Thursday, May 28, 2009

Egypt 3

Our next stop was an indoor/outdoor collection of important artifacts from the . . . can't remember which dynasties, sorry. Ramses II was there, so it must have included the 19th dynasty, which was 1300ish BC and later. There were some incredibly well preserved artifacts and statues among the items there, including one massive Ramses II with his feet missing due to erosion from the annual flooding of the Nile (which stopped once the Aswan Dam was built, the first built in the early 1900s and the final one built in the fifties).

An interesting sidenote: Words in languages from this area come in three-consenant roots that are altered to change the meeting slightly. Therefore words life book, page, paper, and desk might all have the same root and then vowels are changed between the three letters to specify the meeting. So the root "mss" means "son of" or "son of the god __," with the blank being filled by the prefix to the mss. Thus, "Ramses" or "Rameses" [Ra-mss] means "son of the god Ra." (Ra is the head of the Egyptian pantheon, the most powerful of the gods). And "Moses" means "son of the God . . ." They did not know who Moses' god was when he was drawn out of the water. In Hebrew, "Moses" means "drawn from the water." Fascinating how the roots work.

Back to Ramses II. Some people think that he is the Pharoah of the Exodus. He was the greatest of the warrior Pharoahs and has some astonishing niches in his belt: He built one of the greatest empires of Egypt, walked into the first recorded ambush in the history of warfare in a campaign against the Hittites (and then turned the battle in his favor), and signed the first peace treaty known to mankind, also with the Hittites, who lived in the Syria to Turkey region. He built tons of new things, treasure-cities, incredible stonework, and temples. It is kind of hard to tell what is his and what he stole from previous pharoahs because he often etched out their names and placed his own in their place. Pharaohs put their names deeper in the stone after him, haha.

A word about names of Pharaohs. They were each given new names in temple ceremonies, after a washing and anointing. The dipictions in the Luxor and Karnac temples show a washing or anointing followed by a covenant made between the pharoah and the god Amen-Ra (same as Ra, he merged with a local god Amun or Amen and stayed at the head of the pantheon); the god has his hand to the square and is pronouncing a promise to the king. Other depictions have the god's hands or hand on the king's head--our Egyptian guide said that represents an investiture of authority from god to pharoah. Finally, the pharoah was caught in the sacred embrace with Amen-Ra and promised godhood in the hearafter.

Dang. I just realized that Ihave been spelling "pharaoh" wrong, and I do not really want to go through and fix them all. Oh well. You'll just have to suffer with my lack of strictness in that regard. I am learning Hebrew, and vowels don't really matter all that much, so I am beginning to get lax in my vowels, mixing them up and around. Alas.

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