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Published: February 10th 2018
More mysterious than the Pyramids? Yes really! Welcome to Abydos and Dandara!
It's a long drive 172km heading north from Luxor to the ancient Middle Kingdom region. We leave at day break, 6.30am giving me half an hour to have breakfast. Traffic is easier on a Friday, the Moslem day of rest. It takes us 3 hours to get there.
At both Abydos and Dandara we will find yet more temples and columns adorned with fine artistry and brilliant colors. They are both acclaimed as outstanding Temple complexes. Their wall paintings and reliefs represent millenia of continuous devotion to the gods of the after life and creation. We've met these gods several times already... Isis, Osiris, Amun, Ptah, RE Horakty, Horus. And the goddess Hathor.
These are all represented here again in abundance in monuments equal to or better than any of the other sites in Egyptian Antiquity. So, what makes here different? THE MYSTERIES! There are delights for modern conspiracy theorists and UFO advocates
. We find inexplicable representations which defy common sense and make explanations offered by modern archeologists sound glib. Things that just don't make sense! To be honest, years ago when I first read about
them in books and on the internet I had also pooh poohd them "uh huh really?!"
Probable exaggerations..... delusions...... gross misrepresentations.
Yet here they were. In my face. Carved into the stones of temples in the desert 3,000 years ago. The helicopter hieroglyph. The electric light bulb.
Who knew! Who knows even now what those hieroglyphs mean? How did they get there? Controversy may reign but there they are.
The helicopter hieroglyph is the more improbable of the two. Ahmad pointed to its location high overhead in the ceiling of the hypostyle hall at Abydos' Temple of Seti I of the 19th Dynasty. Seti began the seven temple buildings here, completed later by his son Ramsis II. The main god is Osiris God of the afterlife and resurrection.
One of the Temple's outstanding features is the Abydos Kings List
. It's a wall inscribed with the Royal cartouches ( ie that exclusive way of hieroglyph writing when it spells the name of a Pharaoh) of 76 Pharaohs from the very 1st dynasty to Ramsis II of the 19th. This list gave invaluable information to archeologists tracing the story of the land from 3200 To
1290 BC. All the early Pharaohs are shown.... except.... for whatever reason .... it omits some recent 19th Dynasty rulers - Akenaten the heretic, Tutankhamun his son, Ay the power behind the boy king, Smenkhare the virtual unknown. And Hatshepsut. That woman!
Abydos, the centre for worship of Osiris, had always been important since way back in the days of Narmer (the 1st Dynasty Pharaoh credited with uniting Upper and Lower Egypt). It had been the first necropolis for rulers even before the 1st dynasty in 4000 BC and it returned to that sacred use during the final years of Egypt of the Pharaohs, in the 26th dynasty. But hold on to your hats.... take a look at the Helicopter hieroglyph.
It sits there looking innocent like everything else, just one among other relief images. It is in the ceiling high overhead (at Karnak temple the hypostyle stone ceilings are 80 feet overhead). Reviewing what I know .... each hieroglyphic image on a wall forms an integral part of the story being told. It is read in a particular direction dictated by the images, e.g. the direction of the faces. It is a continuous picture narrative telling e.g
the conquest by the Pharaoh in a war against a specific enemy and the bringing back of the spoils. There are over 1,000 of these alphabet symbols (glyphs) in ancient Egyptian writings which started from Narmer 3000 BC. Over the thousands of years of Pharonic Egypt, hundreds of thousands of these pictures (or could it be millions?) were raised, carved or painted into granite and sandstone at sites throughout the land. It was the multi lingual Rosetta stone which cracked the code and allowed accurate interpretation and reading of the picture alphabet.
So things were going pretty well. Enter the helicopter hieroglyph.
Out of the blue. Dry so.
In the middle of a story is a section of a hieroglyph that makes absolutely no sense, has no relation to the narrative around it. It sits next to insects and mosquitoes. It clearly resembles a combination of picture images of a helicopter at the top on the left of an armored tank and below that a submarine. Unknown when Ramsis II (1303 - 1213 BC ) completed the Seti Temple during his 70 year reign. The images I see are distinct even though impossible. And the engraved stone is
very high overhead in an impossible location, so its well out of reach of modern pranksters. It's also not photoshopped because I'm seeing it in real time and not on a computer screen. I am stunned. I don't think Ahmad offered an explanation either, though he pointed it out.
Abydos is the only place that these symbols are found throughout all of ancient Egypt. So of course archeologists and sceptics are in a war of interpretation with UFO and ancient alien theorists. And both make equally little sense. Archeologists claim its merely the effect of erosion over time and that the hieroglyph was clumsily written over back in the day. That rewriting was not unusual. Which is correct. But that doesn't satisfy me.... Why then, given all the hundreds of thousands of hieroglyphic writings ever done over millennia, is there just this one
that makes no sense at all. All the other rewrites that were done make sense in the context of the rest of the narrative on the wall. But not this one. It's absolute gibberish. Neither side makes sense to me therfore, as with the Great Pyramid, I'm happy to accept that we are clueless and leave
it alone as another delicious unsolved ancient mystery.
Moving along 40 miles away to Dandara
. Another temple this one the centre of worship to the goddess Hathor (the Greeks later identified with her as Aphrodite) It was an early site of worship since the Pharaoh Pepi 2250 BC but it's most prominent surviving aspects are recent, Greco-Roman, at the end of Pharaohs from Egypt. The Temple has been cleaned of soot (the work of early Christians who tried to burn it down) to reveal vibrant and colorful ceiling paintings.
One of the unique attractions here is the Zodiac relief
on the walls of the Osiris chapel inside the temple, with its emblems and birthing equipment. Hathor was the goddess of birth, joy, love and creation. The relief depicts a night sky with zodiac symbols, and has been demonstrated to portray the precession of the equinoxes. ( Ancient Mayan civilization focused on the precession! ) On a wall at the back of the temple is a representation of Cleopatra VII, the last of all the Pharaohs, with Caesarion her son by Julius Caesar.
Then there is the Dandara lightbulb.
What we see are three large etchings (not part
of a story narrative) that are described as a Lightbulb. For want of a better word? They also appear nowhere else in Antiquity which makes them as baffling as the helicopter hieroglyph. They don't look like what we know as Lightbulbs today but apparently back in the earlies there were bulb inventions that were similar. Shaped like enormous elongated melongene (aubergine) there is a squiggle down the middle of it like a worm or a snake, (or a coil? )and coming out from its base there is a long thin line resembling a vine. Or a wire?
To me its a bit of a stretch to see it as a light bulb, and I'm not familiar with those early bulb look alikes. But in defense of the light bulbers they raise a good question. How did people see into the far reaches of the Pyramid chambers? They must have needed some light. No natural light can reach that far. Some think mirrors were used to reflect the light but still its quite a distance for reflections alone to be enough. And there's not enough oxygen down there to keep wicks burning. So yes, good question ... how did they
see? It doesn't help that the Dendara reliefs are unique, with no similar depictions showing up anywhere else. At least not yet.
So we have three juicy unsolved mysteries about Ancient Egyptian civilization.
How did they build the Great Pyramid?
What's with the helicopter hieroglyph?
How did they see when they entered the Pyramid chambers?
And I'm finally at the end of the touring blogs. I will post one more fun blog with my random observations about the countries, the people, the foods, the quirks, the funny things that happened, just my impressions. With Miscellaneous photos. Before I slide out the door.
Catch ya later!
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