Monday, June 6, 2016

No civilization will ever last as long as ancient Egypt's

Spanning a dizzying abyss of time

It's amazing to think. 

No civilization ever lasted as long as ancient Egypt's

Egypt's unique geographical situation and a uniquely cohesive set of beliefs contributed to its astonishing continuity.

It's difficult to imagine any civilization in the future lasting as long. 

Ancient Egypt's civilization spanned a dizzying abyss of time.

Picture a line-up of Egypt’s rulers stretching into the distance.

Imagine we are moving past this assembly on a river of time, like a water ride in a theme park, journeying back to the first historical dynasties and earlier.

We’ll ignore more recent history - a string of one hundred and forty seven Ottoman rulers, fifty seven assorted Mamelukes, over one hundred Fatimid, Abbasid and non-Abbasid rulers, scores of Byzantine Period Christian rulers and a line of forty three Roman Emperors.

We’ll start with Cleopatra, for, although Greek, she actually went native, spoke the language and adopted the religion.

Ready? We’re off.

We build up momentum and Cleopatra glides by in her Love Boat, arm in arm with Marc Anthony, her sails making the wind drunk with their perfume, but wait, there’s a cavalcade of six earlier Cleopatras and a fleet of fourteen Ptolemies stretching into the distance before we pass the monolith of Alexander the Great and the Macedonian kings.

Now the Persian hordes engulf us in the Second Persian period before we reach the last Egyptian born pharaoh, the magician-king Nectanebo II, working his magic on model wax ships floating in a bowl of water.

We’ve still got around two thousand, two hundred and seventy years to go before we get back to the pyramid age.

We travel through ten more dynasties and over fifty kings, including a detour of a hundred years as we see a line of Nubian, or Kushite, pharaohs mount the Horus throne, before we tumble into the darkness and chaos of the Third Intermediate Period.

Then we enter the New Kingdom and a new golden age in a line of three dynasties and thirty-three kings.

We rush by eleven Rameses kings alone, including Rameses the Great and his colossal seated statues at the Temple of Abu Simbel.

We see the boy king Tutankhamun posing for his golden mask. It’s still almost two thousand years before the pyramid age.

Now we pass the sun-drunk Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti in their brand new city of Akhetaten mushrooming magically in the desert wilderness of Amarna, then a parade of other pharaohs, including multiple Amenhoteps.

And then it’s on to the Thutmosids and Pharaoh Thutmosis the Third in his chariot and blue war crown, leading his armies out of Thebes to conquer the Levant.

Moving back in time before Thutmosis, we find the female pharaoh Hatshepsut applying her strap-on symbol of kingship, a false beard.

Dynasties seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen and a parade of over ninety kings passes by - compare this with the mere sixty six monarchs of Britain.

We find ourselves in darkness and turmoil as we hit the Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos conquest of Egypt. Foreign rulers take over for two centuries.

We rise on to meet classical times, an austerely refined age called the Middle Kingdom. Eleven pharaohs slide past in all their gravitas, including Amenemhat III, builder of the Great Labyrinth.
Astoundingly, there’s still around eight hundred years to go before we get back to the Old Kingdom pyramid age.

Then a veritable chaos of kings tumble by, not quite ‘seventy kings in seventy days’ as in the first intermediate Period, but something very like it. We plummet into an age of chaos called the First Intermediate Period and we hear screams. It’s a horror section of three hundred years, where emaciated figures of death and famine leap out to terrify us like ghoulish animatrons.

As we regain speed, we come upon a line of thirty-six more kings. Dynasties six, five, four, three, two, one, flash past like numbers in a rapidly descending lift.

We have finally arrived at the age of the pyramid builders and the Early Dynastic period.
Worker hordes pitch stone pyramids like immense limestone tents on the plateau of Saqqara, including the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Step Pyramid of Zoser.

We’re over five thousand years from our present day. But have we hit ground zero yet?

Not quite. Other shadowy kings, as many as thirteen, with names like ‘Crocodile’, ‘Catfish’ and ‘Scorpion’, are beginning to emerge from the darkness of prehistory. There seems to be an unknown number of basements beneath.

We have just reached the borders of myth and history… “

(Part of an address to a US audience given by Anson Hunter, renegade Egyptologist and theorist in my novel ‘The Ibis Apocalypse’… out in Kindle and in paperback, Amazon, along with follow-ups 'The Hathor Holocaust' and 'The Ibis Apocalypse')

See my Egyptian Series and other adventure novels here at AMAZON KINDLE