The incredible length of Egypt’s civilisation

The link below will take you to an article showing 23 “mind-blowing facts that will destroy your understanding of time”.  The author requests shares, so I’m doing just that.

Two of the facts relate to ancient Egypt and help to demonstrate just what an incredibly long passage of time the Egyptian civilisation can claim.

UnknownFirst, Cleopatra lived closer in time to the building of Pizza Hut than the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Cleopatra ruled as the last Pharaoh at around 30BC, before Egypt fell to the Roman Empire.  The Great Pyramid was already approximately 2,500 years old, having been built for the pharaoh Khufu in the Old Kingdom of dynastic Egypt in circa 2560 BC.

UnknownThe first Pizza Hut opened in 1958, approximately 500 years closer in time to Cleopatra than Khufu’s pyramid.

I can’t help but wonder if Cleopatra’s knowledge and understanding of the reign of her Old Kingdom predecessor was much as ours is of her: coloured by myth and legend, and the passage of thousands of years.

Broadly contemporary with Cleopatra was the first century Romano-Jewish scholar and writer Josephus. As far as we know his work contains the only reference to the earlier Egyptian historian and priest, Manetho, who wrote his fabled Aegyptiaca some 300 years before Cleopatra ascended to the throne.  It gave a history and chronology of the pharaohs.  Whether it shed any more light on the historical facts of the dynasties that pre-dated Cleopatra’s Ptolomaic ancestry than Shakespeare did on Cleopatra’s own story is a matter for debate.

tm9The other fascinating fact is that the first pyramids were built while the woolly mammoth still roamed the earth.  A small population of mammoths survived until circa 1650 BC, by which time Egypt’s empire was well established, and the pyramids were already about a thousand years old.

I’s bind-bending stuff : how the Egyptian civilisation spans what we might consider almost prehistory, right up to the Roman Empire whose influence can still be felt in Britain today.

Perhaps this explains why ancient Egypt is such a rich source of inspiration for writers of fiction such as myself.  With a history spanning something like three thousand years, with so many famous names, and with so much gold, how can we help but be fascinated by its mystery and romance?  And with the inevitable gaps in our historical knowledge after such an immense passage of time, how tempting it is to try to fill in the blanks.

That’s what my fictional series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt aims to do.  In each story, I take an ancient mystery and weave a story around it, letting my imagination put the flesh on the bones of what we know from archaeology and historical research.

Here is the source article, which got me thinking about Egypt’s incredibly long history : http://higherperspective.com/2015/02/understanding-time.html?utm_source=cleo&ts_pid=2

Fiona Deal – author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, available in paperback or to download from Amazon and all major ebook retailers.

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Causeway of the Great Pyramid Found

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Photo Credit : Ahram.org

Reading ‘Ancient Origins’ online, I see a report that after years of searching, the causeway for the Great Pyramid of Egypt has been found.

As is often the case, the facts read like something from a novel: a local resident living near the Giza Plateau was illegally digging beneath his home when he discovered a tunnel leading to the Pyramid of Khufu, the largest of the three pyramids in Giza.

Apparently a resident in the village of El Haraneya in Giza, a prohibited area for drilling, began digging beneath his house to a depth of about 10 meters.  He discovered a passage consisting of huge stone blocks.

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Artists impression showing pyramid causeways. Credit: Saint Anselm College

The Minister of Police for Tourism and Antiquities was alerted to the discovery (it’s not clear whether this was by the resident himself). Whatever, security forces immediately placed a cordon around his property.  An archaeologist was placed in charge of a committee to investigate. The committee’s report confirms the finding of the corridor leading to the Great Pyramid, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in Giza.  It’s thought these causeways were covered corridors or passages linking each pyramid to its temple complex or maybe with the Nile.

How exciting!  I love it when new discoveries are made in Egypt.  As a writer of fiction, it’s a never-ending source of inspiration.

What became of the resident beneath whose home the causeway was found is not clear.  Perhaps I can somehow weave him into a story !

Fiona Deal

Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt

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My top 10 historical sites in Egypt

I’ve visited Egypt 11 times in total, since falling in love with it on my first visit with my parents in 1983.  Now I write a fictional adventure / mystery series set there : Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.  There are six books in the series so far.  Each is a modern adventure with an ancient Egyptian mystery at its heart.

As a frequent visitor to Egypt, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of my favourite places to visit.  This list is my personal top 10, so feel free to disagree with me. I think I’ll do it as a countdown …

IMG_4517So, in at number 10. The stepped pyramid at Sakkara (or Saqqara as it’s sometimes spelled). My lead characters Merry and Adam take a trip to see the stepped pyramid in my first book Carter’s Conundrums. II was last at Sakkara in 2008.

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At number 9, the Temple of Edfu, probably the best preserved of all the ancient Egyptian temples. It dates from the Graeco-Roman period, and is included on any Nile cruise itinerary. It’s the location of a scene in Hatshepsut’s Hideaway, the third book in my series.

Here I am outside the main pylon – March 2008.

 

IMG_4215At number 8, the Temple of Philae, near Aswan. It’s a lovely temple, also dating from the Graeco-Roman period, and dedicated to the goddess Isis. It was rescued by UNESCO as after the British dam was built in the early twentieth century it spent half the year under water. UNESCO moved it piece by piece to the nearby island of Agilika. Not yet used as a location in my books. Here I am in January 2012.

 

 

IMG_4505Number 7 is the pyramid and sphinx (not sure if it’s cheating to put them together) on the Giza plateau in Cairo. The pyramids tower over the surrounding suburbia. Merry sits near the swimming pool in Le Meridien hotel, gazing in awe at the pyramids in my second book Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

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At number 6, I’ll go for the Temple of Medinet Habu, built by Ramses III and located on the West Bank at Luxor. It’s not always included in the touring itineraries, but well worth an independent visit. The original colours are beautifully preserved.

Not yet used as a location in my books.

 

 

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At number 5, The Valley of the Kings. A barren, desolate and rather forbidding place … once stuffed with enough gold to sink a battle ship, buried in the tombs of the dead pharaohs. It’s forbidden to take photographs nowadays – so here’s one of me taken back in 2004. The Valley of the Kings features prominently in all of my novels.

 

 

scan0141Number 4, the wonderful Winter Palace hotel. I was lucky enough to stay here for New Year in 2008-9; the best New Year’s Eve ever! Frequented by both Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in the years leading up to the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun.

Once used literally as a palace for King Fuad and King Farouk I used it as a location in both Carter’s Conundrums and Farouk’s Fancies.

 

DSCN5281So, to my personal top 3.

At number 3 I think it has to be Hatshepsut’s Temple on the West Bank in Luxor. It features prominently in all six books. Set dramatically against the craggy cliff face at Deir el Bahri, and backed by the Valley of the Kings, it’s rich with dramatic potential.

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At number 2, the complex of temples that make up Karnak. The Hypostyle Hall takes my breath away every time I go there. The temple is the largest religious structure ever built. Words are inadequate to the task of describing it. As yet, I’ve perhaps not made as much of its dramatic potential as I could.  Merry and Adam go there to look at the obelisks in Carter’s Conundrums.

 

 

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So, we’ve arrived at number 1. Personally, for sheer egotistical magnificence, I don’t think you can beat the temples of Abu Simbel, built by Ramses II. Yes, I’m cheating again. There are actually two temples… one for Ramses himself, and a smaller one for his great royal wife Nefertari. I walked around the latter with a lump in my throat – it’s exquisite. They’re also a marvel of modern engineering, raised to higher ground by UNESCO to escape the rising waters of Lake Nasser.

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So, there you have it. My personal top 10. I’ve not mentioned Luxor Temple, the Ramesseum, Denderah, Abydos – all equally awe-inspiring. … Great! Another reason to go back and loads more opportunities for book settings ! I guess maybe I should have done a top 20!

Fiona Deal

Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, available to download or in paperback on Amazon.

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What lies beneath …?

Photo by Paolo Bondielli Min Project – Luxor Times

Published in the Luxor Times on 1 January, the first discovery in Egypt of 2015.  Found in Qurna, on the Nile close to Luxor, this is an Osirieon, a kind of God’s tomb, dedicated to Osiris.  It just goes to show how much still lies buried beneath the sands of Egypt, awaiting discovery.

As a fiction writer of an adventure/mystery series set in present-day Egypt, these continued discoveries are beyond thrilling.  My characters have been lucky enough to make a few discoveries of their own.  Some might say their ‘finds’ are far-fetched, and they’d probably be right.  My characters are not archaeologists or excavators.  Meredith (Merry) Pink starts her adventures in Egypt as a simple holidaymaker.  She counts herself fortunate when she meets a would-be Egyptologist who then introduces her to a professor who is the real thing, and can help her out with what she’s found.

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Carter’s Conundrums is Merry’s first adventure.  It’s the story of an accidental discovery that sheds new light on Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.  And it poses a few questions about what else he might have found that the world wasn’t told about at the time…      Writing it, I gave myself the imaginary holiday of a lifetime!  I hope it does the same for my readers.

There are a further five books so far in the series.  In each one Merry plays a part in unlocking a secret from Egypt’s ancient past.  The series is a joy to write and all the time new discoveries are coming to light, I know there will be plenty more ancient Egyptian mysteries for Merry to explore.

All six books in the series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt are available to download or in paperback on Amazon.

Fiona Deal

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