I’ve always told SJ that if I weren’t born in Singapore or had the opportunity to pick any academic discipline without fear of recourse i.e. not have a job in Singapore, I’d pick Archaeology. He thinks I’m afraid of too many insects and am too mindful of UV exposure to be in the field all day, digging for things.
True, but when you’re in it, you tend to be able to build immunity to things like that. He snorts at my postulation. Well, if I can’t do, I will watch. Which was what brought us to Egypt one fine day in December of 2005.
Egypt is amazing. Structures over 5000 years old are still there, though in various stages of ruin. The history behind these places are not very different from classic tales of power-hungry and vain kings who conquer land, usurp wealth and build things in their honour; Or the upright, benevolent ones who take kingdoms from the rotten tomatoes to achieve honour, glory and many great feats. But it’s quite interesting how culture plays such a large part amidst it all, particularly their belief in the mystical afterlife. It seems, if they are not at war or conniving to oust another pharaoh or drowning in moral decadence, they’d spend the other good part of their lives thinking about their deaths and preparing for it.
Just look at the Pyramids at Giza, and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Even in modern times in Cairo, there is a necropolis not too far from the city. Not cemetery, but a necropolis with tombs you can stay in for a night or two. Quite creepy, but also fascinating.
This is a painting on a papyrus that depicts the stages one goes through before entering the Egyptian afterlife. You can get this easily at most touristy spots in Egypt, but the higher quality ones come with the story and a guarantee of authenticity (of a good replica I suppose). This website give a nice summary of the story: http://www.king-tut.org.uk/egyptian-mummies/egyptian-afterlife.htm
Then there is River Nile – the source of life for the Egyptians. The nice things that you’ve read about a cruise along the Nile? They are all true. 🙂 I wished the ship we were on served nicer vegetables, but the experience was well-worth the dietary slack.
I’m glad we got to see all the sights and treasures before the destruction and looting at the recent civil unrest. Such a pity.
[First published: 22 May 2011]