Friday, January 6, 2012

And Still Marching to the Temple De Bod


Here is the Temple.  It's hard to take a bad photo of this beautiful spot.


If you look closely, you can just make out two figures on the right side.


The reflecting pool at the back part of the temple grounds.



You can see that the plaza and park in which the temple sits is quite elevated from the street.



In the distance, you can see the mountains.


Looking toward the back of the temple at the edge of the plaza.


Looking out over the valley.  In the far distance is the Cathedral Almundena and the Royal Palace.


Another view of the valley below the temple plaza and park.  Notice those two domes in the valley?
Don't know what they are, but my guess is - more churches - maybe twin churches...


And then, we walked all the way back to our hotel near the Prado. I have lots more photos that I took on the march, but I did not take any photographs of the sad Plaza Espana where the statues of Cervantes, Don Quixote and Pancho are located in one part; they were all blocked off by construction and the Plaza itself was, sadly, loaded with grafitti and litter.  The fountain is still beautiful and the water was on.  Even though every single bench in the small park area at the other side of the Plaza was loaded with grafitti people (including me) sat on them and appreciated the falling leaves.  The air was still warm when we started back; it felt like autumn rather than January.

Now I'm ensconced in the hotel room again, even though it's nice out right now.  I fell asleep at 9:30 p.m. Madrid time last night and awoke at 2 a.m.  I laid in bed for an hour hoping I would drift back off to sleep, to no avail.  So I finally got out of bed and read the news, etc. and tried to do some blogging, but blogger just was not cooperating last night -- I should say, early this morning.  My poor body doesn't know if it's coming or going.  Right now my computer is showing Milwaukee time as 8:42 a.m.

I desperately need sleep!



Still Marching to the Temple De Bod



Don wanted to go inside the cathedral.  I said absolutely not.  He wanted to see what was inside.  Pagan iconography, without a doubt.  Once you've seen the inside of one church, you've seen them all, unless a Black Madonna was lurking about somewhere (doubtful, we'd have heard about her, I think).  I'm sure the Judeo-Christian god who lives inside this church would have hurled a thunderbolt at me if my foot had crossed the threshhold, goddess-worshipping pagan that I am.  No Houses of Yawheh for me, thank you very much.



Down the road a piece from the Mighty Cathedral, the Royal Palace.  People were milling about and the police were all over, being rather obnoxious, actually.  Don suspected an appearance by the King, perhaps something to do with the holiday.  I was bored.



Another obligatory photo of the Palace.  The end of it in sight, thank goddess!


Directly across from the Royal Palace, a very ritzy area.  The parterres are lovely.  There are sculptures of ancient kings and rulers of Spain up and down the walks.  I did not photograph any of them.  The tall building in the distance is the back of the Opera House.  In October, 2002 Don and I sat in the hot sun and drank some tall ones with hundreds of other people at tables all over the plaza at the end of the gardens.  Today, hardly any tables outside and the ones that were out were blocked off by glass partitions - for diners at a fancy restaurant only.  Oh well.




We stopped briefly so Don could rest and drink his bottle of sparkling water.  This is a photo of the "sunken gardens" area at the edge of the Palace grounds.



Another view of the sunken gardens.  In the distance you can see the mountains.

Marching to Temple De Bod


Plaza del Sol.  Many of the shops were closed today for the Feast of the Three Kings.  By Madrid standards, we were out early (i.e., before 3:00 p.m.).  Later in the day when we walked through the plaza again headed back to our hotel, it was much more crowded.  There were lots of families out today with their children, and many couples strolling.  People in Madrid stroll, they don't march.


Plaza Mayor.  When I first saw this place in 2002, it was night and it was sparkling with lights.  There were people everywhere, sitting at tables all around the perimeter where there are restaurants and tabernas and many shops.  Here are a couple more photos of the Plaza Mayor:






This is one of the many churches that are tucked away everywhere in Madrid.  I'm no good at reading Spanish - the only part of its name I could reason out was the first word "Inglesia" - which I think means "English" - but it could mean something else entirely!  We passed this lovely obviously old church as we marched down Calle de Mayor toward the edge of the escarpment.



Looking up the street by the churchh - in the distance, the dome of another church!



Hark!  Clear skies ahead - we are getting near the end of the world!


No photos I could take can do this Cathedral justice.  It is gigantic and marches down the hill to the edge of the escarpment.  To the right begins the grounds of the Royal Palace.

Across the street to the left and out of view, the oldest section of Madrid left over from the Arab occupation - sections of the old city wall!



We ran into a fellow tourist from New York and we had a nice chat about one of my favorite cities
in the world.  I miss the United States.  I miss scrambled eggs and regular coffee that isn't thick enough to stand on its own without a cup.  I miss everything that doesn't cost a minimum of 10.60 euros.



In the distance, yet another church complex (behind the evergreens); below, a beautiful plaza that must be private, as there were no people in it at all, very unusual.

Prada and Old City Walls

For whatever reason, Mr. Don continues to call the Museo Prado the "Prada" and has asked for directions to the "Prada" from a police officer, amongst others innocent standers-by because he does not believe me when I say "it is in this direction."  Actually, he doesn't believe anything I say, that is - when he listens at all.

Take a look on this map and click on the Prado Museum - that will give you a rough idea of where we are staying in Madrid this trip - our Hostal Gonzalo is just a few blocks (unfortunately, all up-hill) from the beginning of the grounds to the Prado Museum, just across the Paseo del Prado to the left, on Calle de Cervantes.  We are very close to the Starbucks that faces the Fountain of Jupiter. 

Now, please click on "City Walls."  That is where we were earlier today - but not for long.  Mr. Don wanted to see the Palace area again, and also the Temple De Bod.  We inspected the ancient Arab city wall excavations near the edge of what I call "The Escarpment" (sort of like the area where Tarzan and Jane lived back in Africa in the 1940's) that we stumbled upon quite by chance, took photos of the magnificent Almundena Cathedral (clickable on the map), and walked past the Royal Palace (also clickable) and the gardens across from the Esplanade, where lots of Policia were buzzing around and ordering people not to cross here or there (including me), and on to the park that houses the lovely Temple of De Bod (clickable), before circling back and landing at the Plaza de Espana (also clickable) where the statute dedicated to Cervantes and Don Quixote stands -- unfortunately inaccessible due to construction/renovations (?). 

All along the way, we rested when Mr. Don wanted to rest.  We saw what Mr. Don wanted to see.  Mr. Don ate when he was hungry.  Mr. Don drank when he was thirsty.  Mr. Don sat his skinny butt down on anything that would hold it whenever he was tired.

We left the hotel about 9:30 a.m. to get breakfast -- Big Macs and fries at McDonalds near the Atocha Station because, Mr. Don decreed, the little cafe we had a perfectly adequate breakfast at yesterday wasn't good enough for him.  We stopped briefly back at our hotel before heading out about 10:30 a.m. to go see what Mr. Don wanted to see because, Mr. Don decreed, he wanted to see some things in the Guide Book I had oh so inconsiderately left back at my hotel room.  In fact, today we saw everything that Mr. Don wanted to see, and Mr. Don ate and drank what Mr. Don wanted to eat and drink.  Mr. Don rested when he wanted to rest.  Mr. Don took the videos and photographs he wanted and also ordered me to take certain photographs that he did not feel like taking because he did not want to wear out his batteries.  I also lugged Mr. Don's video cam in my purse because Mr. Don did not want to be inconvenienced with his back-pack today, and he had too much of a burden carrying his cigarettes and lighter.

We arrived back at the hotel exhausted, shortly before 5:00 p.m.  I stopped on the way back at the little corner grocer just two blocks away and picked up a bottle of wine for 2.99 euros - one of the cheapest things to buy in Madrid.  I think I need another bottle of cheap Madrid wine, actually.  Maybe three more, actually.

Mr. Don is sleeping, although right now furniture is being moved overhead and lots of pounding and shouting is taking place overhead and underneath us in the premises in which our Hostal is situated.  In fact, it has been taking place since shortly after Mr. Don retired to go take a nap from which, no doubt, he will arise bright eyed and bushy-tailed around 11:00 p.m. and expect me to accompany him on a round on nightlife in the City.  Guess again, Dude.

I have made sure to flush my toilet several times.  Mr. Don's room is separated from mine partially by a closet holding cleaning supplies for the hotel owners, but our bathrooms share a wall that has no sound-proofing in it.  I can hear him when he pees and he can, no doubt, hear when I pee, too.  I hope he hears me pee out a lot of cheap Madrid vino tonight.

Here are some of my absolutely beautiful photographs taken during "Mr. Don's Forced March Tour of Madrid" today:



A study in sun and shadow.  A building seen while marching walking down Calle de Acala earlier today.



Beautiful buildings and plazas abound in Old (central) Madrid.  We came across a small round plaza and I took several photographs of the buildings - there were at least five calles (streets, although to be fair, many of them are single-file one-way traffic "lanes" -- like alleys -- rather than streets as we know them in the states).  We left the Calle de Atocha and walked down -- not sure -- but eventually we ended up walking down Calle de Mayor. 





Right across the street from these builidings, started the grand edifice of the Bank of Spain - Credit something-or-other.  This building is distinct from the Bank of Spain (a similarly grand edifice) that is kitty-corner from the Fountain of Cybele, perhaps six blocks from where our hotel is located.  


I don't know if you can see them, but yes, those are elephants' heads acting as korbels on this great Bank of Spain building!  Doesn't the detailing on this facade just take your breath away?  It sure did mine.  I'm glad to have finally got some photographs of it on my own.


The barred doors of the main entry to this particular branch of the Bank of Spain, in all of their wrought-iron glory!  Today, being a national holiday in Spain, all banks and public buildings were closed.  I tried to get the sign in the photo just to the right of the doors.  These doors are probably - 30 feet tall???  And wider than I am tall (5' 3-3/4" -- I'm proud of that extra 3/4s of an inch).



Another view of the magnificent facade of this particular branch (above the main barred doors) of the Bank of Spain.  Just in case you didn't know it - I tried to get the photo of the name of banlk in this photo).  This "branch" is the Banco Espanol de Credito.  Oh oh, guess this particular branch hasn't done very well, has it...



If you look very very closely, you will just make out the recumbant lion above the main door to this building, which is kitty-corner from the Bank of Spain (Credit Branch) just across the way.  Har - kitty-corner, get it?



Another one of the innumerable formerly royal palaces that has been turned into a museum.  I don't remember what this one is called.  Mr. Don marched me past it on our way down the Calle de Acala (I think - after a certain point I just zoned out and went into "endure" mode).  It sure was a pretty place, I remember that.  The proportiions were lovely, even though closed in on both sides by other buildings.  I think it houses a collection of fine art now.  Sorry, I don't know it's name.



Continuing our march toward Plaza del Sol (seen in the faint distance).  There he is, the Evil One.
No, not the guy on the crutches.  Look at the guy holding the mini video cam.

Feast of the Three Kings Parade, Madrid - More Video

Taken on the evening of January 5th during the Feast of the Three Kings parade in Madrid, Spain, by Don McLean:






These are some of the sights and sounds that we strained our travel-weary, elderly bods for (standing to hold our places from about 3:40 p.m. until I just couldn't stand up anymore and we left about 8:15 p.m. - I was amazed I could even walk at that point -- perhaps a Miracle from Isis, the Virgin).

Atocha Station

Atocha is cloaked partly in scaffolding right now, unfortunately, and what I imagine would ordinarily be a lovely approach to the station from a grand plaza is all shuttered all with stupid walls and construction crapola.  Oh well. 

The inside of the station is magnificent!  We didn't get "down" to this end of the Paseo del Prado to see Atocha Station when we were last here in October, 2002, but the McDonalds we have taken to visiting during this trip is just a few crosswalks away.  We made a point of getting to it yesterday (January 5) early in the day.



There is an exhibition going on right now on the "ground floor" of the station.  It is a huge open space,
with steel (?) structure and brick, magnificently tiled roofs and large windows.  It's a beautiful space.  In the following photographs, I'll try to give you a feeling for the grandeur, grace and size of the space!



Much of the first floor under what I believe to be the "original" structure is filled with plants from a tropical rain forest.  It is warm and damp!  Mist fills the air!  You look up, up and up and way overhead is a narrow strip of sky.  There are four escalators/people movers that take you from the ground floor below to the "top" floor above which opens into a parking structure.  People are everywhere, hurrying this way and that or poking around (like Mr. Don and I were), taking photos and pointing and going "oooooh" and "aaaahhhh."  These, we know, are tourists :)



Look!  It really is a train station!  These are arrival and depature times.  Sorry for the not very clear shot, I'm not the best photographer.  Beyond those glass doors is a shopping mall, by the way, ladies.  In there (at Mr. Don's suggestion) is where I found an electronics place that was able to get me the PROPER current converter to use with my trusty little Acer notebook so it would not burn out using the hot Madrid current.  Just wait until I get back home to the downtown OfficeMax and that kid who told me the converter he sold me for about $25 was just what I needed to use with my computer.  I told him then - I really really did - that if he was wrong and it didn't work I was going to come back and punch him in the nose.  Guess what, dude.  You've got one really really angry old bitch coming after you when I get back to Milwaukee...

I paid a premium price (of course) for what I needed here in Madrid at that particular shop - 49.50 euros - you can figure out what that is in U.S. dollars given the exchange rate of about $1.30.  I could not take the chance that we would stumble upon another electronics store that would have what I needed or that I could find what I needed for any less cost.  DAMN DAMN DAMN!

I no longer have the hard plastic casing for the WRONG thing that the soon-to-be-punched-out young man sold me at OfficeMax, but I will have my credit card charge for it and I'm itching to get back to downtown Milwaukee just to teach that young man that some women DO keep their word.  I'm already seeing red, just thinking about the prospect of breaking his nose...



Do you see them - four layers of escalators/people movers?


I think my favorite part of the entire station are the birds!  They are flying about here and there, and while I could not actually SEE any nests, I figured they must be nesting in there, because I heared a LOT of birds -- mostly sparrows, but there were some pigeons flying around too.  I think the sparrows have nests either inside or behind some of the brick work, and tucked up in those metals "eaves" for sure. Watch out below...



The scene on the "ground" floor after getting off the fourth escalator/people mover!  WOW!
That's a wine bar directly below.  I would have stopped but it was before 11 a.m., even though there were some customers already...



Video by Mr. Don.  The photos above are mine. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

From the Feast of Three Kings, Madrid

Video shot earlier this evening (January 5, 2012):

Beginning of parade (if I can get this to work)


The Feast of the Three Kings in Madrid is celebrated as a Holy Day and National Holiday on January 6th, but the parade is traditionally held on the night before.  Don had read about this parade and wanted to see it, so we made a point.  Little did we know!  We ventured out toward the spot where I'd read that the parade traditionally started (actually, it ended there) and about 3:40 or so we strolled up to a barricade and were checking things out.  Already across from us lines of people four to five deep and many many children.  The evening before we had already seen preparations going in place - metal barricades were being trucked in by the score and sound checks were already being made for the stage that was set up in front of the what is either the national telecommunications ministry or the local equivalent of AT&T!  It's a gorgeous building, whatever its purpose...

Mr. Don was thirsty and hungry, in that order.  I was neither.  As the minutes ticked on and more and more people crowed in around us, we realized that we held down a prized piece of territory and Mr. Don opted for some of my bottled water.  We held our ground.  I was sure the parade must start at 5 p.m.  Already it was apparent that thousands of parents and their children had arrived hours before to hold down the first spots along the barricaded parade route.

Little did we know...

More and more people crowded around us, some with children.  I don't mind the children, but I did mind pushy parents trying to mow me over as if I didn't exist!  Mostly, though, the crowd was very well behaved, particularly the children who, one and all, put the "adults" to shame.  The entire time we were there (from 3:40 p.m. until we started to work out way backward through the stubborn crowd about 8:15 p.m., I did not hear a single child throw a temper tantrum or even exhibit much distress.  Too bad I can't say the same for some of the adults around us.

The hours ticked by.  The actual "festivities" did not even begin until 6 p.m. - with a stage show.  We did not recognize the young entertainers but I think they were the Madrid equivalent of "The Kids from Wisconsin" - you know the type, wholesome and big-voiced but not necessarily very talented...

When we finally realized that we were at the END of the parade route rather than at the beginning...

Well, we stuck it out.  And we'll no doubt pay for it tomorrow.  At some point I could no longer feel my feet.  And then my left knee went totally numb...

Poor Mr. Don was affected even more, which surprised me, because I think I'm in overall worse shape than he is; but our long flight, and he knotted up in that seat for so long -- it took its toll.  

Anyway, he shot several videos of the parade action before we decided to try to leave.  "TRY" is the operative word.  There must have been at least 300,000 people packed into the area around the Fountain of Cybele, where Calle de Acala, the Gran Via and the Paseo del Prado all meet, as well as up and down the parade route, and even more down along the Paseo del Prado.  It was a sight, but not something I ever want to go through again!  EVER!  Most of the people made no effort at all to try and move even slightly so that we could work out way toward the sidewalk.  A few gracious people did -- and many of them wished us luck in English!  I had some luck at first leading the way and saying constantly "excuse, excuse" and then Mr. Don took the lead.  We lucked out when we hit a stream of people with children who were also trying to leave and we followed along behind them, and then other people followed along behind us.  It was a "Conga line" of sorts, but very serious, for the crowd was crushing.  I can't imagine what it must have felt like for a young one in a stroller, having already been knee high in people for most of five or more hours!

At last, after at least 20 minutes of hard work and trying not to offend anyone by stepping on them or knocking them over or giving them an elbow in the gut (much as a few deserved it!), we got our feet into the beginnings of the Gran Via, and made a "run" for it - well, at least as fast as the crowd would allow.  As far as I could see up (down?) the Gran Via, people everywhere!  But there was room to walk, and even as we headed away from the crowd still lined up to watch the final float of the parade - the Three Kings - more people started joining us on the escape route!

The first side street we saw, blessedly clear of traffic - we took a hard left and headed toward the Calle de Cervantes and our hostal!

Mr. Don was hungry and wanted to eat.  I just wanted to go back to the hotel.  We first headed to the little cafe across from the hostal where we'd eaten breakfast that morning, but he had already closed down for the night.  Then we headed back to a taberna we'd passed along the way, right around the corner, but Mr. Don said they were too expensive.  I said let's go back to the hotel.  He said let's get a pizza. 

So I follow him along up Calle de Cervantes and then into - I forget - but we had visited  the street earlier in the morning (gee, it seems like a lifetime ago!) and there were at least a dozen restaurants/tabernas/"pizza" places along the way.  We stopped at the very first one that didn't look very promising to me but Mr. Don looked at the posted menu and said "they have pizzas for 10 euros" and so we went in.

And had excellent service and an excellent meal. 

As we sat and enjoyed our beer (Mr. Don) and wine (me) and then our Marghereta-style pizza, more and more people trickled in.  Soon, the place went from nearly empty to nearly half-full, and the single young and friendly waitress who spoke English fairly well was running (literally!) to serve people.  From what I could tell, though, the entire staff in the place, which consisted of a cook and a young male all-around helper, were also working their butts off. 

The pizza was delicious.  The wine was good, and Mr. Don said his draft beer (we have no idea what brand it was) was very tasty, too.  I ordered a second glass of wine. Then we ordered cafe con leche and dessert (a sort of crepe with chocolate drizzled over it, very tasty, and served warm, not hot).  Our entire meal was less than 26 euros.  We left a western-style tip (nearly 20%), and the waitress was very happy.  She and the other workers deserved a good tip, more than the usual 5% that might (or might not) typically be left.  They gave us great unobtrusive service - and were very good to us with our fumbling mostly non-existent Spanish (I resort mostly to pointing at the menu - for shame, Jan!)

Another looooooonnnnnnnggggggg day in Spain.  Tomorrow most things will be closed.  I expect Mr. Don and I will walk around and take a lot more photos and videos, and plan our day trip to Toledo.

More later, but probably not tonight.  I'm still torn between Milwaukee time (currently 6:06 p.m. and Madrid time, which is 7 hours later, so it's 13:06 a.m. - or something like that...)  Time to get some sleep!






Some Photos from First Day

Our flight was long and bumpy - lots of turbulance - but uneventful.  Iberia Airlines fed us well; the entertainment wasn't anything to write home about, a movie about a fighting robot or something - I didn't watch it, I tried to sleep (not very successfully).  Our flight touched down at 7:20 a.m. Madrid time and it was pitch black outside - no daylight savings time here.

Waiting for connecting flight to Chicago at Milwaukee airport
the morning of 1/3/12.


Breakfast at the Milwaukee Airport on 1/3/12.


O'Hare Airport decorated for the holidays 1/3/12.
 The new airport is gigantic and a monstrosity of "modern" architecture, which means lots of glass and steel everywhere and glaring white.  It's ugly and cold looking, and like everything else seemingly in Madrid this time of year, greatly over-heated.  Geez!  No energy crisis in this country - or if there is, they don't care.  Our hotel rooms are hot, restaurants are hot, the airport was hot!  Yes, it is cold and damp in the mornings, about freezing or a little below; but by 3 p.m. it's warmed up into the 50's and people are walking around in hoodies. 

Yesterday afternoon after a nap between about 12 and 3 (we're doing the same today except right now I'm doing this instead of trying to catch some sleep) it was beautiful out and the streets were packed with people.  We hiked down Paseo del Prado to Calle de Atocha and then headed up the hill to Retiro Park grounds, which spread behind the Paseo del Prado from Calle de Atocha all the way to Calle de Alcala.  There were lots of families with children (out of school for the holidays) as well as tourists from all over (we heard lots of different languages) strolling about the park grounds that features lovely views.  It smelled like autumn in the air, not winter.

Starting up hill toward Retiro Park.

Not sure what this is - Don thought it looked like a minaret but I think
it's Bourbon.  The fence capitals - check this one out - incredibly elaborate!
This was taken on our trip up the big hill toward the entrance to Retiro Park Grounds!

Sneaky Mr. Don taking photos of me behind my back... at the top of the hill.
We're just about to cross the street to continue our climb, this time
through the entrance into Retiro Park Grounds.

In Spain!

Twilight video from outside the former Stock Exchange building (near Prado Museum and the Ritz Hotel):

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Naos of the Decades

One of the star pieces of Cleopatra, the Search for the Last Queen of Egypt exhibit was the Naos of the Decades.  Here is a scan of a photograph from the exhibit program:


It's impossible to describe the impact this artifact has when seeing it in person and up close.  It was not enclosed in glass and so you were able to get your nose very close in to look at the heiroglyphic inscriptions -- but not touching. 

Information from the Franck Goddio Society Website:

The Naos of the Decades

by Jean Yoyotte Prof. at the Coll├Ęge de France Paris, June 3, 2000
The fragments covered with Egyptian figures and hieroglyphic texts which Franck Goddio has discovered in the waters of Aboukir Bay are part of a monument which is truly one of its kind: the "Naos of the Decades". They allow us to understand better, and to date into the 5th century B.C., a set of texts which are the most ancient known documents bearing witness to the origins of classical astrology, born in Egypt from a combination of assyrian astrology and the pharaonic concept of the calendar.
The pharaonic fragments collected by Franck Goddio in 1998 contribute another twist to the ups and downs of a monument of exceptional importance; they also add a decisive chapter to an avenue of research which alters the history of astrological beliefs: the "Naos of the Decades".

In the 4th century B.C., in the township of Saft on the eastern border of the Nile Delta, Pharaoh Nectanebo I dedicated a monolithic basalt chapel of the kind called naos by egyptologists. Its surfaces were engraved with images and inscriptions representing and explaining the 36 decades, which are the ten-day periods defined by the appearance and disappearance of significant stars called the decans.

Observation of the movement of these decans was used to count the night hours. Then, in the 9th century B. C., the Egyptians attributed these celestial figures with the menacing power of influencing human destiny. When the Greeks later brought to Alexandria an astrology with roots reaching far back in time to the Assyrians and Chaldaeans, the Egyptian decans were introduced as subdivisions of the twelve signs of the zodiac (which they remained even up to today’s practitioners of astrology). Already at the time of the Ptolemies, a number of Alexandrian intellectuals, philosophers and astronomers strove to penetrate the immemorial beliefs which the Egyptian priests were supposed to have gleaned from the god Thot - Hermes Trismegistos for the Greeks. These beliefs then grew further under the Roman domination, elaborating the future occultist and hermetist knowledge which pervaded all through the Middle Ages. During Roman times (between the 1st and 3rd century A.D.), the Naos of the Decades was transferred from Saft to a temple in Canopus, the sacred place of the cult of Serapis and Isis. The subsequent Christianisation of this Canopian hotbed of obstinate resistant to pagan beliefs was difficult and uphill work, ending in the dramatic, violent events which are known. The Christians violently smashed and destroyed the stone chapel which was considered an outstanding example characteristic of pagan idolatry and disturbing demonic "superstitions"… Its fragments were dispersed over a wide area when a major part of the city was submerged (current research in the bay also hopes to determine more precisely the date of this event).

In 1940, divers under the direction of Prince Omar Tousson, a pioneer of underwater research in Aboukir Bay, reported the presence of two great slabs of stone representing the rear and the floor of the tabernacle, which were subsequently put into the Greco-roman Museum in Alexandria.

In 1952, it was discovered that a pyramid block which had been kept in the Louvre ever since the French restoration after 1815, was in fact the top of the same naos; and in 1954, it could be established that this fragment had originally been discovered on land by the naturalist Sonnini de Manoncour in 1777, who had dug it out of the sands of the beach outside Aboukir village.

Now, out of the sea, Franck Goddio has brought to light several pieces which will, in fact, enable the reconstruction almost entirely of the two lateral surfaces.

The study of the available texts had allowed several scientists to undertake a theoretical reconstitution of the complex iconographic system which sorted and arranged the 36 decades, while the hieroglyphic captions permitted the interpretation of the mysterious figures representing the course of the 36 decans through the night. The notes defining the influence which each decade operated on nature, animals, human communities and individual health, were discovered to be of the same literary style and genre as found in Greek and Latin treatises of the Roman period, but were written in Egyptian hieroglyphs of the 4th century B. C. The stars were then thought to strike the order of Pharaoh’s kingdom and of the various bordering states, which are concepts manifestly absorbed during the contacts between Egypt and Assyria at the turn of the 8th to the 7th century B.C.

Museography: the additions collected by Franck Goddio allow first of all to envisage an almost integral restoration of a monument exceptional by its quality and dimensions.

Cultural History:In addition, they contribute decisive elements for historians of ancient cultures. The particular way in which the doctrine concerning the deities of the decades has been inserted into the specific geographical and religious reality of Saft as well as into the Egyptian myth of Genesis, is now accessible through a text of a kind which was so far to tally unknown, preserved on one of the numerous fragments. Furthermore, mention of the Medes on another of them determines that the entire document could not have been created before the 5th century B.C., when Egypt became part of the Persian Empire. The "Naos of the Decades" also tells us that a scholar from the Egyptian province - long before the hellenistic period and outside any reference to the zodiacal cycle - had attributed the same kind of political influence to the celestial deity which had created the decans and controlled the decades, as Assyrian astrologers had attributed to the moon and the planets, a genre unknown to Egyptian hemerologies and menologies.

It would indeed be wonderful if further diving could reveal the few pieces still missing. Nevertheless, it will certainly require much time and effort to collate all the inscriptions on the available stones - some of which are heavily corroded - and then undertake the philological research into the precise sense of certain words in the texts, as well as a renewed reflection on the Egyptian concepts concerning the decans.


For some fascinating background information about the decans, see Kidneys in Ancient Egypt, by Rosalind Park.
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