Hal Higdon and his wife Rose will be traveling through Egypt and Israel from March 7 through March 27. In addition to our regular Tuesday Q&A postings, we will be hosting Hal's updates from his travels on this blog, under the tag "Egypt".
We are back in Cairo, having flown from Luxor this (Monday) morning. An hour flight. The ride in from the airport took almost that much. Traffic. We drove past an Olympic complex with a stadium that contained a track. In all honesty, I can't recall a single Egyptian track athlete, much less distance runner, who has been able to contest for an OIympic medal. Not one. Nobody at the level, certainly, of the North Africans to the West or the Ethiopians and Kenyans to the East and South. It must be a cultural thing more than genetics.
The Egyptians centuries ago certainly must have been strong, given the size of the huge blocks of limestone and granite they hauled and heaved, some of the block--Michael tells us--weighed five times as much as the 45-passenger bus carrying us from site to site.
Our last day in the Luxor area, we sailed north to see the Temple of Dandara, our last slice of outdoor antiquity, the Egyptian Museum being on our schedule tomorrow, our last day in town. What can I say about Dandara that will set it apart, both in my mind and yours, from everything else I have seen. Huge. Nearly every cubic meter covered with figures and hoeroglyphics. Dandara is so well restored, because it was found only recently, in the last century. It had been covered by sand until the French located it, then they rewarded themselves by stealing part of the roof to "res5tore" that part, but they returned only the copy and kept the original block, for the Louvre if I'm not mistaken.
Sadly, Dandara's art has been badly scarred by people who some centuries after its construction came in and chiseled away the features of most of the columns and relief statues to obscure the fact that they were gods or humans or humans who were gods. A later religion that wanted to obscure the memory of an earlier religion. Who it might be, Michael did not want to say--if he knew. The suspicion is that it could have been Christians.
Whoever, there should be a special level in Hades for people who deface the art that comes before them.
I have a lecture to attend. More later.