Stones of the Nile: The Photographic Discovery of Egypt
Howe, Kathleen Stewart, Queen's Quarterly
Late in the hot afternoon of 21 July 1798, Napoleon stood before the French army, arrayed in battle formation on the plains of the west bank of the Nile, between the great pyramids of Giza and the village of Imbaba. The army stood waiting to engage the Mameluke force drawn up before them. Gesturing toward the heavy forms on the horizon, General Bonaparte invoked the pyramids as witness to French glory. "Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you." The Army of the Nile overwhelmed the Mamelukes, Cairo fell to the French, and Egypt was conquered. Sixty-nine years later, Mark Twain visited the same spot, and noted a new army of invaders on Cheop's ancient territory. "Insect men and women were creeping about its dizzy perches ..." The Battle of the Pyramids and the tourist infestation of Cheops' "dizzy perches" in 1867 would seem to have little in common. Yet they are linked by the train of events set in motion when Napoleon decided to annex Egypt to France in 1798; these events encompass the acquisition, exploration, spoliation and consumption of Egypt during the nineteenth century.
Francis Frith, Ramesseum at Qurna, Thebes, 1858
Frith on graffiti: "On the right shoulder of the colossus is the prenomen of Rameses II. On the head may be seen the barbarous inscriptions of modern travelers--instances of a mama as reprehensible as it is childish. It is to be hoped that the best-known names will be collected and published, in order that the consequent disgrace may deter others from earning the same notoriety."
Francis Frith, Mount Serbal from the Wadi Feyran, 1858
Frith commented in detail about this image:
"The view was taken during a storm, which may partly account for its great success. …