There’s a big argument going on in my head on what’s more significant to today’s society, Egypt itself or the idea that Egypt has become in the minds of people all over the world. I for one can testify that it is very rare that when I think of Egypt I wander towards the modern Islāmic state that exists today and houses one of the worlds best footballers. I usually drift towards the pyramids that shine with the sunrise, the beautiful valleys and barren landscapes that held one of history’s greatest and most significant empires and I’m not the only one. Many significant people and states have taken to the Great Egyptian Empire and have tried to embed it into their own lives. Napoleon Bonaparte’s interest in Egypt sired part of his ambition for the Egyptian campaign along with the many artifacts he procured, in the United States capital stands the “egyptian” Washington Monument and a Pyramid in their currency, in the Paris night glows the futuristic Louvre Pyramid and in London stands the Egyptian obelisk Cleopatra’s Needle, it’s safe to say the idea of Ancient Egypt is a very strong thought in the vast world’s mind.
Be that is it may, it seems that while the world is still revering the likes of Ramesses and Cleopatra-the last Pharoah of Egypt, the nation itself has moved on from it’s very old past. The former polytheistic Empire is now a largely Islāmic nation, part of a greater family of Islāmic states. The once dominant pyramids, temples and Sphinxes have been miniaturised by city buildings and large mosques, the closest thing Egyptians have to a pharaoh these days is their beloved Mohammed Salah.
So like Italy to Ancient Rome or Greece to Ancient Greece, in the lives of the state that importance of this former power has taken a step back and lingers in the past, but it has not disappeared. Egypt’s beauty lies in its legend, the secrets it has given and those it’s still to tell. It shows the strength of men who gifted a civilization and great women like Cleopatra and Hatshepsut, not only the second confirmed female Pharoah but one of the most successful with her twenty year reign. The interest it stirs in youth through the young king Tutankhamun, the stories told through beautiful artifacts and architecture. The vast and enthralling nature of Egyptology backed by hundreds upon hundreds of romanticized years of civilisation, war and conquest.
It’s a beautiful place too. It’s deserts are barren and unforgiving while its valleys are breathtaking, it’s home to the great Nile delta, now not as big as the lore that surrounds it but still good enough to be one of the largest deltas in the world. The great old pulse of Egypt has seen it all; the coming together of the upper and lower kingdoms, the rise of great Pharaohs whether Egyptian, Macedonian or Nubian and the fall of some infamous ones, it has seen proud Egyptian armies march off into the sunset and great cities like Memphis and Thebes crumble under one conquerors foot or the other.
It’s not just the big pyramids and golden sarcophaguses that matter and add to Egypt’s lore. It’s the simple things as well. it’s the group of kids out on the road with a makeshift ball pretending to be the same Liverpool striker or Arsenal midfielder, it’s the old man and his mates around a table playing senet in the light of the falling sun, it’s the farmer growing food by a canal were great big egyptian boats would have set sail.
Egypt is a place I would read about in the light of a candle in my room. It’s a place whose mythology scared me to no end -nothing about those deities seemed friendly. It’s a name you hear in just about every conspiracy theory ever made. It’s also quite beautiful and clearly rich in culture and history. It has met the fancy of many minds throughout history, jogged their imagination and enlightened their sense of historical wonder. Egypt is a place of course but not just geographically, unlike modern colonizers and old conquerors Egypt never went far in terms of conquest but here we are many years later and Egypt is in just about every significant nation and interested mind. Why is that?
To answer that I’ll repeat the question, is Egypt itself or the idea made in people’s mind more important in society? The answer is easy. Today’s Egypt is very important, it’s a beautiful nation with wonderful people and a great history people can oooo and aaahhh at. The idea of Egypt in people’s mind is important too, it did not take the hubris of worldwide indoctrination to put Egypt in the minds and hearts of people all over the world. It took a long and dramatic history, a rich culture and yes some conquering here and there, Egyptian mythology, culture and sciences dance in so many minds and is planted in so many foreign places because in the thick of it Egypt was Egypt, Egypt still is Egypt so it’s not a matter of whether the place is more important than the idea but that the idea has a place to root to and that the place has an idea so vast and immersive it has and still is taking the world by storm.