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E G Y P T September 11, 2014

Posted by anagasto in history.
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Map of Egypt: Cairo is at the top, where the Nile branches out into several rivers that run into the Mediterranean Sea.

Nobody knows why Egypt is so famous and so high in tourist priorities.
Maybe it is due to the Bible and the pyramids.
Little else is generally known about that country.

The Pyramids

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But the pyramids are the most famous man-made thing in the world.

The painting by Jerome shows the pyramids at sunrise.
Since the surface was polished limestone, maybe they shone white from a distance.

From the collection of Middle East paintings by Jean Leon Gerome

One of the finest images on the English Wikipedia, the Great Pyramids photo by Ricardo Liberato is under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license  at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_Gizah_Pyramids.jpg  .

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Cleopatra

Next in  fame, Cleopatra lived at the same time as Caesar, and she was brought to Caesar as a gift rolled up in a carpet.

The painting  by Jean Leon Gerome shows her just stepping out of the carpet.

She looks as if she were sizing up the master of the Universe, Caesar.
He is sitting at his desk and seems surprised. —

Beside her, crouching on the floor, is one of the servants that carried her in.

tn Cleopatra before Caesar

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Some contemporary sources say she was not all that pretty , but astute and endlessly resourceful and as playful as a kitten.
She was the sole ruler of Egypt at the time.

…   702cleopatra
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The picture below is  famous porcelain art from Lladró, Spain.

In that resplendent barge, accompanied by beautiful boys and girls, perfumes and music, Cleopatra is sailing down the river to meet Anthony.
He was  a high-ranking Roman and a former sweetheart of hers:

The romance did not end well.
When Caesar was assassinated in 44bC, there was civil war and she sided with Anthony.
Anthony lost and was ordered to kill himself, and so she killed herself too by allowing a snake to bite her.

The source of the Cleopatra story is Plutarch who lived about 100 years later.

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The ancient masters of Egypt built great temples.

Tempel of Horus photographed by Steve F-E-Cameron (Merlin-UK) under a GNU license at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:S_F-E-CAMERON_EGYPT_2006_FEB_00289.JPG</span

The walls contain inscriptions and drawings that are not primarily meant as a decoration.
They are information for the people and for posterity, similar to our books and newspapers.

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The Nile River

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This photo is from a traveler’s blog at http://www.historianinresidence.com/Christmas%20card%202008/Egypt.html

And the river Nile.
It is the world’s longest river.
Why is it so well known?
It can’t be because of its length; nor would it be because its source was a mystery until late in the 19th century.
Many explorers tried to find it and failed or quarreled about each others’ discoveries.

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1500 years  after the Romans had been there and everywhere, the Nile still appeared on the world maps as flowing first south and then west to reach the Mediterranean near its western gate.

HerodotusWorldMap

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774px-View from Cairo Tower 31march2007

C a i r o

Al-Qahira, literally “The Vanquisher”,  is the capital of Egypt.
There are nearly 7 million people  in this city and another 10 million living all around it.

Cairo is famous for its prayer towers, its art and architecture, its traffic jams and its pollution, but also for its poverty.
People who have been there always say they cannot imagine what so many people live on.
There seems to be no industry except tourism.
However, Egypt has been receiving 1.5 billion US dollars in aid yearly.

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This is the patio of a university with its prayer towers called minarets.

They are like church towers, but instead of a bell there is a man who calls people to prayer several times a day, as used to be done in Europe not too long ago, for instance at midday, the hour of the Angelus, when all farm work stopped.

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egypt3b

Egypt’s landscape: on the left there is the head and the neck of a camel the same colour as the landscape.

It is a great photo, but I have lost its references.

Photo by Templar under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license at http://www.flickr.com/photos/healinglight/159395792/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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desert village

It is a desert village, lines of caves and sand paths.
The photo is from http://www.egyptianagriculture.com/preface_egyptian_agriculture.html

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Two more paintings by Jean Leon Gerome from this webpage. They show a cafe in Cairo and  some people arguing in the street.

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.800px-Thenilecrocodile nile croco

The Nile again. It is inhabited.

Both the crocodile and the hippopotamus are mentioned  in the Bible.
God is proud of their power that he created and controls.

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The Bible

The most widely known details about Egypt concern Moses

He was Jewish by birth,  but there was a persecution and his mother hid him in a basket by the river.
The Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby and took him home to the palace.

So Moses was brought up as a prince.
He found out about his origin and brought ten plagues  down on Egypt to free  his people.

You Tube: from Sullivan’s Travels, with Jess Lee Brooks singing Go down Moses

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The Rosetta Stone

That is again by Jean Leon Jerôme, the same painter as did Cleopatra above.
It is Napoleon talking to the Sphinx who seems to be looking miles beyond him into the future.
When Napoleon and his army were in Egypt, the British destroyed his ships, and the French could not go back to France for three years.

As they began to enlarge their defenses near the harbour of Rosetta, they discovered this strange stone, called the Rosetta stone,

Rosetta_Stone

“Rosetta Stone” by Hans Hillewaert – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosetta_Stone.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Rosetta_Stone.JPG

with very old writings in classical Greek and in two Egyptian languages.

It was about 2000 years old. A stone of this kind is called a stela.

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By comparing the three texts, the scientists were able to decode the writings they had seen on the walls of Egypt’s royal tombs.
It was a complex system that gave a lot of power to those who knew how to read.
Some of those shapes can still be seen reflected in the letters of our alphabet :

The zig-zag line represented water, and it evolved into our letter M

and this ox head stood for a glottal stop, but the Greeks used it to represent their letter alpha which later became our A.

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Tablet at the Met:  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/

Those writings were very long to decode.  Most are simply invocations and data of the royal agenda.

The idea behind the invention of writing was to make words more permanent and to prevent them from blowing in the wind as Bob Dylan and even John Paul II used to say.

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To get the complete set of letters click on the thumbnail below from the web page of http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/alphabet.html

fragment-boeree-alphabet

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Egyptian art looks attractive to most people now, as if the Egyptians were closer to us than for instance the people of the Renaissance.

There is a portrait bust of Cleopatra in Berlin’s Altes Museum where she looks modern and the artist’s style seems contemporary:

Kleopatra-VII.-Altes-Museum-Berlin1

And what about this cat?

It does look faintly commandeering as if meant for the CEO’s home office.

Egyptian cat 1 Metropolitan Museum

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eye of horus

References

Above: The Eye of Horus from https://www.flickr.com/photos/nerdcoresteve/4325840777/

The university patio is by tentoila in public domain at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Al-Azhar_%28inside%29_2006.jpg

The  crocodile is by Bobisbob under license at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Thenilecrocodile.jpg

The hippopotamus is byP. Brundel  under  license at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Nijlpaard.jpg

Cairo by Raduasandei is in public domain at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:View_from_Cairo_Tower_31march2007.jpg

The Pyramids by Jean Leon Jerome is at http://www.jeanleongerome.org/The-Pyramids,-Sunrise-large.html.

The Great Pyramids photo is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_Gizah_Pyramids.jpg
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Comments»

1. Egyptian Fishing Report - FISHING WORLD – FISHING WORLD - May 16, 2011

[…] E G Y P T « F I S H I N G Description : He found out about his origin and his mission and brought seven plagues down on Egypt to free to his people. You Tube: from Sullivan’s Travels, with Jess Lee Brooks singing Go down Moses. The photo report is at … https://espliego.wordpress.com/ .. […]


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