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Hieroglyphics

Published on 25/04/17 in Press

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La caccia nei paludi11

Hieroglyphics

 A Mysterious World

Once, on one of my trips to Egypt, I caught myself observing one of the huge columns of Karnak in Luxor with great interest. There was not an unoccupied space in the whole surface. Immediately my thoughts went to the Trajan column in Rome, so richly decorated with sculpted representations. The difference was that when it comes to the Trajan column, one may do the reading of what is the narration of a historic event, whereas as I stood in front of the Karnak column,  my eyes could not decipher a thing! The Ancient Egyptians had the sense of horror vacui and for this reason covered the entire surface of their temples and tomb walls with hieroglyphics, a mysterious language that has never to this day ceased to  mystify us, especially since deciphering it  is  extremely difficult.

Or is it?

Musiciste egiziane2If one arms oneself with patience, free time and, above all, with a great love for this ancient civilization, one might just as well begin reading hieroglyphics, and once fundamental keys to understanding them are there, an enormous knowledge is revealed through the language of this refined civilization, rich in fascinating rituals and so advanced. Because the concepts the Ancient Egyptians wrote about, remain very much a part of today – so modern and still so simple and clear for our soul, as if we were seeing them mirrored in the limpid waters of a lake. What enchants me most, is that at the end of each word, there is an image of a sitting woman or a man, as a letter-symbol that is not pronounced, but is merely there to indicate the gender of the word, or the symbol of a papyrus scroll with a little bow on the top to indicate the elevated content of an adjective.       

Deciphering the hieroglyphics is fun, just as it is constructive, not to mention the gratification that the discovery of the mysterious world of Ancient Egypt brings that, until then, had only been known through the books translated in one’s language.

Images: Hunting birds in the marshes from the tomb of Nebamun, circa 1350 B.C., 18th dynasty, British Museum

Female musicians (part of a banquet scene) from the tomb of Nakht, circa 1350 B.C., 18th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art

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