Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Gold of Tutankhamen

Kamal El Mallakh / Arnold C. Brackman
Optimum Publishing Company Limited
1978 First English Language Edition
ISBN: 0-88890-106-2

                            "When you've seen one sarcophagus, you've seen 'em all." 
                                                                                            William E. Simon*

This menacing size volume is not something I want to have to carry too far being both large and heavy. To Mr. Kamal El Mallakh we owe the discovery of the boat pits he found at Giza next to the great pyramid that contained the two ships belonging to King Khufu. Mr. Arnold C. Brackman was a prestigious journalist who wrote a number of books on a variety of subjects.

The preface of the book is written by eminent Yale University Egyptologist William Kelly Simpson former curator of Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Art for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Professor Simpson writes of the remaining archaeological environment containing evidence denuded by centuries of robberies, as well as the expectations the modern observer places on the contents of Tutankhamen's tomb. It is within the artifacts found with the king that must tell the story as regrettably there were not the expected documents of the king’s reign within his burial.

The book opens with a background to both Lord Carnarvon and his excavator Howard Carter including the eventual contract agreed by the two men. Too Carter as a teenage artist of talent there came an opportunity to use his craft in Egypt working for the Egypt Exploration fund. Carter developed his skills in archaeology living rough in with Flinders Petrie at Tell El Amarna, while the rich aristocratic Lord Carnarvon whiled away his days in societal adventure without cause.

While driving his motor car in Germany Lord Carnarvon was confronted by two carts blocking the road resulting in an accident which left him with serious burns and broken bones though fortunately to his admirable relief and concern he had not killed anybody. To recover Lord Carnarvon left England to winter at Luxor where he was introduced to now professional archaeologist Howard Carter.

The text contains a fine telling with many knowledgeable anecdotes of interest, though disheartening as a number of familiar stories are co-mingled with other events and locations. The author is certainly in possession of important events in Egyptology but clearly lacks a background on the subject, being unfamiliar with the landscape. The reader is told that after Howard Carter's men dug out the sixteen steps leading to Tutankhamen's tomb the excavators found a sealed wooden door, when in reality it was a plastered wall.

 A respite is taken from the text for a number of pages containing a standard content of black and white photographs. With the discovery of the tomb the world descended upon Luxor creating a circus like atmosphere with Howard Carter having to take time from his work to host a who's who of the international elite and press. The latter, including the Egyptian press, being denied from reporting due to an exclusive given by Lord Carnarvon to the London Times.

'Fear spread in the Valley that a rarity of rarities-a rainstorm-might erupt and send tons of cascading water crashing through the chasm and into the open tomb. European and American newspapers, not privy to the London Times' reports, played up the angle. A New York headline read: "PANIC SPREADING/ GRAVE POSSIBILITY/ PRICELESS ANTIQUITIES/ MAY BE HOPELESSLY DESTROYED BY TOMORROW."

 It does no favor to judge this book by its incompatible irregularities alone, but also it must be viewed with the nature of the book in its minutia of detail and conveyance of mood created by the international excitement of the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb. The text presented that flavor of the times complete with superstitions and the rising nationalism of Egypt's populace. 

Arriving in the middle of the book we come to the second half concerned with the color plates and the notes of each sections plates further on. This may require the reader to use two bookmarks to view properly. The objects of Tutankhamen chosen by Mr. El Mallakh were positioned especially for the photographs in the book, except of course those of the tomb itself.

The objects chosen begin with the king’s famous gold mask pictured on three stunning full pages from different angles. Two of the kings coffins are next complete with multiple views of both that include an image of the underside of the foot of his innermost coffin. At this point I have finally come to the part I have been craving to get to, Tutankhamen's shrines.

My first look through of the book I could see all the amazing material presented on the shrines which surrounded Tutankhamen's sarcophagus, the vignettes possessing some of the great works of Egyptian art. The large wondrous image of Tutankhamen's mummy in the Netherworld on the exterior left panel of shrine II presents him as "He who hides the hours".

     'In this image, the figure seems to be immobilized by circles around both the head and the feet by the serpent Mehen, the Enveloper. In the center of the mummy, the disk containing a ram-headed bird with human arms raised in adoration symbolizes the night sun. It is being pulled from the body with a rope held by the figures of deities at left with arms raised, an action which is believed to mark the passing of the night hours.'

On the outermost shrine the rear interior panel contains the Divine Cow, an image I have never seen before, as is true of many of the vignettes beautifully presented in full page color photographs. The book moves onto a section of photo's titled "The Young King", beginning with the wooden head of Tutankhamen rising from a blue lotus. This section presents the many statuettes and images of mainly Tutankhamen but also his queen Ankhesenamen found in his tomb.

One of the most amazing discoveries among the contents of the tomb includes the discovery of a complete, or near complete funerary assemblage of a pharaoh of ancient Egypt. The enigmatic funerary couches, the kings life size ka sentinels, the Anubis shrine and the canopic emplacement all in excellent state of preservation being either completely unique or the finest of surviving examples.

Though the king was hardly old enough at death to have been a great warrior he is represented as such on many objects in the burial. The king treads on his Asiatic and Nubian foes which are represented on his footstools and the soles of his sandals, including on a ceremonial shield. Among the kings jewelry is a rarely seen necklace composed of faience and gold beads with a ball of black resin at the back and a reversible large faience udjat eye hanging from the front of the piece.

The left Eye of Re represented the bark in which the sun traveled during the day and when worn as a right eye represented the sacred vessel of Re-Harakhti that traveled through the Underworld at night. The items of the king’s jewelry are mostly created using hieroglyphs to give the pieces symbolic messages, but in the case of a pair of the pharaoh’s earrings they possess no symbolism but are spectacular in that they are made with purple gold, created by mixing iron with the gold, this in the early days of Egypt's entrance into the Iron Age.

The early mistakes in the unusual text are unfortunate, though I would be inclined to not judge those mistakes too harshly as the reader is bound to have them corrected in the next book they read on the subject. It is for me the second part of this volume which is particularly special in its photos and which separates 'The Gold of Tutankhamen' from the huge amount of books on the king and his tomb.


* United States Secretary of the Treasury

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ancient Egypt Its Culture and History

J.E. Manchip White
Dover Publications Inc.
New York
ISBN: 0-486-22548-8

     'Pyramids, arches, obelisks,' wrote Sir Thomas Brown with unwonted severity, 'were but the irregularities of vain-glory and wild enormities of ancient magnanimity.'

In the preface to this edition the author recalls the changing events that had passed since his publication of this book eighteen years earlier. In this I am reminded that many important things had happened, not least the building of the high dam at Aswan, and the ousting of Egypt's monarchy for a republic.

At first one notices that there are not too many pictures and those presented are in black and white but more interesting is the fold out 'Chronological chart of the Civilization of Ancient Egypt' in the back of the book. Mr. White opens with a rundown of early man and his relationship with the effects the Nile has had on its early inhabitants.

The isolated kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were situated as in Upper Egypt between desert cliffs on either side of the valley until the Nile fans out across Lower Egypt into the Mediterranean. The author moves quickly through his points and soon the reader is on to the role of pharaoh. He is the embodiment of Horus a descendant of the gods and responsible for his people’s ability to live in fair and just peace.

The pharaoh is the falcon who flies to heaven and is transformed into the God Osiris, Lord of the underworld, who then presides over the weighing of souls, whether through indemnity or produce the path looked good for ultimate triumph. It is the priests who carry on the pharaoh’s orders in creating harmony with the necessary production of goods to feed and clothe the population.

Within the passage of time old truths are often amended by new discoveries, so it is to be expected in a book originally published more than sixty years ago. Detriment however must go to the facts being that the Vizier Amenemhat did not found the Eleventh Dynasty, the author places pyramids in the wrong order, and is unaware as to the reasons why the builder of the Bent Pyramid changed the angle for the top of the pyramid.

     'Hatshepsut required him to build an imposing monument which would enhance her disputed claim to the throne, and Senmut hit upon a design which lent grace and distinction to the grandiose intention of the building. He sent an expedition to the land of Punt on the Red Sea to procure myrrh trees, while on his airy terraces he disposed palm trees, sacred persea trees and papyrus beds. One of his colonnades was devoted to carved pictures of the expedition to Punt, another to representations of the allegedly divine birth of the queen.'

Less than half way through and I am finding many mistakes including the location of the tomb of Thutmosis II, which to this day has never been identified. The author divides his book into chapters of occupation beginning with pharaoh and working down through priest, architect, craftsmen and commoners. In the occupation of scribe Mr. Manchip White list a number of ancient sources of proverbs including the father of Amenophis I. Likely he did not mean the Eighteenth Dynasty king, but meant Amenemhat I, founder of the Twelfth Dynasty.

The Egyptian doctor was highly regarded by the ancients as the most knowledgeable of his kind in the world. Making splints healing infections and dealing with external illness was the specialty of their knowledge along with spells, charms and chanting. The occupation of the undertaker appears to have been created through oral instructions passed down from one embalmer to the next, rather than written. It also appears that the embalmers investigations played little or no part in the doctors understanding of the human body.

The art of the metal worker reached its peak in the Middle Kingdom at the courts of the kings named Amenemhat and Sesostris. A number of princesses and at least one queen’s burial from these courts have contained delicate masterpieces of gold and inlay that would never be achieved again. Though plagued by mistakes the author does present some good information and hypotheses, even if the black and white photographs are a poor too standard lot

In the crafts such as painting and sculpture, the reader is presented with a distinguished overview that criticizes the classic Egyptian style of painting as a poor cousin to the relief artists who perfected their craft in the Old Kingdom. In this same period the makers of statuary also achieved a high stature that was only rivaled by the careworn figures of the Twelfth Dynasty kings of the Middle Kingdom and the Saite Dynasty revival of the Late Period.

     'Akhenaton-no lover of tradition-bequeathed to posterity a famous and very startling statue of himself as he really was, in all his deplorable sick ugliness. Yet beside this freakish essay in portraiture can be placed 'official' heads of the same Pharaoh which represent him as a comely and attractive man.'

With each chapter the author begins again at the Pre-Dynastic Period working his way through the long history of the ancient Egyptians. This repetition is somewhat a drawback as it creates little flow in the reading and divides the history into little packets of information that rely on the reader to put into their proper places. Mr. Manchip White believed that ancient Egyptian woman were renowned in ancient times for being the adulterates of the ancient world.  

There is much about Egypt's relation to the Sinai and Mesopotamia though little about the civilizations relation to Africa. The many errors are not good but the author did have his knowledgeable moments. Unfortunately Mr. Manchip White's 1950's attitude came repeatedly uncomfortably through in his views on women and his need to judge intelligence in a man based on how light his skin was. 

This made for an agonizing read and the desperately wanted end to the book was like a long car journey where the last ten miles till you arrive home takes forever. If you have to not read one book this year, ‘Ancient Egypt Its Culture and History’ is no place to start!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tutankhamen by Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt

Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt
New York Graphic Society
Library of Congress number: 63-15145
Third Printing

      'Then Carter decided to dig in the delta, and attempted to make Sais, at Sakha, his new site. But water from the Nile soaked the region and made it impossible to begin work before April; the temperature rose sharply, and the diggers were literally chased from the site by an invasion of cobras.'

The late eminent Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt was the first woman to have led an expedition to Egypt in the 1930's. Her work at the Louvre along with her important role in the rescue of Nubia's monuments with the coming of the high dam marked her as one of the Twentieth and Twenty First centuries greatest Egyptologist.

I love the full page diagram of the temple of Karnak and the processional route Tutankhamen would have taken during his coronation ceremonies. Madame Desroches-Noblecourt opens this volume with the development of Howard Carter and his financier Lord Carnarvon leading up to their meeting and through the early explorations made by the two men on behalf of the Egyptian Antiquity Service.

The content of the book includes many coloured, and black and white pictures on the majority of pages. Among these images are photos of a beautiful statue of Amun protecting Tutankhamen in the collection of the Louvre. The author takes the reader to the west bank across from Luxor where the descendants of ancient grave robbers built a community atop the cemetery of the nobles of the New Kingdom at Qurna.

Finding of a royal tomb in approximately 1871 by members from this little village brought about perhaps ancient Egypt's most enigmatic discovery of a collection of royal mummies at Deir el-Bahri. In the area of Deir el-Medina Mdm. Desroches-Noblecourt introduces the reader to the the artisan villagers who cut and decorated the royal burials in valleys beyond view of the ancient population of Thebes.

The village of Deir el-Medina has left to us through its outstanding amount of surviving literary material found in the villagers homes, tombs and the great pit (used as a garbage disposal), the intimate lives lived here. In the years which led to the discovery of Tutankhamen the Valley of Kings was being excavated on behalf of the Egyptian Antiquities Service by Theodore Davis who brought to light important discoveries till at last Mr. Davis relented that the valley held no more tombs.

In these years the team of Lord Carnarvon and excavator Howard Carter made minor discoveries with perhaps the most important being a school boys wooden pallet with an inscription copying a stelae of King Khamose. Many in-situ coloured and black and white images fill half and full pages making the read easy and young person friendly. It also has to be remembered when reading a fifty two year old book that there have been many discoveries in the intervening years including objects from Tutankhamen's tomb which have been restored since 1963.

The finding of the boy kings tomb in November of 1922 brought 4 rooms filled with treasures of solid gold and gold plate, provisions and a complete or near complete set of funerary equipment of a pharaoh of Egypt. The reader is taken through descriptions of the excavation and the various objects discovered within.

Tutankhamen's parentage is presented along with the rise of the Aten being embraced by his potential grandfather Amenhotep III. Here also dealt with is the question of a co-regency between Amenhotep III and his successor Amenhotep IV with a number of scenarios put forward by Mdm. Desroches-Noblecourt without prejudice. In the end however the author chooses her preferred contenders to be Tutankhaten's parents.

To clarify the period of the Aten is to view contradictory surviving information into the most plausible scenarios beginning with the city of Akhetaten and its abundantly wealthy nobility exemplified by their tombs. The art of the period bursts forth in the palaces naturalistic, relaxed beauty created by the finest artists in the new style. The records of kings and queens of the royal family constituting Amenophis III, Amenophis IV-Akhenaten, Smenkhkare and Tutankamen instead of being individuals with clear reigns they become blended as to who starts where and who finishes where within the timeline of co-regencies.

It is funny on facing pages 166 and 167 appear large black and white photographs of Amarna period art of which I have written articles concerning both pieces as fakes. Mdm. Desroches-Noblecourt's knowledge of the monuments is exceptional as is the piecing together of Tutankhamen's life through tomb inscriptions of his officials and his usurped statues and stelae. These being added to by various reliefs left behind in the temples including the Luxor temple.

Upon Tutankhamen's death the burial rituals would have begun immediately as the kings body was taken to the house of embalming, its viscera removed and the corpse made ready to spend forty days drying out in natron. The reader is led through the various provisions needed for the burial including a suitable tomb complete with sarcophagus and shrines.

With the now prepared body the author recounts the order of wrapping and placing of objects on the pharaohs withered remains. It is the "Divine Father" Ay that officiates at Tutankhamen's funeral as portrayed on the wall of the burial chamber. Articles of funerary equipment found on Tutankhamen's mummy and as part of his canopic ensemble have been retrieved or withheld from the burial of Smenkhkare, which may well have been obtained by Ay for the deceased Tutankhamen's eternal journey.

Mdm. Desroches-Noblecourt's analysis of the contents of the tomb is some of the books most intriguing and ethereal reading, as connections between objects with the places where they should be placed for the betterment of the powers each contain is put forth. As Tutankhamen is left at rest his Queen Ankhesunamen is mentioned only one more time, on a ring in partnership with Tutankamen's successor Ay.

The author closes off her book with the reign of the Pharaoh Horemheb who was responsible for the defacing of the monuments of the Aten. These defacement's include the removing of the temples to the Aten at Karnak and using the blocks as fill in his three pylons built on that site.

It is likely at this time the tomb of Ay in the Valley of Kings was also destroyed. The book ends and is followed by a useful list of the principle people involved in Tutankhamen's life. Lastly we have notes of the beautiful coloured pictures by Dr. Anwar Shoukry.

It would be hard to find another person so knowledgeable about Tutankhamen's life as Mdm. Desroches-Noblecourt, though it is unfortunate that the author's acceptance of familial characters have recently been proved wrong through DNA. In this must read volume on Tutankhamen the author has created a triumph by not putting the reader through yet another telling of the tombs discovery in November of 1922. Instead it is a book about this minor kings life tangled in the sins of his father. Tutankhamen is not for the youngest readers but suitable for teenagers with more mature readers probably getting the most out of it.

                                           'As yet unborn the bird already chirps in the egg,
                                           For thou hast given it the breath of life
                                           And set the time for it to break its shell,
                                          When it shall come forth and loudly raise up its voice.'

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Ancient Kingdoms Of The Nile and the doomed monuments of Nubia

Walter A. Fairservis Jr.
New American Library
United States of America
Third Edition

    'It has been over a year since the first major appeal was made by UNESCO for concrete help in saving the monuments of Nubia from the waters which are bound to engulf them when the new dam, Sadd-el-Aali, is built. In that time scholars, institutions, and many private organizations have responded nobly to the challenge. At this time the valley of the Nile is alive with archaeological enterprise as men face up to what is in reality an overwhelming task: several dozen major temples to save, thousands of inscriptions and graffiti to record, untold numbers of cemeteries, town mounds, and crumbled churches to excavate, acres to map archaeologically.'

Mr. Fairservis opens his book with a geological view of the worlds evolution with particular attention paid to Africa. As he journey's down the great river through forbidding landscapes in some places chocked with grasses where tribes can graze their cattle. Places where the mighty Nile thins out into marshes and of which many past explorers have become stuck and died.

Places where men like Sir Samuel Baker, an important mid nineteenth century visitor who recorded in his diary many agonizing months with his party cutting their way through the mud and weeds so that they could pull the boats forward a couple of hundred yards in a day, if lucky. Having left the marshes the river becomes navigable again as it heads north to parched desert regions that receive little water till the White Nile meets up to the greater Blue Nile.

The author moves on to the climactic changes that have affected the world and the evolution of its creatures. The carving out of the Nile valley over endless years produced a series of plateaus. In the latter of which prehistoric tools can be found with proper context these can show the development of the forms used and improved upon.

     'In 1924, the English Governor of Fung province in the Sudan had his house near the Blue Nile at Singa. He found in the river bed a fossilized human skull which is now generally accepted as representing a proto-Bushman. Not directly associated with this skull but deriving from a strata of apparently equivalent age some thirty miles away (Abu Hugar) are a body of stone tools collected by Arkell. These tools, though primitive, are not as old as the handax-pebble tool industries but seem to be related to one of the aspects of the Levalloisian flake tool tradition.'

The approach of Mr Fairservis has brought to his book at times is deeply intellectual which may not be a good thing for the young as well as those escapist readers looking for romance. Here the author presents what is to be lost of the millions of years of evolution and the early development of civilization in this region of the great North African people and the cultures they left strewn about the landscape.

For me this is a brilliantly refreshing look at what has long been lost to Lake Nasser including the mud brick four thousand year old Middle Kingdom forts which secured Egypt's interests controlling the goods of Nubia for Egypt. The exploration of these forts became of immediate interest to men like the late great Egyptologist Walter B. Emery whose excavations brought to light papyrus documents at Buhen.

     'Of great future interest are the torn-up papyri found under the stairway of the so-called Commander's house which are apparently dispatches to Buhen from Egypt. The potential of the Buhen excavations because of the well-preserved ruins is enormous if these finds of papyri are in any way indicative of what is to come. One shudders to think what will be lost if these fortress towns are not thoroughly excavated before the final floods which extinguish them.'

There are a few sections of black and white photographs displaying artifacts and paintings which high light the authors points. One of my favorites is a piece of art created by G. A. Hoskins in 1833 of the ruins of a fortress at Semna. We are recounted the glories of the Middle Kingdom made possible partly by reclamation of the fertile Fayum depression and the effective governing of Nubia inclusive of its resources by Egyptian nobles using cruel and traditional local methods.

Soon the power of the great kings of the Middle Kingdom passes into feuding local nomarchs who divide the two lands between themselves. This leaves a weakened state vulnerable to a gradual take-over by nomads from the north known as the Hyksos. These kings dominated Lower and Middle Egypt though the princes of Thebes maintain control of Upper Egypt.

It is the princes of Egypt's Seventeenth Dynasty that challenge the Hyksos King Apophis with the last two of the Theban princes dying before Ahmosis conquered the Hyksos driving them from Egypt and establishing the Eighteenth Dynasty and the period of the New Kingdom. The kings of this dynasty were warriors who kept expanding the borders to the north and south, with King Thutmosis III bringing the Egyptian empire to its greatest extent supplying the king, the priests of Amun and the nobility with enormous foreign tribute.

This pre-eminent family of rulers finally comes apart with the heretic king Akhenaton who rejects the old pantheon of gods for a solar deity called the Aton. This king leaves Thebes for a site in Middle Egypt where he neglects his duty of pacifying the Border States, and in a little over a decade slowly the empire of Thutmosis III falls away. When Akhenaton's reign ends it is the boy King Tutankhamun who restores the temples of the old gods and moves his court to Memphis.

At Tutankhamun's death the noble line of Thutmoside kings comes to an end bringing an old man quickly followed by the general Horemhab to the throne to rule Egypt and install the Nineteenth Dynasty kings. The first three pharaohs of this dynasty bring back some of the lost glory with the great Pharaoh Ramses II spending most of the dynasty sitting on the throne. Mr. Fairservis writes about the structures built by these kings and in particular the monuments of Nubia that will be swallowed by water when the Aswan dam is complete.

     'The cliff temple of Derr is the fourth of those erected by Ramses in order from Elephantine (the First Catarac). Badly ruined, the structures that lay before the cliff entrance have now largely dissapeared.'  'This temple was dedicated to the sun-god Re but there are numerous ruined reliefs depicting the usual wars of Ramses. The temple is apparently doomed, as its ruined condition precludes wholesale salvage, though portions of the reliefs will undoubtedly be removed.'

Of the fourteen temples in the path of the rising water it is the temples of Abu Simbel that are deemed as top priority in saving. Two plans are in the works for these temples which includes either a coffer dam with a one hundred foot wall to close off the bay containing the temples or to cut them into blocks and raise them block by block to higher ground.

A series of mostly short reigning and ineffective rulers brings the period of empire to an end once more dividing power between rulers for Upper Egypt and others in Lower Egypt both claiming to rule both lands. Egypt is now occupied by both native and foreign rulers, who although occupiers respected and continue to revere Egyptian traditions. The Kingdom of Kush rose from the south as an already Egyptianized peoples who's rulers made up Egypt's Twenty Fifth Dynasty.

The next several hundred years are spent repelling the Persians, and being subject to Persian dynasties until Alexander the great won control of Egypt. Alexander's general Ptolemy Soter declared himself pharaoh of Egypt and founded the Ptolemaic Dynasty. The Ptolemaic pharaohs ruled as Greeks from Alexandria but again respected Egyptian customs and were prolific restorers and builders of temples.

These temples are among the best surviving monuments of the ancient world and include the temple of Edfu, arguably the best preserved, but also temples at Dendera. Kom Ombo as well as Esna. The authors concern turns to the island of Philae where Ptolemaic rulers followed the tradition started by the Thirtieth Dynasty King Nectanebo II by adding to the structures on the island, building a temple to Isis. The death of Cleopatra brought an end to the Ptolemy's. Roman Emperors that followed added to the various temples including the Kiosk built by Trajan, known today as "The Pharaohs Bed".

Mr. Fairservis is dismayed by the flooding that before the building of the high dam took place between December and August when the island and much of its temples sank beneath the waters of the Nile. These regular events have left the monuments doomed if the funds to save the sacred buildings are not to be found.

In the seventh century of the common era, after the fall of the Roman empire Islam swept through Egypt and the Sudan converting the Christian population and destroying their churches. This situation remained until the beginning of the nineteenth century when England wrestled control of Egypt from the French.

The Sudan had always been treacherous for Europeans to control including a Mahdist uprising in the 1880's to the early 1890's which culminated in the death of the Governor-General of Sudan by the Mahdi. The author finishes his book with a recalling of the efforts to record and retrieve the archaeology when the dam was erected in 1902 and raised a number of times over the course of the twentieth century.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book though not for the young; the reader will find themselves a fascinating history that has been told of a time when modernization left Nubia's monuments to the mercy of economics, time and the great waters of the Nile. Today many of these sites are now lost and forgotten beneath the dam’s lake but the rescue of much material will for years have value to archaeologists in study. Still yet many of the great temples stand on dry ground commemorating not only the ancient pharaohs who ordered them but the mass of humanity from all over the world who came together to rescue the monuments of Nubia.