Egyptology (from Egypt and Greek -λογία, -logia. علم المصريات, مصر شناسی) is a major field of archaeology, the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, literature, religion, and art from the 5th millennium BC until the end of its native religious practices in the AD 4th century. A practitioner of the discipline is an Egyptologist.
Progress was made by Muslim historians in Egypt and elsewhere from the 9th century AD. The first known attempts at deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs were made by Dhul-Nun al-Misri and Ibn Wahshiyya in the 9th century, who were able to at least partly understand what was written in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, by relating them to the contemporary Coptic language used by Coptic priests in their time. Abdul Latif al-Baghdadi, a teacher at Cairo's Al-Azhar University in the 13th century, wrote detailed descriptions on ancient Egyptian monuments. Similarly, the 15th-century Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi wrote detailed accounts of Egyptian antiquities.
Jean François Champollion and Ippolito Rosellini were some of the first Egyptologists of wide acclaim. The German Karl Richard Lepsius was an early participant in the investigations of Egypt; mapping, excavating, and recording several sites. Champollion announced his general decipherment of the system of Egyptian hieroglyphics for the first time, employing the Rosetta Stone as his primary aid. The Stone's decipherment was a very important development of Egyptology. With subsequently ever-increasing knowledge of Egyptian writing and language, the study of Ancient Egyptian civilisation was able to proceed with greater academic rigour and with all the added impetus that comprehension of the written sources was able to engender. Egyptology became more professional via work of William Matthew Flinders Petrie, among others. Petrie introduced techniques of field preservation, recording, and excavating. Howard Carter expedition brought much acclaim to the field of Egyptology.
Around 1830, Rifa'a el-Tahtawi was one of the first main scholars of Egyptian Egyptology. He was inspired by the work of Muslim Egyptologists in medieval Egypt, though modern Egyptian Egyptology developed slowly compared to its Western scholars, primarily because of Islamic identity. Islamic and modern Egyptian civilization has been influenced by the pre-Islamic Egyptian culture with which Egyptology is concerned.
In the Modern era, the Supreme Council for Antiquities control excavation permits for Egyptologists to conduct their work. The field can now use geophysical methods and other applications of modern sensing techniques to further Egyptology. The Egyptian languages (such as Hieratics and Coptic) and the Egyptian writing systems are still of importance in Egyptology.
Egyptology has attracted various pseudoscientific theories of which most are widely discounted by many Egyptologists. This includes esoteric, or extraterrestrial, subjects which are considered pseudohistorical overall; few in Egyptology entertain views of the "New Age", ufology, occultism, "secret societies", or Atlantis ideas.