The first time I found out about Egypt my mind was blown away.
Yes, I`ve known for as long as I remember the typical representations of this child-friendly, easily identifiable country: the school stories, the Jewish nation enslaved and escaping the captivity, the cartoon pharaohs, the endless deserts and myths of curses, the rivers of photos, the pyramids and the undying eye of Horus, the “Asterixes and the Obelixes”, the symbols and norms that a child is put into contact with in the TV world. But I am talking about the real Egypt, the thick, palpable history, the “to be discovered” Egypt, the one that made impassioned people throughout history to turn rocks and sand inside out in search for the Holy Grail of Archeology.
The concept of a country this old, yet so connected with the present through the eyes of the beholders, was simply spectacular for a young me, just learning to read.
You know those singular moments that you remember after years, for they have impacted your future life`s direction?! Well, I remember the exact moment in which I discovered… curiosity.
I was at my grandparents` place in the countryside when I saw this large book, covered in dark red velvet and with smooth golden margins. The title? “Gods, graves and scholars” – and written on the top of the first page I opened: “From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us.” Napoleon.
I have no idea why it impacted me so much. Maybe it was the bombastic, intimidating phrasing that was talking about a period of time impossible to comprehend by me, maybe the visual image of colossal stone structures looking down on an insignificant, mortal conqueror that has a name of a king or perhaps it was the piercing book title that was frightening a child by discussing mysterious entities such as Gods (in plural), or graves, or death or scholars (as in masters of knowledge).
So I started reading.
The book is known as the novel of archeology because for the way it presents it in a fantastic way. W. Ceram, its author, visualized archeology as a wonderful combination of adventure, romance and history intertwining with clear figures: the discoverers which soon became role-models for me. It is a bit of a chronicle of man’s search for the past, talking about the whole idea of viewing discovery as bigger than life itself (or in the eyes of a child better than a rollercoaster).
Quote from the cover of the book ↓
“In this dramatic narrative, we travel with Heinrich Schliemann as, defying the ridicule of the learned world, he unearths the remains of the ancient city of Troy, we share the excitement of Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter as they first glimpse the riches of Tutankhamen’s tomb, of George Smith when he found the ancient clay tablets that contained the records of the story of the Biblical Flood. We rediscover the ruined splendors of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world; of Chichen Itza, the abandoned pyramids of the Maya: and the legendary Labyrinth of tile Minotaur in Crete.”
Anyway, it`s a cool book. But that`s not the story I wanna tell haha.
The thing is, I was fascinated by Egypt. So, of course, throughout the years, I read a lot of books about it, like the forever young, Egyptien by Mika Waltari, novels about different pharaohs, discovered a bit of history through Encarta, the ancient version of Wikipedia (dependent on CDs and disks), read biographies of Egyptian personalities like Anwar el Sadat and tried unsuccessfully to learn hieroglyphs.
And THEN, in the height of my passion, now 14 years ago, I was suddenly offered the possibility to see it in person, multiple times on a span of just a few years, the last trip being in 2007. My mother was just starting up one of the first organized travel group charters from Romania till Egypt. My dream was about to become reality, I was hooked.
Now to not bore you too much, I will discuss my first impressions parralled with some photos from my absolute favorite places in the order that I have seen them.
The history of ancient Egypt spans the period from the early prehistoric settlements of the northern Nile valley to the Roman conquest, in 30 BC. The Pharaonic Period is dated from the 32nd century BC, when Upper and Lower Egypt were unified, until the country fell under Macedonian rule, in 332 BC. The Nile has been the lifeline for Egyptian culture since the old ages.