Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Apr 13th, - Apr 19th, 2007

Egypt's Sunken Treasures

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Nile River and Delta

Satellite photo

  The Nile is one of the longest rivers in the world. It is unique for a variety of reasons. It's waters flow north, carrying a steady stream of grains to port. Prevailing winds, however, blow south, and great white sails gracefully carry boats back upstream for the return voyage. Throughout history, Egypt was a storage house of grain. In times of famine many from the Levant would turn to Egypt for food. It is such a situation that originally brings the tribes of Israel into Egypt.

  The Delta is the extreme northern part of the Nile river, formed where the river fans out before meeting the Mediterranean. From the air, it looks like a great lotus blossom.

Sail on the Nile

Sailing on the Nile

  Since the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the Nile no longer overflows its banks. Fertilizers are used instead. The ancient name for Egypt was Kemet, the 'Black Land', or 'Land of the Blacks.' The annual flooding of the Nile between June and September brought with it deposits of rich soil and left behind dark life giving earth on the red deserts. As these silts flushed out of the Nile each year, they caused the Delta canals and river ways to shift over time. In some cases whole cities have slipped beneath the waves, waiting for someone to remember their former glory.

Berlin Exhibit

Berlin Exhibit

  Canopus, Herakleion and Thonis were all once ports on the mouth of the Delta. Time had swallowed them and they lay beneath the waves.

  Recently resurrected from this excavation were portions of a remarkable naos called the Naos of the Decades, a device which marks the passage of time. It's use embodies the essential soul of Egyptian religion.

  The naos was the holiest part of the Temple. They were set up at the very rear, at the innermost part of the altar. They were niches which had doors the priests would open in rites dedicated to the deity. Inside this niche would be placed a figure of the god, generally made out of silver covered with fine gold.

  What we are seeing here is the culmination of a long period of stellar observation.

Naos

Naos
(Inner Gold?)

  The Dogon of Africa once used a staff to align sky and horizon. In Ireland, Malta and Greece standing stones were used to mark both light and shadow, etched in stone. Newgrange goes on to build an entire earthen mound over one of these alignments to help darken the passage and make the contrast of light and shadow more visible. The Egyptians refine this process further with their temples in Egypt, placing not earth but solid stone along these alignments to help block out light, darken the passages, and to wait for the moment sunlight, moonlight, or starlight cascades down the aisle to strike the naos at the back of the altar, when the door would be flung open by the priests to reveal the highly reflective silver and gold god, with celestial light illuminating their bodies in the darkened spaces.

  In this anticipated moment their God arrived, in all of his (or her) glory. Anceint people believed their gods resided in heaven and controlled affairs here on Earth. Every mythology speaks of this divine dance. To better understand the motions of heaven was to better understand the nature of God. It was this spirit which gave birth to astronomy.

  The desire to find and know God's will.

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