Bullying in Ancient Egypt

The Temple of Rameses II at Abu Simbel
The Temple of Rameses II at Abu Simbel

Ramses II had a good ride as Pharaoh from 1279 BC until 1213 BC. He lorded it over Egypt during the early 19th Dynasty round about the middle of the New Kingdom, centred in Thebes (now Luxor). Evidence proliferates: huge colossi built in his honour and the magnificent temples to him and his favourite queen, Nefertare, at Abu Simbel. Building monuments to Himself was doubtless his greatest achievement.

Colossus of Rameses II near Memphis
Colossus of Rameses II near Memphis

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Ramses thought so much of himself that he had his masons obliterate the cartouches of his predecessors at Karnak by engraving his exaggeratedly bold cartouche on top.

Percy Bysse Shelley’s poem, Ozymamdias, was inspired by a large bust of Ramses II in the British Museum.

Leg of Rameses II at Abu Simbel close up, the 19th century graffiti betraying the lack of European respect for ancient sculpture
Leg of Rameses II at Abu Simbel close up, the 19th century graffiti betraying the lack of European respect for ancient sculpture

Temple of Nefertare shows the Queen almost as large as Rameses II
Temple of Nefertare shows the Queen almost as large as Rameses II

Compare the relative size of the female to the male in the last two photos. The fact that Queen Nefertare was shown in the same scale as the Pharaoh was a very rare occurrence, showing the enormous love and respect Rameses had for her.

By the way, the intense blue sky in these photos was created by using a good polarizing filter on my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D.

Specific Travel Area Categories Added

Over the last two days I have created separate categories for four popular areas or countries in which I have traveled and written posts on.

Some of you may be primarily interested in one country or area. Categories have been created for the following  areas so that you can see the grouped posts for them:

  • Egypt
  • Morocco
  • South America
  • Spain

Other important categories will follow, “Please God.” It’s the least I can do, since I tend to write as the spirit moves on all sorts of topics and there are well over a hundred posts since I started this blog. Thank you for patiently enduring my shotgun approach to blogging topics. I do not apologize for this style; my primary motive for blogging is not the amassing of large numbers of followers, but I am grateful for those of you who persevere and find something worthwhile here from time to time and I enjoy reading your blogs very much.

The South America category is still pretty small, but I hope to post on my two-month “Summer of 1965” trip to Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador in chronological form with stories. I have, at last, scanned my old 35 mm slides of that great trip. I’ll also include an earlier trip to Caracas, Venezuela.

Coptic Cairo

The Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo - 9th C. A.D.
The Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo – 9th Cent. A.D.

I took a taxi from Al-Azhar Mosque to Coptic Cairo, which is older than Islamic Cairo by about seven centuries. It is built around (and sometimes on top of) Roman structures. The famous Hanging Church, the Church of Saint Mary, was my prime destination. It hangs over two Roman towers and, though certainly not the oldest, is arguably the most beautiful of the churches in Cairo.

The cab driver on the way there was playing some interesting electronic Arabic music. Rather, his radio was playing. The driver’s hands were steering the vehicle. I got out of the cab near a bookstore. Most newer signs were in English and Arabic. Older inscriptions were in French or Greek. I wandered for a while, unsure of the way to the Church of St. Mary. There were lots of places that caught my lens. Continue reading “Coptic Cairo”

Nile River Scenes – Part One – Feb. 2009

An Egyptian toreador?
An Egyptian toreador?

We toured the Upper Nile for seven nights on our cruise boat, the Giselle. The Upper Nile supports agriculture in two narrow, green strips on its East and West banks. It is farmed by the poorest of the poor – the fellahin – Egyptian converts to Islam who cannot trace their ancestry back to Arab, or better yet, Mohammedan roots.

Men in boat
Men in boat

Life is difficult for the fellahin. They used to own their land and now (my research was done in 2009) they rent it or, if they cannot afford to rent, they are paid about a dollar a day as labourers. Now, with land commanding high prices that are driven largely by the tourism industry, the fellahin are frequently driven off the land they once owned or rented by the owner when he/she (most probably he) sells. Actually, life for the fellahin is worse than this. If you are interested, here’s a link to their story from the Egypt Independent, written by Maria Golla.

Old houseboat becomes a waterfront property
Old houseboat becomes a waterfront property

This old houseboat apparently serves as a dwelling for a large extended family or group of people. Perhaps they are the families of workers allowed to live there by a landlord.

Boy hails our boat, the Giselle
Boy hails our boat, the Giselle

These boys were playing on the East bank of the river as we passed. One enthusiastically called out to our boat.

Women collect water
Women collect water

These women were collecting water from the river. The Nile is very clean near Aswan. We saw a tourist woman swimming in the middle of river there.

Elephantine Island Ferry cost us 50 cents. Woman in back.
Elephantine Island Ferry cost us 50 cents. Woman in back.

Near Aswan, Anita and I took an pleasant optional cruise with our tour group around Elephantine Island in a felucca. To save time, when the cruise was finished we had our group’s felucca drop us off on Elephantine Island – for an inflated price. There we visited the Nubian village of Koti on our own for about 2 hours. The chief’s son took us around. More on that in a future post.
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We then took this ferry back across the narrow channel to Aswan for about 50 cents and walked back to the Giselle. Note the woman sits in the back of the boat. This is a common custom in Egypt. I encountered more of the same on the Cairo subway, where women sit in cars that are further back. Considering how crushed we men were in a forward car, I get it. More on that in a later post. I took this photo after we had disembarked the ferry. No one, by the way, objected to Anita sitting with me in the middle of the craft. We felt very safe and welcome wherever we went.

Egypt’s Treasures

Egypt’s ancient memes developed from even more ancient African roots. Virtually all of our forms of worship owe their genesis to prehistoric Africa – via Egypt.

Gerald Massey was a minor British poet and a major expert on Egyptology. He believed that the model for the Christian Jesus was the Egyptian god, Horus. Continue reading “Egypt’s Treasures”

A Sparkling CBC Ideas Series

Malise Ruthven gives below, I believe, a brilliant explanation of the contradictions that face us as a pluralistic society. Though a skeptic regarding religion, he nevertheless thinks that there is a psychic need within humankind, himself included, for the things that traditional religions can provide even non-believers with. Continue reading “A Sparkling CBC Ideas Series”