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The Zodiac of Paris: How an Improbable Controversy Over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate Between Religion and Science
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The Zodiac of Paris: How an Improbable Controversy Over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate Between Religion and Science

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  20 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The Dendera zodiac--an ancient bas-relief temple ceiling adorned with mysterious symbols of the stars and planets--was first discovered by the French during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, and quickly provoked a controversy between scientists and theologians. Brought to Paris in 1821 and ultimately installed in the Louvre, where it can still be seen today, the zodiac appeare ...more
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published May 5th 2010 by Princeton University Press
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3.90  · 
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 ·  20 ratings  ·  13 reviews


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Mark Bernstein
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and scholarly study of the discovery of an ancient artifact and its impact on contemporary science and politics.

During Napoleon's expedition to conquer Egypt, French scholars discovered several depictions of the zodiac in Egyptian temples, most notably at Dendera. These were intriguing, of course, because they were old. How old, though, were they? Reasoning from hints in the arrangement of the zodiacs, scholars suggested that they could be dated from the precession of the equinoxes
...more
Shelly Donaghey
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I found THE ZODIAC OF PARIS a fascinating read if a bit dry at times. They have taken a moment in history, the bringing to Paris of a pair of stones found in Egypt by Napoleon’s forces, and brought a magnifying glass to inspect the ramifications of this seemingly simple action.
The stones, which now can be seen in the Louvre, sparked a debate between the Catholic Church and leading intellectuals of the time. The stones display a Zodiac, a depiction of the nighttime skies, but according to the a
...more
Lisa
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Wow! This book is well researched and came alive to me. I've only put it down only to go online to learn more about points made and to learn even more about the history of both Egypt and France. I love history of both of these countries and have been in my bliss state reading this great book! I'm now wanting to get learning more in depth about astronomy and astrology now!

This book is not for those that ant a light read. It's more for those that want depth in their reads. If only I didn't have a
...more
Raymonds009
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent tale of an Egyptian zodiac found by the savants of Napoleon. The display of this object created a philosophical, scientific and religious fire-storm as it appeared to show the heavens at a time prior to the beginning of the creation (6000 b.c.). The tie-in with Champollion is especially enlightening. The particle and wave theories of light, optics and the intrision of the reign of terror are all involved. Although the scholar may find some of the exposition a little excessive the writi ...more
Laura
Apr 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, owned
I got this book as a goodreads giveaway. It was amazingly detailed and well-researched, and gave me insight into the scientific and philosophical world during a time period (during and following the French Revolution) that I'm not very familiar with. I did have some difficulty understanding some of the astronomical theories, but I really enjoyed learning about the political and religious biases that influenced the attempts to date the zodiac.
Martyna
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-to-read
I really like it. Perfect combination of history and mysticism.
Maria-Paula
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Such a good intellectual read. Really makes you think about the effect such a small thing has on the world. Received as an ARC.
Jessica
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Zodiac lover book all the way
Stephen Journeay
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting presentation of a small snippet of history and the interactions of people, politics, and religion. That the theft of the roof of a temple in Egypt during Napoleon's occupation could involve the king, emperor, and pope, but also people I only knew from science: Ampere, Fourier, Fresnel, Carnot, and others, was surprising and entertaining.
Norman S
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting exploration, a bit of a tough read, but worth it for the ideas within.
Eugenia Hall
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure - I got this book for free from a Goodreads giveaway, however all opinions are my own.

This book is a bit dry perhaps for the average reader, its a very scholarly tome that requires a certain quantity of historical knowledge to full take in. That being said, its an incredible story for people who love history, archaeology and the like. A certain interest in Egyptian history and French Culture helps because of the piece in question and its role in various stages of French history i
...more
Joseph Toth
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A truly fascinating and informative book, well worth a read! In compliance with FTC guidelines, I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
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