To me, Alexandria, has always had a special place in my heart because of its Great Library. Imagine thousands upon thousands of ancient papyri, scrolls, and books on mathematics, philosophy, medicine, architecture, etc. Just the thought of it makes my eyes shine with light. Isn’t it thrilling? And then to know that this library had been burnt down by the army of Julius Caesar in 48 BC (more like a repeat of history: Palmyra, The giant Buddhas of Afghanistan, Timbuktu, …) also makes my heart ache at the thought of all this knowledge gone down in flames. Today, we remember the Great Library of Alexandria thanks to what poets and writers of the past said about it, but there are no vestiges of it. I also remember Alexandria because of the brilliant female mathematician Hypatia who chaired a department of philosophy and astronomy, and the world-renowned mathematician Euclid.
Today, Alexandria is Egypt’s largest seaport, serving approximately 80% of Egypt’s imports and exports. It is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also an important tourist destination. Enjoy the video below about Alexandria, the beautiful!
An ancient city has been unearthed in Egypt and dates back more than 5,000 years and contains houses, tools, pottery, and huge graves. The city lies by the River Nile, close to the temple of Seti I in Abydos. It is said to have been the city of tomb builders and architects. The rest below is from the BBC:
It is believed the city was home to important officials and tomb builders and would have flourished during early-era ancient Egyptian times.
Archaeologists have made a range of finds in the newly-discovered city including buildings, shards of pottery and tools.
It is believed that this location was home to important officials and tomb builders who may have been engaged in the construction of royal graves in the nearby sacred city of Abydos – a place of many temples, and a capital in an early period of ancient Egyptian history.
The area is in the southern province of Sohag, in Upper Egypt, home also to the city of Luxor, one of the country’s most popular tourist sites.
“About a mile behind where this material is said to be we have the necropolis with royal tombs going from before history to the period where we start getting royal names, we start getting identifiable kings,” Prof Chris Eyre, an Egyptologist based at the University of Liverpool, told the BBC.
“So, this appears to be the town, the capital at the very beginning of Egyptian history.”
Ever wondered where the name Memphis came from? No, I am not talking about Memphis the capital of Blues in Tennessee (USA), but rather, about Memphis, Egypt, the reason why Memphis Tennessee got its name.
Memphis has had several names throughout its history which spans almost four millennia. Its Ancient Egyptian name was Inbu-Hedj (translated as “the white walls“). Because of its size, the city also came to be known by various other names that were actually the names of neighborhoods or districts that enjoyed considerable prominence at one time or another. For example, according to a text of the First Intermediate Period, it was known as Djed-Sut(“everlasting places“), which is the name of the pyramid of Teti.
The city was also at one point referred to as Ankh-Tawy(meaning “Life of the Two Lands“), stressing the strategic position of the city between Upper and Lower Egypt. This name appears to date from the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1640 BCE), and is frequently found in ancient Egyptian texts.
At the beginning of the New Kingdom (c. 1550 BCE), the city became known as Men-nefer(meaning “enduringand beautiful“), which became Menfein Coptic. The name “Memphis” is the Greek adaptation of this name, which was originally the name of the pyramid of Pepi I, located west of the city.
The Egyptian historian Manetho referred to Memphis as Hut-ka-Ptah(meaning “Enclosure of the ka of Ptah“). In the Bible, Memphis is called Mophor Noph.
According to legend related by Manetho, an Egyptian priest and historian from the 3rd century BC, the city of Memphis was founded by the pharaohMenes. It was the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, and remained an important city throughout ancient Mediterranean history. It occupied a strategic position at the mouth of the Nile delta, and was home to feverish activity. Its principal port, Peru-nefer, harbored a high density of workshops, factories, and warehouses that distributed food and merchandise throughout the ancient kingdom. During its golden age, Memphis thrived as a regional center for commerce, trade, and religion. Its eventual downfall is believed to be due to the loss of its economic significance in late antiquity, following the rise of coastal Alexandria. Its religious significance also diminished after the abandonment of the ancient religion following the Edict of Thessalonica.
Memphis became the capital of Ancient Egypt for over eight consecutive dynasties during the Old Kingdom. The city reached a peak of prestige under the 6th dynasty as a center for the worship of Ptah, the god of creation and artworks.
Memphis declined briefly after the 18th dynasty with the rise of Thebes and the New Kingdom, and was revived under the Persians before falling firmly into second place following the foundation of Alexandria. Under the Roman Empire, Alexandria remained the most important Egyptian city. Memphis remained the second city of Egypt until the establishment of Fustat in 641 CE. It was then largely abandoned and became a source of stone for the surrounding settlements. It was still an imposing set of ruins in the 12th century but soon became a little more than an expanse of low ruins and scattered stone.
So whenever you think of going to Memphis, Tennessee, or about the birthplace of Blues, remember Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt, the heart of great pharaohs, and the “enduring, and beautiful” place which has now become an important part of world history and stored greatness throughout centuries. No wonder one of its names was “everlasting places”; it has actually been an everlasting place!
With this week’s event in Egypt, I thought that a trip down memory lane would be more than appropriate! One of the greatest political figures of modern Arab history and third world politics is the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser was a pure political genius, and had great love and vision for his country, the Arab world, and developing countries in general. He was a strong player in the battle against imperialism in Africa, and in the Arab world. It was in Egypt that Um Nyobe and the UPC sought refuge to keep on working on Cameroon’s independence (this will be a story for another day).
He was the first to negotiate the ownership/nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptians themselves. At its construction, as in most African countries, it belonged to the British since Egypt had been a British colony. Heled the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and started a new period of modernization and socialist reforms. He was determined to wean Egypt of its dependency on Western Economies. He was one of the few leaders in the world to declare his neutrality in the Cold War, which was considered very ‘gutsy‘. He moved Egypt toward a socialist economic system and instituted huge land, education and health reforms. As president, he was determined to modernize and improve Egyptians’ standard of living.
After the humiliating Egyptian defeat during the Six-Day war against Israel, Nasser took responsibility for the debacle and resigned from the presidency (but thousands took to the street to demand that he returns to power). In his resignation speech he said: “I have taken a decision with which I need your help. I have decided to withdraw totally and for good from any official post or political role, and to return to the ranks of the masses, performing my duty in their midst, like any other citizen. This is a time for action, not grief…. My whole heart is with you, and let your hearts be with me. May God be with us—hope, light and guidance in our hearts.” You can read the entire speech on Al-Ahram Weekly. He died a couple of years later from a heart attack… many believe that the Six-day war defeat was a precursor. More than 5 million people attended his funeral. Nasser always wanted the best for his people!
I wish more presidents, like Hosni Moubarak, in Africa could have the guts to resign from power, and could love their people so much as to want them to have the best. During an assassination attempt on Nasser’s life at a rally in Alexandria during the celebration of the British withdrawal from the Suez Canal, Nasser proclaimed: “If Abdel Nasser dies… Each of you is Gamal Abdel Nasser… Gamal Abdel Nasser is of you and from you and he is willing to sacrifice his life for the nation.” Moubarak today should learn from the past… like Dr. Zahi Hawass (world-renowned director of Egyptian Antiquities) said in a recent interview to BBC: “What will stay here after many years is Egypt… People will die, but Egypt will stay!” Moubarak should thus ask: “What would I be remembered by: those past few days of protests, or the love for my country?” If his answer is the second one, then he knows that he needs to pack his bags, and uphold Egypt’s liberty!