If you were ever entranced by reading HP Lovecraft or Victorian horror stories as a kid you will know that the word “necropolis” has a fascinating but chilling power. ** This news item is for you.
A BBC reports archaeological discoveries in the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo. It is estimated that only about a third of the finds in the site have been discovered.
These are three to four thousand year sold and include a carved wooden sarcophagus (another fantastic word) and the tombs of a royal scribe and a butler.
There are sketchy pictures on the BBC site but the paintings and carving still look amazing.
It seems a little ironic. Ancient Egyptian culture was so focussed on preparing for the afterlife that bodies and artefacts can revealed as fresh to us, who live almost an eternity, in human terms, after them.* So the technology was pretty effective, it’s just the god stuff that didn’t quite pan out.
Although, ancient Egyptian gods are generally pretty engaging, with their jackal heads, and so on. And they kept plenty of artists and builders in work. It’s a pity at least some of them aren’t still around.
* In fact, from the creationist perspective they might have almost predated the creation of the universe, unless I’ve mixed up whatever 4,000 years is. (Maybe it was 4,000 BC. I am buggered if I am going to pay enough attention to the rantings to find out) That makes it an actual eternity. It makes you wonder why the Abrahamic world-religion God started out with a people who didn’t even recognise him, let alone pay constant obeisance to him. You think he’d have demanded a few first-born son sacrifices or handed out rules cut into stone or something, not just damned them as unchosen.
**And yes, I know all that Victorian exotica and horror stuff was a mixture of imperialism and childlike fascination with the Orient. Edward Said was completely right to criticise it. And the Victorian distortion applies to all history, the Victorian story-telling that turned snippets of historical information into myths, (Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Vikings, and all). The knowledge doesn’t stop it having power over the imagination, though.