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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Princeton University Press, 2010 - History - 428 pages
6 Reviews

"This is a fascinating study of how politics, science, and religion intersected in the heated debates over the meanings of the hieroglyphics on a pair of stones brought from Egypt to Paris in 1821. At the heart of the tale is the question of how we know the past. It has the excitement of a real-life archeology mystery combined with a clash between science and theology that has great resonance for today."--Walter Isaacson, author of "Einstein: His Life and Universe"

"This book presents important and fascinating themes, and skillfully combines them. The birth of Egyptology, the French Revolution, the rule of Napoleon, the age of the Earth, and our knowledge of the stars all feature in its chapters. Above all there is the ever-shifting relationship between science, religion, and atheism. I discovered something new on every page."--John Ray, University of Cambridge

"Buchwald and Josefowicz give an account of the controversy surrounding the discovery of the spectacular circular zodiac of the temple of Dendera, currently installed in the ceiling of a room in the Louvre, discovered in the course of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt. The authors skillfully weave the phases of that discourse, and its attendant scientific, personal, and theological controversies, into a brisk overview of the religious and political history of France from the late Enlightenment until the July Monarchy. At issue was the age of the temple, and hence of Egyptian civilization, as indexed by the zodiac, assumed to represent the contemporary state of the sky."--Charles C. Gillispie, professor emeritus, Princeton University

"This book makes a major contribution to European scientific, intellectual, and cultural history. Buchwald and Josefowicz have wrested from oblivion a subject that no previous author, French or English, has analyzed in this form or breadth. "The Zodiac of Paris" not only embodies interdisciplinarity at its very best, but also exposes the nineteenth-century roots of many concerns of the twenty-first century."--Darius A. Spieth, author of "Napoleon's Sorcerers: The Sophisians"

"This is an important book about an exciting topic. By tackling a subject that has largely been forgotten--the role technical science could play in religious debates--Buchwald and Josefowicz open up new avenues for understanding eighteenth- and nineteenth-century science. "The Zodiac of Paris" provides fascinating insights into the wide-ranging debates in Napoleonic and Restoration France."--John Steele, Brown University

  

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

User Review  - Joseph Toth - Goodreads

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. Read full review

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

User Review  - Laura - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
All This for Two Stones?
9
Chapter 2
24
Chapter 3
30
The Origin of All Religions
47
Chapter 4
66
Chapter 5
99
The Dawn of the Zodiac Controversies
116
Egyptian Stars under Paris Skies
222
The Zodiac Debates
268
Chapter 11
300
Champollions Cartouche
312
Epilogue
334
Acknowledgments
341
Bibliography
379
Figure Sources
407

Ancient Skies Censored
146
Egypt Captured in Ink and Porcelain
175

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About the author (2010)

Jed Z. Buchwald is the Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology. His books include "The Creation of Scientific Effects: Heinrich Hertz and Electric Waves". Diane Greco Josefowicz teaches in the writing program at Boston University.

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