Egypt Uncovered was a five episode documentary series from the late 90's, which has already been released on DVD prior to this latest collection by Kultur. If you love Egyptian study like I do, then chances are good you already have Ancient Egypt Unearthed by Discovery Channel in your collection. That 2-disc collection already featured Egypt Uncovered (though the episodes are differently named), so this release would be a complete double-dip. If you don't have the Ancient Egypt release in your collection, then you'll want to pick this up. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better set of documentaries on Egypt.
The five episodes for Egypt Uncovered are: "Chaos and Kings", "The Resurrection Machine", "Age of Gold", "Deities and Demons", and "Postmortem".
The first episode, "Chaos and Kings", looked at the beginning of the Egyptian civilization. It features a bevy of archaeologists and scientists talking about what has become known to us through research and discoveries. It's rather a broad subject matter, but it was a nice introduction to the series and laid the groundwork for the episodes to come. The show really sets an educational tone early and those who are unfamiliar with Egyptian history will get the most out of the material here.
"The Resurrection Machine" takes a somewhat more interesting approach to the subject of Egyptian history and looks at the pyramids, which were supposedly machines for resurrection for the pharaohs who were buried there. The episode goes on to examine other beliefs and such as commentators introduce a variety of other discoveries that were made.
"Age of Gold" looks at the use, and importance, of gold in the culture. The pharaohs loved their gold and took it to the grave with them. Unfortunately grave-robbers and other would-be pharaohs loved it too. "Deities and Demons" was about the gods, their temples, and the belief system the culture held. And Finally, "Postmortem" took a more scientific approach to things with an examination of mummified corpses and what have you.
To be perfectly honest, while Egypt Uncovered was informative it was also very dry. The series includes a number of dignitaries and commentators who provide interviews and interesting perspectives, but it's heavy on the information and it will be familiar to anyone that enjoys documentaries about Egypt. There's not much in the way of "new" material here, though considering this series came out in the 90's that's not very surprising.
The bottom line is if you haven't seen the show and like Egyptian documentaries, Egypt Uncovered is worth picking up. Just don't expect a "fresh" experience or something that's entertaining. This is purely informative television that provides plenty of education on the subject.
Egypt Uncovered is presented on DVD with a 16:9 letterbox image (the Ancient Egypt Unearthed DVD presented these episodes cropped with black bars on the side. Here the black bars are on the top and bottom). The quality is good, though not outstanding by modern standards. Perhaps we've been spoiled by the likes of Life and Planet Earth. The video here is grainy, soft, and lacks the finer detail a more modern production would have. As long as you keep your expectations in check and know remember that you're watching an older production you won't be disappointed. Overall it's not bad looking, but not as sharp as we might have hoped.
Likewise the English 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo track performs about as well as one might think it would. Flat dialogue, little pieces of music, and some effects filter through the front channels without standing out too much. The sound quality is clean enough and suitable for the material.
There are no bonus features on this release.
Egypt Uncovered is a solid five-episode documentary series about Egypt. The content is varied and the show is very informative with interesting features and good commentary. The only real downside to the series is that it can get a little dry at times, focusing more on educating, rather than entertaining. In that sense it's good classroom material on the subject.
This release isn't the first time the series has been on DVD, however, so keep that in mind before picking it up if you're interested. There's a slight chance it may already be in your DVD collection (The cover states the show is "A fascinating new series..." when it's most definitely not "new"). Ultimately I'd say this 2-disc set is recommended.
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