Download Between Lines THE PHARAOHS OF EGYPT

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he Lifebiood of Egypt
The Nile is the thread of life that has kept the Delta and her people alive for thousands of years,
Here's a few interesting facts and random thoughts about that ancient and monumental stream...
Tlie Nile is 4,132 miles long, with the headwaters called "The Blue Nile" and the lower stream known as "The Wliite Nile."
The last 750 mile span of the river is the main life artery of Egypt.
Near Khartoum the river hits the firet of 6 rapid areas known as "the Cataracts". The island (Elephantine) near the first
cataract has always been the traditional border of Egypt. Theriverat that location goes from 2-14 miles wide,
whereas the final point at the sea is a delta more than 500 miles wide.
Herodotus called Egypt, "the gift of the river". It really is true, for without the silt that created the livability of the 500 mile
delta this region would be as brutal and lifeless as the Sahara and the Sinai that embrace it. (Curiously, the river
brought the land prosperity and the desert;s brought the land security.)
• It really is the only major river of earth that flows south to north. In antiquity' the Eg^'ptians wrote of all other rivers of earth,
"How strange these alien nations are. Even their rivers flow backward." That aiTOgance reveals some of the sense of
what the Nile was to her people.
• The late spring monsoons of the Indian Ocean swell the river downstream. The cycles that the Egyptians knew were
"the Inundation" (July-September), "the Emergence" (October-February), and "the Drought" (March-June).
Early Egyptians soon discovered that the first eariy morning appearance of the star5op^ef (we call it Sirius)
heralded the soon approaching swelling of the river.
• The flooding brought tons of silt downstream from die heart of Africa and enriched the land annually. (In fact, the most
ancient name of Egypt was Kemet (the black land). In the time of flooding it was said, "the land is in jubilation and
every belly is in joy". The boisterous festival of Opet celebrated the flood.
• The swelling of the river determined life and the boundaries of life. A flood of 26' was called "a good Nile". A few feet less
meant drought and calamity and a few feet more meant that villages were destroyed in the flood waters.
• The level of flooding was determined by a calibrated staircase near the first cataract. This "Nilometer" determined annual
tax rates, crop quotas, volume of seed dispensed from the royal treasuries, and numbers of catde loaned out from
the royal herds.
• Theriverbrought life and death. The shoreline gave refuge to crocodiles and the hippopotamus. (And one lucky hippo
actually killed the Pharaoh Hor-Aha who was not as careful as he should have been on a hunting expedition.)
The waters also hid microscopic bacteria and larvae such as the Bilharzia worm and the Guinea worm.
These microbes could infest a person either by ingestion or by skin contact.
• Not unlike Mark Twain's Mississippi, pilots, ferrymen, and sailors were important laborers in the economy of Egypt.
• Flooding is now controlled by the Aswan High Dam but modern science is worried about the leakage of sewers and the
Nile water tables as they are combining to undermine the foundauons of some of the great structures of antiquity.
The Great Pyrarrtid
If you head west from modern Cairo you come edge of the Sahara rather quickly. That pathway to "the Western Fields"
is guarded by the Sphinx and is marked by the huge burial monoliths of the 4th and 5th Dynasties -- the three great
pyramids of Giza. Although there are about 70 pyramid structures throughout the land these three are the ones that
you've often seen pictures of throughout the years. The largest was built as the burial chamber of Khufu (but it only
minimally dominates the two lesser graves of Khafre and Menkaure). Here are a few statistics on Khufu's tomb,.,
• The original height of the structure was 481'. (Compare that to St. Peter's Basilica at 458' or the Statue of Liberty at 303'.)
• Erosion and the loss of the decorative facing now shows the structure to only be at 451'.
• The base of each side of the pyramid is 756' and the area covered is 13.1 acres. (Five of the largest cathedrals of Europe
could all be housed inside Khufu's tomb -- Rome's St. Peter's, Westminister Abbey and St. Paul's of London, and
the cathedrals of Milan and Florence.)
• The slope of each side is 51.5 degrees. There is no more than 8" of variation in the whole structure. The four &ces are
oriented to the cardinal points of earth.
• Somewhere in the core of the pyramid there is a natural rock of unknown dimensions.
• 2.3 million blocks averaging 2.5 tons (and a few as large as 15 tons!) make up the edifice. (In 1798 Napoleon sat in the
shadow of the pyramid while his officers scaled the structure. He calculated that he could disassemble it and
build a wall that surrounded France 12' high and 1' wide. Mathematicians have confirmed this estimate.)
Please remember that all of the pyramids were hundreds of years old before Joseph ever entered the land of Egypt.
Most Christians have the mistaken illusion that the Hebrews built them.., wrong!
Pharaonic Names
Early in Egyptian history (pre 4th Dynasty) the Pharaoh was usually only known by one (his Horus) name. Later it
developed that the ruler could be referred to by five different names. Here's a sample of those multiple titles for one
Horus Name
K-nakht tut-mesut = Strong bull, fitting from created forms.
Nebti Name
Nefer-hepu segereh-tawy sebetepnejeru nebu = Dynamic of laws, who calms the two lands,
who propitiates all die gods.
G o l d e n Horus N a m e
Throne N a m e
Bith Name
Xfetjes-kbau sebetep-netferu = Who displays the regalia, who propitiates the gods.
Nesu-bity: Nebhkbeperure = King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Lord of Manifestations is Re.
Sa-re Tutankbamun (beqa-ium-shema)
= Son of Re, Living image of Amun, Ruler of Upper
Egyptian Heliopolis.
Here are a few more general names. „
Djoser (Netjeri-kbet) - "Divine of the Body'
Kbaba - "The Soul Appears"
Sekhemkhet -- "Powerful in Body"
Snefru -"Ue of Beauty"
Khafre - "Appearing Like Re"
Menkaure - "Eternal as the Souls of Re"
Neferirkare - "Beautiful is the Soul of Re"
Menkaubor - "Eternal the Souls of Re"
Meryibre - "Beloved is the heart of Re"
Mentuhotep - "(god) Montu is Content"
Sennsret - "Man of goddess Wosret"
Amenembet - "Amun is at the Head"
Sobeknefru - "Beautiful of the god Sobek"
Auyibre - "Re Succors the Heart"
Khutawyre - "Re protects the two lands"
Seuserenre - "Powerful like Re"
Ahntose - "The Moon is born"
Amenbotep - "Amun is Pleased"
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