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Friday, 29 August 2014

BOOKS: The Nile

I was kindly sent an uncorrected proof of The Nile by Toby Wilkinson, the famous Egyptologist, now a Cambridge don. 
The book is a remarkable feat of scholarship, he is as at home in Pharaonic Egypt as he is in Tahrir Square. 

I declare an interest! Please see my 'retour d'Egypte' bookplate with Pyramids in the distance. I am an Alexandrine Greek, my name carved in Greek on an ancient Egyptian peristyle with hieroglyphics at the base. 
The Falcon God, Horus, keeps guard. On the waters of the Nile sails a felucca, and in the distance, on a cluster of clouds, the Pyramids of Giza. 
The Nile is published by Bloomsbury in the UK, and to be published by Knopf in the USA. 
Wilkinson tells of Herodotus' visit to Egypt in the fifth century BC, Pliny the Elder describing the Sphinx "while Homer had written of the fabled 'Hundred-gated Thebes"

X Akhenaten - in his hymn to the sun god in the 14th Century BC "An inundation from the sky for foreigners... 

for Egypt the inundation that comes from the Underworld". 

Today: It is the city and region of Aswan that are the source of Egypt's water, and hence, the source of all its life. Is the High Dam killing Egypt? All is examined and explained. 

There is talk of Obelisks, 29 in all, in places such as the Place de la Concorde in Paris, in New York, and in London. 

Elephantine Island - its name derived as an emporium for the Ivory trade. 'The perfect place to control the movements of goods and people from Nubia and Egypt'. 

Jews had been living in the Cataract region for at least 200 years when a Persian Army conquered Egypt in 525 BC.

Since the 1990's, some four million illegal immigrants have poured, into Egypt, 'from Sudan, yet the Egyptian police who were ordered to round them up and deport them on planes to Khartoum generally turn a blind eye' 

Fascinating about Robert Mond's excavation of Ancient Armant and, of course, Lord Carnarvon and the best artist of Pharaonic ruins, David Roberts. 

Alexander the GREAT... A man convinced of his own divine origins... Egypt held a special appeal. 

Naguda sophisticated and unexpected - a sight in the west bank of the Nile in central Egypt - a civilisation of the early and middle parts of the Fourth Millenium BC. 

Nag  Hamudin manuscripts, today known as gnostics - these were buried in the 4th Century AD in the desert to escape destruction from the nascent coptic religion. They were discovered nearly 1600 years later. 

Hadrian and his beautiful Bithynian lover, who drowned in the Nile and became a cult, a God no less, with Antinopolouis named after him. 

Desert Fathers and much, much more, and legend, reality, history, romance, interwoven with hard facts... '1600 years after the last Hieroglyph was carved, the sacred words of ancient egypt are uttered, even if the religion they once described has long vanished. Coptic Priests declaim "Pnoute" - God - just as they did in the days of the Pharaohs'.

Mohammed Moses, now disgraced, was the first elected leader in Egypt in 3000 years. 

The Nile, is an enchanting book that makes light of the author's scholarship, persistence and erudition

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