Published: November 29th 2007November 26th 2007
When travelling in Egypt, one is given the opportunity to ponder the big questions in life...
"Were people in the past really like us?"
"Did aliens, or just slaves, who built the Egyptian pyramids?"
And of course the very confusing, and scientifically inexplicable: "Why is it one drools only when one sleeps during the day, and never at night?"
Two weeks travelling around Egypt gave me the chance to think about some of these questions - and many more - while having the time of my life in one of the world's best destinations.
Egypt is incredible. It's awe-inspiring. It's humbling. It imbues you with a sense of history so far back in time that you feel like you're just a meaningless speck in an infinite universe. Which I guess we all are. I was utterly blown away by so much while I was there that it hardly seems possible to write a short trite blog saying 'yeah, it was cool, and this is me in front of the pyramids'. (Having said that, yeah, it was really cool, and you can see some pictures of me in front of the pyramids below...) As I appreciate that most people won't
Really annoyingly, on day 1 of my trip a small fleck of something got into my camera. Now every single one of my photos has a blob on it. Not happy Jan. Oh well, play 'Where's Wally', or 'Where's the Blob' with my pics then.
want to read me rabbiting on and on and on about just how much I loved it, I'll try to keep it short.
As we all know, the Ancient Egyptians were rather obsessed with the afterlife. So much so that in Luxor one side of the river was known as the Land of the Living, which had temples for worshipping the gods, and would also have housed the people and the markets and everything else, and the other side of the river was known as the Land of the Dead, which housed the Valley of the Kings with all the king's tombs and the odd temple for embalming the body and arranging the funereal procession. Almost everything we visited, with the exception of a few temples, were remnants of the Ancient Egyptians preparations for the next, eternal life. The whole process of mummification was pretty gross, and I don't envy the priests who had to do it, but after seeing Tutankhaman's treasures at the Egyptian museum in Cairo, it's quite amazing to imagine what the Ancient Egyptians - and particularly their royalty - must have lived with and used on a daily basis. For a country that has been
pillaged and plundered of so much of its valuable historical artefacts, the Tutankhamun display is incredible. 110 kilos of pure gold in the sarcophagus, inlaid with thousands of tiny semi-precious stones, the serene death mask, and the piles of jewellery were all simply breathtaking.
The concept of time was the most jaw-dropping aspect of the trip. Standing in front of the first pyramid built over 4,700 years ago is almost incomprehensible. Virtually the entirety of recorded human history has taken place while that pyramid has been standing.
The second thing that really blew me away were the hieroglyphics. Every temple, every tomb, every single thing except perhaps the outside of the pyramids, were covered in hieroglyphics. Tombs were also apparently filled with papyrus papers covered in more of the script. I kept thinking again and again - what an amazing moment it must have been when the Rosetta Stone was found. The world went from seeing these markings as a pile of gobbledy-gook (as I see them) to being able to read and understand so much about the Ancient Egyptians. Our guides - all Egyptologists - could read hieroglyphics. Amazing.
In 1500 BC, Hatshepsut became Pharaoh. Over
three and half thousand years ago, a woman ruled Egypt. For some reason, we still seem reluctant to have women rule in so many countries to this day. Go Hatshepsut. (Of course, she wore a beard and tried to mimic men, but that's not far off what many female leaders still feel they have to do to this day...)
So, if you've made it this far, I'm sure you'll be dying to know the answers to my questions.
1. Yes, albeit with cultural differences and a slightly morbid obsession with the afterlife.
3. I still haven't figured this one out. If anyone knows, please post the comment below.
To increase the excitement, I'm limiting this blog to the ancient side of Egypt. More to follow...
There are more photos below