Sonia’s style is exclusively focused on the trees so trying to find the forest a bit of an intellectual puzzle. I know there were a bunch of Pharoahs from different dynasties, the Greeks and Romans (Alexander, Cleopatra and the gang) messed things up and the Hixus (sp?) were an evil mob from the Middle East.
It’s complicated when you are confronted with one of the oldest, most complex civilizations of all time. One of my big takeaways so far is the impact of religion on Egyptian society. That fact really hit home this morning when Sonia said the Greeks have no religion.
I think what she meant was that they were pagans. They had whole bunch of gods, one for everything, if I have my primary school education correct. Their gods were pretty glamorous but kind of mean – The Real Housewives of Olympus… I guess religion means one god – even if it seems a lot of people get killed every day trying to sort out exactly who he is. It’s like The Dating Game and there are three mystery suitors. You ask some inane questions and then decide it’s god number 1, 2, or 3 that seems like the best prospect.
Last night I had an interesting discussion on comparative religion with a family from Chicago. The punch line of the conversation is that the children are named Rachel and Noah – but they didn’t seem to be very pious 🙂
The Chicago family are my favourite people on the trip. I also have a fondness for Suzanne and Chuck. They are all from Chicago… what that means I am not sure. I would venture perhaps the answer is that they are interesting and cosmopolitan yet down to earth. Some of the others seem a bit inexperienced with the world and I feel a bit nervous I might state an opinion that will get me in trouble. Despite the crap state of their economy and the humbling effect you might expect that to have, most of the Californians seem a bit haughty.
As expected, it’s the Egyptians that I enjoy the most. They are warm, gracious and charming. Everyone noticed today that I wasn’t at breakfast. And Tito was worried he had done something wrong cause I didn’t say “hi” yesterday but I didn’t know his special spot by the obelisk when he wasn’t in his shop.
I think we were talking about religion… believe me, I am no expert on religion in Egypt at this stage. I gather it started with the Pharaohs who mostly worshipped the sun. They discovered that many of their systems and beliefs were very similar to the early Christians so they embraced Christianity at an early stage. Then there were the conquerors from other Arab states and from Greece and Rome so it got all mixed up. It wasn’t said out loud but I think “deface” came from the habit of one of the groups to scratch out of the faces of the previous groups. The Pharaohs each have a kartouch – and they would wipe out the kartouch of the original guy and overwrite their own.
It’s fascinating but there is so much writing on the wall in most of the tombs and temples we have been to that it is very challenging to figure out what is going on. Today we went to Edfu Temple. It’s for the falcon god. I’m not quite sure what he was god of but there were a lot of falcons so I got some photos – and could at least recognize some of the stuff on the walls. Edfu was fairly recently discovered buried in sand and is very well preserved. The carvings are incredible.
I think the praying to the falcon god is from the religion of the Pharoahs. Yesterday we were to Luxor Temple and there was a church and a mosque on the same property. We were even in the right time to hear to call to prayer. But not everyone was headed for the entrance to the mosque. It’s a fascinating country – religion has always played a key role in society – but the religion of choice – and the mix of religions has always been changing with the shifting of the sands in the desert we get to experience every day.