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Tourism is Egypt’s second largest source of revenue, bringing in $13 billion in 2010. The Great Pyramid at Giza, after all, is one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.
To visit the Pyramids is to be struck dumb by their monumentality, their celebration of the fundamental human need to create. It’s even more affecting in the midst of a revolution, when there are no tourists at all. A week after Hosni Mubarak’s departure and a day after the biggest celebration in Tahrir Square, a handful of Egyptians scrambled up the blocks of Khufu’s Great Pyramid, but there was not a foreigner to be seen.
this post had been writtin with national geographic at ehab louis
I have visited them before, but this time they felt different. Each stone block is waist-high and worthy of awe. I noticed them, not the other people around me. They were mine for reflection and contemplation. All I could think of is how hard it must have been to make them, how much will it took when there were no cranes or earthmovers or power tools, and what that says about us as human beings—that we can no more not build or mark our place or strive for glory than we can not breathe or eat or love.
In the empty quiet I had a chance to talk to the horsemen and camel drivers who usually hustle rides to tourists
An Ancient Egyptian Royal Love Story?
Have you heard about the great love that was shared between Pharaoh Ramesses II and his QueenNefertari? We all like great love stories, right? So what is so unusual about this one?
Well, although we really do not know a lot about the intimate relationships of the Egyptian pharaohs and their wives, for an Egyptian Queen like Nefertari to be featured so prominently on her husband’s Ramesses II’s mouments and temples and for him to write love poetry for the walls of her burial chambers was very unusual and points to a real and enduring bond of affection between them.
The ancient Egyptian royal sucession was matrilineal; bound up through the female line and a new pharoah’s gaining the throne was determined through his female relations and marriage partners. This is why we see situations, which would not normally occur in our culture, where pharaohs married their sisters and their daughters.
So most royal unions were of a political and dynastic nature, with most pharaohs having several wives and a harem of lesser wives and concubines. Although it seems that Ramesses II regarded Nefertari as his great love, he still had several secondary wives, many ladies of the harem, and fathered dozens of children.
The name Nefertari means ‘beautiful companion’ and she lived circa 1295 to 1254 BC. She was married to Ramesses II when she was 13 and he was 15, and was to be the most prominent of his wives for the next twenty years, when images of her began to become scarcer. Nefertari appears to have died in Ramesses’s regnal year 25. Her place as his principal wife was taken by Isetnofret, who was the mother of Ramesses’s successor Merneptah.
Origins and Titles of Nefertari
Like so many of the queens of Egypt, we do not know with any certainty where Nefertari came from or who her parents were. Discoveries from the tomb of Nefertari, including a cartouche of the pharaoh Ay, suggest that she may have been connected to the royal family of the late 18thdynasty, the Amarna ‘heretics’. In addition, a large statue of her daughter Meritamen has been found at Ramesses II’s temple at Akhmin, which is where the family of Queen Tiye, the Great Royal Wife ofAmenophis III originated from.
However, Nefertari never claims the title ‘King’s Daughter’ which would have been likely if she had been the daughter of a pharaoh, but does use the title ‘Hereditary Princess’ which implies that Nefertari came from a noble family and during the time that she was queen of Egypt, her brother Amenmose held the position of Mayor of Thebes. Nefertari’s titles included ‘Kings Great Wife, His beloved’, ‘Wife of the Strong Bull’, and ‘Great of Favours’.
The new Egypt
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