Of Pharaohs, Pyramids and being stuck in the middle: Part 1
Before the Arab spring, Egypt was one of the most well-known travel destinations in Africa. It’s a beautiful country with a rich heritage and probably one of the most well-known ancient civilizations. I am still to see the pyramids of Giza in my lifetime!
To just catch up on it, Egypt has among the longest histories of any modern country and it is one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC.Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanization, organized religion and central government. It also has some of the world’s most impressive architectural feats, the pyramid to reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide.
First things first, fun fact about the pyramids, it is well popularized that the pyramid were built by slaves, but that is apparently not true. It’s a myth spread by western historians, Hollywood and Christianity some, which cites that time the Jews were in Egypt. According to archeological findings, the Jews could not have built the pyramid, because the timeline of their presence does not coincide with the building of the pyramids. Instead the pyramids were built by paid workers, (from poor families inadvertently) , who were respected for their work who did the work out of respect for the pharaohs. They were so respected for this, that on dying during construction, they were bestowed the honor of being buried in the tombs near the sacred pyramids of their pharaohs and the archeological find of these graves is what brought all this to light.
ca. 1361-1352 B.C. — Wall Painting of Tutankhamun Accompanied by Anubis and Nephthys — Image by © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS
We could not leave the topic of ancient Egypt without talking about Hollywood whitewashing this important piece of African history. In general Hollywood makes little to no effort to tell other people’s stories, especially when it comes to Africa. I always cringe every time there is a movie about Africa and wait for them to screw it up. From the accents, to the story line, to the historical accuracy. There are so many portrayals of Nelson Mandela yo, I am always judging the hell out of all of them! Egypt has not been spared any of this nonsense. Two big budget movies in the past few years, the Gods of Egypt and Exodus: Gods and Kings went on with an all-white cast in the lead roles, and to add insult to injury, the cast people of color as guards, assassins, thieves and servants.
There is tons of evidence as to what Egyptians of ancient time looked like! They were brown and black people for sure, sometimes with African features especially before they were invaded by the Arabs. We have talked about how there is a spectrum of phenotypic features in modern day east Africa and North Africa because of the foreign influence that came to their shores over time. This may seem like a minor detail, but it is important to the wider narrative of perpetuating the myth that civilization was somehow conceived by white men, and Africa was nothing before the Europeans came along. Hollywood always gives the bs. justification that they need some big actor to be the lead for marketing purposes, but both those movies up there failed spectacularly at the box office!
Check out part 2 of this tale of Pharaohs, pyramids and being stuck in the middle!