Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pope watches as two investigators examine St Peter's obelisk 'The Obelisk Prophecy'



Vatican Press handout photo (Pope denouncing destruction of cultural heritage)
Egyptian obelisk, St Peter's Sq.


(Excerpt from The Obelisk Prophecy - our investigators, Egyptologist/Museum curator Jennefer and Antiquities policeman, Jon, examine the Vatican obelisk) 

Flocks of believers, and the questioning, descended like pigeons on St Peter’s Square.

Many visitors were fearful, Jennefer noted, casting anxious eyes at the clouds of dust up above.

This was the Vatican, yet it put her in mind of Vesuvian Pompeii, the sky laden with disaster.

Jennefer caught up with her investigative partner who was busy circling the Vatican’s four thousand year old Egyptian obelisk that stood mounted on bronze lions and rose eighty-three feet into the dusty sky.

“What are you doing?” she said.

“I’m trying to tell the time.”

Jon followed a curve of pale travertine blocks set in the cobblestones like the hub of a wheel that fanned out in radiating lines.

“You have a watch, don’t you?” she said.

“We’re standing on one. This square is actually a vast sundial, the obelisk acting as the giant gnomon casting a shadow.” He stopped. “Even with this dust, I can tell it’s almost midday. Or perhaps midnight.”
“Midnight?”

“For the world, that is. Ironic that an ancient Egyptian obelisk is counting down the days to the end of civilization.”

She’d forgotten about the square’s role as a sundial, concentrating on the obelisk’s ancient past rather than on its present utility. It belonged to an unknown pharaoh from around the fifth dynasty, she recalled, and had travelled a great deal before its arrival here.

“I’ll tell you something else that’s ironic,” Jon said. “This circle around the shaft of the obelisk is a symbolic vagina. Those in the know are amused that there’s an act of copulation going on right in the heart of celibate city.” He pointed to the Pope’s balcony. “The Pope looks beatifically over it every time he addresses the throng from up there.”

She frowned.

They were trying to crack a code to stop a world calamity and he was cracking jokes.

But it was more than that. She felt uneasy to think that they were both standing on a marker of time inexorably measuring the hours, reminding her of the urgency of their investigation.

A count down to the end of civilization, he’d said.

The dust-laden sky made it look like the end.

The red dust haze turned St Peter’s Basilica, its cupola, and the embracing arms of Tuscan colonnades around the square into historical sepia that added to the place’s powerful sense of mystery.

“This obelisk is peculiar in being uninscribed,” she said, “which sadly doesn’t reveal many secrets to us.”

“Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place.”

“Meaning?”

He pointed up at a metal globe perched beneath a cross on top of the obelisk.

“What about the secret up there? That hollow globe. Great hiding spot. Legend tells that originally the globe held Julius Caesar’s ashes. But when they moved the obelisk here from an earlier site in Rome, they opened it and found the missing phallus of Osiris instead... no, just kidding. Only dust inside. And no mummy dust, either. Just plain old dust, like the stuff blowing in the sky.”

“Not very helpful, Jon. We’re looking for answers. What can we learn here?”

They learnt something sooner than expected - that their close inspection of the monument had been observed all the while by two burly shadows in black that now appeared unexpectedly at a few minutes past midday on the sundial.

“We wish to hear an answer too,” the one man spoke in an accent that sounded midway between Italian and… German? “You will come with us, please.”

Jennefer blinked in surprise at the two new arrivals. Fair men in black suits.

Swiss, maybe. Swiss guards in plain clothes?

Had their inspection of the obelisk brought them out of the shadowy heart of the Vatican palace?

“Have we broken some cardinal rule?” Jon said, pretending flippant unconcern at the intrusion.

“The Holy Father is hoping that you have learnt something from this monument that will help the world.”

That’s when it seemed to Jennefer that the sun stopped in the sky, just as the sun-god Ra’s boat sometimes paused in the heavens in Egyptian mythology.

Even the crowds of people in St Peter’s Square seemed to freeze, growing as still as the obelisk.

The Holy Father.

“His Holiness is waiting to see you.”

“Jesus,” Jon said.

“Not exactly. Merely Our Lord’s representative on earth,” one of the men said with a glimmer of a smile.

An audience with the Pope?

What next..?

Friday, December 18, 2015

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious." Einstein

Should it take an Einstein to realize this?
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”



Can't get to Egypt right now? Then let 'enthralling Egypt' in adventure fiction get you there

See this...

Egypt Tourism  Commercial


Can't go to Egypt right now? Then join an independent Egyptologist in a series of investigative thriller adventures - Amazon Kindle fiction that brings Egypt "Compellingly to life". 

Nile village from a cruiseboat

Goodreads review

Come with Anson Hunter, fiction's renegade alternative Egyptologist and seeker of danger from the ancient past, on a journey of adventure, action and discovery.

Fiction's Egyptologist Anson Hunter takes various fringe groups to Egypt as a convenient cover for his investigations...

"Egypt is one of the characters..." Esoteric Book Review.
SEE AUTHOR ROY LESTER POND on AMAZON KINDLE

New York, London, Paris, Rome... all power centres with Egyptian obelisks... THE OBELISK CONSPIRACY

One obelisk is the key to stopping catastrophe. NEW adventure thriller on AMAZON KINDLE

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Egypt's unfinished obelisk lay trapped in the stone like a submarine in the polar ice. THE OBELISK PROPHECY



The Unfinished Obelisk. THE OBELISK PROPHECY Egypt adventure thriller





Granite quarry, Aswan, Egypt




The unfinished obelisk lay trapped in the stone in an ancient quarry. 

There was something both lethal and impotent about its appearance, like a nuclear submarine stuck in the polar ice. 

A solitary man walked on its surface, swaying as if on a deck in a storm. Swirling grains of dust whipped up by winds buffeted him. 

‘A monumental catastrophe,’ he thought. ‘Literally.’

Two thousand tonnes of smoothly shaped, elongated stone, its bottom side still lying attached to the red granite bedrock. 

One day, thousands of years ago, something had gone wrong at this quarry, a site of patient, human-borne erosion of the stone by stonemasons cutting out and shaping a colossal block, not with the aid of machines, powered jackhammers and diamond carbide saws, but balls of dolerite, a stone harder than granite, expending only the energy of their hands, muscles, sinews and their sweat as they rained blow after endless blow into the deepening grooves around the stone until it sounded to the workers’ deafened ears that the thuds were the heartbeats of mother earth herself.

Then an overseer gave a cry. Trembling, he pointed at the stone. It was a finger of doom. 

Disaster! 

A crack had rivered through the sublime monolith being fashioned for Queen Hatshepsut.

News spread in a buzz through the site. From the throats of the workers there arose a sound of swarming, like a giant hive of bees mourning the death of a queen. 

The workers downed tools and the heartbeat of their labours ceased... 






Tuesday, December 15, 2015

10 BOOK OPENERS to get you into your next 'enthralling Egypt' fiction read



THEY INTERCEPTED him as he came out of Baltimore-Washington Airport, two men wearing suits and an air of officialdom like a brisk cologne. 

“Mr Anson Hunter, the British Egyptologist?”



The Hathor Holocaust

AN EMAIL arrived at his hotel, giving him an address in South Kensington and a caution:

‘Come alone. Take care you are not followed. Change trains or taxis.’ It was a message from a mysterious young woman who had ambushed him on a train to London.



The Ibis Apocalypse
“SORRY ANSON. Your search for the stela ends here.”
The voice of the woman funneled down the underground passage, the echoes fluttering off the stone like startled bats. Anson Hunter, alternative Egyptologist and theorist, felt a chill as the words reached his ears. It was caused as much by the emotional separation in her voice as by its distance.

Rising of the Nile Gods
SUNBOAT RA sat at the Nile quay in a burning haze of lights like a cake festooned with candles.
Two lumbering shadows broke out of the night, arriving like gatecrashers at a party. Covered trucks, they pulled up hard and figures jumped out.Anubis. Isis. Osiris. Sobek. Maat. Thoth. Horus. Nephthys.

Egypt Eyes 
WHAT HAPPENED in the Temple of Isis today?
I stepped straight out of the dimly lit sanctuary and into a meaty hand that clamped around my mouth. The hand muffled my gasp as I was yanked aside. 

The Forbidden Glyphs 
THE ARCHAEOLOGIST Anson Hunter plummeted, tumbling uncontrollably into darkness.
Was it a tomb shaft he was plunging down, he thought, feeling the darkness rip past his body?

The God Dig
Egyptian tour guides will tell you that it’s good luck to walk in a complete circle around the Step Pyramid of Saqqara.
It’s even luckier if you’re able to run, Anson Hunter thought after two bullets in quick succession spat dust from the ground at his feet  

The Egyptian Mythology Murders 
A female mummy from ancient Egypt lay outstretched inside a hospital scanning machine.
The British Museum had brought the mummy to St. Thomas’ Hospital for a non-invasive examination of the body beneath its wrappings.
“We’ll begin by doing the head and neck in two millimetre slices. I’m just relieved that nobody will have to give this patient the bad news that she’s terminal.

The Obelisk Prophecy
Life, pulsating life!
It came from above, like a scattering of falling stars.
On the desert surface, archaeologists dragged a ground penetrating radar unit in a grid pattern, passing over the exact spot where, aeons before, priests had dragged a coffin on a sled to a secret underground tomb.
 

                         The Pharaoh Plagues
This graffito text appeared scratched in urgent letters across the wall of an ancient Egyptian tomb.
 WARNING!
ANCIENT GLOBAL THREAT
METEORITE-BORNE CONTAGION
ABANDON DIG ZONE
X Lucas.
False door was a trap.

Giulietta, the excavation team leader and a university Egyptologist, was alone in the tomb when she found it.
Her bedrock belief in science and accepted reality crumbled at that moment like the plastered wall in front of her eyes...
 


Read on... just some of the titles at Roy Lester Pond Amazon Kindle and Paperback

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Adventure fiction that opens up the archaeological secrets of Egypt.


OPEN UP YOUR IMAGINATION...The Roy Lester Pond fiction collection on AMAZON KINDLE

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ancient Egypt mystery and archaeology thrillers TO GO

See  the fiction collection from ROY LESTER POND on AMAZON KINDLE

THE ORIGINAL TUT MASK WITH NEFERTITI'S FACE?

 
My visualisation of what the original 'Tut' golden mask may have looked like. Which one do you prefer?


If Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves and others are right and the golden face plate of Tutankhamun was welded onto a different funerary mask base (Nefertiti's), then this may well be what the original looked like.

Even more sublime?

What do you think? 

(A little Photoshop virtual archaeology!)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Nefertiti Nightmare. (The elephant in the tomb.)


Was her walling up an act of spite?
Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves estimates that 80 percent of Tut’s burial treasures originally belonged to a woman (Nefertiti).
That raises the question – did that leave anything much for her? To me, it's the 'elephant in the tomb.'
If Tut’s treasures were appropriated from Nefertiti, what can we expect to remain in her tomb? Was she stripped of valuables?

Or did even worse occur? One hopes her remaining burial goods weren’t destroyed in an iconoclastic rage by the newly reinstated Amun forces who may have thought “let’s wall up the heretical wife of that Akhenaten!”
They probably wouldn't have dared harm her body. She was a  royal, after all. And a woman - and the Egyptians were uneasy about angering the female dead.
Immurement is the name of the practice, popular in classical and mediaeval times - except this time a dead woman would have been shut away.

Just a nightmare, as I said. 

Please let it be just that. 


FOOTNOTE: The practice of a pharaoh’s tomb goods (and statues) being appropriated by a succeeding pharaoh is of course well attested. Rameses II was its greatest exponent and made it a national sport. In a sense, kings saw nothing wrong with this.

As a new pharaoh, you were all pharaohs, the living tradition of the role. (Rather the same way Americans view ‘The Presidency’ as something separate from past presidents or the incumbent.) 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Ancient Egyptian heaven" - you can take it with you on your Kindle, iPad or smart phone

Excerpt from THE GOD DIG in the Egypt adventure series with fiction's renegade Egyptologist Anson Hunter


“We know the ancient Egyptians had a firm conviction that you could take it all with you when you died, provided your worldly goods were placed in your tomb with you," Anson said to her. "Food, wine, furniture, games, weapons, treasures... They believed that the afterlife would be a continuation of life on the Nile, only better, but with the same sorts of challenges.

"Now imagine if we died and woke up in the next world to learn that they were right - only the ancient Egyptians owned any stuff. The rest of us arrive empty-handed. Mind you, not many ancient Egyptians retained their worldly goods for long with the systematic depredation of tomb robbers and of archaeology.

But picture this…”




“… It's the Field of Reeds and a man is running plish, plash, plish  in the shallows of the riverbank in the dawn mist.

We are born alone, we die alone and we arise again alone and he is alone now, peering through the mist for another sign of life after death.

Reeds whip against his legs and body. Do scaly crocodiles lurk in here? Surely not. These are the fields of Aaru, not the menacing underworld that he has just passed through. That guardian-haunted journey of gateways, passages and passwords of the night still cling to him like a nightmare does to the newly awakened and he puts on a spurt to distance himself further from it.

Yet he longs for a weapon to defend himself.

Something. A rock. Even a stick in case he has to fight off an unknown terror.

His instinct for protection tells him to be afraid, yet he wonders what he should ever have to fear in this place. Then he recalls that here in this realm of the Field of Reeds men walk among the gods and demigods.

He hears a cracking voice that seems to bend the reeds like a breeze with its force.

“Who enters the reeds? And what riches and offerings do you bring with you?”

‘Riches?’ he thinks.

He is a poor man, a tomb guard, and he went to his grave with only a basket of food, his spear and a jar of beer, which he left behind when he ran out of the open tomb mouth to emerge into the dawn of another world.

Almost too late, he sees a figure standing in the mist like a statue. It is a giant, grim-faced being wearing a skull gap and a tightly fitting gown.

A neter, or god. Or perhaps a demi-god.

The air thins and chills and he smells a curious odour like burning gum. The perfume of divinity. The entity wears a thin curled beard and holds the symbol of a god in his hand. An axe like a flag on a long pole.

The running man drops to his belly and lies still in shallow water, plunged into shock and cold, amid a crowd of bending reeds, their acid-green pungency filling his nostrils.

“Bring wealth and you will be served,” the cracking voice said. “Bring no wealth and you must serve. You can run as they all do to escape eternal servitude, but you will be hunted down.”

What does this mean? That to those who have will be given and to those who have not, what little they have shall be taken from them?

Not paradise, but eternal servitude!

This does not seem like a fitting reward for one who has been justified by Osiris in the Hall of Judgement.

Is having a soul free of guilt not enough to earn rest and eternal bliss? Does he have to buy paradise?

“So you choose to hide and run?” the unseen god thundered. “Then the demigods will come after you. Men and women with serpent heads. Lioness women. Jackal men. And you have nothing to protect yourself with because you are one who has brought nothing... ”

‘I still have my spear back there in the tomb,’ he thinks. ‘Shall I return for it?’

No. He’s come too far now.

Better to crawl in a wide circle around the being and keep going.

There must be other tombs, other new arrivals that have brought things too. A spear. Bow and arrows. A sword.

And gold - that might be useful in this place.

Other tombs.

He is shocked by his own thoughts. Is he going steal grave goods from a tomb in heaven?

He remembers the words that he recited to Osiris in the Negative Confession:

I have wronged none…

I have not stolen.

I have done no evil.

He has sworn these things before the Judge of the Dead in order to enter the Field of Reeds and now he is planning to commit the very sins he denied.

Is it his fate to become a tomb robber in heaven...?”


"And the Oscar/Ptah for creative Egyptian fiction writing goes to..."

Reckon there's more than an echo of the ancient Egyptian creative god Ptah in Hollywood's Oscar, don't you think? (Except, maybe Oscar works out a bit more.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

AND... KINDLE EGYPT FICTION READING FOR PRETEENS THIS HOLIDAY





Do your kids or grandkids love ancient Egypt?
See the Egypt adventure fiction selection for my younger readers (written as ROY POND).
Or revisit the charm of ancient Egypt for the young at heart.

AMAZON KINDLE

THE IBIS APOCALYPSE

Strange. Just as the Book of Thoth turns up in the reign of Rameses, so does Moses and the Plagues of Egypt.

Anson Hunter, fiction's renegade Egyptologist and archaeologist, has a controversial theory about a son of Rameses. 
 
Discover the secret in THE IBIS APOCALYPSE (Amazon Kindle)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kindle Egypt Offerings - Mystery & Thriller Fiction Series



Use your e-reader screen to tap into Egyptian adventure, danger and hidden secrets.


Enjoy Egypt at its most enthralling and mysterious in a series about a renegade, alternative Egyptologist - 'The Smiting Texts', 'The Hathor Holocaust', 'The Ibis Apocalypse', 'The Anubis Intervention', 'Egypt Eyes'. 'The Forbidden Glyphs' and 'The God Dig'.

Kindle and Paperback. 



See the range of Egypt-based adventure thrillers on offer at Amazon Kindle

Friday, November 27, 2015

Have you ever queued up for a Tutankhamun exhibition?

"Ancient Egypt? Isn't that subject a bit narrow?" a fellow professional said to me on hearing that I write adventure thriller fiction about ancient Egypt. "Who would be interested in it?"

Who indeed.



 
Anyone who loves ancient Egypt documentaries and admires those who popularize it





Anyone who has ever queued up for hours and stood spellbound at an exhibition of Egypt's ancient Treasures...

Anyone who has ever wandered around temples, tombs, pyramids and the Sphinx, dazzled by their power as much as by the Egyptian sun…

Anyone who has ever dreamed of being an archaeologist… or has actually become one...

Anyone who has ever felt the tingle of standing in front of ancient mummies wrapped in magical spells, mystery and myths…
Anyone who has ever wondered, even for a moment, about unseen dangers from the ancient past…
Anyone who has ever been fascinated by ancient Egypt as a child…

Anyone who has ever longed to experience Egypt’s archaeological sites today…


If you’ve ever wanted to escape into an enthralling world of adventure, mystery, dangers, conspiracy and startling discovery…

The female mummy - deadlier of the species to the ancient Egyptians

Discover why in THE EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY MURDERS
The Egyptians were nervous about the anger of the female dead. They could be particularly spiteful to the living if offended.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

"I hope Pond's books aren't prophecies!" An interesting fiction reader's comment, Amazon UK


An age of men,gods and demigods
"I do enjoy these books... I actually learn something from each book. Stuff is still out there that we don't know about. I hope Pond's books aren't prophecies!"

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Jennefer liked to assemble clues and make a display of them. The museum curator impulse?


Now a fiction series with THE OBELISK CONSPIRACY


A mummy named Isis is taken to a hospital for a non-invasive imaging scan… so begins a mystery and a string of deaths.

An ancient cycle unfolds in modern day London - and a search for eternal love.

Can Jennefer, a young trainee museum curator and Jon, a police antiquities unit detective, stop the killings in time before a terrible culmination of events? 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

"DEATH ON THE NILE: A Post-Mortem On Ancient Beliefs" (Imaginary TED talk)


Maybe a time to ask: what do we believe about death today?
 

[Imagine a TED talk given by my fictional, renegade Egyptologist Anson Hunter on the subject of death and the afterlife.]

"Were the ancient Egyptians right, or wrong, in their beliefs about death and the afterlife? Do we survive?
Think of this presentation as an inquest into death and survival, where you in the audience are the coroner.



You’ll notice that a large black dog has followed me on stage and is sitting here watching. Two reasons. His name is Anubis and he represents the black jackal-dog of the dead in ancient Egypt. The black jackal-dog was said to guard the necropolis and early archaeologists used to follow their tracks to find tombs.



He also represents the black dog of depression. You see, I’ve been in some deep, dark places in my life that were not always tomb shafts, underground sanctuaries, or tomb pits like the ones in my photos.



They’re inside me. And I’ve never been alone in these places. The 'black dog' of depression lopes along behind me. So I’m peculiarly qualified to talk about this very dark subject. I’ve lived closer to death than most of you out there. I dwell on it. Hell, I’m probably half in love with it and the whole death taboo thing, although I must say I have a horror of modern day graveyards.



Death of the ancient variety has been my teacher as an Egyptologist. Ancient Egypt is the great university of death. Death and the funerary beliefs of ancient Egypt taught me everything I know. Without their funerary practice and belief in survival, I’d be pretty much in the dark about this mysterious ancient civilization. So would we all. No tombs. No Tutanhamun. No Nefertiti… well, that’s a work in progress.



So let’s start with a dissection. I’m not going to unravel and cut open a mummy in front of you today the way they did for Victorian audiences – here's one being performed by Margaret Murray in front of an audience of 500 at Manchester Museum.

A literal public dissection of death and the mummy

But I’d like to reveal just how seriously the Egyptians took it.



Ancient Egypt is the only civilization in history that directed government funded research into death and what comes next.



They threw everything at it, the state, religion, their entire culture. 
The Egyptians truly believed. People are wrong to imagine that cynical priests pretended to believe and merely went through the motions when they presented offerings and prayers and burnt incense in front of tombs. They believed unshakably in an afterlife. They lived in an age where humankind and gods, the living and the dead, and the forces of good and evil, existed side by side in two parts that held the universe together. In today’s age that denies god and laughs at the devil, people can’t see both sides. But they need to believe in the light and the shadow and to hold both in their minds, not least the shadow. The shadow gives things shape and form. Without it there’s just blinding, unrelieved glare, like the sunlit desert.

Was the Egyptians’ afterworld a physical place? Or just a different reality, a sort of virtual world created by a civilization’s collective unconscious and sustained by its religion? 

Do I believe in survival after death? I’m unusual in that I grant value to the sacred of ancient Egypt. Also, I haven’t let go of Christianity. So you are not going to get the knee-jerk agnostic reflex about religion that mainstream academics feel obliged to display. Some days, when I think about it, I say no. But what about when I don’t think about it, but merely feel it, at a deeper level?’

Humans, they say, are the only creatures that must live life with the knowledge that one day they’re going to die and our culture is the world of distraction we create around ourselves to shield us from this knowledge. But the Egyptians’ culture did not serve as a mere distraction from the pitiless cruelty of death. Instead their culture came to grips with death in an attempt to overcome its tyranny. The glowing painted underworlds of the tombs, the Books of Coming Forth By Day, or the Book of the Dead as they called these religious texts - were grappling with the ‘first mystery’- death and the afterlife. 

The early pyramids were like nationally financed space-shots designed to launch the god-king pharaoh into the hereafter and a collective salvation for all Egyptians. The Egyptians even had maps showing the routes to the underworld painted on the bases of coffins.

Carl Jung asserted that ‘The unconscious psyche believes in life after death. The founder of analytical psychology wrote of a near-death experience after a heart attack and reported a spiritual existence outside of his body.


The architecture of tombs may also reflect modern ideas about death. So-called Near Death Experiences. OR NDE’s.

There is a theory about Palaeolithic cave art, that it is the result of a cave in the mind, created there by the wiring of the human nervous system, and that deep caves inspired the idea of a subterranean spirit-world. In a cave, the mind is said to fill the space with spirit-animals and beings.

Are the tombs of Egypt also the result of our internal wiring? The tomb in the mind? Or is the Egyptian tomb the mirror of something else – death itself?

Like the modern NDE?
I am interested in the theory that the Egyptian tomb may have been inspired by the so-called Near Death Experience. Consider how closely an Egyptian tomb echoes the classic NDE. Both involve a journey along a tube-like passage, with surrounding ministering beings, and both come to a scene of judgement where the dead person reflects on his life and answers for his actions. Was it something experiential, and not just spiritual and intellectual, that inspired the Egyptian tomb and religion?


The record is filled with people, some scientists and doctors, who have experienced NDE’s where they entered a bright tunnel of light and found themselves in so-called heaven with their friends and families.
Cynics say they are experiencing graphic, neuro-chemical spasms of an oxygen-starved brain, or perhaps the tricks of demons. 

The Egyptians regarded tombs and sarcophagi as resurrection machines. That’s why they were quite happy to recycle the machinery of death and resurrection. We have plenty of evidence of reuse of coffins by the ancient Egyptians. And also of the re-use of tombs, secondary interment by later generations.

The Egyptians even wrote letters to their dead. They wrote pleading letters to the dead on the sides of offering bowls imploring the dead to come to their aid and provide guidance with the insoluble problems of living. “Why are you punishing me when I treated you so well in life?” an aggrieved husband writes to his wife.

Maybe we can all learn from the ancient Egyptians and should start writing our own letters to the dead. It could be extremely cathartic and save years of expensive analysis. (Mumble into microphone) Make note to write a tetchy letter to my dead Egyptologist father who abandoned me as a child.

Think how many millions lived and died over Egypt’s long history. While other empires lasted a century or so, Egypt’s lasted for thousands of years.
Consider some recent estimates. If you take the average population of ancient Egypt at around three million and you say the civilization spanned around three thousand five hundred years, then some five and a quarter billion people lived and died on the Nile. Who are we to say that the ancients were wrong? That they went to their graves resting on a broken reed, believing in a non-existent eternity?


Standing beside mummies, it’s easy to understand what attracts people to the ‘first mystery’, death, to the gods and the magical afterlife of Egypt. There are few subjects on earth, or beneath it, quite so compelling.
The ancient Egyptians gave birth to the idea of heaven, the first to set out their beliefs clearly in texts and illustrations, while others, such as the Israelites, still believed that at death a person entered a dark realm of nothingness called Sheol.

I sometimes wonder if they achieved some sort of ghostly existence within the withered husks of their remains, suspended, like their bodies, in stasis, where the relative motions of space and time no longer operate.



So what is your post-mortem verdict? Were the ancient Egyptians on to something? The conviction about the afterlife carved on the tomb walls and monuments of Egypt urges me to believe. But the veil of mystery remains. Perhaps we were not meant to have the truth exposed so that we can endure this life.
Thank you. And thank you to the black dog Anubis for sitting here as patient as death itself."