The Colossi of Memnon.
Rising 18m from the plain these are the first monuments tourists see on visiting the West Bank.
Egypt is all about ancient history. A history that's vast, sweeping and epic. There's so much of it it's difficult to get your head around. Too many pharaohs, so many dynasties, all those facts and half-facts, gods and mythological creatures. What I like is knowing about the lives of ordinary people. We all make history - it's just that not all of us are remembered.
I like the monuments, but what I like even more, is the thought of what lies underfoot, waiting to be discovered. Walking almost anywhere in Egypt is an adventure. The rubble underfoot is composed of bits of ancient pottery, human bones, fragments of winding sheets, even perhaps scraps of wooden sarcophagi. Major finds are not just a thing of the past. Abdul, who's lived all his life opposite the Colossi of Memnon, told us how a part of one of the giants had recently been found - he thought it was maybe a finger - a field or two away. 'As if the pharaoh had just kicked it away from himself,' he said, unconsciously swinging his leg. In 2007 archaeologists at Saqqara found the tombs of a Pharaonic butler and scribe. They had lain undisturbed
The men who created the royal tombs lived and were buried here.
for more than three thousand years. Dr Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, believes that some 70% of Egypt's ancient monuments remain buried.
But it's the smaller, seemingly insignificant objects that pique my curiosity. In a glass case in the Luxor museum lie a pair of reed and fibre sandals found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. They date from 1347-1334 BC. There are hundreds of items of daily use like this that have been immortalised for the hereafter.
Walk in Deir al-Medina - the mudbrick village of the ordinary, illiterate craftsmen who built the monuments and created all the art and and wealth on which the culture of ancient Egypt was based - find a piece of a wine jar here, and you hold something that one of these workers held 3,500 years ago and then history is no longer ancient; it's pulsating, and the dust and rubble become a connection with another living, breathing human being - someone like all of us, who worked hard, loved his family and lived his life unnoticed.
So, while the pharaohs waged wars, won battles and built monuments, I like knowing that wealthy women in ancient
Another mammoth figure of Rames II.
Egypt were obsessed with looking after their hair and that they regularly treated it with all sorts of weird and wonderful potions - hippopotamus fat, powdered donkey's teeth mixed with honey and the juice of juniper berries - and that they decorated it with fine combs and flower blossoms. Sometimes they shaved their heads completely and wore wigs. I like knowing that when an Egyptian house cat died, the family shaved off their eyebrows in mourning; that when a dog died, they shaved their entire bodies; and when an important man died, his female relatives smeared their heads and faces with mud and marched around town beating their bare breasts. I like knowing that mixtures of honey, sour milk, and crocodile dung were recommended as contraceptives, and pregnancy tests involving barley were used to forsee the sex of the unborn child. I like knowing that at the end of a dinner party it was the custom for a man to wonder around the room carrying a small coffin, containing the image of a corpse, showing it to each guest and telling them 'look on this body as you drink and enjoy yourself; for you will be just like it when you are dead'.
Egypt has a magnificent history, and housed one of the greatest civilisations the world has ever known. Attention is nearly always focused on it's royals, but pharaohs, priests and scribes were not the only people who lived in ancient Egypt. I like to remember the people who built the monuments and produced the artifacts which made the civilisation great.
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