The Land of the Nile
Nearly twenty five hundred years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote, “Concerning Egypt itself I shall extend my remarks to a great length, because there is no country that possesses so many wonders, or any that has such a number of works that defy description.” Even today, many would agree with Herodotus’ opinion. The ancient Egyptians left to the world a large amount of magnificent monuments dating across three millennia; they erected grand stone temples to their immortal Gods, set up countless statues of their Pharaohs, Kings, and Gods, and built thousands of tombs to serve as eternal houses for the Ka (spirit). The history of Egypt is so rich and vast that even in the present day it is considered an ancient culture of wonders and mystery. For this reason, at the end of the eighteen century, Egypt became the first subject of archeological exploration. For instance, in 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte on a military expedition to Egypt took with him a small troop of scholars, linguistics, antiquarians, and artists, which are responsible for the discovery of the famed Rosetta Stone. Such finding gave the eager scholars a key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. The stone bears an inscription in three sections: one in Greek, which was easily read; one demotic (Late Egyptian), and one in hieroglyphic form. In the beginning, scholars thought that the texts were the same in all three sections. But later, a linguist named Jean Francois Champollion deducted that the hieroglyphics were the signs of a spoken language, which later became the language of Christian Egypt. One important fact of the history of Egypt is that in the Pre-dynastic time, this wonderful land was divided geographically and politically into Upper Egypt (the southern part of the Nile Valley which was dry, rocky and culturally rustic) and the Lower Egypt (the northern side which was wealthy, urban, and crowded). The ancient Egyptians began their history of kingdoms with the unification of the two lands. The Old Kingdom is the first of the three great periods of Egyptian history called: Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, respectively. During the Old Kingdom, Egyptians sculptures, painters, and architects designed the mode of representation and the construction’s scheme that would become the rule in the land of the Nile for more than two thousand years. Egyptians made humans, animals sculptures, and statues to serve for the eternity; they were concerned with the afterlife, and it is for this reason that Egyptians tomb statues fulfilled an important function. Sculptors created images of the deceased to serve as a house for the Ka; such sculptures were shown with a well developed muscularity, flawless body, and a perfect face. The sculptures built during the Old Kingdom period were more idealist than naturalistic. The Egyptians considered ideal body proportions appropriate for representing imposing majesty. A remarkable representation of an Egyptian sculpture is the statue of Ka; which was portrayed as a muscular and strong pharaoh, with a peaceful facial expression. In addition, the sculpture was made of steel, meaning the pharaoh will live for eternity. Among other primary materials used to build the statues are: wood, clay, and stone. The Egyptians are also famous for their great architectural techniques and colossal constructions; the most notorious work is the pyramid, which is one of the oldest stone structures in Egypt and it is considered the first monumental royal tomb. Pyramids consist of stacking mastabas (Arabic for bench), a rectangular brick or stone structure erected above an underground tomb chamber. Because of their great obsession for the afterlife, the Egyptians built funerary temples inside the pyramids to house single or multiple burials. An interesting fact about the Egyptians is that they always buried their dead on the west side of the Nile, where the sun sets; this explains the relation...
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