Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rich legacy

Our fascination with ancient Egypt is, to a large extent, a product of the vast amount of material information available. We know so much about the daily lives of the ancient Egyptians - we can read their words, meet their families, feel their clothes, taste their food and drink, enter their tombs and even touch their bodies - that it seems that we almost know them. And knowing them, maybe even loving them, we feel that we can understand the very human hopes and fears that dominated their lives.

Preserved in their writings and coded into their artwork the Egyptians asked, and answered, the questions that all societies ask. What happens after death? How was the world created? Where does the sun go at night? Lacking any real scientific understanding they answered their own questions with a series of myths and legends designed to explain the otherwise inexplicable.

Some of these myths passed from Egypt to Rome, and have had a direct effect on the development of modern religious belief. Reading and understanding the ancient stories allows us to abandon our modern preconceptions, step outside our own cultural experiences and enter a very different, life-enhancing world.

But, by no means everything about ancient Egypt is fully understood. This lack of certainty over some issues simply adds to the subject's appeal. There are enough unanswered questions - How were obelisks raised? Who was Nefertiti? Where is the lost capital of Itj-Tawi? What exactly are the curious fat cones that élite Egyptian party guests wore on their heads? - and enough published reference books, to allow every Egyptologist, amateur or professional, the hope that he or she might one day solve one of the many outstanding puzzles.

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For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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