Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday, Feb 14th, Madinat Habu & the Noble Tombs


After breakfast, we cross the Nile and the desert to visit temples and tombs. It would be boring if what we saw was not so knock-your-socks off awe-inspiring. For today's details, don't consult the timeline I posted earlier. In fact, don't worry about where we went. Just let me tell you somethings in general about what you'll see in the photos.

First, they were built between 1560 B.C and 1350 B.C. Covered with sand, they were discovered in the early 1900's. Successive dynasties added and improved the designs, and each new king added his own story, and sometimes erased previous stories. But if you've got centuries to work on it, and generations of builders and sculptors and painters to employ, you can get pretty good at it.

But let's give them credit. These were made when Irish farmers were piling stones into large heaps at Newgrange, and 2,000 years would pass before Mayans would build their temples, and another 500 years more until the Incas and Aztecs would construct their own pyramids. And remember, these were built in the New Kingdom, 500 years after the Egyptian pyramids.

And speaking of Pyramids (which we'll see in a couple of days), the tombs we saw yesterday, and saw for the nobles and workers today, were built not in pyramids but in hidden caves in mountains where the stone was hard enough to bore deep down into the earth. The Egyptian government doesn't allow cameras in most of them, so you'll have to take my word that the best drawings (not sculptures) are in the tombs of the workers. The couldn't afford sculptors, so they concentrated on painters. Their scenes were more about the family life, as they wanted to both honor their family's lives, and show their devotion to their gods. They didn't have lots of space devoted to the Pharaoh's image.

But they were all building these tombs and temples in tribute to the Pharaonic gods, and to the belief that they could make it into the second life (after everyone died on earth) if they led a good and generous life in the first. That same theme seems to have permeated most of the world's religions since then, but few have created such lasting monuments to it.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on: Tuesday, Feb 14th, Madinat & the Tombs of Nobles


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