Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Egypt #5: Look at ME!

Many of the temples erected by the Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt had “Birth Rooms” or “Birth Houses” not because that is where they were born or that is the place for others to be born but because they wanted the people to know they were part of an exclusive club. Being Pharaoh meant being special and in order to prove that they were special they would have to show it in sculpture and paintings in theses rooms. Amenhotep III showed that he was the physical son of the god Amun. The inscriptions on his Birth Room show how Amun visited Thutmose IV wife in her chamber, disguised as her husband. After she was pregnant the words of Amun were “Amenhotep, ruler of Thebes, is the name of this child I have placed in your body. He shall exercise the beneficent kingship in the whole land. He shall rule the two lands like Ra forever.”

So their birth was divine but how was their life? This was shown on the temple pylons and outer walls built by each Pharaoh. The Temple Pylons are the two large walls you must walk between to get into the temple complex, many still remain today because they were so huge. On them would be the inscriptions of how great these Pharaoh’s deeds were. It showed the “smiting’ scene where the Pharaoh smote all the enemies of Egypt and lists all the accomplishments of the Pharaoh in colored, sculpted painting and elegant hieroglyphs.

The inside of each temple was lined with the religious acts of the Pharaoh. All his plunder and sacrifices that were given to ensure the favor of the god that temple was dedicated to. Offering after offering is depicted on the walls leading to the holy of holies in the temple where the god resided and accepted the Ka of those offerings while the physical (less important) parts of the offerings were consumed by the priests attending that god.

It seriously got to the point where we, on our tour, had ENOUGH of the offering scenes which were depicted ad nausea throughout all the temples we went to. Offering after offering, pile after pile of goods, list after list of god appeasements, scene after scene … LET’S SEE SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

It seemed to be a scream of identity. “Let me in!” to this exclusive club. Or “I am SOMEBODY!” and “LOOK WHAT I HAVE DONE!” The fact is we do the same thing today, may not on such a BIG scale, but we do. Teens and Twenties will pick clothes based on what group we want to belong to; our clothes say “Let me in! I’m with you!” Thirties to fifties will work to the point being able to say “I AM SOMEBODY!” And finally the sixties and beyond we live off the reputation and “Look what I have DONE!”

The Ancient Egyptians carved it in stone while we may carve it in stock portfolios and bank accounts or big houses but we build our monuments too.

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