egypt then and now~ two men near one of the 'Colossi of Memnon' in Luxor
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.
avenue of the sphinxes~ Luxor
The most baffling thing about ancient history is the search for the real reasons as to why the ancients did what they did…
After being amazed, impressed and dazzled by a 7km avenue in Luxor lined perfectly with sphinxes, I had to ask myself the question: “why would they do that?” It seems far too precise to be a whim of an architect, or the egoistic wish of a king, too well planned to not have a greater purpose. I had a similar feeling walking in between the avenues of megalithic rocks in Carnac, France, where huge megalithic rocks were transported from far away places and placed in rows, tens of kilometers long at equal distances to form avenues across fields and valleys.
I am not really looking for answers as much as I am enjoying the search for them. The process of asking with all the awe and wonderment is what makes history so attractive, to mystery dream, to be lost in the search for truth…
It is always most powerful the first time. The first time we feel our hearts racing and fluttering, the first time we feel our breath shortening and escaping us, the first time we feel that a look can lift us off the ground and the first time we feel haunted day and night with thoughts of our love and with their presence inside of our skin at all moment of our waking and sleeping. It is powerful, passionate, wonderful, unreasonable and it scars us for life.
Egypt, 1996 is where I fell in love with photography. I had just gotten my first Pentax manual camera while living in New York (that is a whole other story), learned the basics very quickly, went to B&H photo when is still was downtown on 18th street and bought 35 rolls of film and slide film. Off I went to Egypt on the most memorable trip of my life. And like a first love this trip still lives in me and beckons me to go back and revisit it. We have to meet again.
a boy selling trinkets in Egypt, January 1996
girls baking and selling bread near Luxor, Egypt, 1996