classical names by this point). In 1917 the German astronomer Max Wolf (1863-1932) discovered an asteroid which he named after the opera of the same name by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), a work from ancient Egypt, Aïda and the following year another asteroid Sphinx, probably more likely a nod to Greek mythology rather than Egyptian, but with ancient Egyptian connotations nonetheless.

The naming—and the misinterpretation of such designations—is crucial to what later happened in scholarly work on Mars and its representation in popular culture. Schiaparelli's designation of these lines as "canali" - the Italian word for "canals" - famously led to the mistranslation of these patterns as "canals" by the American astronomer Percival Lowell (1855-1916). This error implied that there was some sort of agency behind the formation of these features, rather than simply natural features on the planet's surface.26For these structures to be artificially created, intelligent life would have to exist on Mars.

While Lowell was by no means the first astronomer to propose the prospect of civilized life on Mars, his understanding of these dark lines as channels (or other man-made structures) is of enormous importance for their impact on science and science fiction in the 1890s and 1800s over and beyond. . Lowell's drawings of Mars suggest even more geometric, regular shapes than Schiaparelli's, depicting a planet covered - supposedly - by a complex network of waterways far more sophisticated than has been achieved on Earth.27The completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 and attempts to build the Panama Canal in the 1880s and 1890s (which did not succeed until the early 20th century) proved - and would prove - to be world-changing in terms of international trade.28The imperialist fanfare celebrating the opening of the French-controlled Suez Canal at the turn of the 1870s—along with the work of Lowell and others—may well have fostered parallels in the minds of those interested in the supposedly superior Martian effort are engineers; Such themes certainly dominated scholarly and popular discussion of the planet in the 1890s. It was perhaps just a short jump to see how the pinnacle of canal engineering at Suez was replicated—and replaced—in the 288 canals Lowell allegedly documented on the surface of Mars.

Lowell was also fascinated by another major feat of human engineering: the Great Pyramid. In fact, in 1912, heavily influenced by Proctor's work, he declared the Great Pyramid "the most superb [observatory] ever erected" and specified that "it had something for telescopes the magnitude of which had not yet been surpassed."29While Lowell in no way asserts the general superiority of ancient Egyptian astronomers or their equipment over their modern counterparts, he does emphasize the unprecedented scale of ancient Egyptian monumental construction. Lowell identifies at least one way in which ancient Egyptian achievements had not yet been overtaken by modern civilization, an idea that by this point had already been proving influential in science fiction for at least several decades.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (11)

As if pulled straight from the debates of the 1890s, the naming of Martian features after Egyptian deities, and the parallels between the Suez Canal and Martian structures, Garrett P. Serviss' 1898 novelEdison's Conquest of Marscontains a text and pictorial representation of the Great Sphinx of Giza as originally built by Martians rather than Egyptians, illustrated in a picture by an illustrator named P. Gray (Figure 2.4). Serviss himself was an astronomer, although his varied career also included a period where he workedNew Yorker Sonnefrom 1876 to 1892. A flair for vernacular journalistic writing is evident in his popular science works, as well as in his fictional oeuvre, which includes five novels and one short story.Edison's Conquest of Marswas Serviss' first foray into fiction, commissioned byBoston Postas a sequel to an unauthorized and heavily edited version of H. G. Wells' 1897 novelworld war, justifiedFighters for Mars or the War of the Worlds, which has been serialized intoThe New York Evening Journal.

In Serviss' text, American inventor Thomas Edison selects a group of men to venture to Mars. Their goal is to destroy the Martians who previously carried out such a devastating attack on Earth, and they travel into space and to Mars itself to eliminate any future threat. That Mars will be connected in some way to ancient Egypt is hinted at in Edison's selection process. As the narrator of Serviss relates, “modelled on the illustrious corps of literary and scientific men that Napoleon carried with him when he invaded Egypt, Mr. Edison is a company of the foremost 'scientists' of a variety of disciplines - 'astronomers , archaeologists, anthropologists, botanists, bacteriologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, mechanics, meteorologists and mining experts” – “as well as artists and photographers”. .30The inundation of Mars at the end of the novel means that these experts have little opportunity "to gather material compared to the discoveries made in the ruins of ancient empires in Egypt and Babylonia", although this is in Serviss' comparison with Napoleon Invasion of Egypt 100 years before the publication of his novel, Bonaparte realizes that this is as much a mission of cultural imperialism as of warlordism.

It turns out that there is indeed a historical connection between Mars and Egypt. A beautiful woman named Aina, whose ancestors come from a utopian civilization in Kashmir, tells the story of an ancient Martian invasion of Earth that led to the construction of the Pyramids and the Sphinx. The Martians "suddenly fell from the sky... and began to kill and burn and ravage".31"Some of the sages," she relates, "said that this thing came upon our people because ... the gods in heaven were angry," this mention being the first of several to understand the arrival of the Martians as plagues inland Egypt outlined in the Old Testament. The following is actually a mixture of biblical narrative and pseudo-archaeology:

(Video) Strangest Baffling Mysteries of Egypt DOCUMENTARY, Ancient Civilizations Boxset

they carried out from...our homeland...large numbers of our people, and led them first to a foreign land where there were oceans of sand, but where a great river...formed a narrow land of fertility. After killing and driving out the natives, they stayed here for many years, keeping our people they had taken captive as slaves... And in this land... they are said to have done many wonderful works.32

Aina's language and syntax even tip into a kind of biblical archaism when she tells this story. While their people are Kashmiri rather than Atlantean, they function similarly to the Atlanteans in the understanding of the origins of ancient Egyptian civilization proposed by Donnelly and his followers. Driven from their original homes, the former inhabitants of this utopian civilization are taken to Egypt, where the Martians assume the role of the ruling class while themselves, like the Israelites in the Bible, are slaves. Aina reports that the Martians, so impressed by the mountains of Kashmir, "travelled with huge blocks of stone mountains to imitate what they had seen," the blocks "swinging to their great heights," not from "little men." , as many engineers had said it couldn't be, but… those giants on Mars.33In keeping with the biblical understanding of Egypt as a symbol of despotism and absolute power, the Sphinx is revealed as "a gigantic image of the great chief who led them in their conquest of our world."34The following is a reference to Wellsworld war, which ends with the invading Martians being overwhelmed by pathogens in biblical terms; Only when "a great plague broke out", interpreted as "the scourge of the gods", did the Martians "return to their own world" and took the Kashmiri people with them.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (12)

The Great Sphinx was obviously of symbolic interest to Serviss. He would return to this monument in his story of a great flood (on Earth and not Mars).The second flood, recordedThe Cavalierpublished in 1911 and then in 1912 in a one-volume novel format with illustrations by George Varian (1865-1923). Travel the flooded world in a submarine calledJules Verne, in a nod to the legacy of his novel by the French author, Serviss' protagonists accidentally collide with the Sphinx, causing a surface layer of the monument to fall off. What remains is "a huge black figure sitting on some kind of throne, staring into their faces with flaming eyes" and emitting "bolts of fire".35In Varian's futuristic image of the Sphinx, not only do we see glowing eyes that indicate advanced technology and also some kind of occult power, but the hieroglyphic symbols adorning the Sphinx are reminiscent of scientific diagrams. As we read on we discover that this is a symbolic 'representation of a world swept by a flood', beneath which is engraved a hieroglyphic message of 'I will return – | 'At the end of time'.36The Great Sphinx is said to have been a prophecy all along that another flood would inundate the earth.

While the direct influence of one on the other cannot be determined, it is noteworthy that this scenario is suggested in Richard Proctor's article "The Pyramid of Khufu," which appeared inThe North American Reviewin March 1883. Proctor explains:

Compared to the enormous lengths of time thus presented to us as one of the proven but unimaginable truths of science, the life span of a structure like the Great Pyramid appears to be the duration of one breath. However, since people need to see the works of man, the pyramids of Egypt draw deep interest from their antiquity. Young compared to the works of nature, they are the oldest of all the works of man. They were ancient when the temples and monasteries were built, of which only the ruins remain today, and it seems that they would last until the last traces of a building now in existence or likely to be built by modern man disappeared are from the face of the earth. Nothing, it seems, than a mighty natural disaster engulfing them beneath a new sea... could utterly destroy them unless the same race of beings who undertook to raise these vast masses would undertake the task to destroy them in hand.37

Returning to Proctor is helpful in showing how astronomers and science popularizers have themselves devoted some of their non-fiction to the kind of speculation we are more familiar with in genre literature - in this passage a similar scenario is imagined in Proctor's case . to Serviss, where Egyptian monuments lie under water. In addition, it offers interesting linguistic nuances to explore. Proctor credits the ancient Egyptians alone with the power to remove their structures, calling them a "race of beings". In Proctor's use of the term "beings," we are encouraged to think of the ancient Egyptians as something other than humans, as we sound familiar with depictions of them in science fiction. Although the Egyptians are still human in some of these fictions, they are imagined as living an extraterrestrial existence.

The other sci-fi work we're particularly interested in isn't about Mars, it's about Venus, although the planets are essentially interchangeable. Both written and illustrated by Fred T. Jane, his novelVenus in five secondsenvisions pyramids as landing and launch sites for vehicles that move so rapidly that the movement almost resembles teleportation, and the ancient Egyptians (originally from Mexico, suggesting Donnelly's theories) as effectively migrating to a society of to form people on Venus. There they live with the original intelligent species called the Thotheen, which is likely named after Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom. The Egyptians are inferior to the Thoth in all sciences except medicine, and so they are allowed to remain on the planet in their capacity as superior physicians.

Jane's protagonist, a medical student named Plummer, meets a fellow student named Zumeena, who appears to have a romantic interest in him. While Zumeena is socializing, Zumeena takes Plummer into what appears to be a cottage, but once Plummer is inside, they are obviously objects of some sort. This is no ordinary structure, and within five seconds of closing the door, Plummer is transported to Venus, an experience he initially believes is an illusion and surpasses the performances of "Maskelyne and Cooke".38There, like Aina in Serviss's novel, Zumeena provides the historical background describing how the ancient Egyptians got to another planet:

The origin of the pyramids, which a later and more convenient age turned into tombs, was really nothing more or less than a convenient form of the transit system we perfected some eight thousand years ago. You'll find identical pyramids in Mexico and Egypt, and between those two points we had constant traffic in argon-coated cars. By sheer coincidence and coincidence, a group of my ancestors sitting in one of these cars on a sandy plain were suddenly transferred to this planet.39

The resemblance between the pyramids of Mexico and Egypt is revealed by Donnelly as an influence on Jane's ideas, while the reference to argon, isolated from the air only a few years earlier in 1894, emphasizes how current chemical knowledge was very strong in 8,000 years earlier Egyptian technologies integrated.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (13)

While such details serve to emphasize the far superior scientific advances of the ancient Egyptians, the supremacy of the Thothians and the people of Venus is ultimately challenged in one respect: although they are more scientifically and technologically advanced, they submit to problematic ethical systems . When Plummer rebuffs Zumeena's advances, she decides to revive him along with the other Earthlings her people have kidnapped (the Thoteen and Ancient Egyptian threat depicted in Figure 2.5). The ancient Egyptians - now adversaries - lead their captives through a purposeful building whose pylon-shaped doors are a decorative nod to Egypt, and ruthlessly pursue medical advances at the cost of lives.

This wasn't the only time Jane used ancient Egyptian imagery to represent technological modernity. Although Jane is best remembered as a warship and aircraft expert and a wargamer, Jane was also a talented illustrator, providing illustrations for George Griffiths' science fiction novels, among others. He also produced a series of speculative futures pictures commissioned byThe Pall Mall Magazinein 1895, which included a design depicting "an AD 2000 dinner party" where waiters dressed in ancient Egyptian costume hand out "chemical foods" in a building clearly inspired by an Egyptian temple.40This world appears simultaneously ancient and futuristic, with the view outside showing the top of an obelisk and floating balloons projecting light downward to illuminate the city below. The image also offers an intriguing contrast between the people present. Jane imagines white Europeans being served by waiters in ancient Egyptian-inspired costumes. There is clearly a hierarchy here, with ancient Egypt subservient, its engineering feats appropriated to the modern world, along with perhaps its alchemical knowledge, which may be the basis of the 'chemical foods' consumed by the elite.

As Nathaniel Robert Walker notes, "at the center of this image Jane placed a poetic signature that may contain a clue to the decoding of his Oriental Futurism".41"On the lintel is an inscription reading 'Janus Edificator' beneath a winged, double-faced head," Walker notes, reading this both as a nod to Jane herself and "also as the classic double-faced god of doors, windows, and, appropriately , currently". He reads in this picture "a unifying, evolutionary synthesis of all times and spaces".42Walker is correct in his assertion when quoting Edward Said that the "East" in Western culture is often presented as "an irrational, decrepit "other"" and that at times "the fusion of Oriental and Western architecture is gleefully presented as imperialistic became appropriation of the former by the latter”, such “hybrid architectures ... are intended to express the enticing possibilities inherent in a world shrunken by the proliferation of space- and time-consuming technologies”.43However, I think this illustration is a bit more nuanced; Certainly, ancient Egypt is presented as subservient to future Westerners, but that is not because they are the "irrational, decrepit" denizens of the East. On the contrary, the obsequiousness of a civilization often prized in contemporary culture as cultured gives even higher prestige to the image of Europeans.

Reading this image in the context of Jane's other work is also instructive, noting a sort of progression in his perception of ancient Egyptian cultural sophistication over time. When Jane wrote and illustrated her own storyVenus in five seconds, published two years after this image, Egypt is no longer seen as subordinate to Western culture but poses a very real threat, embodying the "vengeance theme" identified by Ailise Bulfin in a collection of Egyptian novels published in the 1860s appeared and swelling atend of the century.44The ancient Egyptians are the dominant people in Jane's text in terms of power and scientific advance, and Plummer is lucky enough to escape with his life. The polar opposite of bondage is portrayed in Jane's own image of the ancient Egyptians physically dominating the westerners who kidnapped them.

Despite their differences, both Serviss' and Jane's texts shift Egyptian presences to other planets, revealing that ancient Egyptian civilization is not confined to earthly ruins but lives on elsewhere. Both texts are also notable for their depiction of Egyptian monuments as signs of extraterrestrial cultures, in the case of Serviss in the Martian origin of the Great Sphinx, or in the case of Jane of the Pyramids reconfigured as a mode of transport between Earth and Venus. These sites, which were of archaeological and astronomical interest in the 19th century, cannot be understood by practitioners of these disciplines, but they defy conventional understanding. Instead, they emphasize the work that needs to be done to fill in the gaps left by advanced peoples, if not gaps in imperial atlases then in the scholarly tomes of archaeologists and astronomers.

time travel

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (14)

Time travel stories, as conceived by various science fiction pioneers in the 19th century, were particularly interested in revealing ancient Egypt and its future legacy. Mid-century narratives often used sleep as a means to conceptualize a faster passage of time than typical waking human experiences, exaggerating to the extreme (a literary device dating back to antiquity). The German Egyptologist Max Uhlemanns (d. 1862)Three days in Memphis(1856) and British children's author Henry Cadwallader Adams (1817-99)Sivan the Sleeper: A Story for All Ages(1857) both use sleep as a process through which other epochs are accessible. The former is an extended dream-like journey into the past, facilitated by the spirit of the deity Horus (a piece of papyrus on which is written a hieroglyphic message that "demonstrably" was not a mere dream); The latter sees the eponymous ancient Egyptian protagonist using sleep stages to make significant leaps in time.45

Following these examples, ancient Egypt proved to be an integral part of several of the most innovative and influential time travel narratives in the decades that followed. American minister and historian Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) "Hands Off" (1881) - a short story first published anonymously inHarper's New Monthly Magazine– is a cosmic alternate history. Although it is not, as Karen Hellekson claims, "the first known example to date of work addressing the time travel paradox: a backwards traveling time traveler who caused the events [they] went back to study them," illustrates Hands Off” (long before chaos theory) introduced the concept of the “butterfly effect”, where a small change in past events turns out to have large consequences.46In "Hands Off," the narrator of Hales, with very little explanation of how they get into this state, begins the story by describing him as "free from the limitations of time and in new relationships with space," known to thousands of solar energy. systems.47The narrator chooses to witness Joseph's journey to Egypt, only to end up being sold into slavery, as in the Bible's Book of Genesis. However, it turns out that there are other Earths in the midst of these dual solar systems, and the narrator witnesses a different version of the world in which they themselves meddle. After killing a guard dog, the narrator allows Joseph to escape and return to his father, Jacob. This action has significant consequences: since Joseph never goes to Egypt and does not foresee years of plenty followed by years of famine, the Egyptian granaries are depleted of their supplies. As a result, Egypt falls. Greek civilization does not develop without Egyptian knowledge; in the end there is "[n]o Egypt, no Iran, no Greece, no Rome" and humanity is rapidly dying out.48Luckily there are no lasting consequences as this is a world of "phantoms" - a copy of our world rather than the real article - and the narrator eventually learns not to interfere. Hale's work is notable (in addition to its historical importance as perhaps the first example of the butterfly effect in fiction) for its notion of multiple worlds long before any serious scholarly consideration of the concept. As Paul J. Nahin argues, “the idea of ​​a multiplicity of worlds … (of which ours is only one) sounds very much like the many-worlds view of reality that many find implicit in theoretical quantum mechanics.49Nahin dates the first serious scientific proposal of this idea to 1957, three quarters of a century after Hale's novel and over a century after the French artist Jean-Ignace Isidore Gérards (1803-47) first expressed the idea in art.Another world(1844).

Egypt also contributes to other milestones in the history of time travel literature and plays a crucial role in NesbitsThe History of the Amulet. According to Somi Ahn, this novel is "the first time travel story written for children".50Thus, the children's first journey through space and time to pre-dynastic Egypt becomes the original spatial moment accessed by time travelers in children's literature. In fact, it is not only the childlike protagonists who travel through time, but also the Egyptian priest Rekh-marā who, like the children, "uses the power of the amulet to move back and forth in both time and space." , meaning that an ancient Egyptian is the first independent adult time traveler in children's literature.51

Time travel narratives often function in a similar way to the Lost World genre, but instead of the text's protagonists being geographically offset, they are offset in time and usually (but not always) meet the ancient Egyptians in Egypt itself rather than an imaginary alternate location. While archeology and its remains likely provided inspiration for tales of the lost world, given how many of these texts begin with frame narratives based on a specific artifact, immersive simulacra of ancient Egypt in its glory days spread to metropolitan — entertainment and Educational Sites – Featured Time Travel Experiences.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (15)
(Video) 50 Question Friday May 12th 2023

The presence of ancient Egypt in London and other major cities was increasingly felt in the 19th century, as museums acquired and displayed Egyptian artifacts to their visitors, theatrical productions captured the splendor of ancient Egypt, and urban architecture incorporated ancient Egyptian elements. These wondrous corners of ancient Egypt in the modern world pop up everywhere, although an example of particular relevance for our purposes here is the Egyptian Courtyard in the Crystal Palace, a site used by thousands of Britons, such as Stephanie Moser, since the 19th century Records, provided "her first visual encounter with ancient Egypt".52The Egyptian Court was an innovation when the Crystal Palace, which once occupied Hyde Park, was rebuilt in Sydenham in 1854. The largest reproduction of ancient Egypt from the mid-19th century until the Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936, The Egyptian Court was unusual in that its statues were painted in dazzling polychromes, a level of detail that lends it unprecedented authenticity (at least in the UK) of this play. Many of the finer details were based on notes and sketches by the court's creators—architect Owen Jones (1809–74) and sculptor and artist Joseph Bonomi Jr (1796–1878)—made during independent excursions in Egypt, along with casts of relics in Europe big museums. Even so, the Egyptian court did not resemble the ruins of ancient Egypt, but rather the great civilization it could imagine at its cultural peak. The experience may well have suggested time travel (albeit to a composite ancient Egypt rather than to a specific moment in ancient Egyptian history), and indeed it doesThe History of the Amulet, one of the child protagonists, Anthea, expresses an interest in traveling back in time to ancient Egypt "to see the house of the pharaoh" while "wondering if it's like the Egyptian court in the Crystal Palace".53

The Egyptian Court was one of several zones in the Crystal Palace designed to reconstruct the art and architecture of different times and places: there was one court representing medieval Europe and another for Renaissance Europe, along with the Alhambra, Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece and Pompeii. The experiences of far older times were complicated by the introduction of modern technologies into these spaces. A journalist who writes forDie Illustrated London NewsFor example, in 1892 he commented that "at the Egyptian court we can hear instrumental music and comic opera floating ... from London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool".54Just as sound technologies meant that recordings could be played back from various locations in distant settings and sound recorded in the past could be played back at a later date, so did rooms like the Crystal Palace in its organization and introduction. of such technologies in these interconnected zones points to the breakdown of the conventional understanding of time and space. In fact, the rapid (and indeed non-linear) movement that could occur between the Crystal Palace's various visitor courtyards may have lent itself as an interactive precursor to time-travel narratives that envision their protagonists moving rapidly between multiple different historical societies of interest, such as it Nesbits novel does.

That the Crystal Palace and the British Museum were favorite destinations for Nesbit in her own childhood suggests the strong influence these real-world locations had on her perception of the enchantment in her children's books.55The kids insideThe History of the Amuletrefers to the Egyptian court by name only, never ventured into the Crystal Palace in this novel, although she visits the British Museum several times. As Joanna Paul notes in this text, "the British Museum ... becomes the portal through which children enter the utopian London of the future".56While Nesbit's novel involves time travel with the titular amulet, the British Museum itself also provides access to different times and places. Michel Foucault's (1926-84) understanding of the museum as the ultimate "heterotopia of time" is a useful way of understanding why museums lend themselves as exciting settings for such fictions. For Foucault, as apparently for Nesbit, "[m]useums ... are heterotopias in which time incessantly piles up" that depend on "the idea of ​​accumulating everything ... the desire to contain all times, all ages, all forms . all tastes in one place, the idea of ​​creating a place for all times, itself outside of time and protected from its erosion.57HerrenThe History of the AmuletWhile the British Museum certainly appears in such a light, this is by no means common to all time travel narratives. The Palace of Green Porcelain at H. G. WellsThe time machineis recognizable as a museum resembling those of the time traveler's own era in its collection of artifacts from the farthest corners of the world. However, it turns out that the museum succumbs to the ravages of time and collapses itself. Wells envisions a world where even the museum itself has become something of an archaeological dig, with its "inscription(s) in unknown writing" and its "floor... thick with dust."58Although Wells' time traveler never travels to Egypt in his story, the fact that this future London with its ruined museum is guarded by a subtly smiling sculpture of a sphinx is a powerful nod to ancient Egyptian iconography. It's for WellsThe time machine, and its relation toThe History of the Amuletthat we are returning now. In both texts, the line between London and Egypt, past, present and future blurs, suggesting the temporal collapse that the cityscape itself fosters.

The cultural spread of ancient Egypt in the urban space is presented as an exampleThe time machine, in which Wells imagines the suburbs of London in the year 802,701. The first landmark the time traveler sees in this future moment is a statue of a sphinx, "[a] colossal figure apparently carved in a white stone" while "everything else in the world was invisible."59Made of marble, filled with outstretched wings and somewhat weathered, the Sphinx is a kind of guardian of the changed world in which the time traveler finds himself. The Sphinx does not appear to the time traveler as male or female, and is referred to as such throughout with the neuter pronoun "it", although the time traveler's repeated references to the Sphinx's smile give the statue an almost enchanted feel. A hailstorm obscures much of the time traveler's surroundings from his view, and the hail, falling harder and softer, gives the "Winged Sphinx" the appearance of "advancing and retreating" in this desolate landscape, much like the visual ones Effects of phantasmagoria.60If we join David Shackleton's reading of the time traveler's view of the "dreamlike and insubstantial" changing landscape as he travels, a reflection of "the magical lantern displays and phantasmagorias which geology lecturers used as visual aids" in their "geological time travels." . "from the 1830s", then the time traveler's encounter with the Sphinx also hints at the archaeological theme used in magic lantern shows.61

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (16)

Like Time Traveller, the original readers of Wells' tale as first published in Britain in novel form by William Heinemann in 1895 would have been confronted with the Sphinx before the opening of the novel's first page.62Printed in dark ink on the sand colored cover of the UK first edition (Figure 2.6) - according to Leon Stover "at the author's insistence"63– is a simplified line drawing of a Sphinx sofa inspired by ancient Egyptian iconography. This sphinx, a design commonly attributed to a Ben Hardy, bears the distinctionedelHeaddress of the pharaohs. Even in this hyper-futuristic setting, one imagines that the Egyptian elements infiltrating the London landscape have not only continued to appear, but have survived. Embodying both the ancient past and the distant future, the Sphinx symbolizes (among other things) both the timelessness of Egyptian imagination and the metropolis' ability to act as a gateway to the exotic.

Yet critics who recognize the Sphinx's centrality or symbolic importance in Wells's imagined future have often overlooked its Egyptian character, with Terry W. Thompson and Peter Firchow even (independently) declaring it Greek rather than Egyptian.64Egyptian qualities are of course not made explicit verbally, although Wells apparently requested that the Sphinx appear on the front of the Heinemann edition; one would hope that the Sphinx, as it appeared, would have been drawn to the author's specifications.

The judgments of previous scholars have not stopped others, including Margaret Ann Debelius, from acknowledging the cultural hybridity of the Sphinx of Wells and Egypt's role in that hybridity. As Debelius claims, alluding to Egypt and Greece respectively, the Sphinx is "a curious mixture of Eastern and Western tradition".65I would add that if the Nemes headdress specifically encodes the Wells Sphinx as Egyptian, the wings mark it as Greek or Assyrian (or both). In fact, Assyrian sphinxes - much more commonly than their Greek counterparts - are depicted with their wings raised rather than at their sides. My point is that while Well's Sphinx is not exclusively Egyptian, it evokes something explicitly Egyptian in a concrete way in its design.

The components of the Wells Sphinx as it appears on the Heinemann cover resemble pre-existing hybrid images seen in Wedgwood products, for example. Sphinx ornaments made by the pottery company from the late eighteenth century to at least around the 1880s depict these creatures in much the same pose, withedelheaddress and wings. Wedgwood ware often combined images from different ancient civilizations (pieces intended to look Egyptian often featured Greek sphinxes, hunched female creatures that have assumed oneedelfor the occasion), so the kind of iconographic hybridity we see in the Heinemann motif reflects the iconography in circulation at the time, not only in the elite products made by Wedgwood, but also in cheaper alternatives that appeal to a target less affluent consumers.66Such Wedgwood pieces are themselves reminiscent of genuine ancient Egyptian examples (with the exception of the wings) and were perhaps originally inspired by French Egyptian Revival design, which also saw the introduction of wings on otherwise fairly faithful reproductions. Regardless of the source of this particular image, the Sphinx's cultural hybridity indicates that the future of Wells' time traveler bears a special resemblance to the ancient past. This ancient past combines several features to suggest a sort of composite orientalized decadence, rather than simply returning to a specific ancient culture.

While the first American edition published by Henry Holt (which predates the Heinemann edition in Britain by a few weeks) has no specific cover design (the only front cover decoration is the publisher's coat of arms), it includes a frontispiece depicting the Sphinx, created by illustrator W.B. Russell.67Although Russell's Sphinx wears a shorter headdress than the Sphinx that adorns the Heinemann cover, it is visually more reminiscent of the Sphinx of Giza, the most famous Egyptian Sphinx of all.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (17)

Indeed, Debelius convincingly argues that Wells' original readership would have read the White Sphinx "specifically" in the context of "Britain's military occupation of Egypt" and "the Great Sphinx of Giza"; perhaps Russell too was influenced by this context in his visual depiction of Wells' Sphinx.68 Indeed, Debelius claims that the "divided society of Wells" sounds even more like Cairo under British occupation than the author's contemporary Britain.69Debelius' reading is supported by the time traveler's repeated orientalization of the landscape; He notes that the archway into the "colossal" building where the Eloi sleep "suggests ancient Phoenician decorations," while at the top of a hill is a seat with "armrests molded and embedded in the shape of griffin heads ”, the earliest found examples of the image of the griffin from ancient Egypt and ancient Iran.70Gazing across the vista, he notes "here and there... the sharp vertical line of a dome" (reminiscent of minarets) "or obelisks," features that encourage parallels to be drawn between Cairo and the suburbs of the future in London .71Morlocks' industrial technologies aside, this is an age when most of the time traveler's civilization - including knowledge of a written language - has vanished, and so his encounter with this new world is one in which he cannot decipher any traces The written language he encounters reflects the forays into Egypt by European explorers before the hieroglyphs were deciphered.

Debelius also suggests the influence of H. Rider Haggard on Wells, "as if the best-selling author of imperial adventure fiction had somehow left his ghostly signature on Wells' text".72 The time machinehas several features in common with Haggard's She from the last decade, although one symbolic parallel is striking. As Haggard's protagonists approach the landmass where they will find the lost civilization of Kôr, their crossing of that frontier will be watched over by "a gigantic monument, like the well-known Egyptian Sphinx, created by a forgotten people... perhaps as a warning symbol." '.73There is much more to say about these texts; Suffice it to say that in both cases the sphinxes mark the transition from the known world to a fantastic space, and that space, whether existing in the present or in the future, is tainted both by a sense of "past" and of "Primitive" is imbued with 'dangers.

The time machineis interested in archaeology, geology and their heritage, which is reflected not only in the symbol of the Sphinx, but also in the time traveler's entry into the palace of green porcelain. This is the largest surviving building in this part of future London, with an 'Oriental' 'façade'.74Its original function as a museum prompts Time Travelers to declare it "the ruins of modern-day South Kensington."75Patrick Parrinder interprets the Palace of Green Porcelain as a hybrid of several South Kensington museums originally funded by the Crystal Palace, along with the Crystal Palace as reimagined at Sydenham.76Robert Crossley proposes that "Wells's Palace ... is a composite of several English museums as they existed in the late nineteenth century: notably the British Museum at Bloomsbury", in addition to the "complex of museums at South Kensington" proposed by Parrinder. .77For Crossley, "Wells has achieved, in fiction and in the future, what Prince Albert dreamed of in the nineteenth century: a single great institution which ... would not separate 'natural history' from human artifacts in the study of culture. Time Traveler hypotheses may include "much more... than a paleontology gallery... historical galleries... even a library".78Unlike Crossley, I read Palace of Green Porcelain as a return to an earlier type of museum with less strict distinctions between its different collection types. In fact, the eclectic exhibitions of the Green Porcelain Palace seem closerWunderkammerfrom which several museums of the 19th century developed. One such example is the British Museum, which grew out of the collections of British physician Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753). The Palace of Green Porcelain's collections are reminiscent of those of the British Museum before the founding of the Natural History Museum in 1881, when natural history exhibits gave way to antiquities: Walking through the museum, time travelers observe "[a] few shriveled and blackened remains of what... were once stuffed animals, desiccated mummies in jars that once held the spirit, a brown dust of vanished plants" and soon after "a multitude of idols - Polynesian, Mexican, Greek, Phoenician, every country on earth". .79This is obviously a step backwards from the separate departments of the British Museum, where artifacts were contextualized with other examples from the same original civilization.

The time traveler himself even draws on antiquated forms of Egyptology in his encounter with the White Sphinx, when he discovers that the Morlocks have hidden his time machine inside the pedestal on which the statue stands. Alluding to the work of Giovanni Battista Caviglia, who was partly responsible for the excavation of the Great Sphinx in the 1810s and who used gunpowder in some of his excavations at Giza, Time Traveler speculates that he had found explosives in the palace. of green china he would have "blasted the Sphinx, the bronze doors and... my chances of finding the time machine into non-existence".80A far cry from the meticulous, painstaking archaeological processes of the 1890s, the methods contemplated by the time traveler in desperation are reminiscent of the destructive methods of Egyptology over half a century earlier. This appears to be part of the cultural degeneration that has taken place not only in the future, where museum departments have resorted to themselves - but is taking place within the time traveler himself, where he is reverting to outdated science.

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (18)

InterestinglyThe time machinemay have impressed members of the scientific community interested in Egyptian archeology and the longevity of man-made structures over millennia. The opening of astronomer Percival Lowell's article "Precession: And the Pyramids" in a 1912 issuePopular Science Monthly, begins with the author imagining a "tourist being transported back in time" to see the different view of the stars that would have existed "five thousand years ago."81It is tempting to read the influence of Wells' text in Lowell's article, with its early allusion to time travel. Wells' time traveler, traveling to a time far from his own (albeit a leap into the future rather than the past), also notes that despite the "sense of friendly comfort" conveyed by the stars, "[a ]n the constellations of antiquity had gone'.82Lowell concludes this piece with thoughts inspired by "the pyramids...the permanence of the past alongside the transience of our time," which has its counterpart in the White Sphinx ofThe time machine, a persistent Egyptian presence while most vestiges of 19th-century culture have decayed.83Although Lowell admits that the Egyptians "didn't have any pressure," he counters that "libraries are not permanent." There may be a whisper of Wells' crumbling books in the green china palace here. While it's difficult to prove Wells' direct influence on Lowell, they were very much on the same page.

More certain is the influence of Wells' time travel fiction on the NesbitsThe History of the Amulet. One of the children's future journeys takes them to the British Museum, perhaps a reference to the time traveler's visit to the Palace of Green Porcelain on his own journey. Like the landscape in Wells' short story, at least at first glance, the London of the future iThe History of the Amuletis a rural idyll: the museum is surrounded by "a large garden with trees and flowers and soft green lawns".84The "white statues" that "glitter among the leaves" are even reminiscent of the white sphinx in the midst of this lush landscape. Here, in a far less distant future than Wells had imagined, the children meet a boy named Wells, named after the great reformer of the children's own time: Nesbit's "friend and fellow Fabian socialist".85

Despite these references to Wells' earlier work, Nesbit's time-travel novel is very different fromThe time machine. Nonetheless, Nesbit's text also emphasizes London's saturation with relics of the ancient past. The orphanage in this story is her "old nurse who lived on Fitzroy Street near the British Museum". The rooms of the "learned gentleman upstairs" - an Egyptologist named Jimmy - are themselves filled with antiquities, including a "very, very, very large" mummy case (an illustration of this is both in the book and in gold on the book cover). This means that the spaces in which the children reside - even before their adventures through space and time - are heterotopic, whether on a macro or micro scale: London itself - a city that "seems to be seamlessly stitched together" - and that House in Bloomsbury86Temporal breakdowns seem to define the spaces the children occupy, even when not traveling to distant civilizations. The aforementioned mummy case seems to change its expression to something more benevolent as the narrative progresses, "as if, in his far superior ancient Egyptian manner, he had been very pleased to see her".87This is certainly a less menacing presence than the Wells Sphinx.

In the nurses' station, "a sad clock like a black marble tomb...still as the tomb...for it had long since forgotten how to tick" is an early symbolic sign that this is a room without time, or otherwise of all time.88The clock's morbid associations conjure up images of mausoleums, in keeping with the supposedly "dead" civilizations that children continue to encounter. Another broken clock — "a part of the Waterbury clock that Robert couldn't help disassemble for Christmas and never had time to rearrange it" — cements this feeling that the kids are destined to be out of time.89

In fact, the differences between children's own time and the various civilizations they visit are often diminished - through portals to various locations in time and space created by the amulet, which appear as keyhole-shaped doors. The first time travel in children's literature sees children surrounded by "the faded trees and trampled grass of Regent's Park" glimpsing "a fire of blue and yellow and red" in the archway opened by the amulet.90Her first glimpse of predynastic Egypt ('Year 6000 BC') is a sensual bombardment of primary colors that suggest a sort of visual primitivism on the one hand, but also a vibrancy the children lack on the other. has access in modern London (except, it is believed, in Egyptian Technicolor Court).91Nesbit's description of the 'faded' green spaces in Regent's Park suggests something tired and sad in contrast to the fresher colors of Egypt in the distant past. Nonetheless, the 'little ragged children playing the Ring o' Roses' in The Children's Gift suggest ancient pagan traditions rather than any cultural modernity, the circular formation of the Ring o' Roses, which is later revisited by the protagonists on their journey to ancient Britain and of the children who bear witness to them there.92

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (19)

This lack of simple distinctions between places and times continues throughoutThe History of the Amulet. A British settlement in 55 BC. reminds children of "the ancient [predynastic] Egyptian city" they had previously visited.94The children's later visit to Egypt in Joseph's day, leading them to remark that "[t]he poor Egyptians have not improved so much in their building," also contributes to this sense of cultural stagnation across times and regions .95When the children encounter an Egyptian worker calling their 'buddies' to 'strike', one of the children, Robert, remarks that he 'heard almost every word of Hyde Park last Sunday'; Moreover, Egyptians, who make similar snide remarks as their modern counterparts upon hearing this call to action, would "today... live in Brixton or Brockley," according to Nesbit's omniscient narrator.96

(Video) 2023 Carnival Bucket List

As this tongue-in-cheek commentary suggests, Nesbit's novel treats the subject with humor, and Nesbit credits the children's past adventures with triggering important historical events that have lasting cultural consequences, namely Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain and the Introduction of Currency in Ancient Egypt. Regarding the latter, the narrator quips, "You won't believe this, dare I say, but really, if you believe the rest of the story, I don't see why you shouldn't believe it, too."97Faith is indeed essential to the amulet's magical facilitation of time travel. As various characters relate throughout the novel, "time is just a form of thought". Think differently, Nesbit implies (and, if you're an adult reader, with a child's imagination), and time travel is at your fingertips. Joanna Paul reads the magic of the novel as the power of the "written word" to give the reader access to various points in space and time, an interpretation of the book itself as a magical amulet or indeed a time machine.98

Likewise, Nesbit treats magical and esoteric subjects with a lopsided smile. Jimmy, the "learned gentleman" who lives on the top floor, believes that he is "telepathically" teaching the children details of antiquity, and at one point he speculates "maybe I've hypnotized myself".99Nesbit seems to relish the tension between the genuinely supernatural or magical versus mythology, falsehood, and illusion. One of Jimmy's friends ridicules "telepathy" as "just gibberish" before telling the novel's child protagonists about Atlantis -- as a real historical site -- just a page later.100In fact, encounters with the magical suggest the lack of truth for other phenomena, as if there could only be so much magic in the world; After his visit to Atlantis, Jimmy stopped talking about telepathy. He had now seen too many miracles to believe.'101

As U. C. Knoepflmacher notes, Nesbit supported "radical causes and esoteric cults such as the theosophy espoused by Madame Blavatsky," and these interests manifested themselves inThe History of the Amulet. The novel hints at the existence of other forms of time travel - namely reincarnation - in Nesbit's universe in the wake of the little girl named Imogen, whom the children reunite with their mother in another time. Another humorous moment, in which British theosophist and socialist Annie Besant is placed in the children's present as Queen of Babylon, further suggests that the cultures of the ancient past and the modern present are indistinguishable. The influence of Theosophy can also be seen in the children's Atlantis excursion and in the incorporation of reincarnation into their mythology.102If we read Nesbit's novel as steeped in esotericism, we can certainly see the influence of Ignatius Donnelly, whether firsthand or secondhand, in the depiction of Atlantis as the starting point for human civilization, and particularly in his intimation of the Egyptians as heirs to the Atlantean Knowledge. As Joanna Paul notes, "Nesbit's Atlantis is Plato's Atlantis first and foremost," but unlike Plato - but typical of 19th-century esotericism and pseudoscience - Atlantis is held in high esteem as the pinnacle of human civilization.103

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (20)

IThe History of the Amulet, Atlantis is a vibrant city of marble and precious metals, with "temples and palaces...with roofs that looked like gold and silver," both suggesting a material wealth for this utopia and the potential alchemical knowledge of the Atlanteans.104The houses, on the other hand, are decorated with "oricalchum", a metal mined in Atlantis, according to Plato.105Atlantis is also the origin of the stone from which the amulet is carved. During the cataclysmic event that destroyed Atlantis, we learn that "the stone fell...onto a ship miles away, which managed to escape and reached Egypt."106Once in Egypt, the stone was carved in the shape of a tyet, or knot of Isis, and inscribed with the hieroglyphic incantation that gives this artifact its magical properties. That the Atlanteans recognize the hieroglyphic inscription as “our writing” again underscores Egypt's direct cultural heritage from this mythological utopia.107

Nesbit's novel ends on an exciting note when Egyptologist Jimmy and ancient Egyptian priest Rekh-marā agree to unite into one body. Rekh-marā wishes to "learn [a] greater and deeper than any man in my country and time" and, moreover, "remain here and be the great knower of all that was".108By choosing to remain in the children's presence after traveling through time and space, and willingly connecting his soul to Jimmy's, Rekh-marā fulfills his dream of embodying the pinnacle of knowledge. Ancient Egypt may not have been recognized as the most advanced civilization by children's standards, Atlantis sees them as "much more like them today than Babylon or Egypt" and boasts of "a far higher level of civilization", but it is Egyptian knowledge - Egyptian magical knowledge in particular - which allows the children to travel through time and space at all.109Furthermore, it is the ancient Egyptian priest himself, symbolizing the magical teachings of the ancients and the science of Egyptology of the early twentieth century, a man who remains forever outside of time even after the end of the children's adventure.

Another example of ancient Egypt appearing in a time travel story seems relevant here, and one where, as in Nesbit's novel, one imagines an ancient Egyptian traveling from his own time to the present 20th century travels Novel by American author William Henry WarnerThe Bridge of Time(1919) sees the ancient Egyptian Rames traveling through the millennia in hopes of reuniting with the woman he loved in ancient Egypt, Teta, who is killed by Assyrian invaders. In order to reach Teta when she is reincarnated in the future, Rames must drink a potion that shortens the time alone for him.

High Priest Hotep's warning that should the experiment go awry, Ramses "could lie in an eternal state of floating aliveness, a living mummy," seems a knowing allusion to the (now somewhat cliche) image of a perfectly preserved woman. Mother ready to be awakened in the nineteenth or twentieth century.110Nolwenn Corriou has noted how the Egyptological process evokes "encounters" between "...bodies of the archaeologist and the mummy" that evoke both temporal and geographical travel, reading mummy fiction like time-travel narratives.111Unlike the female mummy, who sleeps for thousands of years before waking up in the modern age, Rames consciously experiences the swiftness of time, much like Wells' time traveller. The process of time travel, however, dances on the border between science and magic, and is not mechanical, but a chemical process, described in such an enchanted way that the repository of knowledge that Rames and Hotep enter sounds like an alchemist's laboratory.

Hotep presents Rames with "two small caskets of rock crystal, hermetically sealed, the contents of which glittered dazzlingly", "one shimmered brilliant and silver like a trapped moonbeam, the other glowed and shone like the clearest ruby, as if the gem itself had been melted and poured in".112The first liquid suggests mercury and the second molten sulfur, these chemicals being "[the] fundamental elements of the alchemist's art."113Hotep decants the silver liquid into a golden goblet shaped like a lotus, where "the heart of the lotus bud became a paralyzed flame, strange, throbbing, restless, as in life," and after drinking this liquid, Rames rushes through time, and ended his journey at the same place in 1914.114Though Rames is tied to one place, the magical quality of the liquid is such as to give him visions of other times and places in the meantime, including "a glimpse of a cross erected on a barren hill upon which a pitiful... Figure hung seemed mocked and despised.115Yet despite the magical language—and the emphasis on Jesus' crucifixion as a moment of religious significance that Rames must learn before he enters the modern world—the process is consistently framed in scientific terms. As Warner relates, "[All] the force and energy of nature was concentrated in the very atom of his being, every fiber telescoping with irresistible force as if two worlds hurtling through space had collided and trapped his body between them." .116While Rames does not leave Earth, the language of "space" and "telescope" paints his journey as a journey on a cosmic scale.

The metaphorical rebirth of a strapping young Egyptian man is evident in Rames' Born a Baby, Naked, as a (somewhat unusual) homage to the young men who lost their lives in World War I.117Lizzie Glithero-West has attributed the resurgence of interest in Egyptian Revival jewelry in the 1920s to the widespread loss of life in the previous decade, arguing that scarabs and lotus flowers, portending rebirth, offered particularly hopeful symbolism to the recently bereaved.118In a reflection of this, while sipping an alchemical brew from the lotus cup, Rames emerges from the ground as if revived and continues to serve in the conflict.

The invasion of the Assyrians in the part of the novel set in ancient Egypt has indeed a modern echo in the events of 1914; War is a common thread running directly between these two times, which is further emphasized in the novel's description of a type of hereditary reincarnation, in which the same souls materialize through a bloodline. In fact, Rames is shown to travel through time in two waysThe Bridge of Time: The first is conducted through ancient Egyptian scientific knowledge, the second is his soul's linear journey through the centuries via the more mysterious process of reincarnation. That these two paths into the future never converge is typical of ancient Egyptian ideas of magical power and scientific power: one is inseparable from the other.

Reading the Sphinx

Worlds Lost and Found: Journeys Through Time and Space in Victorian Alchemy (21)

A special presence is rematerialized by the fictions treated here. In those imagining lost worlds where remnants of ancient Egyptian civilization can be found underground (as in Haggard's She) or brought to the poles of the earth (as in Verne'seating finks), a sphinx lurks. INEdison's Conquest of MarsSpace travel reveals new archaeological story for the Great Sphinx of Giza while she was at WellsThe time machine, again a sphinx, announces the crossing of the border into the future. Guardian of the temples where the most accomplished thinkers of antiquity reached new intellectual heights, the Sphinx hints at the reach of scientific knowledge as well as the occult mysteries of ancient Egypt.

In concluding this article, I would like to present one final example that most clearly brings together esotericism and science and that paints a more hopeful picture of the end of human life on earth than Wells' bleak picture. . A year before Wells's novel was published, the French astronomer and writer Camille Flammarion, who founded the Société Astronomique de France, published hisThe end of the world. In this work, Flammarion imagines the near end of humanity in the distant future. The last remaining humans on Earth - Omega and Eve - traverse the globe, stopping at the ruined base of the Great Pyramid, "the only remaining monument of mankind's past lives."119As in Wellstime Machine, the landscape of the distant future, is a landscape shaped by ancient Egyptian traces which, by surviving, themselves become symbols of the future. Here they encounter the spirit of Cheops, a "sliding", "shining", "white shadow".120Cheops reveals to them the theosophically distorted system of reincarnation of the afterlife in which, once their souls have atoned for their past sins, they will live forever on other planets and their moons: 'Neptune, Ganymede, Rhea, Titan, Saturn, Mars and other worlds 'that you don't know yet'.121One is reminded of Alexander CoplandThe existence of other worlds(1834), "a quasi-scientific speculation that purgatory might lie in outer space, which he supported with some mummy poems".122While cosmic pluralism dates back to ancient Greece, it remained controversial in the nineteenth century when the anonymous publication ofOf the Plurality of Worlds: An Essay(1853) by William Whewell (1794-1866) - the polymath who coined the terms "scientist" and "physicist". By the end of the century, this idea had caught on with those involved in magical revival, and it reappeared in Flammarion's work.

Cheops tells that Jupiter is now "heir to all human achievements" and "shines majestically over them". This pharaoh-turned-psychopomp ascends with their souls, carries them off the earth and leads them to their new home.123Thus, while Egyptian symbolism is common to the stories of Wells and Flammarion, the ending of Flammarion's novel is quite different. Flammarion - a staunch theosophist and spiritualist - steeped in both esotericism and his scientific interests, beliefs he saw as fully compatible with contemporary science - presents a view of the afterlife that explores the potential of astronomy to Discovery of seemingly countless new celestial bodies with a world unified view. who imagined life (in some form) going on somewhere else.124

The novel's epilogue deals with the cycle of death and rebirth as individual stars and their planets die and new galaxies are formed from their remains in endless succession. Below Flammarion's last sentence – “For there can be neither end nor beginning” – the rest of the page is filled with an image of a scholar contemplating a sphinx on an Egyptian-style pylon, the novel's final symbol of eternity. The Sphinx represents several things: the deep time illuminated by geology—the timescales by which we can envision humanity approaching a natural end; the remains of the past unearthed by archaeology, which in the case of Egypt were often assumed to survive some vestige of the nineteenth or twentieth centuries; and the cosmic forces of the universe - the astronomical knowledge of the ancients, the prospect that there is no death and that each of us can find a new home in another world. The Sphinx is the ultimate traveler through time and space, guardian of scientific and esoteric knowledge of the deep past,end of the centurypresent and distant future. More than that, and most importantly, the Sphinx represents the alchemical intersections of such knowledge and stands proud as a symbol of Egypt itself as the place where we can most easily imagine science and magic coexisting.

See endnotes and bibliography at source.

Chapter 2 (77-119) onwardsVictorian Alchemy: Science, Magic, and Ancient Egypt, von Eleanor Dobson (UCL Press, 10.06.2022),publishedvonOAPENunder the conditions in aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internationallicense.




1. How Earth REALLY Moves Through the Galaxy
(PBS Space Time)
2. Echoes From The Beginning: A Journey Through Space And Time
(World Science Festival)
3. Yerba Mansa with Cathy Skipper + Holistic Healing Journey
(Herbs With Rosalee)
4. The Kybalion (1908) by Three Initiates
(Master Key Society)
5. This Ancient Book Found In Egypt Revealed A Terrifying Message
(Future Unity)
6. Emerald Tablets of Thoth
(Ancient Astronaut Archive)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated: 06/15/2023

Views: 6446

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.