"Ancient Egypt has meant two things to Hollywood, Cleopatra and walking mummies."Ah, Egypt! Vast country of sand and history, cut through by the nourishing course of the Nile. Land of the original God-Emperors, the Pharaohs, who raised pyramids and sphinxes to say "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" Venturing through this country, O Bold Troper, you will likely find merchants from faraway lands, wily thieves, ill-tempered camels, and olive-skinned seductresses with braided wigs and kohl-painted eyes. Also home to fanatical bald priests in lapis collars and leopard-skin robes, who usually wind up being turned into mummies after calling down the wrath of the gods upon their heads (usually for getting involved with the aforementioned beautiful olive-skinned kohl-painted seductresses in some way). Wretched slaves labour to build pyramids in the scorching sun beneath the whips of merciless overseers... despite the fact that the great monuments were actually built by paid labourers with their own guilds. Often considered a culture so exotically different (especially in the field of architecture) to Western and Eastern civilizations alike that some theorize outside inspiration. See also Build Like an Egyptian and Pyramid Power. For actual Ancient Egypt, see Ancient Egyptian History.
— George MacDonald Fraser, The Hollywood History of the World
Popular tropes from this time period are:
- Ancient Astronauts: Often attributed to this time period, even though history and science have both marched well beyond believing in them. What you see in Stargate SG-1 is just similar, though.
- Brother-Sister Incest: With a religious reason (or possibly excuse). The Pharaoh's family was supposed to be descended from Ra, the chief deity of Egypt (most of the time). Thus keeping it in the family meant less human blood to dilute the divine heritage.
- Cool Crown: Some of the coolest ever.
- Dated History: Although slavery existed in Ancient Egypt note , it is generally accepted by modern historians that its crowning achievement, the Great Pyramid of Giza, was not built by slave labour, but by the equivalent of paid contractors who were mostly skilled workers (the equivalent, because the pay took the form of food and other supplies. Money was just getting started as a concept and coins didn't come into common use until Cleopatra's time.).
- There was a period in history, particularly during the time between the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and deciphering the hieroglyphics, but later on as well, even well into the 20th century, when Egypt was widely considered to be the actual cradle of most if not all civilizations. It was partly due to the fact that nobody had the slightest clue what the hieroglyphics said, what the pyramids or the Sphinx were for, nor anybody knew anything about the gods, the mummies or pretty much anything Egyptian that we take for granted nowadays. All that people saw was gigantic buildings and tombs left behind by a mysterious civilization, possibly well above the 19th century Europeans in terms of technological advancement. note In a scientific frenzy dubbed as "Egyptomania", lots of historians and archeologists maintained that the Greeks and Romans owed all of their knowledge to the Ancient Egyptians. It wasn't until much later than people started to analyze these assumptions critically, coming to the conclusion that, while undoubtedly advanced for its time, Ancient Egypt was no Atlantis of the sands and its direct impact on the classical European civilizations of Greece and Rome was in fact rather limited.
- Egyptian Mythology
- Guyliner: Eyeliner was considered androgynous and both men and women wore it to make their eyes look bigger. And because it was made out of a substance that repelled flies. And because the stuff reduced the glare from the sun. A group of pyramid workers even organized a strike to get more make-up as eye protection.
- Historical In-Joke: Comedies set in Ancient Egypt often have a scene in which one of the protagonists knocks the Great Sphinx's nose off, leaving it in the form we know today. (Alternately, the story has it that one of Napoleon's cannons blew it off.) However, the nose is documented to have been firmly attached at the time of the Arab invasion of Egypt in the seventh century AD (and detached by the time any Revolutionary Frenchmen got there). The most likely story is that a Muslim fanatic knocked it off about six hundred years after the Arab conquest — and then was hanged by the Sultan for vandalism. (While being hanged for vandalism might normally seem like Disproportionate Retribution, most archaeologists and historians feel it to be entirely justified.)
- Simple exposure to the elements could have done away with the Sphinx's nose. The entire structure has been slowly crumbling for the past 2,000 years and some ancient attempts at restoration have accentuated the damage over time.
- The Mummy
- The Nepharious Pharaoh
- The Punishment (The Curse of the Mummy)
- Walk Like an Egyptian
Series that are set in this time period include:
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Anime and Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Ancient Egypt is the origin of a few of the major characters, the Millennium artifacts, and the children's trading card game.
- The classic shoujo manga Ouke no Monshou has a girl named Carol Reed thrown back in time, reaching Ancient Egypt.
- The title character from Kimba the White Lion has an ancestry that traces back to Ancient Egypt.
- While she has not appeared in the series Axis Powers Hetalia, Word of God is that the personification of Ancient Egypt was the mother of the present-day personification of Egypt.
- Astérix and Cleopatra.
- A number of DC Comics' legacies have their origin here: Blue Beetle, Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Black Adam...
- The Belgian comic Papyrus, which also spawned an Animated Adaptation.
- The Abrafaxe have an adventure during the Amarna period, where they meet Queen Nefertiti (Mosaik No. 234-254).
- The eight-part series Sur les Terres d'Horus ("In the lands of Horus") by Isabelle Dethan, as well as its spin-off Khéti, fils du Nil ("Kheti, son of the Nile") are set during the reign of Ramses II. The main series deals with the investigation of various crimes that lead to a major conspiracy.
Films — Animated
- The Prince of Egypt, an animated movie about the story of Exodus.
- Joseph: King of Dreams, a prequel to the Prince of Egypt that tells the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis.
- It's supposedly set in Arabian Nights/Days, but Aladdin has the aforementioned "character makes the Sphinx's nose fall off" gag. The Sphinx would have already been covered over with sand by the medieval period, not still being worked on.
Films — Live-Action
- Most mummy movies, including The Mummy (1932), The Mummy's Hand, and The Mummy Trilogy, have scenes which take place in Ancient Egypt, considering it's obviously the location for the backstory.
- The Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra.
- The opening of the movie Mannequin.
- The Egyptian.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- The Ten Commandments — which used so many costumes, sets and propsnote from The Egyptian that it created a sense of continuity unintended by the producers.
- The Stargate movie got most of its mojo from here, and Stargate SG-1 expanded on it.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen involves robots hidden in the Great Pyramids.
- Not to mention a giant machine for blowing up the Sun.
- Exodus: Gods and Kings
- X-Men: Apocalypse: The Distant Prologue takes place in 3600 BC somewhere in the Nile Valley, and En Sabah Nur rules the region as a god-king.
- The most important sources:
- Herodotus spends a lot of time talking about Egypt in The Histories.
- It also figures prominently in The Bible. In The Book Of Genesis, Joseph ends up there after his brothers sell him to some Egyptian traders. He works his way up from slavery to prime minister. In The Book Of Exodus, another pharaoh has conquered and enslaved the Israelites, and Moses has to get him to let them go free. Elsewhere, Egypt is referred to, though often as a nation of godless heathens right along with the Canaanites, Assyrians, and other non-Yaweh-worshipping peoples, because of Values Dissonance.
- In the third book of The Bartimaeus Trilogy there are parts set in Ptolemaic Egypt. They're backstory bits of Bartimaeus with his long dead, and much cared for, master...Ptolemy.
- The River God and its sequels by Wilbur Smith supposedly based in Egypt 1780 BCE, and follows a slave eunuch with magical powers.
- The Kane Chronicles takes place in the present day but with Egyptian gods.
- The Queen of the Damned novel by Anne Rice reveals Kemet (Ancient Egypt) to be birthplace (undeathplace?) of the original vampire, Akasha, the titular queen, although Akasha herself is not originally Egyptian. A good chunk of Maharet's story takes place in Kemet or around it.
- She also wrote The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned, in which Ramses the Great and Cleopatra have both been made immortal.
- In The Red Tent, Dinah starts a new life in Egypt with her mother-in-law after her husband is killed by her brothers.
- The Discworld novel Pyramids sends up Ancient Egypt to way past eleven. Terry Pratchett creates a country where building pyramids is all and everything and which is up to 3,000 years behind the rest of the Discworld. It takes a gifted Assassin to bring it all crumbling down.
- "Imprisoned With the Pharaohs", a supposedly true story, ghostwritten by H.P. Lovecraft, is Indiana Jones (its "author" Harry Houdini) on a bad acid trip.
- Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie.
- The Royal Diaries series has a book about Cleopatra VII that takes place mostly in Egypt.
- Pharaoh by Bolesław Prus
- Uarda a now-dated romance set in the reign of Rameses II.
- A God Against The Gods and its sequels by Alan Drury, about Akhenaten, his family, and their attempt to institute the worship of one God, Aten, the Sun Disk.
- The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder has a group of children enchanted by the Land of the Pharoahs, pulling out every trope they can think of in a mix of imaginative play and attempts at re-creating actual artifacts and situations.
- Mara, Daughter of the Nile is set here, obviously.
- Esther Friesner's Princesses of Myth series takes a turn here with a duology focusing on Queen Nefertiti as a young woman. The books are called Sphinx's Princess and Sphinx's Queen.
- Michael Jackson's music video for "Remember the Time" is set in Ancient Egypt at the court of the Pharaoh.
- Nile, obviously.
- "Tutankhamen", "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion", and "Sahara" by Nightwish
- "King Tut" by Steve Martin, produced during the "Tut-mania" of the 1970s when Tutankamen's treasures went on tour.
- Earth, Wind & Fire used a lot of Egyptian themeology in their album covers, stage sets and stage costumes.
- The artwork of Iron Maiden's album Powerslave is an obvious homage to this period of time, complete with Pharaoh Eddie. And so is the title track.
- The Egyptian theme carried over to their stage set for the ensuing tour. It can be seen in their concert video, "Live After Death". The stage set was re-created for their 2008 Somewhere Back In Time tour (which coincided with the DVD release of "Live After Death") and can be seen in the documentary, ""Flight 666".
- Dio's "Egypt (The Chains Are On)", also covered by Doro Pesch.
- Dio's stage set for the Last In Line tour had an Egyptian theme, to tie in with the song.
- Pink Floyd's The Nile Song from Meddle.
- Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, Egyptian Reggae and Abdul and Cleopatra.
- The Bangles, Walk like An Egyptian.
- Both Richman and the Bangles, for those with long memories, were drawing on music hall act of the 1930's, Wilson, Keppel and Betty.
- And there is Giuseppe Verdi's 19th century opera set in ancient Egypt, Aida.
- "Spirits Of Ancient Egypt", by Wings.
- Sun Ra built this trope into an entire concept. He claimed to have been born on Saturn and been abducted by aliens to come to Earth and spread a message of universal brotherhood so that mankind could be transported to another and better place in space. He mixed Ancient Egypt mythology and imagery with space concepts in his work and laid the foundations for the Afro-futurism movement in music.
- The Tomb Kings of Warhammer are this Up to Eleven. The liche-priests told the pharaohs that they knew how to prepare bodies for life after death, ensuring them a heavenly afterlife. Unfortunately, it turns out they were only capable of raising them as mummies. Now the Tomb Kings war with each other, as every one of them still thinks himself the rightful king of Khemri with a bunch of related usurpers to eliminate.
- The incredibly disturbing game Wax Works features a level set in a mazelike pyramid, chock full of booby traps, hostile guards, and snakes and a crocodile.
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles has the Sandopolis Zone, which is Ancient Egypt ON A FLOATING ISLAND!
- Pharaoh is, astoundingly enough, set in most of Ancient Egypt, spanning several dynasties of pharaohs.
- Age of Empires has Egyptians as a playable faction and uses the Egyptian campaign as an extended tutorial. They have powerful chariots, but limited late-game units.
- Age of Mythology has Egyptians as a playable faction, using cheap but weak soldiers, a variety of units based on Egyptian myths, and a Pharoah who can speed up worker unit tasks.
- On of the common playable factions in the Civilization series are the Egyptians, who generally speaking hew to the ancient parts of history. For instance, in Civilization 5, their unique unit is a superior version of the war chariot, their unique building is a burial tomb (provides faith and happiness, but is worth a lot of gold if an enemy captures it), and their unique power is to build Wonders faster.
- The first world of Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time takes place here. Appropriately enough almost all the zombies are mummies, and specialized zombies include stone slab workers, a zombie based on Ra that steals sun, another based on Anubis that creates tombstones, a Pharaoh with a heavily armored sarcophagus, and modern pyramid explorers carrying deadly torches.
- Deities has an arc set in Ancient Egypt where Chaos and Law/Order discuss the building of the pyramids.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe featured the heroic weather-controlling crimefighter Pharaoh, who was, in fact, Pharaoh Imhotep II brought forward to the modern era by a supervillain's plot.
- Repeatedly lampshaded in Atop the Fourth Wall. Linkara points out all the traps and tricks and concludes that it's a death trap. Now when it appears, a picture of the pyramids appears with the Imperial March from Star Wars accompanying it.
- The eighth Chrono Hustle story is set in Ancient Egypt. Jack meets Imhotep.
- Papyrus, a French/Canadian animated series adapted from the aforementioned Belgian comic book of the same name.
- Certain episodes and sketches on Histeria!, of course.
- French animated series La Princesse du Nil (lit. Princess of the Nile) is about Ancient Egypt.
- Mummies Alive! has many flashbacks to the lives of the characters in Ancient Egypt.
Series that are influenced by this time period include:
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- The Green Eyed Sniper is a webcomic set in a parallel universe, where Ancient Egypt has influenced the rest of the world for a very long time period. All commercial and public signs are written both in hieroglyphs and in English. Several people, such as Sekhmet (see the characters' page for The Green Eyed Sniper), carry Egyptian names.