Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Egypt overwhelms

So, having said I had loads to talk about after our Egyptian holiday I then got writer's block - the truth is I just can't begin to capture it. There was so much there that it's fused into a single big blob in my head. I've said to a few people since we got back that I had no idea how many monuments there were, or the scale of them. The only comparison I've been able to think of is if Stonehenge appeared every few miles along the Thames... and was covered in astonishing carvings. Not to mention the 63 tombs or rooms so far in the Valley of the Kings and all the more 'minor' stuff that they don't bother dragging the tourists to or that's drowned under lake Nasser.

In a way it was wonderful to get so close to the monuments, and I can see what a huge task it would be to protect them all fully, but it was also alarming to see the darkening on places where tourists and guides touch the carving to point something out. The most depressing thing I saw was a blob of gum on one carved block at Philae temple - unbelievable philistinism. At least some of the tomb paintings are behind sheets of perspex.
It was also troubling that, although I am sure archaologists and egyptologists the world over are working on cataloging and interpreting the miles and miles of carvings and paintings on the temples and tombs there was very little evidence of any such systematic process. Aside from some book shops in Cairo, it's hard to get any record besides some very shoddy tourist guides and postcards, although doubtless amazon could oblige.

The thought that the bright colours still visible in many tombs would also have covered the temples is truly staggering - I can't think of a building that would create such an impact, or at least not in the same way.

Fun fact of the day - there were seven cleopatras. The one we all know about was the last.

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