The study of Egyptian History is termed Egyptology -- many of the men and women who have delved into the history of egypt have been archaeologists, sociologists and historians interesting in Egyptian history. Others have been tomb robbers, intent only on plundering the riches found in the Egyptian desert.
In many places in this site, I've referenced noted Egyptologists (most especially for dating in the Pharaohs section). Here is a quick breakdown of the "big names" in Egyptology.
Carried out excavations at Deir el-Bahari and Dashur for the Germans. He is focused on Middle Kingdom pyramids and pyramid construction. He is curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, and is currently leading excavations in Dashur and Lisht. He has written books including Temples of the Last Pharaohs and Building in Egypt.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni
(1778 - 1823) The "Strongman of Egypt", a self-taught archaeologist who eventually worked for the Egyptian vice-regent, Muhammad Ali. He is credited with finding the upper entrance to Khafre's pyramid at Giza. He is also responsible for the excavation of many of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
(1863-1938) German Egyptologist and Architect. He discovered the famous bust of Nefertiti in his excavation at Amarna He has also excavated sites in Abusir and Abu Ghurab. He has been credited with founding the German Archeological Institute in Cairo.
Emile C.A. Brugsh
(1842-1930) German Egyptologist, and assistant to Mariette and the discoverer of the Pyramid Texts in Saqqara in 1881. He also cleared the Dier-el-Bahari mummy cache in the same year. His methods were crude, and he did not document his finds well, although many of his early photographs remain.
E.A Wallis Budge
(1857-1934) Keeper of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum between 1894-1924. He is beset known for translating the Book of the Dead and his analysis of Egyptian language. He published a complete dictionary (although quite out of date) and some 140 other titles, many of which are still in print.
French, published texts from Valley of the Kings Tomb KV 34, Thutmoses III and KV 35, Amenhotep II.
A British photographer who worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Egyptian Expedition in 1914 and for Howard Carter in 1922. He was the original photographer of the tomb of Tutankhamen. A showing of his work is available at the Met Museum Site. he also produced some of the earliest documentary films of the Nile Valley, including the excavation of the famous tomb.
(1788 - 1862) He came to Egypt as a mineralogist, of which he knew absolutely nothing, and instead began to study the monuments of Egypt. He is responsible for excavation of Medinet Habu and parts of Karnak, as well as several tombs in the valley, including KV 5. He published a book of hieroglyphic inscriptions, but then disappeared -- only to return several years later with animals, servants, slaves, and his wife, a former greek slave sold to him in Egypt. His family disowned him. He is best known for his drawings an plans of monuments, which can be used to compare the site of today with earlier excavations.
(1874 - 1939) Probably the most famous Egyptologist, solely on the basis of his discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.
Giovanni Battista Caviglia
(17700 - 1845) Responsible for the most comprehensive exploration of the Sphinx. An italian Egyptologist, who was in his younger days a sea captain. He felt that the pyramid held mystical secrets and spent much time investigating the chambers in the Great Pyramid. He sold part of the headdress of the Sphinx to the British Museum in 1818. He is the also the one responsible for the huge hole in the side of the pyramid, blasted there by dynamite, and the discovery of the Colossus of Ramesses in Memphis.
(1790-1832) Known as the man who "broke the code" of Egyptian hieroglyphs by deciphering the Rosetta Stone. He is often recognized as the founder of Egyptology, since it exploded as an area of study after hieroglyphs could be understood.
A current British Egyptologist, he studied at Cambridge University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1995. He focuses mainly on Egyptian funerary archeology and architecture from the Second to the Third Intermediate Periods. He has published a number of books including Egyptian Rock Cut Tombs, The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt, and Monarchs of the Nile.
He is currently working on a compendium of the funerary object of King Tutankhamun, which also includes a study of all royal Egyptian coffins.
I.E. Stephen Edwards
(1909-1996) British Egyptologist, worked with the British Museum. Considered an authority on pyramids. Wrote "The Pyramids of Egypt".
Muhammad Zakaria Goeniem
(1905-1959) Egyptian archaeologist, discovered Sekhemkhet's Pyramid in Saqqara. He committed suicide when he was accused of smuggling artifacts.
An Egyptian egyptologist, current chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which oversees all the artifacts and monuments in Egypt. He is possibly the most famous living Egyptologist, based on his work at the Giza Plateau and his discovered of the Golden Mummies and the necropolis of the workers for the pyramids.
(1902-2001) French architect and archaeologists who worked in Egypt from the age of 18 until his death at 99 years of age, mostly in Saqqara. He focused on theoretical reconstruction of the builders in the Djoser complex.
(1865-1917) French egyptologist, excavating at Kom Ombo and el-Amarna. He found the huge cache of 800 statues in Karnak. He was the Chief Inspector of Antiquities in Luxor.
An American egyptologist currently working at Giza. He directed the Sphinx and Isis temple project from 1979 -- 1983, and currently directing the Giza Plateau Mapping Project. He was originally a follower of Edgar Cayce -- who maintained that Atlanteans built the Sphinx -- but has since rejected those ideas and is a vocal proponent of traditional Egyptology.
He has written The Complete Pyramids, and is considered to be a leading authority in Egypt's pyramid complexes.
Karl Richard Lepsius
(1810-1884) German Egyptologist who completed surveys of Egyptian monuments, including the pyramids, that may be the most important achievement by Egyptologists in his century. He published 12 volumes of his descriptions and survey results (Denkmaler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien), probably the greatest Egyptological study so far. He shipped back some 15000 artifacts tot he Berlin museum.
(1859-1946) Director General of the Egyptian Antiquities Service in 1897 and served until 1899. He worked at Saqqara and the Valley of the Kings.
Francois Auguste Mariette
(1821-1881) French Egyptologist most often credited with the founding of modern archeological excavations and preservation of Egyptian monuments. His methods were a huge change from the blasting and rapacious digging of many of his predecessors, and he began the practice of careful documentation of sites. He also participated in writing the libretto for Aida, by Verdi. (!)
A Polish egyptologist, he is best known for his detailed examination of the tomb of Ramesses III in the Valley of the Kings.
(1846-1916) French Egyptologist. director of the first Egyptian Antiquities Museum (in Bullaq, part of Cairo). Edited a comprehensive catalog of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo -- in four volumes. He was a director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service and directed the French archaeological mission in Egypt.
William Flinders Petrie
(1853-1942) Another of the "greats" - the founders of modern Egyptology. He had no formal education and was self-taught. He worked at dozens of sites in Egypt. His research at the pyramids of Giza set the standard for later work in the area.
He produced one of the first maps of the valley of the kings.
Former curator at the British Museum, an expert in the field of tomb robbery and the history of the Valley of the Kings. He has written a number of books, including Valley of the Kings: the Decline of the Royal necropolis, Akhenaten, Egypt's False Prophet, and other books about Tutankhamun. Currently the director of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project in the Valley of the Kings.
Donald B. Redford
Born in 1934. Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto. He is currently a Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean STudies at Penn State. He is involved in a dig at the Akhenaten Temple at Karnak. They have excavated the half-mile long temple. he has published a number of books on Akhenaten and the Amarna Period.
Known mostly for his ability to dig and collect antiquities, and provided support for many of the museums and private collections. His scholarly pursuits were not taken seriously -- he was seen as a treasure hunter -- and few of his drawings and plans of the monuments survive.
German Egyptologist, particularly active in the Dashur pyramid field. Considered to be one of the most important contemporary experts on the Egyptian Pyramids
German Archeologist. Author of Chronologie des pharaonischen Aegypten.
(1784-1853) A British military officer, he made some important contributions to research -- although they were often crude, including using gunpowder to blast his way into Menkaure's pyramid at Giza. He opened the lower entrance to Khafre's pyramid using the same method.
A professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo and Director of the theban Mapping Project. He discovered the extent of KV5, perhaps the largest tomb in the valley of the kings.
Director of the University of Arizona Egyptian expedition. He is particularly interested in Egyptian symbolism and is the author of six books, including The Complete Valley of the Kings and Complete Temples of Egypt.