Opening of Tutankhamun’s Tomb

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The Knot To King Tutankhamun’s Tomb

1922: Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon became the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun since the young ruler was buried in 1323 BCE. Below is a four minute video about the discovery. Here’s the famous story of the tomb’s opening:

“Carter returned to the Valley of Kings, and investigated a line of huts that he had abandoned a few seasons earlier. The crew cleared the huts and rock debris beneath. On 4 November 1922, their young water boy accidentally stumbled on a stone that turned out to be the top of a flight of steps cut into the bedrock. Carter had the steps partially dug out until the top of a mud-plastered doorway was found. The doorway was stamped with indistinct cartouches (oval seals with hieroglyphic writing). Carter ordered the staircase to be refilled, and sent a telegram to Carnarvon, who arrived two-and-a-half weeks later on 23 November.

On 26 November 1922, Carter made a “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway, with Carnarvon, his daughter Lady Evelyn Herbert, and others in attendance, using a chisel that his grandmother had given him for his 17th birthday. He was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place. He did not yet know whether it was “a tomb or merely a cache”, but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. Carnarvon asked, “Can you see anything?” Carter replied with the famous words: “Yes, wonderful things!” Carter had, in fact, discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb (subsequently designated KV62).”

Temple of Karnak: An Introduction

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The temple of Karnak was known as Ipet-isu—or “most select of places”—by the ancient Egyptians. It is a city of temples built over 2,000 years and dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. This derelict place is still capable of overshadowing many wonders of the modern world and in its day must have been awe-inspiring.

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For the largely uneducated ancient Egyptian population, this could only have been the place of the gods. It is the largest religious building ever made, covering about 200 acres (1.5 km by 0.8 km), and was a place of pilgrimage for nearly 2,000 years. The area of the sacred enclosure of Amun alone is sixty-one acres and could hold ten average European cathedrals. The great temple at the heart of Karnak is so big that St Peter’s, Milan, and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within its walls.

Necrography of Paris: An Introduction

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Necrography of Paris

There are a multitude of reasons for visiting Paris: the museums, the food, the cultural significance, but one of the primary reasons I propose you visit Paris is the necrography. The cemeteries of Paris are their own set of museums of the rich, famous and infamous. From Napoleon at Les Invalides, to Victor Hugo at The Pantheon, to Edgar Degas at Montmartre, to the unknown multitudes in the catacombs, but first A few words on Edith Piaf, Moliere, Jim Morrison, and the many other at Paris’s largest cemetery Pere Lachaise which I lived a few blocks from and wandered many times.

Pere Lachaise the oldest of the current cemeteries of Paris opened in 1804 under the direction of Napoleon. Later the same week Napoleon crowned himself emperor. At the time Paris was in dire need of a new cemetery’s with skeletons protruding from churchyard grounds. The old Cimetiere des Innocents was overloaded with corpses breaking through the walls of an adjacent apartment house spilling into the basement. The scandal that resulted, as well as the odor, led to laws that forbid the burials in the city’s cemeteries and churchyards. In 1786 a quarry south of Paris had been opened for the overflow of bones.

At the start people did not flock to the new cemetery. In an effort to give the cemetery more distinction they performed reburials of two noted authors Moliere and La Fontaine. Soon Pere Lachaise was considered the most prestigious as other cemeteries were built. To this day if you can afford the heavy price it is the preferred burial plot in Paris. Its 118 acres of famous men and women from France and the world can be explored in a multitude of fashions with several different entrances, my preferred entrance can be accessed from the Rue de la Roquette which turns into Avenue Principale. All of the roads within the grand cemetery are named and posted like a small city of the dead all their own. Picking up a free map at the entrance or downloading it is highly recommended. ( https://api-site.paris.fr/images/74643)

Following Avenue Principale leads you to some renown grave sites the first of which is Colette. Sidonie Gabriella Colette (b. January 28, 1873, Saint-Sauveur; d. August 3, 1954, Paris). The author of Gigi and Claudine at School among others. It wasn’t until 1904 that she was allowed to use her own name on her stories. She was never much into conventional morality. After separating from her first husband she toured the country working as a mime, approvingly baring her breasts when the script required it. She would go on to have two further marriages. She wrote, “It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.”

Within this section are many other notable figures among them Georges Eugene Haussmann (1809-1891) a prefect who modernized and widened the streets of Paris. Interestingly he wished to do away with all cemeteries in Paris and instead have a huge (5,000 acre) cemetery 14 miles outside Paris and employ funeral trains to transport the coffins and mourners. The people of Paris resisted this idea. Eventually you will pass Camille Pissaro, Frederic Chopin and many others before arriving at one of the most visited and which a cult following of teens and early twenties make a vigil to nearly everyday.

James Douglas Morrison (b. December 8, 1943, Melbourne, Florida; d. July 3, 1971, Paris). Coming from a patriotic military family and with an IQ of 149 he dallied as a gifted philosophy student, poet, heavy drinker before finding the medium for which he would become infamous lead singer of the rock group The Doors. His fame soared between 1967 to 1970, yet he spent his final months in Paris while attempting to become a serious poet. His official death was a heart attack in his bathtub, but conjecture started immediately. There was no autopsy and he was secretly buried at Pere Lachaise. Of course Morrison had fantasized about faking his death and starting a new life under the name “Mr. Mojo Risin.” One of his more famous lyrics,

“ This is the end / Beautiful friend / This is the end / My only friend, the end. / Of our elaborate plans, the end / Of everything that stands, the end / No safety or surprise, the end / I’ll never look into your eyes…again”

Discovery Of King Tutankhamun’s Tomb

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The Knot To King Tutankhamun’s Tomb

Today in Egyptian history —> In 1915, George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, the financial backer of the search for and the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, employed English archaeologist Howard Carter to explore it. After a systematic search, Carter discovered the actual tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) on November 4th 1922.

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On November 26, 1922, Carter and fellow archaeologist Lord Carnarvon entered the interior chambers of the tomb, finding them miraculously intact.

Thus began a monumental excavation process in which Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. The most splendid architectural find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, which was made out of solid gold, was the mummy of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for more than 3,000 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum.

 

The Great Pyramid of Khufu

The Great Pyramid Of Khufu

The Great Pyramid Of King Khufu:

“It is truly vast, built from 2.3 million blocks of stone, each weighing on average more than a ton, and covering an area of thirteen acres. A simple calculation reveals that the builders would have had to set one block of stone in place every two minutes during a ten-hour day, working without a pause throughout the year for the two decades of Khufu’s reign (2345 – 2525). Once completed, 481 feet high, the Great Pyramid remained unsurpassed in scale until modern times. For forty-four centuries, until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in A.D. 1889, it was the tallest building in the world.”

~ Toby Wilkinson, from “The Rise and Fall Of Ancient Egypt”

Oracle Of Delphi

Classical history lesson —> Oracle of Delphi

Oracle of Delphi

Delphi (Greek: Δελφοί) is famous as the ancient sanctuary that grew rich as the seat of Pythia, the oracle who was consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. Moreover, the Greeks considered Delphi the navel, or center, of the world, as represented by the stone monument known as the Omphalos of Delphi.

Oracle of Delphi (artist interpretation)

Delphi is perhaps best known for its oracle, the Pythia, the sibyl or priestess at the sanctuary dedicated to Apollo. According to Aeschylus in the prologue of the Eumenides, the oracle had origins in prehistoric times and the worship of Gaea. Gaea is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaea is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess.

Delphi and the Temple Of Appolo

Apollo spoke through his oracle. She had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the peasants of the area. Alone in an enclosed inner sanctum she sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth (the “chasm”). According to legend, when Apollo slew Python (Python was the serpent, sometimes represented as a medieval-style dragon, living at the centre of the earth, believed by the ancient Greeks to be at Delphi.) its body fell into this fissure and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapours, the sibyl would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. The oracle could not be consulted during the winter months, for this was traditionally the time when Apollo would live among the Hyperboreans. Dionysus would inhabit the temple during his absence.

Ruins of the Oracle of Delphi

The site was first settled in Mycenaean times in the late Bronze Age (1500-1100 BCE) but took on its religious significance from around 800 BCE. The original name of the sanctuary was Pytho after the snake which Apollo was believed to have killed there. Votive offerings at the site from this period include small clay statues (the earliest), bronze figurines, and richly decorated bronze tripods.

Delphi was also considered the centre of the world, for in Greek mythology Zeus released two eagles, one to the east and another to the west, and Delphi was the point at which they met after encircling the world. This fact was represented by the omphalos (or navel), a dome-shaped stone which stood outside Apollo’s temple and which also marked the spot where Apollo killed the Python.

Delphi diagram

Perhaps the most famous consultant of the Delphic oracle was Croesus, the fabulously rich King of Lydia who, faced with a war against the Persians, asked the oracle’s advice. The oracle stated that if Croesus went to war then a great empire would surely fall. Reassured by this, the Lydian king took on the mighty Cyrus. However, the Lydians were routed at Sardis and it was the Lydian empire which fell, a lesson that the oracle could easily be misinterpreted by the unwise or over-confident.

The first temple in the area was built in the 7th century BCE and was itself a replacement for less substantial buildings of worship which had stood before it. The focal point of the sanctuary, the Doric temple of Apollo, was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 548 BCE. A second temple, again Doric in style, was completed in c. 510 BCE with the help of the exiled Athenian family, the Alcmeonids. Measuring some 60 by 24 metres, the facade had six columns whilst the sides had 15. This temple was destroyed by earthquake in 373 BCE and was replaced by a similarly proportioned temple in 330 BCE. This was constructed with poros stone coated in stucco. Marble sculpture was also added as decoration along with Persian shields taken at the Battle of Marathon. This is the temple which survives, albeit only partially, today.

Other notable constructions at the site were the theatre (with capacity for 5,000 spectators), temples to Athena (4th century BCE), a tholos with 13 Doric columns (c. 580 BCE), stoas, stadium (with capacity for 7,000 spectators), and around 20 treasuries, which were constructed to house the votive offerings and dedications from city-states all over Greece. Similarly, monuments were also erected to commemorate military victories and other important events. For example, the Spartan general Lysander erected a monument to celebrate his victory over Athens at Aegospotami. Other notable monuments were the great bronze Bull of Corcyra (580 BCE), the ten statues of the kings of Argos (c. 369 BCE), a gold four-horse chariot offered by Rhodes, and a huge bronze statue of the Trojan Horse offered by the Argives (c.413 BCE). Lining the sacred way, which wound from the sanctuary gate up to the temple of Apollo.

Remains of the Oracle of Delphi

The site was ‘re-discovered’ with the first modern excavations being carried out in 1880 CE by a team of French archaeologists. Notable finds were splendid metope sculptures from the treasury of the Athenians (c. 490 BCE) and the Siphnians (c. 525 BCE) depicting scenes from Greek mythology.  In addition, a bronze charioteer in the severe style (480-460 BCE), the marble Sphinx of the Naxians (c. 560 BCE), the twin marble archaic statues – the kouroi of Argos (c. 580 BCE) and the richly decorated omphalos stone (c. 330 BCE) – all survive as testimony to the cultural and artistic wealth that Delphi had once enjoyed.

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