Antoine Gigal is a French writer and researcher, and the Egyptian correspondent for the French ‘L’Egypte’ magazine.Gigal’s early years were spent in Africa and South America, where her father worked as journalist and diplomat. This has taken her all over the world exploring diverse cultures and civilizations. She studied at Sorbonne Paris III University and the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO), where she graduated in Chinese and Japanese languages and civilizations.
Speaking Arabic, Spanish, Italian and French, for the last 20 years, she was lived mainly in Egypt, and calls Paris her second home. Gigal lectures extensively on Egypt and leads several study tours of Egypt every year. Gigal has travelled to even the most remote archaeological areas and is able to gain access to monuments not open to general public. With the eye of an astute detective, Gigal has made a name for herself in France as someone who is able to bring new and first-hand information about the mysteries of ancient Egypt.
I'm wondering about that sacred Sycamore tree that was struck by lightening. How do you get a tree to grow in the middle of the desert? Well, of course, they were quite near the Nile - but you still need dirt, not sand, to grow things in. Did they haul in dirt by the wheel barrow full? Were there special attendants for the tree, who watered it daily during the hot stretches? Did they know about fertilizer (for instance, the American Indians whom the Pilgrims met when they landed at Plymouth Rock taught the English about using dead fish partially buried around the roots of corn plants to help them grow more - granted a couple thousand years later!) and mulching?
When the tree was destroyed by the lightning strike, was a sapling replanted, or did the tree resprout from the roots -- those would not have been killed by the lightning.
So many questions - and no answers.
According to Frazer's "The Golden Bough," Sycamore bough figured in the celebration of the yearly re-enactment of the funeral rites of Osiris as they were described in a "long inscription of the Ptolemic period:" On the twenty-fourth of Khoiak, after sunset, the effigy of Osiris in a coffin of mulberry wood was laid in the grave, and at the ninth hour of the night the effigy which had been made and deposited the year before was removed and placed upon boughs of sycamore. Lastly, on the thirtieth day of Khoiak they repaired to the holy sepulchre, a subterranean chamber over which appears to have grown a cplum of Persea-trees. Entering the vault by the western door, they laid the coffined effigy of the dead god reverently on a bed of snad in the chamger. So they left him to his rest, and departed from the sepulchre by the eastern door. Thus ended the ceremonies in the month of Khoiak."
No mention of what happened to the year-old effigy placed upon the "boughts of sycamore." Was it burned? Was it set on a special reed boat and set adrift on the Nile - perhaps "fired" like the Vikings did a thousand years later?
Also wondering if this quaint custom has any possible connection to the ancient Egyptian rituals:
In discussing "Relics of tree-worship in modern Europe," Frazer cited Sir Henry Piers "Description of Westmeath" writing in 1682: "Among ancient customs still retained by the Cornish, may be reckoned that of decking their doors and porches on the first of May with green boughs of sycamore and hawthorn, and of planting trees, or rather stumps of trees, before their houses."