Google full text of our books:


The Zodiac of Paris:
How an Improbable Controversy over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate between Religion and Science
Jed Z. Buchwald & Diane Greco Josefowicz

Hardcover | 2010 | $47.95 | £39.95 | ISBN: 9780691145761
440 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 8 page color section. 79 halftones.
Add to Shopping Cart

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction[PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

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 appeared to depict the nighttime sky from a time predating the Biblical creation, and therefore cast doubt on religious truth. The Zodiac of Paris tells the story of this incredible archeological find and its unlikely role in the fierce disputes over science and faith in Napoleonic and Restoration France.

The book unfolds against the turbulence of the French Revolution, Napoleon's breathtaking rise and fall, and the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne. Drawing on newspapers, journals, diaries, pamphlets, and other documentary evidence, Jed Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz show how scientists and intellectuals seized upon the zodiac to discredit Christianity, and how this drew furious responses from conservatives and sparked debates about the merits of scientific calculation as a source of knowledge about the past. The ideological battles would rage until the thoroughly antireligious Jean-François Champollion unlocked the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs--and of the zodiac itself. Champollion would prove the religious reactionaries right, but for all the wrong reasons.

The Zodiac of Paris brings Napoleonic and Restoration France vividly to life, revealing the lengths to which scientists, intellectuals, theologians, and conservatives went to use the ancient past for modern purposes.


"Groundbreaking. . . . The Zodiac of Paris provides intriguing insight into a tumultuous era."--Andrew Robinson, Nature

"An impressive piece of scholarship."--Jo Marchant, New Scientist

"[T]his book [is] one of the best that I have read in the history of science in the last ten years."--William R. Shea, Journal of the History of Science

"[M]agnificently erudite."--Owen Gingerich, Journal for the History of Astronomy

"This book is a model of how to enliven the activities of scientists, theologians, and publicists by exposing the cultural parameters of their times."--Donald J. Dietrich, European Legacy

"Through the circulation of visual representations and overlapping and conflicting interpretations of ancient Egyptian zodiacs, Buchwald and Josefowicz reanimate the tumultuous politics and ever-shifting landscape of late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century France and give us a rich view of this period's ongoing grapplings with the proper roles and limits of historical, scientific and religious evidence and argumentation."--Jane Murphy, Journal of BJHS

"The story of the Frenchmen Fourier, Biot, and Arago in this saga makes for some interesting reading, as does the supporting roles played by such mathematical luminaries as Laplace, Poisson, and Lagrange."--Michele Intermont, MAA Reviews

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Introduction 1
Chapter 1: All This for Two Stones? 9
Chapter 2: Antiquity Imagined 28
Chapter 3: The Origin of All Religions 47
Chapter 4: On Napoleon's Expedition 70
Chapter 5: One Drawing, Many Words 99
Chapter 6: The Dawn of the Zodiac Controversies 116
Chapter 7: Ancient Skies, Censored 146
Chapter 8: Egypt Captured in Ink and Porcelain 175
Chapter 9: Egyptian Stars under Paris Skies 222
Chapter 10: The Zodiac Debates 268
Chapter 11: Champollion's Cartouche 312
Chapter 12: Epilogue 334
Acknowledgments 341
Notes 343
Bibliography 379
Figure Sources 407
Subject Index 413
Name Index 419

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Jed Z. Buchwald:

Subject Areas:

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

 Hardcover : $47.95 ISBN: 9780691145761

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

 Hardcover  £39.95 ISBN: 9780691145761

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

Prices subject to change without notice

File created: 7/11/2017

Questions and comments to:
Princeton University Press

New Book E-mails
New In Print
PUP Blog
Princeton APPS
Sample Chapters
Princeton Legacy Library
Exam/Desk Copy
Recent Awards
Princeton Shorts
Freshman Reading
PUP Europe
About Us
Contact Us
PUP Home

Bookmark and Share 
Send me emails
about new books in:
History Of Science And Medicine, Philosophy Of Science
European History
Archaeology And Ancient History
More Choices