Away From Home

Egypt, ancient Misr – at its most splendid (part III)

If I had to choose what to remember, I would choose these moments.

Riding a camel in a blistering sandstorm - exhilarating and frightening! Something to repeat before I die!

Sandstorm

Flowing with the sandstorm at the Steppe pyramids

Catching the sunset

Catching another catching the sunset over the Nile

Sunset II

Sailing along the Nile, these power stations were the only indications of civilization.

Odd, fleeting and precious moments

Odd, fleeting and precious moments

Darkness sharpens beauty. Why?

Shadows

I was feverish when I snapped this


Egypt, ancient Misr – “palaios lithos” and beyond (part II)

Egyptian rule gave way first to the Persians, and then, under the conquest of Alexander the Great, to the Greeks, then the Romans, the Arabs, the Ottomans, and then the Europeans.
Temple of Philae
Temple of Philae, and the facade of egyptian gods and kings

Stones are impartial to the conquerers who shape them.

Pompey's Pillar and Granite Spinx

Greecian and Roman influences - Pink Granite Spinx and Pompey's Pillar

Roman tomb in Alexandria

Roman tomb in Alexandria - a city named after Alexander the Great

One of the many mosques. I forget the name.

Tourism has little time for the unremarkable and commonplace. We didn’t spend much time with the locals, but we did manage to ride feluccas on the Nile (slow and pleasant, but not much wind) and we also visited a bazaar.

The streets in Cairo

The streets in Cairo - bright on a sunny day with clear sky

A daily bazaar in Cairo

A daily bazaar in Cairo

Mostafa and his horse, Rambo

Mostafa and his horse, Rambo

Felucca boat

A felucca boat on the most placid portion of the Nile

An Egyptian

The Egyptian 'captain' of our felucca boat

Words fail me.  

 

Egypt, ancient Misr – the protected land (part I)

Photographs inadequately represent Egypt. Some are gifted with capturing the visual more stunningly than the human eye can, but in my inexperienced hands, snapshots remain merely that. Split seconds shots, which reduce an endless expanse of desert to flattened layers, and shrink massive, crumbling facades  to screens and shadows. Like so, the tombs of great kings :

The greatest pyramid of Giza, tomb of King Khufu (also Cheops)

The greatest pyramid of Giza, tomb of King Khufu (also Cheops)

Great Spinx of Giza

Even after 5000 years, the detailed stonework of the eyes of the Great Spinx of Giza remains, visible despite the relentless sandstorm.

Valley of Kings

The Valley of Kings, burial ground of Pharoahs and their queens for generations

Columns of the Karnak Temple in Luxor (Ancient Thebes)

 The temples of gods, built by the pharoahs, who were as gods themselves, stand despite the waters that used to flood Egypt seasonally – flushing anything, and everything, out of the path of the Nile – including the roofs of these temples.

The Obelisk of Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut’s Obelisk, erected by her father, Tuthmosis I
Here stand the skyscrapers of ancient egypt. They were built to honour great names and lofty titles, and they were torn down to show hostility, power and dominion. The remnants that still stand are the colour of old teeth and bleached bone, recalling everything past, dispossessed of all heritage and living memory. They continue as receptacles for the stories of thousands of nameless people and their pictures.

The oldest, most lasting way to remember - stonework

Columns of the inner courts at Karnak

Old shapes, older stones. Monuments carved singularly, from the very rock of mountains, ordered by the arrogance of Pharoahs. We know their names till today. Ramses, Rameses, Ramsis, Tutankamen, Nefertiti, Cleopatra – only their bodies and their sucesses persist, the former wrapped and dessicated husks, the latter breathtaking and towering, yet both are made immortal under the same sky.

Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel
Rameses II and his son (I think) Rameses II and his son (I think)
All details of the carving preserved by the layers of silt and alluvium that, ages ago, kept these places buried deep underground. Where the faces of the gods and pharoahs were not protected by sand, their very features were holed in, or knocked out, by those who sought to desecrate a foreign culture.
Old stone, hard stone, dry, relentless, sobering stone that remembers gods and kings until it is no longer stone but dust.

Hieroglyphics on the crumbling walls

Hieroglyphics on the crumbling wallsA scene between god and king

The Avenue of Sphinxes

The Avenue of Sphinxes

Where walk the gods, there also stand sentinel the sphinxes and rams.