Every journey must end for a new one to begin…
This image concludes the Egypt series for the month of March and I thought in encapsulates the whole experience for me. Humans, friends, together in a quest, searching for the truth, looking at the ancient, to better cope with the now and with the future. The human story, our story, your story, my story, her story, his story , history…
The next month will be an entirely different chapter of my story, another life changing experience, in images..
till tomorrow, good night from New York, and thank you for bearing with me while I am traveling with very little time to comment on your work. Thank you also for your wonderful, thoughtful and encouraging comments on this series. I have enjoyed every post, and every comment and I have valued every reflection you gave back to me about the work.
There are some places you travel to that remain alive in a very special place in your heart…
It really was a journey like no other, this adventure in Egypt. The pyramids, the sphinx, the desert, the camels, the ancient ruins, the mind boggling architecture, the friends, the strange carvings, the sense of being so different to the ancient culture that has been, the bedouins, the Nubians, and most of all the children of Egypt.
Our life experiences come together and culminate to make us who we are. This journey for me in this year to collect the salient bits of pieces of 12 of my life journeys, one a month, and to go through the process of examining them as one would a sand painting, with different colors, different essences and experiences and to then brush them away into the archives of my memories, hopefully learning a lesson in the process.
As I come close to the end of this journey back into Egypt I have to carefully choose the last 3 images I want to share with you. Temples, artifacts, artwork, that can all be seen in books, on websites, it has all been recorded again and again, but the people of Egypt, the human element, this is what I value the most in my photos from that time.
The faces of these boys, dressed in their traditional abayas, as they stood there back in 1996, would never have looked the same again. The magic of street photography is in capturing a fleeting moment that is natural, spontaneous and cannot be replicated.
So yes, I will leave you with people’s images in the last 3 posts perhaps to balance the imposing starkness and coldness of Egypt’s architecture and art.
If the pyramids were burial chambers, how come no bodies(mummies) were found in any of them in Egypt?
This impressive 6 mastaba pyramid is found inside the great courtyard of Saqqara near the city of Memphis in Egypt. Historians tell us that it was built around 2800 BC as a tomb for the Pharaoh Djoser whose Horus name was Netjerykhet, by his vizier Imhotep. This pyramid is the oldest known worked stone large structure in the world and used to be covered by smooth limestone like the later pyramids at Giza. Upon standing at the foot of these pyramids in Egypt, the idea of a tomb was quite far away from my mind…
The Pyramid of Khufu in Giza, the greatest and largest pyramid known to us, I had the chance to walk inside it in 1996. If you find the pyramids mysterious and impressive on the outside which everyone I know does, then the inside will leave you mystified! The pyramid of Khufu is constructed with shafts like this one in the photo above that are perfectly straight and on a large scale connecting in a strange maze that no one seemed to have figured out the purpose of despite many various efforts.
The wooden steps you see in the very old photo I took back then were added to allow tourists to walk up the shaft that leads to the king’s chamber.
It was a very strange feeling being in a such a wonder of the ancient past and thinking only how futuristic it felt.
(writing this post and the next few while away in NYC, so I will have very little to reply to comments, but hopefully will catch up soon :))
The Colossi of Memnon are shrouded with mystery and lore. One of these 2 massive 18 meter statues is known since ancient history to ‘sing’ at dawn. It is supposed to emanate a sound like the string of a lyre breaking at the early morning hours. The phenomenon was first reported by the Greek historian Strabo who claims to have personally heard it around the year 20BC. These statues stand marking the entrance to Amenhotep’s temple and are said to depict his person.
The strangest thing to me about these statue and other megalithic sites I have seen in Europe (Carnac, Avebury, Stonehenge) is the fact that the stones that made them were firstly incredibly massive and secondly, they were transported across long distances in ways that we still do not comprehend. We always assumed that the ancients were inferior to us with their lack of technological know-how, but were they really? The large one-piece stones for these statues were quarried about 420 miles (675 km) away from where they stand and were moved to Thebes where they have been for at least the last 3400 years. This is a massive undertaking that amazes me and forces me think that we know so little about Egypt.
Imagine having a makeshift hut or a tent for a home, knowing that your home is where your belongings are, it is not a place, it is a moving entity…
Growing up in Lebanon I have always been fascinated by the lives of Bedouins. I watched their children play on dusty roadsides, barefoot, in and around tents, knowing that as the weather got colder, they would pack up and move again. I knew them to have a great honor system and to be extremely hospitable.
We were lucky as children to have a bedouin nanny named “Mahasen” live with us to help take care of my 2 younger brothers. Mahasen used to have very long black hair, a gorgeous figure and she danced with a jug of water on her head in the most elegant way. She spoke a language unknown to us and her arabic was colored with a unique accent that my little brother eventually picked up. Mahasen enchanted us all with her charm, entered our hearts and became part of our home, until the horrible day came when her father took her away from our family by force. I remember driving in our parents car years later in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital and seeing her with her own child on her arms begging for change from the passing cars. We froze, she froze, she ran to our car kissing my little brother and tears were flowing out of everyone. That was the last time I saw Mahasen until I was in Egypt a few years later and I saw her in every Bedouin child’s face, in their deep eyes, in their rags, in their brown skin and in the warmth I felt radiating between us.
Our memories work in a funny way that we mostly remember the things that stand out, the odd things…
Have you ever met someone who spoke to animals in the most natural way as if animals understood every word they said? I have.
This boy in this 15 year old film scan was the camel herder during a sunrise trip we took to the pyramids at Giza. It was a very early morning hour exactly at sunrise and I heard him going on and on carrying a conversation that sounded to me like he was speaking to another person. He spoke of things that in my mind a camel could not understand and would have absolutely no interest in, but nevertheless the boy went on and on. And this made me think that if I were to spend hours everyday in the desert and in the company of very few people, would I find it necessary to speak to animals in such an intimate manner? This was another one of those moments that remained etched in my mind and that kept coming back to me each time I saw a camel. Each one of us has some random memories that keep surfacing in our conscious minds and leave us wondering why.
Places of worship continue to vibrate with the intentions of the people who built them and those who used them to utter their prayers…
In the Egyptian desert, near Elephantine Island, is an abandoned coptic monastery that dates back to the 6th century. It is one of the biggest coptic monasteries in the world and it still stands despite a very long time of human abandonment. There are so many stories to be told by the stones of its old walls and by the dents from the many footsteps on its worn out floors. A place built with strong intentions, a gathering center for those who were seeking the solitude of the desert for their spiritual contemplations, a special place with tales to tell.