Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Pharaonic era


Civilization began in Egypt since prehistoric times by about one hundred thousand years, and considered the ancient Egyptians since the late Paleolithic 9 thousand in BC as a stand-alone mother and called themselves the people of Egypt

The start of the state in Egypt when the united provinces in the kingdoms of the Kingdom of the north in the Lower capital Bhutto in the west of the Delta and its logo papyrus and worship the god HOR and symbol of the serpent, the Kingdom of the South was its capital, Betray or Cape Current and logo Lotus and worship the god of SIT has had several attempts in the era of pre-history to unite the kingdoms of the north and south, but did not bear fruit, even sat MENA or NARMER to the south of the Kingdom of age 3200 BC, which is his light-historic era and the beginning of the era of the dynasties of which there were 30 families

Extends the Pharaonic era in Egypt's history to about three thousand years from 3200 BC until Alexander the Great invaded Egypt in 323 BC.
Department of archaeologists and historians, the Pharaonic era into three periods: -

1 - Old Kingdom 2980 BC 2475 BC.
2 - The Middle Kingdom 2160 BC and 1580 BC.
3 - MODERN Kingdom 1580 BC to 1150 BC.


                   Old Kingdom 2980 BC 2475 BC

 Egyptian civilization evolved and crystallized the principles of the central government, called the King MENA titles King of the Two Lands, and the owner of Thrones This unit has been an important factor in the renaissance of Egypt in the various aspects of life, where found, Egyptian hieroglyphic writing and is interested in the Kings to secure the country's borders and the active trade movement between Egypt and Sudan, and received Egypt is a great era in the history of the era known as the builders of the pyramids, and saw the building this state's first pyramid, the pyramid of SAQQARAH, with the development of agriculture, industry and commerce Egyptians used the first river fleet.


                   Middle Kingdom 2160 BC and 1580 BC

Kings of the Central projects most beneficial to the people, were important projects, irrigation, agriculture, trade, and dug a channel between the Nile and the Red Sea, and began to run the mines and quarries and proposed arts and architecture, but the end of the rule of this state has seen the invasion of the HYKSOS and their occupation of Egypt around in 1657 BC, and continued to rule the country about 150 years.


                     Modern Kingdom 1580 BC to 1150 BC.


This age began after the King AHMOS defeated the HYKSOS and expelled out of the country and returned security and stability to the country
And This era also witnessed revolution of AKHENATON religious calling to worship one God and the symbol of a sun disc and established a new capital for the country he called AKHETATON and Egypt suffered since the rule of the family 21 to 28 for the occupation of each of the Assyrians in 670 BC, then the Persians until the end the rule of the Pharaohs with the families of 30 Alexander the Great invaded Egypt.

Most famous kings of the Old Kingdom


                                                      KING MINA                                                                          


King Mina united the two countries Pharaoh of the First Dynasty in Thebes (Luxor), was able to unite the two countries (the two kingdoms north and south) in about 3200 BC, and the title of this great bounty several titles (such as King of the Two Lands, the Thrones, South Eagle, Snake north). King Mina is the first founder of the family era.
the King, "Mina," Realized the need to build the city of medium site, can including overseeing the Upper and Lower Egypt, so he founded a new city on the western shore of the Nile where the village of "meet rhina" the current in Giza Governorate, was the first castle of war surrounded by white a fence, wanted the owner that fortifies and protects the kingdom from the raids of the owners of the North, was "Mina" has called it "napher", and later named "Memphis" time of Greece, and then he called the Arabs, "Manph", became the city of "Manph," the capital of all of Egypt in under the old state until the end of the Sixth Dynasty



                                                   KING DJOSER                                                               

Pharaoh Djoser of the most famous kings of the Third Dynasty pharaoh, a second in a series of the third dynasty pharaoh who ruled Egypt in the Old Kingdom, and his fame is due to the renaissance that also included the country in his reign. King began djoser
his life like any other of the earlier kings ordered the construction of the cemetery is in the form of a terrace large mud-brick, but not built by at Abydos, but built in the area now known as bit khlaf  southern Qena, was found in many of the pots and the seals inscribed with the name of the king also holds the names of some of its staff and various departments, which had been handling its affairs. some historians believe that this tomb probably built in the early reign close to the the his habitation or that he buried his wife or another family, not only its at Saqqara, but also built other temples discovered the remains of one of them close to Hrbit in the Eastern province.


The most important achievements of King Djoser
 
Pyramid of Saqqara has Djoser is building on a mile of cliff Saqqara to distance himself from the rest of the graves, and oversaw the construction and Minister Amahotb, the pyramid consists of six terraces uneven and at altitudes of 60 meters, consisting of the inside of a network of passages and corridors, and the burial chamber of King were built of granite and marble.


Pyramids of Giza





 Pyramids of Giza, located in Giza on the west bank of the River Nile was built around 2480 - 2550 BC. It is three pyramids is Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure


The pyramids are a tomps ownership of each of them bears the name of the king who built and buried it after his death, and building a pyramid is the stage of the evolution of building tombs in ancient Egypt, which began a small hole turned into a chamber under the ground and then to several rooms topped by a terrace and then evolved to take the form of pyramid by architect Aamahotb Minister pharaoh Djoser in the Third Dynasty.

The cause of the greatness of the pyramids lies in the way that built these pyramids,

Pyramids of Giza are considered one of the greatest mysteries facing mankind since the beginning of civilization, which did not find a solution so far

  
for example, the Great Pyramid is composed of about 3 million stone and every stone of them weighs about 12 tons, imagine you dear reader this magnitude, and how lined these stones in this way, and how able to stay on over all these times, and this really deserves all the admiration for the ancient Egyptian civilization,

the king tomb
Many people claimed that just a cemetery luxury of the king (Cheops), but modern scientists now believe that the building of the Great Pyramid has been for the purpose of a higher and greater than that much evidence of this is that the facts amazing enjoy this great edifice, and collected by Charles Smith in the famous book (our inheritance in the Great Pyramid) in 1864, rising pyramid is equal to 14,967,000 multiplied by a billion kilometers, the distance between the Earth and the sun, and the basis of the pyramid divided by twice the height gives us the famous number (3.14) and found in calculators, And that the four corners of the pyramid tend to trends in the accuracy of the four original so amazing that some scientists objected to the past under the pretext of the existence of a small angle deviation from the original trends, but after the discovery of modern electronic equipment for measuring proved that the angles pyramid is the most correct and accurate.


And also the gap that he found scientists at the Pyramid of Menkaure, which has a diameter of 20 cm, and after careful study of the reason for the gap, showing that it allows sunlight to enter once a year on the tomb of the Pharaoh Menkaure The irony is that this day marks the birthday of King Menkaure

the great Sphinx





Sphinx is a statue of a mythical creature of the body of a lion and a human head is located on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt near the pyramids. Is the oldest known large sculptures, a length of 73.5 m, and width of 6 m. and a height of 20.22 meters. Believed to be built by the ancient Egyptians are from the Old Kingdom during the reign of the pharaoh Khafre (2558-2532) BC.





There are some inscriptions put by two of the old Kings says that the Sphinx represents one form of the sun god the god "hor-em-akht", and they worship it and draw paintings in his name, the most famous of these paintings that of King Thutmose IV of the Eighteenth Dynasty, known as the Dream Stela.

معبد الكرنك...



The temple of Karnak is the largest temple built in the world and the most important temples of the area of Luxor, the temple dedicated to god (Amon). 



The temple has been the construction to be a home "to the holy trinity of good." This trinity is composed of the god "Amun", and his wife "Mut", and the son of God "Khonsu" god of the moon crossing the sky. The official is based in the Temple of Karnak. And participated in the establishment of this temple each of the king "Tut Ankh Amun", "Aie", and "Hore mheb", and "Seti I, " also the King  " Ramses II " had conducted some expansion in the temple.






The area of ​​the Temple (Amon) 140 meters, which is equipped with a large hall with a portable roof of the 122 column, up more than 21 meters and lined in 9 rows,




The temple of Karnak characterized by magical offers (light and sound ) which is held every evening, which is a great way to discover the Karnak Temple.

the distance between Luxor and Karnak 3 kilometers, the distance between Luxor and the Temple punctuated by a large number of small statues of the Sphinx, or what is known as the path of El Kabash. The Temple of Karnak, the largest gated house of worship on Earth.

Women in Ancient Egyptian Civilizations


Unlike the position of, including that of Greece, the Egyptian woman seems to have enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man - at least in theory. This notion is reflected in Egyptian art and historical inscriptions.

It is uncertain why these rights existed for the woman in Egypt but no where else in the ancient world. It may well be that such rights were ultimately related to the theoretical role of the king in Egyptian society. If the pharaoh was the personification of Egypt, and he represented the corporate personality of the Egyptian state, then men and women might not have been seen in their familiar relationships, but rather, only in regard to this royal center of society.

Since Egyptian national identity would have derived from all people sharing a common relationship with the king, then in this relationship, which all men and women shared equally, they were--in a sense--equal to each other. This is not to say that Egypt was an egalitarian society. It was not. Legal distinctions in Egypt were apparently based much more upon differences in the social classes, rather than differences in gender. Rights and privileges were not uniform from one class to another, but within the given classes, it seems that equal economic and legal rights were, for the most part, accorded to both men and women.

Most of the textual and archaeological evidence for the role of women that survives from prior to the New Kingdom pertains to the elite, not the common folk. At this time, it is the elite, for the most part, who leave written records or who can afford tombs that contain such records. However, from the New Kingdom onward, and certainly by the Ptolemaic Period, such evidence pertains more and more to the non-elite, i.e., to women of the middle and lower classes. Actually, the bulk of the evidence for the economic freedom of Egyptian women derives from the Ptolemaic Period.

The Greek domination of Egypt, which began with the conquest of Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., did not sweep away Egyptian social and political institutions. Both Egyptian and Greek systems of law and social traditions existed side-by-side in Egypt at that time. Greeks functioned within their system and Egyptians within theirs. Mixed parties of Greeks and Egyptians making contractual agreements or who were forced into court over legal disputes would choose which of the two legal systems in which they would base their settlements. Ironically, while the Egyptians were the subjugated people of their Greek rulers, Egyptian women, operating under the Egyptian system, had more privileges and civil rights than the Greek women living in the same society, but who functioned under the more restrictive Greek social and legal system.

WOMEN'S LEGAL RIGHTS:

The Egyptian woman's rights extended to all the legally defined areas of society. From the bulk of the legal documents, we know that women could manage and dispose of private property, including: land, portable goods, servants, slaves, livestock, and money (when it existed), as well as financial instruments (i.e., endowments and annuities). A woman could administer all her property independently and according to her free will. She could conclude any kind of legal settlement. She could appear as a contracting partner in a marriage contract or a divorce contract; she could execute testaments; she could free slaves; she could make adoptions. She was entitled to sue at law. It is highly significant that a woman in Egypt could do all of the above and initiate litigation in court freely without the need of a male representative. This amount of freedom was at variance with that of the Greek woman who required a designated male, called a kourios, to represent or stand for her in all legal contracts and proceedings. This male was her husband, father or brother.

WOMEN'S PROPERTY RIGHTS:

There were several ways for an Egyptian woman to acquire possessions and real property. Most frequently, she received it as gifts or as an inheritance from her parents or husband, or else, she received it through purchases--with goods which she earned either through employment, or which she borrowed. Under Egyptian property law, a woman had claim to one-third of all the community property in her marriage, i.e. the property which accrued to her husband and her only after they were married. When a woman brought her own private property to a marriage (e.g., as a dowry), this apparently remained hers, although the husband often had the free use of it. However, in the event of divorce her property had to be returned to her, in addition to any divorce settlement that might be stipulated in the original marriage contract.

A wife was entitled to inherit one-third of that community property on the death of her husband, while the other two-thirds was divided among the children, followed up by the brothers and sisters of the deceased. To circumvent this possibility and to enable life to receive either a larger part of the share, or to allow her to dispose of all the property, a husband could do several things:

1) In the Middle Kingdom, he could draw up an imyt-pr, a "house document," which was a legal unilateral deed for donating property. As a living will, it was made and perhaps executed while the husband was still alive. In this will, the husband would assign to his wife what he wished of his own private property, i.e., what he acquired before his marriage. An example of this is the imyt-pr of Wah from el-Lahun. 2) If there were no children, and the husband did not wish his brothers and sisters to receive two-thirds of the community property, he could legally adopt his wife as his child and heir and bequeath all the property to her. Even if he had other children, he could still adopt his wife, so that, as his one of his legal offspring, she would receive some of the two-thirds share, in addition to her normal one-third share of the community property.

A woman was free to bequeath property from her husband to her children or even to her own brothers and sisters (unless there was some stipulation against such in her husband's will). One papyrus tells us how a childless woman, who after she inherited her husband's estate, raised the three illegitimate children who were born to him and their female household slave (such liaisons were fairly common in the Egyptian household and seem to have borne no social stigma). She then married the eldest illegitimate step-daughter to her younger brother, whom she adopted as her son, that they might receive the entire inheritance.

A woman could also freely disinherit children of her private property, i.e., the property she brought to her marriage or her share of the community property. She could selectively bequeath that property to certain children and not to others. Such action is recorded in the Will of Naunakht.

WOMEN BEFORE THE BAR:

Egyptian women had the right to bring lawsuits against anyone in open court, and there was no gender-based bias against them, and we have many cases of women winning their claims. A good example of this fact is found in the Inscription of Mes. This inscription is the actual court record of a long and drawn- out private land dispute which occurred in the New Kingdom. Significantly, the inscription shows usfour things: (1) women could manage property, and they could inherit trusteeship of property; (2) women could institute litigation (and appeal to the court of the vizier); (3) women were awarded legal decisions (and had decisions reversed on appeal); (4) women acted as witnesses before a court of law.

However, based upon the Hermopolis Law Code of the third century B.C., the freedom of women to share easily with their male relatives in the inheritance of landed property was perhaps restricted somewhat. According to the provisions of theHermopolis Law Code, where an executor existed, the estate of the deceased was divided up into a number of parcels equal to the number of children of the deceased, both alive and dead. Thereafter, each male child (or that child's heirs), in order of birth, took his pick of the parcels. Only when the males were finished choosing, were the female children permitted to choose their parcels (in chronological order). The male executor was permitted to claim for himself parcels of any children and heirs who predeceased the father without issue. Female executors were designated when there were no sons to function as such. However, the code is specific that--unlike male executors--they could not claim the parcels of any dead children.

Still, it is not appropriate to compare the provisions of the Hermopolis Law Code to the Inscription of Mes, since the latter pertains to the inheritance of an office, i.e., a trusteeship of land, and not to the land itself. Indeed, the system of dividing the estate described in the l aw code--or something similar to it- -might have existed at least as early as the New Kingdom, since the Instructions of Any contains the passage, "Do not say, 'My grandfather has a house. An enduring house, it is called' (i.e., don't brag of any future inheritance), for when you take your share with your brothers, your portion may only be a storehouse."

WOMEN IN PUBLIC:

The Egyptian woman in general was free to go about in public; she worked out in the fields and in estate workshops. Certainly, she did not wear a veil, which is first documented among the ancient Assyrians (perhaps reflecting a tradition of the ancient semitic- speaking people of the Syrian and Arabian Deserts). However, it was perhaps unsafe for an Egyptian woman to venture far from her town alone.

Ramesses III boasts in one inscription, "I enabled the woman of Egypt to go her own way, her journeys being extended where she wanted, without any person assaulting her on the road." A different view of the traveling women is found in the Instructions of Any, "Be on your guard against a woman from abroad, who is not known in town, do not have sex with her." So by custom, there might have been a reputation of impiousness or looseness associated with a woman traveling alone in Egypt.

Despite the legal freedom of women to travel about, folk custom or tradition may have discouraged that. So, e.g., earlier in the Old Kingdom, Ptahhotep would write, "If you desire to make a friendship last in a house to which you have access to its master as a brother or friend in any place where you might enter, beware of approaching the women. It does not go well with a place where that is done."

However, the theme of this passage might actually refer to violating personal trust and not the accessibility of women, per se. However, mores and values apparently changed by the New Kingdom. The love poetry of that era, as well as certain letters, are quite frank about the public accessibility and freedom of women. 

MARRIAGE

Marrige was a very important part af ancient Egyptian society. Some people say it was almost a duty to get married. Husbands could marry more than one wife, and people of close relations (first cousins, brothers and sisters, ect.) could also wed one another. For the most part, however, incest was frowned upon, except in the royal family, where incest was used to safeguard the dynastic succession.

There was no age limit as to when people could be married, but generally a girl did not get married until she had begun to menstruate at about the age of 14. Some documents state that girls may have been married at the age of eight or nine, and a mummy of an eleven year-old wife has also been found. Marriage required no religious or legal ceremony. There were no special bridal clothes, no exchange of rings, no change of names to indicate marriage, and no word meaning wedding.

A girl became universally acknowledged as a wife after she physically left the protection of her father's house and entered her new home. The new husband in no way became the new wife's legal guardian. The wife kept her independence, and still kept control her own assets. Although the husband usually controlled any joint property obtained during the marriage it was acknowledged that a share of this belonged to the wife; if and when the marriage ended, she could collect he share. If the husband died while married, the wife got one-third of her husband's property. re-marriage after widowhood was very common, and some grave sites indicate three or four marriages between one person.

Divorce was a private matter, and for the most part, the government did not interfere, unless upon the request of the "divorcees". Almost any excuse could be used to end a marriage, and an alliance could be terminated at will. Anyone who had drawn up a marriage contract would have to honor those terms, and those who hadn't could, if they wished, could invest in a legal document. Legal cases, however, were very unusual; most marriages ended with the wife moving back to the matrimonial home, returning to her family, therefore setting both parties free to marry again.

The more intimate parts of married life were very important to the Egyptians. They saw life as a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Much of their theology was based on the "cycle-principal". Sexual intercourse was a very important part of this cycle, and the Egyptians were not modest about sex, like today's society. The Egyptians, unlike us, were not concerned with the spiritual part of the afterlife, but rather about potency and fertility. Consequently, false penises were put on the mummified bodies of men, and artificial nipples were put on the mummified bodies of women. Both of these were designed to be fully functional in the afterlife.

Pregnancy was very important to ancient Egyptian women. A fertile woman was a successful woman. By becoming pregnant, women gained the respect of society, approval from their husbands, and the admiration of their less-fortunate sisters and sterile friends. Men needed to prove their "manliness" by fathering as many children as the possibly could, and babies were seen as a reason for boasting.

Although the mechanism of menstruation was not fully understood the significance of missing periods was clear, and many Egyptian women were able to determine if the were pregnant or not. If women were not sure, they could go to a doctor, who would perform a detailed examination of the woman's breasts eyes, and skin. If a woman was sterile, and could not produce babies, many men solved this problem by divorcing them. But this treatment was harsh, and for the most part, frowned upon. A more publicly-accepted way of solving the problem of sterility was adoption, and due to the short life expectancy and high birth rate, there was always a supply of orphaned children.

A mother named her child immediately following birth, thereby making sure the child would have a name in the afterlife in the unfortunate case of a miscarriage. The Egyptians feared the "second-death" even more than the first one. The second-death was the complete obliteration of all earthly memory, which is why names were so important to the Egyptians. Spells were painted on the coffin of the deceased to ensure nobody would forget him or her. Many people say the Egyptian time was a good time to live. It seems that it was, at least, a nice place for women to live. It was filled with equality for them, and gave them some basic rights that today's society is lacking.


The First Women Doctor in Ancient Egypt

Like mathematics and astronomy, medicine was quite well-developed in the Old Kingdom. Many of the physicians sunu were attached to the royal palace. Among them, there were degrees of specialization. Specialists included the physician of the eyes of the Great House sunu irty per-aa: an oculist. Other physicians were also described as dentists, entereo-gastrits, etc.

Medical instructions and precepts were written down as early as the Fifth Dynasty (2465-2322 B.C.). In the Vizier (Prime Minister) Wash-Ptahs tomb at Saqqara, an event is recorded in which the King, Neferirkare Kakai (2446-2436 B.C.), ordered the chief of physicians to bring books with which to cure an illness from which his high official suffered. Some medical works of later times - such as the so-called Edwin Smith Papyrus, for example - have been credited with great antiquity.

In 1930, in a text entitled Excavations at Giza I, 1929-1930, Dr. Selim Hassan published the stela of Peseshet, which was discovered within an Old Kingdom tomb{3}. Dr. Hassan translated Peseshets title as follows: "Overseer of the doctors." In fact, the word imyt-r, "overseer," does exist for the feminine gender. Moreover, the word swnu (sunu), "doctor," is written in the text with the grammatical ending for the feminine gender, the symbol for "t". It is clear, then, that Peseshet was a woman doctor (swnwt) and the director (imyt-r) of the women doctors (swnwwt). The fact that the word swnu, "physician," was used declares that this title involved a question of medicine. That the word "swnwt" was used indicates a woman physician.

Lady Peseshet had another title which reads as follows: imyt-r hm(wt)-ka, that is "woman director of the soul-priestesses." The soul-priests (or priestesses) were appointed to tend the funerary cults of private persons. As we know, women in Egyptian society enjoy high social and professional status like men. All professions were open to educated women and men, including the clergy, administration, business, and medicine, among other fields.

Apparently There was a body of female physicians in Ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom and Lady Peseshet was their director. The contemporary problem of exlucing women in special professions was absent in Ancient Egypt.

There were more than a hundred prominent female physicians in Ancient Egypt. In contrast, we do not know of any female physicians in Mesoptamian history. The medical historiography must include the fact that Lady Peseshet was indeed the first female physician in Africa and in world history. This is a fact absolutely verifiable: historical scholarship in Europe, in Africa, and across the globe has not previously brough this important historical moment to the consciousness of humanity.

isis & osiris story

In the days before Re had left the earth, before he had began to grow old, his great wisdom told him that if the goddess Nut bore children, one of them would end his reign among men. So Re laid a curse upon Nut - that she should not be able to bear any child upon any day in the year.
"one of them would end his reign among men..."


Full of sorrow, Nut went for help to Thoth, the thrice-great god of wisdom and magic and learning, Re's son, who loved her. Thoth knew that the curse of Re, once spoken, could never be recalled, but in his wisdom he found a way of escape. He went to Khonsu, the Moon-god, and challenged him to a contest at draughts. Game after game they played and always Thoth won. The stakes grew higher and higher, but Khonsu wagered the most, for it was some of his own light that he risked and lost.


At last Khonsu would play no more. Then Thoth the thrice-great in wisdom gathered up the light which he had won and made it into five extra days which for ever after were set between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. The year was of three hundred and sixty days before this, but the five days which were added, which were not days of any year, were ever afterwards held as days of festival in old Egypt.


But, since his match with Thoth, Khonsu the moon has not had enough light to shine throughout the month, but dwindles into darkness and then grows to his full glory again; for he had lost the light needed to make five whole days.


On the first of these days Osiris, the eldest son of Nut, was born, and the second day was set aside to be the birthday of Horus the Elder. On the third day the second son of Nut was born, dark Seth, the lord of evil. On the fourth her daughter Isis first saw the light, and her second daughter Nephthys on the fifth. In this way the curse of Re was both fulfilled and defeated: for the days on which the children of Nut were born belonged to no year.


When Osiris was born many signs and wonders were seen and heard throughout the world. Most notable was the voice which came from the holiest shrine in the temple at Thebes on the Nile, which today is called Karnak, speaking to a man called Pamyles bidding him proclaim to all men that Osiris, the good and mighty king, was born to bring joy to all the earth. Pamyles did as he was bidden, and he also attended on the Divine Child and brought him up as a man among men.


When Osiris was grown up he married his sister Isis, a custom which the Pharaohs of Egypt followed ever after. And Seth married Nephthys: for he too being a god could marry only a goddess.
After Isis by her craft had learned the Secret Name of Re, Osiris became sole ruler of Egypt and reigned on earth as Re had done. He found the people both savage and brutish, fighting among themselves and killing and eating one another. But Isis discovered the grain of both wheat and barley, which grew wild over the land with the other plants and was still unknown to man; and Osiris taught them how to plant the seeds when the Nile had risen in the yearly inundation and sunk again leaving fresh fertile mud over the fields; how to tend and water the crops; how to cut the corn when it was ripe, and how to thresh the grain on the threshing floors, dry it and grind it to flour and make it into bread. He showed them also how to plant vines and make the grapes into wine; and they knew already how to brew beer out of the barley.


When the people of Egypt had learned to make bread and cut only the flesh of such animals as he taught them were suitable, Osiris, went on to teach them laws, and how to live peacefully and happily together, delighting themselves with music and poetry. As soon as Egypt was filled with peace and plenty, Osiris set out over the world to bring his blessings upon other nations. While he was away he left Isis to rule over the land, which she did both wisely and well.


But Seth the Evil One, their brother, envied Osiris and hated Isis. The more the people loved and praised Osiris, the more Seth hated him; and the more good he did and the happier mankind became, the stronger grew Seth's desire to kill his brother and rule in his place. Isis, however, was so full of wisdom and so watchful that Seth made no attempt to seize the throne while she was watching over the land of Egypt. And when Osiris returned from his travels Seth was among the first to welcome him back and kneel in reverence before "the good god Pharaoh Osiris".


Yet he had made his plans, aided by seventy-two of his wicked friends and Aso the evil queen of Ethiopia. Secretly Seth obtained the exact measurements of the body of Osiris, and caused beautiful chest to be made that would fit only him. It was fashioned of the rarest and most costly woods: cedar brought from Lebanon, and ebony from Punt at the south end of the Red Sea for no wood grows in Egypt except the soft and useless palm.


Then Seth gave a great feast in honour of Osiris; but the other guests were the two-and-seventy conspirators. It was the greatest feast that had yet been seen in Egypt, and the foods were choicer, the wines stronger and the dancing girls more beautiful than ever before. When the heart of Osiris had been made glad with feasting and song the chest was brought in, and all were amazed at its beauty.


Osiris marveled at the rare cedar inlaid with ebony and ivory, with less rare gold and silver, and painted inside with figures of gods and birds and animals, and he desired it greatly.


"I will give this chest to whosoever fits it most exactly!" cried Seth. And at once the conspirators began in turn to see if they could win it. But one was too tall and another too short; one was too fat and another too thin - and all tried in vain.


"Let me see if I will fit into this marvelous piece of work," said Osiris, and he laid himself down in the chest while all gathered round breathlessly.


"I fit exactly, and the chest is mine!" cried Osiris.
"And the chest is mine!"


"It is yours indeed, and shall be so forever!" hissed Seth as he banged down the lid. Then in desperate haste he and the conspirators nailed it shut and sealed every crack with molten lead, so that Osiris the man died in the chest and his spirit went west across the Nile into Duat the Place of Testing; but, beyond it to Amenti, where those live for ever who have lived well on earth and passed the judgments of Duat, he could not pass as yet. Seth and his companions took the chest which held the body of Osiris and cast it into the Nile; and Hapi the Nile-god carried it out into the Great Green Sea where it was tossed for many days until it came to the shore of Phoenicia near the city of Byblos. Here the waves cast it into a tamarisk tree that grew on the shore; and the tree shot out branches and grew leaves and flowers to make a fit resting place for the body of the good god Osiris and very soon that tree became famous throughout the land.
Isis suckling the Horus-Child in the papyrus swamps


Presently King Malcander heard of it, and he and his wife, Queen Astarte, came to the seashore to gaze at the tree. By now the branches had grown together and hidden the chest which held the body of Osiris in the trunk itself. King Malcander gave orders that the tree should be cut down and fashioned into a great pillar for his palace. This was done, and all wondered at its beauty and fragrance: but none knew that it held the body of a god. Meanwhile in Egypt Isis was in great fear. She had always known that Seth was filled with evil and jealousy, but kindly Osiris would not believe in his brother's wickedness. But Isis knew as soon as her husband was dead, though no one told her, and fled into the marshes of the delta carrying the baby Horus with her. She found shelter on a little island where the goddess Buto lived, and entrusted the divine child to her. And as a further safeguard against Seth, Isis loosed the island from its foundations, and let it float so that no one could tell where to find it.


Then she went to seek for the body of Osiris. For, until he was buried with all the needful rites and charms, even his spirit could go no farther to the west than Duat, the Testing-Place; and it could not come to Amenti.


Back and forth over the land of Egypt wandered Isis, but never a trace could she find of the chest in which lay the body of Osiris. She asked all whom she met, but no one had seen it - and in this matter her magic powers could not help her.


At last she questioned the children who were playing by the riverside, and at once they told her that just such a chest as she described had floated past them on the swift stream and out into the Great Green Sea.


Then Isis wandered on the shore, and again and again it was the children who had seen the chest floating by and told her which way it had gone. And because of this, Isis blessed the children and decreed that ever afterwards children should speak words of wisdom and sometimes tell of things to come.


At length Isis came to Byblos and sat down by the seashore. Presently the maidens who attended on Queen Astarte came down to bathe at that place; and when they returned out of the water Isis taught them how to plait their hair - which had never been done before. When they went up to the palace a strange and wonderful perfume seemed to cling to them; and Queen Astarte marveled at it, and at their plaited hair, and asked them how it came to be so.


The maidens told her of the wonderful woman who sat by the seashore, and Queen Astarte sent for Isis, and asked her to serve in the palace and tend her children, the little Prince Maneros and the baby Dictys, who was ailing sorely. For she did not know that the strange woman who was wandering alone at Byblos was the greatest of all the goddesses of Egypt. Isis agreed to this, and very soon the baby Dictys was strong and well though she did no more than give him her finger to suck. But presently she became fond of the child, and thought to make him immortal, which she did by burning away his mortal parts while she flew round and round him in the form of a swallow. Astarte, however, had been watching her secretly; and when she saw that her baby seemed to be on fire she rushed into the room with a loud cry, and so broke the magic.


Then Isis took on her own form, and Astarte crouched down in terror when she saw the shining goddess and learned who she was.


Malcander and Astarte offered her gifts of all the richest treasures in Byblos, but Isis asked only for the great tamarisk pillar which held up the roof, and for what it contained. When it was given to her, she caused it to open and took out the chest of Seth. But the pillar she gave back to Malcander and Astarte; and it remained the most sacred object in Byblos, since it had once held the body of a god.


When the chest which had become the coffin of Osiris was given to her, Isis flung herself down on it with so terrible a cry of sorrow that little Dictys died at the very sound. But Isis at length caused the chest to be placed on a ship which King Malcander provided for her, and set out for Egypt. With her went Maneros, the young prince of Byblos: but he did not remain with her for long, since his curiosity proved his undoing. For as soon as the ship had left the land Isis retired to where the chest of Seth lay, and opened the lid. Maneros crept up behind her and peeped over her shoulder: but Isis knew he was there and, turning, gave him one glance of anger - and he fell backwards over the side of the ship into the sea.


Next morning, as the ship was passing the Phaedrus River, its strong current threatened to carry them out of sight of land. But Isis grew angry and placed a curse on the river, so that its stream dried up from that day.


She came safely to Egypt after this, and hid the chest in the marshes of the delta while she hastened to the floating island where Buto was guarding Horus.


But it chanced that Seth came hunting wild boars with his dogs, hunting by night after his custom, since he loved the darkness in which evil things abound. By the light of the moon he saw the chest of cedar wood inlaid with ebony and ivory, with gold and silver, and recognized it.


At the sight hatred and anger came upon him in a red cloud, and he raged like a panther of the south. He tore open the chest, took the body of Osiris, and rent it into fourteen pieces which, by his divine strength, he scattered up and down the whole length of the Nile so that the crocodiles might eat them.


"It is not possible to destroy the body of a god!" cried Seth. "Yet I have done it - for I have destroyed Osiris!" His laughter echoed through the land, and all who heard it trembled and hid.


Now Isis had to begin her search once more. This time she had helpers, for Nephthys left her wicked husband Seth and came to join her sister. And Anubis, the son of Osiris and Nephthys, taking the form of a jackal, assisted in the search. When Isis traveled over the land she was accompanied and guarded by seven scorpions. But when she searched on the Nile and among the many streams of the delta she made her way in a boat made of papyrus: and the crocodiles, in their reverence for the goddess, touched neither the rent pieces of Osiris nor Isis herself. Indeed ever afterwards anyone who sailed the Nile in a boat made of papyrus was safe from them, for they thought that it was Isis still questing after the pieces of her husband's body.


Slowly, piece by piece, Isis recovered the fragments of Osiris. And wherever she did so, she formed by magic the likeness of his whole body and caused the priests to build a shrine and perform his funeral rites. And so there were thirteen places in Egypt which claimed to be the burial place of Osiris. In this way also she made it harder for Seth to meddle further with the body of the dead god.


One piece only she did not recover, for it had been eaten by certain impious fishes; and their kind were accursed ever afterwards, and no Egyptian would touch or eat them. Isis, however, did not bury any of the pieces in the places where the tombs and shrines of Osiris stood. She gathered the pieces together, rejoined them by magic, and by magic made a likeness of the missing member so that Osiris was complete. Then she caused the body to be embalmed and hidden away in a place of which she alone knew. And after this the spirit of Osiris passed into Amenti to rule over the dead until the last great battle, when Horus should slay Seth and Osiris would return to earth once more.


But as Horus grew in this world the spirit of Osiris visited him often and taught him all that a great warrior should know - one who was to fight against Seth both in the body and in the spirit.


One day Osiris said to the boy: "Tell me, what is the noblest thing that a man can do?"


And Horus answered: "To avenge his father and mother for the evil done to them."


This pleased Osiris, and he asked further: "And what animal is most useful for the avenger to take with him as he goes out to battle?"


"A horse," answered Horus promptly.


"Surely a lion would be better still?" suggested Osiris.


"A lion would indeed be the best for a man who needed help," replied Horus; "but a horse is best for pursuing a flying foe and cutting him off from escape."
"...the time had come for Horus to declare war on Seth..."


When he heard this Osiris knew that the time had come for Horus to declare war on Seth, and bade him gather together a great army and sail up the Nile to attack him in the deserts of the south.


Horus gathered his forces and prepared to begin the war. And Re himself, the shining father of the gods, came to his aid in his own divine boat that sails across the heavens and through the dangers of the underworld.


Before they set sail Re drew Horus aside so as to gaze into his blue eyes: for whoever looks into them, of gods or men, sees the future reflected there. But Seth was watching; and he took upon himself the form of a black pig - black as the thunder-cloud, fierce to look at, with tusks to strike terror into the bravest heart.


Meanwhile Re said to Horus: "Let me gaze into your eyes, and see what is to come of this war." He gazed into the eyes of Horus and their color was that of the Great Green Sea when the summer sky turns it to deepest blue.


While he gazed the black pig passed by and distracted his attention, so that he exclaimed: "Look at that! Never have I seen so huge and fierce a pig."


And Horus looked; and he did not know that it was Seth, but thought it was a wild boar out of the thickets of the north, and he was not ready with a charm or a word of power to guard himself against the enemy.


Then Seth aimed a blow of fire at the eyes of Horus; and Horus shouted with the pain and was in a great rage. He knew now that it was Seth; but Seth had gone on the instant and could not be trapped.


Re caused Horus to be taken into a dark room, and it was not long before his eyes could see again as clearly as before. When he was recovered Re had returned to the sky; but Horus was filled with joy that he could see, once more, and as he set out up the Nile at the head of his army, the country on either side shared his joy and blossomed into spring.


There were many battles in that war, but the last and greatest was at Edfu, where the great temple of Horus stands to this day in memory of it. The forces of Seth and Horus drew near to one another among the islands and the rapids of the First Cataract of the Nile. Seth, in the form of a red hippopotamus of gigantic size, sprang up on the island of Elephantine and uttered a great curse against Horus and against Isis:


"Let there come a terrible raging tempest and a mighty flood against my enemies!" he cried, and his voice was like the thunder rolling across the heavens from the south to the north. At once the storm broke over the boats of Horus and his army; the wind roared and the water was heaped into great waves. But Horus held on his way, his own boat gleaming through the darkness, its prow shining like a ray of the sun.


Opposite Edfu, Seth turned and stood at bay, straddling the whole stream of the Nile, so huge a red hippopotamus was he. But Horus took upon himself the shape of a handsome young man, twelve feet in height. His hand held a harpoon thirty feet long with a blade six feet wide at its point of greatest width.


Seth opened his mighty jaws to destroy Horus and his followers when the storm should wreck their boats. But Horus cast his harpoon, and it struck deep into the head of the red hippopotamus, deep into his brain. And that one blow slew Seth the great wicked one, the enemy of Osiris and the gods - and the red hippopotamus sank dead beside the Nile at Edfu. The storm passed away, the flood sank and the sky was clear and blue once more. Then the people of Edfu came out to welcome Horus the avenger and lead him in triumph to the shrine over which the great temple now stands. And they sang the song of praise which the priests chanted ever afterwards when the yearly festival of Horus was held at Edfu:


"Rejoice, you who dwell in Edfu! Horus the great god, the lord of the sky, has slain the enemy of his father! Eat the flesh of the vanquished, drink the blood of the red hippopotamus, burn his bones with fire! Let him be cut in pieces, and the scraps be given to the cats, and the offal to the reptiles!


"Glory to Horus of the mighty blow, the brave one, the slayer, the wielder of the Harpoon, the only son of Osiris, Horus of Edfu, Horus the avenger!"


But when Horus passed from earth and reigned no more as the Pharaoh of Egypt, he appeared before the assembly of the gods, and Seth came also in the spirit, and contended in words for the rule of the world. But not even Thoth the wise could give judgment. And so it comes about that Horus and Seth still contend for the souls of men and for the rule of the world.


There were no more battles on the Nile or in the land of Egypt; and Osiris rested quietly in his grave, which (since Seth could no longer disturb it) Isis admitted was on the island of Philae, the most sacred place of all, in the Nile a few miles upstream from Elephantine. But the Egyptians believed that the Last Battle was still to come - and that Horus would defeat Seth in this also. And when Seth was destroyed forever, Osiris would rise from the dead and return to earth, bringing with him all those who had been his own faithful followers. And for this reason the Egyptians embalmed dead and set the bodies away beneath towering pyramids of stone and deep in the tomb chambers of western Thebes, so that the blessed souls returning from Amenti should find them ready to enter again, and in them to live for ever on earth under the good god Osiris, Isis his queen and their son Horus.

جزيره فيله


جزيرة فيلة، هي جزيرة في منتصف نهر النيل وهى إحدى الحصون الأقوى على طول حدود مصر الجنوبية، وتفصل النيل إلى قناتين معاكستين في اسوان، كان بها معبد فيله وانتقل من مكانه الأصلى على جزيرة فيلة وتم تجميعه على جزيرة أجيليكا، وذلك في أعقاب بناء السد العالي.

ويرجع اسم فيلة أو فيلاي إلى اللغة اليونانية التي تعني (الحبيبة) أو (الحبيبات) أما الإسم العربي لها فهو (أنس الوجود) نسبة لإسطورة أنس الوجود في قصص ألف ليلة وليلة أما الأسم المصري القديم والقبطي فهو بيلاك أو بيلاخ ويعني الحد أو النهاية لأنها كانت آخر حدود مصر في الجنوب. ومجموعة العبادة كرست لعبادة الإله إيزيس غير أن الجزيرة احتوت على معابد لحتحور وأمنحتب وغيرها من المعابد.

فيلة عبر القرون

شُيدت معابد "فيلة" في الأصل لعبادة الإلهة "إيزيس"

وفى كل القرون اكتسبت فيلة مكانة خاصة في العبادات لدرجة أن حشد من أتباع تلك العبادة كانوا يجتمعون لإحياء قصة موت وبعث أوزوريس. تم بناء المعبد الكبير خلال القرن الثالث قبل الميلاد تم تلاه معابد أمنحوتب وارسنوفيس. أما معبد حتحور فهو يعد آخر أثر بطلمى واستكمل بنائه قبل عام 116 قبل الميلاد بواسطة ايورجيتس الثانى. وقد أضاف بطالمة آخرون نقوشا إلى فيله والتى تعتبر من روائع المعبد. ومن مصر امتدت عبادة الآلهة إيزيس إلى اليونان وروما وفى مختلف أنحاء الإمبراطورية حتى عندما تم تطبيق الحكم الرومانى في مصر حاول الحكام تجميل الجزيرة المقدسة فقد بنى الإمبراطور أوغسطس معبد في الطرف الشمالى لفيلة في القرن التاسع قبل الميلاد. أما تيبيريوس وآخرون فقد أضافوا صروحاً ونقوشا، كما بنى كلاوديوس وتراجان وهادريان ودقلديانوس مبان جديدة بالجزيرة استمر العمل فيها حتى القرن الرابع الميلادى. ولشدة سيطرة عبادة ايزيس في جزيرة فيلة أدى ذلك إلى امتداد تلك العبادة على مدى قرون عديدة متحدية بذلك مرسوم الإمبراطور ثيودوسيوس الأول الذى أصدره عام 391 ميلادية والذى يفرض فيه الديانة المسيحية على جميع أنحاء الإمبراطورية الرومانية. وفى عام 550 بعد الميلاد وتحت حكم جوستنيان وصلت المسيحية إلى جزيرة فيلة وبدأت صفحة جديدة في تاريخها. وتكون مجتمع جديد مسيحى في جزيرة فيله وتحولت قاعة الأعمدة لتكون مناسبة لممارسة الديانة الجديدة. وتم نقل الأحجار من بعض الآثار لبناء كنائس مسيحية في الجزيرة. ونمت قرية جديدة حول معبد إيزيس.

عندما جاء الإسلام اعتبرت فيلة حصنا أسطوريا ممثلا في إحدى قصص ألف ليلة وليلة واكتسبت اسم أنس الوجود تيمناً بإسم بطل إحدى هذه القصص.

                                             
معبد فيله

هذا المعبد المخصص للآلهة أيزيس والذى أغرقته مياه النيل وتم تقسيمه وأعيد تجميعه في موقع جديد فوق جزيرة إجيليكا على بعد حوالى 500م من مكانه الأصلى بجزيرة فيله ويضم مبانيه معبداً لحتحور ويمكن للزائر مشاهدة عرض الصوت والضوء ليلاًالذى يقدم بلغات مختلفة. كانت مصر جزءا مزدهرا من أجزاء الإمبراطورية الرومانية، أصبحت ثرية بحق وقد بنيت فيها عدة مدن جديدة ومن أشهر المنشآت في مصر في العصر الروماني مايسمي مضجع فرعون أي كشك تراجان وهذا الأثر بناه في جزيرة فيلة تراجان الحاكم الروماني.
المعابد فوق جزيرة فيله

كشف تراجانأقيم عدد كبير من المعابد فوق جزيرة "فيله" لعل أقدمها تلك المعابد التي يرجع تاريخها إلى عهد الملك تحتمس الثالث (1490-1436 قبل الميلاد). وفي القرن الرابع قبل الميلاد بنى الملك "نخت نبف" (378-341 ق.م) معبداً ضخماً وعلى أثره شيّد "بطليموس فيلادلف" (القرن الثالث قبل الميلاد) معبده الكبير، ثم تبعه كثير من ملوك البطالسة وولاة الرومان حتى ازدحمت جزيرة فيله بالمعابد، وأشهرها هو الذي يطلق عليه "مخدع فرعون".

هناك أيضاً عدد كبير من التماثيل لملوك مصر القديمة فوق جزيرة فيله.

تعود الأطلال الأولى فوق جزيرة فيلة إلى عهد الملك طهرقا (الأسرة الخامسة والعشرون) ويعد معبد إيزيس واحداً من أضخم وأهم الآثار ضمن مجموعة المعابد الكبيرة والصغيرة فوق جزيرة فيله ويشغل هذا المعبد حوالى ربع مساحة الجزيرة ومن بين الأثار الأخرى فوق جزيرة فيلة مقصورة "نختـنبو الأول" (الأسرة الثلاثون)، وإثنان من صفوف الأعمدة التى ترجع إلى العصر الرومانى، ومعبد أريسنوفيس يونانى - رومانى ومعبد ماندوليس ( من العهد الرومانى )، ومعبد إمحوتب (من العصر البطلمى) ومن أهم المعابد الصغيرة التى تحيط بمجموعة المعابد الكبيرة معبد حتحور (العصر البطلمى) ومقصورة تراجان.

جزيرة إجيليكا

تم إعادة تشكيل جزيرة إجيليكا التى تبعد بمسافة خمسمائة متر من موقع جزيرة فيلة ونقلت إليها المعابد المختلفة من جزيرة فيله الغارقة وذلك بحيث تماثل جزيرة فيله.

إنقاذ معبد إيزيس بجزيرة فيلة

معبد إيزيس بجزيرة فيلةمنذ إكمال بناء سد أسوان الأول عام 1902 ومياه النيل تحاصر جزيرة فيله معظم السنة، وذلك بما تضمه الجزيرة من مخزون أثرى ثمين يشمل المعابد والمقصورات والأعمدة والبوابات الفرعونية والتى تجسد جميعها أساليب معمارية رومانية - يونانية وفرعونية.

وكان نختنبو الذى يعد واحداً من أواخر ملوك مصر الأصليين قد بنى معبداً على جزيرة فيله في النصف الأول من القرن الرابع قبل الميلاد، وبعده جاء البطالمة الذين حكموا البلاد لمدة 300 سنة واعتنقوا عبادة إيزيس، فأضافوا أضرحتهم الخاصة على الجزيرة.

وقد أدى بناء السد العالى إلى تغيير الموقف على نحو جذرى فعلى اعتبار أن الجزيرة ستصبح واقعة بين السد الجديد والسد القديم فإنها ستصبح غارقة جزئياً ولكن على مدار السنة.

إضافة إلى ذلك فإن السحب اليومى للمياه لدفع التوربينات التى تولد الكهرباء قد يعنى وجود تموجات مستمرة فيما يقرب من 3 أمتار من مستوى المياه وهو ما يؤدى بدوره إلى إتلاف الحجارة بشكل سريع ومن ثم فإن عدم إيجاد حل لهذه المشكلة كان سيؤدى بهذه الجزيرة الطافية التى طالما خلبت أرواح السياح إلى الاختفاء من على الخريطة.

وعندما تم طرح مشكلة جزيرة فيلة باعتبارها مشكلة ملُحة كانت الإستجابة إزاء حملة النوبة سريعة وهو ماعكس تصميم المجتمع الدولي على إنقاذ منطقة بهذا الجمال وهذه الأهمية التاريخية ومن ثم فالمسألة لم تكن إنقاذ فيلة أم لا بقدر ماكانت كيفية إنقاذها.

إلا أنه بعد دراسة نتائج هذا المشروع وعلى وجه الخصوص تأثير المياه الأرتوازية على الآثار وما يتطلبه المشروع من تكلفة كبيرة، اقترح الخبراء أيضاً مشروعاً آخر مقدم من الحكومة المصرية ويهدف هذا المشروع إلى نقل الآثار إلى جزيرة إجيليكا.

بدأت عملية إنقاذ فيلة عام 1972 وذلك عندما بدأت سفن دق الخوازيق تثبيت أول لوح فولاذى وذلك من بين 3000 لوح وذلك في قاع النيل وذلك لتكوين سد مؤقت لحجز المياه حول الجزيرة واستغرق الأمر عامان لإحاطة الجزيرة بصفين من الخوازيق المتشابكة بطول 12 متر، وداخل هذا الفراغ تم صب خليط من الماء والرمل المغسول في محاجر الشلال على بعد 5 كيلو، وتم توصيل هذا الخليط عبر البحيرة من خلال أنابيب، وقد سمح للماء بالتسرب تاركاً الرمل ليدعم الفولاذ ضد ضغط البحيرة، وهكذا اكتمل حزام النجاة حول الجزيرة.

Art and Architecture in the New Kingdom


As historian Cyril Aldred has said, the civilization of the New Kingdom seems the most golden of all the epochs of Egyptian history, perhaps because so much of its wealth remains. The rich store of treasures from the tomb of Tutankhamen (1347-1337 B.C.) gives us a glimpse of the dazzling court art of the period and the skills of the artisans of the day. 

One of the innovations of the period was the construction of rock tombs for the pharaohs and the elite. Around 1500 B.C., Pharaoh Amenophis I abandoned the pyramid in favor of a rock-hewn tomb in the crags of western Thebes (present-day Luxor). His example was followed by his successors, who for the next four centuries cut their tombs in the Valley of the Kings and built their mortuary temples on the plain below. Other wadis or river valleys were subsequently used for the tombs of queens and princes.

Another New Kingdom innovation was temple building, which began with Queen Hatshepsut, who as the heiress queen seized power in default of male claimants to the throne. She was particularly devoted to the worship of the god Amun, whose cult was centered at Thebes. She built a splendid temple dedicated to him and to her own funerary cult at Dayr al Bahri in western Thebes. 

One of the greatest temples still standing is that of Pharaoh Amenophis III at Thebes. With Amenophis III, statuary on an enormous scale makes its appearance. The most notable is the pair of colossi, the so-called Colossi of Memnon, which still dominate the Theban plain before the vanished portal of his funerary temple.

Ramesses II was the most vigorous builder to wear the double crown of Egypt. Nearly half the temples remaining in Egypt date from his reign. Some of his constructions include his mortuary temple at Thebes, popularly known as the Ramesseum; the huge hypostyle hall at Karnak, the rock-hewn temple at Abu Simbel (Abu Sunbul); and his new capital city of Pi Ramesses.

Mayan Pyramids in Mexico - Teotihuacan


In Nahuatl, Teotihuacan means 'The City of the Gods', or 'Where Men Become Gods'.
The plazas, avenues, and great pyramids of the city of Teotihuacan were laid out as a symbolic sacred landscape of artificial foothills and mountains.
The complex of approximately 600 pyramids of various sizes is dominated by the great Pyramid of the Sun which, it was discovered in 1971, was built over a natural cave with four chambers (cf. Sacred Caves). Mesoamerican belief saw caves as gateways to the spiritual world (called Xibalba by the Maya). The cave contained remains of offerings and may have been a focus for shamanistic rituals from a much earlier period. There can be no doubt that the Pyramid of the Sun was deliberately built over the sacred cave.
Teotihuacan was probably Mexico's biggest ancient city, with perhaps 200,000 residents at its peak in the 6th century, it was virtually abandoned by the 7th century.
Chronology:

  • 100 BC - 0 AD Proto-Teotihuacan (two small hamlets in northern pocket of Valley of Mexico, population = 5000)

  • 0 BC - 150 AD Teotihuacan I - (Avenue of the Dead, Pyramid of the Sun established)

  • 150 AD - 300 AD Teotihuacan II - (Grid pattern established)

  • 300 AD - 650 AD Teotihuacan III - (Pinacle of development, population = 85,000-200,000)

  • 650 AD - 750 AD Teotihuacan IV - Decline and fal

    Fifteen hundred years ago, Teotihuacan was already known the length and breadth of Mesoamerica. Every traveler to the Valley of Mexico would take time to visit the great city, if only to admire its brightly painted public buildings and stroll down the wide and imposing Street of the Dead that traversed the city's center. Teotihuacan was the largest human settlement in the Americas, with a population of at least 100,000 people.
    The Mesoamerican world shopped at Teotihuacan, traded with its merchants, and worshipped at its temples. Thousands of scattered villages in the Mexican highlands relied on its markets and specialist manufactures. At certain times of the year, the entire countryside would flock to Teotihuacan's plazas to participate in the annual public ceremonies that ensured the future prosperity of the great city and the people of the Valley. Yet, within a few short centuries, the city had vanished forever. Only a few crumbling pyramids and temples remained as testaments to its former glory.
    The earliest ceremonial buildings were erected at Teotihuacan about 100 B.C. Within a few centuries, Teotihuacan had mushroomed into a huge city dominated by the great 'Pyramid of the Sun'. This sacred, truncated edifice stood 210 feet high and 650 feet square, a vast pyramid of rubble, adobe mud, and earth all faced with stone. A wooden temple on the summit of the pyramid afforded a spectacular view of the sprawling city below.
    Between 450 and 650 AD, Teotihuacan reached the height of its cultural splendor and its population is estimated to have between 150,000 and 200,000 people at its maximum. Think of a city in your area with a population of 200,000 and I'm sure you'll be awed as I was by the concept that such a city existed in Mexico more than 1400 years ago.

    Teotihuacan was the sixth largest city in the world in AD 600. Besides the major ceremonial pyramids, there were also palaces and temples, especially near the north end of the city surrounding the plaza in front of the Pyramid of the Moon. These included the Palace of Quetzalcoatl, the Butterfly Palace, the Temple of the Feathered Conches, and the Palace of the Jaguars. When I saw the Butterfly Palace, with its magnificent stone carvings of birds and butterflies, I wondered if that wasn't an artistic reference to the belief that this was the place that men were turned into gods mentioned in the Aztec song quoted earlier. The sophistication and artistry of the Teotihuacanos can be seen everywhere in the magnificent murals and stone carvings which adorn the walls of the palaces and apartment compounds. The artwork is beautiful, refined, elegant and stylish.
    Another fascinating feature of some of the pyramidal structures is that they contain a broad, thick layer of mica, which had to be brought from Brazil, over 2000 miles away! If you know anything about mica, it's very flaky and fragile, yet it was brought in very large pieces from great distances (and without wheeled vehicles). Then the mica was used on an inner layer of the pyramid, not where it could be seen. Why? One characteristic of mica is that it is used as an insulator in electronic and electrical things. Was that its purpose here? Another mystery of Teotihuacan.
    The rest of the city of Teotihuacan consists of residential compounds (ancient apartment complexes) about 200 feet on a side with an sunken, open courtyards at the center bordered by four platforms and rooms or apartments beyond. Often there was a platform or altar in the center of the courtyard. Imagine a Spanish hacienda-style house, with a covered walkway around an open atrium in the center and rooms beyond the walkway. 
    There must have been a great number of traders and artisans living and working in quarters of this sort. A few of the residential compounds that flank the Avenue of the Dead have been excavated, but most lie crumbled under a thin covering of earth for as far as the eye can see from the top of the major pyramids (with present-day farms, shops, and homes on top of the land).
    One of the decorative murals depicts the Teotihuacan Spider Woman, the goddess that was thought to be responsible for the creation of the present universe, and may have been the supreme deity of the Teotihuacanos. She bears a close relationship, if not identity, with the Spider Grandmother who play such an important role in Pueblo and Navajo creation mythology in the American Southwest. This is particularly interesting because many anthropologists believe that the great desert expanses of northern Mexico precluded much exchange between the cultures of the American Southwest and those further south in Mexico.
    The city met its end around 700 AD through deliberate destruction and burning by the hand of unknown invaders. It was mainly the heart of the city that suffered the torch - the part that we visited - the palaces and temples on each side of the Avenue of the Dead from the Pyramid of the Moon to the Citadel. Although a century earlier, around AD 600, almost all of Teotihuacan's influence over the rest of Mesoamerica had ceased, indicating some sort of internal malaise or decline before the destruction.
    Away from the Avenue of the Dead, the city continued to live on for another two centuries, although the population of Teotihuacan sunk to only a quarter of its former total. Some sort of crisis overtook all the Classic civilizations of Mesoamerica (including the Maya) two centuries later, forcing them to abandon most of the cities. Some anthropologists believe the crisis may have been a lessening of the food supply caused by a drying out of the land and a loss of water sources to the area.
    They speculate that this might have been brought about by a combination of natural climactic shift towards aridness that appears to have happened all over Mexico during the Classic period and the residents having cut all the timber in the valley. Originally there were cedar, cypress, pine, and oak forests; today there are cactus, yucca, agave, and California pepper trees. This change in vegetation indicates a big climate shift.
    Although Teotihuacan presents a puzzle to archaeologists because it was a huge city that appears to have arisen without antecedents, the single most important fact which archaeologists have learned about the Classic period in Mexico was the supremacy of Teotihuacan. As the urbanized center of Mexico, with high population and tremendous production, its power was imposed through political and cultural means not only in its native highland habitat, but also along the tropical coasts, reaching even into the Maya area. It's trading and tribute empire was comparable with the Aztec empire that eventually followed it. All other Mexican states were partly or entirely dependent upon it for whatever achievements they attained.

    When Teotihuacan fell, around 650 AD, the unifying force in Mesoamerica was gone, and with it widespread inter-regional trade. The Late Classic period saw increasing fractionalization among cultures. In the place of great states, petty kingdoms and militarism arose. From the highpoint of civilization at Teotihuacan, wars became the rule of the day, and for those unfortunate enough to be captured, sacrifice to the gods. Military empires, such as the Toltecs in the twelfth century AD (and later the Aztecs, starting in fourteenth century AD), which grew up from these warring factions were the cultures met by the Spanish in 1519 and largely eradicated by 1521.
    Probably the reason that the Spanish were able to conquer the Aztecs in such a short amount of time had less to do with their skill as soldiers and more to do with the fact that the Spaniards physically resembled the descriptions in Aztec legends of the god Quetzalcoatl.
     Quetzalcoatl, while symbolized as a feathered serpent, appears also to have been an historic figure - the man credited with bringing civilization, learning, culture, the calendar, mathematics, metallurgy, astronomy, masonry, architecture, productive agriculture, knowledge of the healing properties of plants, law, crafts, the arts, and peace to the native people. He is pictured as a quite different physical type than the natives - fair skinned and ruddy complexioned, long nosed, and with a long beard. He was said to have arrived by boat from the east, and sailed off again years later promising to return someday.
  • Ancient Egyptian civilization

    HIEROGLYPHS are pictures that were used to write the ancient Egyptian language. In the beginning hieroglyphic signs were used to keep records of the king's possessions. Scribes could easily make these records by drawing a picture of a cow or a boat followed by a number. But as the language became more complex more pictures were needed. Eventually the language consisted of more then 750 individual signs.
    AS in other languages, words in Egyptian were made up of sounds, partly of consonants and partly of vowels. But, the writing of hieroglyphs constantly ignored and omitted vowels. Thus the two signs which represent "mt", could be read as met, mat, amta, emt or any other combinations of vowels and "mt". Since the ancient language has never been heard, we are not sure how this word would be pronounced. In order to avoid this, we need a method of writing and pronouncing these glyphs consistently. The course usually adopted is to use the English vowel "e" and in a some cases "a" between the two glyphs. So we can pronounce as "met".
    THE pronunciation of a word is the crucial element in using hieroglyphics, how a word sounds is more important then how it is spelled. For instance, the word that is spelled "cat" is actually pronounced "kat". The name that is spelled "Cleopatra" is pronounced "Kliopadra". So, these word would be written in hieroglyphs the way they sound. Because the words "where" and "wear" sound alike they could be written using the same hieroglyphic signs. The same could be said of the words "there" and "their".
    HIEROGLYPHS are more then just a way of writing, they are also pictures, and as such they are meant to be estheticly pleasing. The picture signs can be written from right to left; from left to right; or vertically, reading downwards. To determine which way to read a line of hieroglyphs, look for pictures of men or animals. See which way the pictures are facing, the text is read towards the faces. If they are facing to the left, the inscription is read from the left to the right. If they are facing right, the inscription is read from right to left.
    THERE are three forms of writing that were used to write the ancient Egyptian language.
    Hieroglyphs:
    From the Greek meaning "sacred writing." this is the picture language that was used most often to decorate temples and monuments. It could be written with pen and ink on papyrus, painted or carved into stone. It was carefully drawn, to make the signs as accurate as possible.
    Hieratic:
    This was the cursive form of writing, as script is to printed letters. It was much quicker to write since the picture quality of the language was reduced to a pattern of lines and squiggles.
    Demotic:
    This was a shorthand version of the Hieratic script which was used during the Late Period. Demotic means "the people's writing." It got this name because many people could read it.
    A very important language that was used during the Ptolemaic Period was called Coptic. This language was written using Greek letters, but it followed the basic structure of the Egyptian language. This has proved to be an invaluable tool for Egyptologists, enabling them to understand how a sentence was formed in the ancient Egyptian language. This was also the key to deciphering the Rosetta stone.