Ancient Egypt History Lesson-Part 1

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nasser the guide greeted me in the lobby at 9:00AM as planned, after I tasted the breakfast buffet. He wasted no time giving me facts about Egypt, starting with the peculiar Nile River the only river that runs UP the river from north to south making Upper Egypt (south) and Lower Egypt (north). He then traced the history of Ancient Egypt beginning with the story of the Old Kingdom from 3,200BC-2,280BC. Which was the time of Mina, sometimes called Narmer. He was the 1st Pharaoh/founder of the 1st Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and he was originally from the south. He is the one known for the unification of north and south. Minefer was the name of the first capital of Egypt until Alexander the Great in 332BC conquered the land and the Greeks renamed it Memphis. Unfortunately Memphis was destroyed by the Persians in 525BC.

The Middle Kingdom existed from 2,050BC-1,780BC, the New Kingdom which is the most famous and the time of Moses III, King Tut and Ramses II dates from 1,580BC-1,100BC and the Late Period is the time between 1,000BC-332BC up to Alexander the Great. The gaps in between were known as the time of weakness or intermediate period, for which there is little documentation. After Alexander the Great, came all of the Bartholemes (12); followed by Cleopatra and Marc Anthony in 30BC. The Romans came in 30BC under the leadership of Octavius Augustus until Arabs arrived in 641AD.

To make facts more confusing there is the topic of the Gods. Then there are a ton of legends about the Gods and Goddesses:  The first trinity of Memphis consisted of the legends of Pitha, the God of hunger and thirst; his wife Goddess Skhemet, the Goddess of violence also recognized as a descendant of Ra (God of the sun); and their son Nefertom (God of love, happiness, long life and eternity). The second trinity which was the trinity of all of Egypt was made up of Osiris, the God of paradise; Isis (Goddess of love and life); and their son Horus (God of protection and heaven, form of falcon). The story goes that Osiris' brother Set (God of evil) was jealous that everyone worshipped him so he killed Osiris, actually the first time with a dagger and the second time by cutting him into 14 pieces. Isis found only 13 pieces in the Nile; the 14th piece (Osiris’ penis) was missing. So she made a penis from mud so they could make love and the result was their son Horus. On the topic of fertility, I also learned about Amenmin whose image is a God with one arm and one leg and a large erect penis. He was appointed to increase the population when the other men went to war but when the men came back and found out that he impregnated all of their wives, they cut off his limbs.

History class continued with visits to the pyramids. There are three kinds of pyramids named for their angles: bent, step and complete. First Nasser introduced me to the pyramids of Dashour from 2,570 BC which is a bent style pyramid and also referred to as the Red Pyramid because it is built from rose granite. Then we visited Sakkara, the famous step shaped pyramid built in 2,700BC made of limestone and the following day we saw the "complete" pyramids of Giza. Giza is the home of five important monuments: 1. King Khofu’s tomb aka Keopps (The Great Pyramid) made from limestone and granite and consists of two million stones each weighing approx. 4-5 tons. Giza sits on the west side of the Nile across from Cairo and is actually considered its own city. 2. The tomb of Keifran or Kafra 3. Minkoura the smallest. 4. Is the Sphinx with the head of King Keifran and the body of a lion meant to protect the tombs from the evil spirits. 5. Valley Temple which was the mummification factory with the causeway that leads from the funeral temple to the pyramid.

A full day in the heat, running up and down the stairs and into the long, tight chambers with three feet high ceilings, made for an exhausting day. Not by choice we spent the remainder of the afternoon at Antonio’s perfumery. This is the same jovial Antonio I met the night before. I remember feeling such a warm, inviting energy from him upon our meeting. This made perfect sense when I learned that he is a meditation guru/healer that leads groups out into the desert for meditation. A man of many hats, the perfumery is stocked with hand blown glass bottles of every shape, a family business. Antonio was sure to pull all the oils off the shelves and apply them to every spot on my arm explaining the most important essences of the seven chakras:

Lotus: Crown of Osiris (God of Paradise)
Sandalwood: Eye of Horus (Falcon God)
Ambar Kashir: Throat of Toth (God of writing)
Atar of Roses (white rose): Heart of Isis (Goddess of motherhood, magic and love)
Jasmin: Solorplex of RA (Sun God)
Musk: Spleen of Hathor (God of music and dance)
Red Ambar: Base of Seth (The evil God)

Of course he was trying to sell me something, especially the tuberose or vanilla that I mentioned were my favorites, but unfortunately budget and luggage space kept me from another impulsive purchase. However it was a splendid place to sit, drink hibiscus tea and eat Koshari, the poor man’s meal made up of macaroni, noodles, fried onion, lentils and garbanzo beans which is topped with a nice tomato sauce and optional lemon juice and chili sauce. I think the meal cost the equivalent of $1USD but it was absolutely delicious.

We left shortly after Antonio turned down the lights, had me lay down and he placed the specific oils on the corresponding chakras, as a form of meditation. I was certainly relaxed by the end of it. He gifted me a small stone beetle to ward off the bad spirit and for good luck. I guess he felt I need it.

Back to the hotel around 6:00PM, I caught a nice siesta until meeting up with Nasser my friend at 8:30PM. Nasser and I made use of our duty free purchases while watching the Egyptian vs. South Africa football game. A clean defeat by the SA team put Egypt out of the African championships all together.

A night in Cairo in my diary is not complete without a longer than desired stop at Mini Mall. Nasser ordered in some mouth-watering grilled chicken and lamb chops before we got chauffeured on a once in a lifetime errand to downtown. Nasser has an opportunity to purchase some very valuable Egyptian artifacts, from someone who found the treasures recently on their farm while tilling the land.

I promised not to reveal much but let’s just say that the two pieces that I was exposed to are worth millions and if you are reading this and have any interest in investing in an Egyptian artifact that ultimately could be sold to a museum, please contact me ASAP.

The bonus treat of our field trip was finally seeing downtown Cairo. We drove by the enormous illuminated Citadel Mosque built by Mohammad Ali. I definitely want to come back and go into the mosque. Another night of going to sleep at 4:00AM.
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