I’ve written before about my visit to Egypt as a teenager. It sparked a lifelong fascination with its ancient history and led, many years later, to me writing my modern mystery-adventure series set in the land of the pharaohs.
In this enduring fascination, I know I am not alone. One only has to visit any of the museums of the world housing Egyptian collections to see these galleries always thronged with people. So, what is it about ancient Egypt that so excites our imaginations?
I suspect the epoch-defying age, neck-craning scale and breath-taking beauty of the monuments and statuary surviving over thousands of years head the list. The pyramids, of course; the great pyramid one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Not to mention buried treasure, vast quantities of gold, preserved mummies of pharaohs and ordinary people alike, and a whole pantheon of curious animal-headed gods and goddesses.
But I think it is more than all that. Egypt is relatable. An ancient civilization – arguably THE most ancient civilization – it feels curiously modern. Here are some reasons why…
- It had a system of government and hierarchy much like our own. The pharaoh supported by viziers, nobles and layers of bureaucracy and administration.
- Its belief in Ma’at – translated as balance, order, the natural way of things, truth and justice – was an underpinning belief in “rightness” that still resonates.
- It had a successful military and a police force, the Medjay, upholding law and order, plus a judiciary.
- Women had rights – able to own property and seek divorce.
- People drank wine and beer and clearly loved a party.
And I suspect Egypt feels somehow familiar because many of us grew up listening to stories from the Bible. We heard about Moses in the bullrushes, raised at the court of Pharaoh, about Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt, about the Exodus of the Israelites. Stories to spark the imagination. And then along came the musical theatre production Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Pharaoh depicted as an Elvis Presley-like superstar!
So, Egypt is extremely ancient yet curiously modern. It is embedded in our shared psyche. We can relate.
Fiona Deal, Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, fiction books all available on Amazon. To join Merry on her adventures please click on each picture for the link.