Bonus Blog: The Nile River

I believe that the most important aspect of Egyptian archaeology is the Nile River. Without the Nile, this society would have failed to existed from the beginning. ‘The Gift of the Nile’ was Heroditus’ nickname for Egypt. Its inundations provided a lifeline for the citizens of ancient Egypt and allowed the society to pursue agriculture, advancing the growth of the empire. The Nile River also allowed Egyptians to access simple trade routes via boat, a practice that continued to lead to the expansion of Egypt throughout the centuries. The Nile River is also particularly interesting because of its historical implications. The Bible has stories of the Nile turning red and the floods that occurred.

Another aspect of the Nile River’s importance that is often overlooked is its use as a means of keeping track of time. Through the use of a Nilometer, a structure with marked points that the water would reach during inundation, Egyptians were not only able to create a decently accurate calendar for their time but also able to predict the floods that would occur to focus their activities around this process.

The Nile also created the Nile River Delta, a large patch of fertile land that Egyptians were able to exploit and use for agriculture. They were able to cultivate anything from wheat to fruit to barley that was used to create beer. This delta housed the locations of many of the most important cities in Egypt and allowed for the expansion of the empire outward as the years progressed. The Nile also allowed Egyptians to fish for meat and obtain necessary nutrients in the middle of the desert.

While it can easily be said that Egypt would not have existed without the Nile, it cannot be more simply put. For this reason, I believe that the Nile River is by far the most significant and important factor in Egyptian archaeology.

 

Research Proposal: Cinema’s Impact on Modern Portrayal of Ancient Egypt

The world has always been obsessed with ancient Egypt. Its history and mystique captivate our imaginations and pique our interests. For this reason, Egypt has been portrayed many times in cinema. Through movies like The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Cleopatra people have formulated their views on ancient Egypt as a place of mystery and dark magic. However, what is the truth behind cinema’s portrayal of ancient Egypt? That is the question I’d like to answer through my research paper.

To examine this topic, I plan on watching some of the more obscure movies that were created about Egypt to gain a fuller understanding of Hollywood’s portrayal of ancient Egypt. Movies like The Sphinx, about a man who enters the antiquities market and attempts to discover an unknown tomb, that portray modern society dealing with ancient Egypt are particularly useful because they attempt to show Egypt’s modern relevance. However, movies that are set during ancient Egyptian time periods are more my focus. I’d like to investigate the reality of these films as well as attempt to discover some that are actually accurate. Obviously, however, looking at films and their portrayal of Egyptian mysteries like ‘the curse of the pharaohs’ are relevant, as many believe that these stories are true and media has been obsessed with this anomaly for years.

This curse will be examined as well as the cinema’s portrayal of different rituals and practices that Egyptians would partake in. I will be focusing on several films as well as newspaper articles that discuss this phenomenon (particularly those that are more modern; think the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb) to formulate a strong foundation of the media’s view on ancient Egypt. I will then take knowledge from class, our readings, and reach out to other sources to discover whether or not some of the specific examples hold true to the knowledge we have today. . I will also be giving out and examining surveys given to my friends on their views of ancient Egypt and see how large of an impact cinema has had on their views.

This topic is relevant due to the fact that cinema is such a large part of our modern culture, particularly in the United States. Millions of people use cinema as a basis for their knowledge and will believe many of the images that are put in front of them. To dissect what’s real and not real will give a better understanding of true Ancient Egyptian society  to myself and others who have been bombarded by the media’s portrayal of ancient Egypt for our whole lives. This topic is also particularly interesting because of its impact on our lives. Walking into this class I knew very little about ancient Egypt, and much of what I did know (if not all) had come from cinema. Taking this has shown me the real side of Egypt that, to me, is far more fascinating than the media’s portrayal of ancient Egypt.

The goal of this paper is to establish the differences between perception and reality of modern understanding of ancient Egypt through cinema.

 

Spielberg, Steven, dir. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lucasfilm, 1981. Film.

Freund, Karl, dir. The Mummy. 1932. Film.

Handwerk, Brian. “Curse of the Mummy.” National Geographic. [http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/curse-of-the-mummy/]

Trade and Expansion

Something I found interesting this week was the progression of Egypt’s expansion both as a trade power and the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. It is always fascinating for me that a country in northern Africa could have the reach and knowledge to barter for goods from countries as far as western Asia. I amazes me that Egypt not only grasped the importance of international trade, but had enough wisdom and reach to establish trade routes and partnerships that had an impact that lasted thousands of years. Traveling through Abydos and the Wadis to the Red Sea is an accomplishment that requires astounding navigational knowledge and practices and it surprises me that thousands of years ago humans had the ability to establish such a route. I also found it curious that Egyptians sought out exotic animals from Africa and Asia. The human-animal relationship is always interesting to me as a lifetime dog owner, and I wonder the utility of these exotic animals.

The unification of Egypt is also particularly thought-provoking to me. For two powers to come together as one and create a civilization that built an empire is astounding given the timeframe in which this occurred. As stated in the article linked at the bottom, only hundreds of years after Narmer’s unification of Egypt, massive monuments were able to be built by the people worshiping one god. I also found it compelling that such a society could be built on the foundation of religion without tearing the society apart very quickly. I would like to look more into the structure of religion and how it affected the lives of Egyptian citizens and its ability to bring a massive ancient society together. To comprehend how a society could come together in such a short time and create everlasting monuments and an Empire is very complex, and I look forward to researching more about the first “new Egypt.”

 

http://voices.yahoo.com/the-unification-egypt-3150-bc-making-first-3307062.html

Pop Egypt

Something I found interesting this week is the popularity of Egyptian archaeology. Throughout the ages people have been fascinated by the topic as we still are today. I found it extremely thought-provoking that almost since its collapse, Egypt has been popular not only amongst historians and anthropologists, but amongst the every man. I am not going to lie, I have bought in to the same things that people in the past have bought into. I am intrigued by the mystique, the wonder, and the history of the Egyptian culture. It’s the reason I signed up for this class. However, I am interested in the real history of ancient Egypt.

Hassan’s article mentions that Egypt has some become part of the orient in Hollywood movies. It mentions that Egyptian women are portrayed as extremely sexually provocative. It’s funny that these images are exactly what almost all think of when they think Egypt. However, these are views that are certainly warped if not completely fabricated. Popular culture clamors for these types of stereotypes, that Egypt can be a place of fantasy and wonder, and it is; it is just not in the ways that culture has created it.

This view of Egypt as a magical land forgotten by human history, lost in time, is a view that brought me in to this discipline, though. By taking Great Discoveries in Archaeology, the first anthropology class I took, I was introduced to this view of Egypt. However, I was introduced in a way that emphasized the facts of the wonders of Egypt. It is for that reason that I chose this discipline, specifically this class. If it weren’t for the mysterious fog surrounding ancient Egypt I probably would not have changed into the anthropology major and would not have taken this class. I have to thank Hollywood and pop culture for helping me decide the direction of my life.

The Nile and the Egyptian Calendar

One aspect of class this week I found extremely fascinating is the general importance of the Nile River and its relation to almost anything in the ancient Egyptian world. While I know at least a small amount about Egyptian history, and I knew the Nile was important, I didn’t realize quite how significant its impact truly is.

I have always like Egyptian archaeology in particular because of the level of myth and speculation that surrounds a lot of the history of Egypt. Even the Nile is different than the rest of the world, flowing south to north. It is spoken of even in the Bible and plays a large role in every aspect of Egyptian history and archaeology. I had not seen the ‘Nilometer’ before this week, and find it interesting that everything on their calendar is based around this machine and the Nile’s inundation. To have a society that thousands of years ago understand something so uniquely important is absolutely fascinating to me. The fact that even back then that Egyptians had tried to build dam systems to harness the Nile, a feat that hadn’t been completed until the building of one of the ‘seven modern wonders of the world,’ is extremely impressive.

Another aspect I enjoyed this week, as mentioned by another student, is the Egyptian royalty’s hunting practices. Not only did I find it interesting that they participated in the practice, but that they used the same animals that we do today. Today, using dogs for hunting, particularly bird hunting, is common practice. I am curious to know to what extent they used the dogs in their hunting, and whether it was for a practical use or for sport. I would also like to know if that is a practice that originated in Egyptian times and was passed down all the way to today.