Travel; Rich Egyptian Cultural Heritage Awes Tourists

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), November 17, 1999 | Go to article overview

Travel; Rich Egyptian Cultural Heritage Awes Tourists


Standing on a stretch of desert near the ancient capital of Egypt, is the world's oldest skyscraper, a manifestation of the human desire to reach out to heaven and eternity. While countless other monuments of civilization perished in the battle against time, the pyramid survived the millennia, along with the vivid memories of the world they inhabited.

For those who are overwhelmed by the gargantuan pyramids and colossal temples, the theory of ``Lost Civilization'' seems a tempting solution in making out the architectural wonder. The unorthodox theory, which has secured no small group of believers worldwide, suggests the existence of a highly developed civilization whose origin lies in another world.

Offended by the idea are, naturally, the Egyptians. ``The theory is not only misleading but also insulting to Egyptian people. Our ancestors were great people. Rather than attributing their achievements to others, we have to appreciate what they have accomplished,'' said a 43 year-old resident in Cairo.

Dr. Lahi, the director of the pyramids of Giza, also sniffed at the notion in his recent article. ``I have been excavating at the pyramids for the past 12 years and have found no evidence supporting the rumors of `lost civilization.' What we have found are real artifacts- bakeries, inscriptions, and the tombs of ancient Egyptians from royalty to workmen that reveal the story of an ancient Egyptian civilization.''

If the ``Lost Civilization'' theory proves nothing, it's popularity at least speaks to the scale of wonder and mystery the Pyramids inspire in modern day spectators.

The ancient Egyptians believed in eternal life and built the enormous dwellings to house the dead who would never die. The pyramids and its surrounding stone temples were prepared for dead kings and queens. And there, the dead were to live on, with their bodies preserved in the mummified form and their possessions stored together. An inscription in a Pyramid reads ``O king thou art not gone dead, thou art gone alive.''

Along the western bank of the Nile, there are over eighty pyramids in a stretch of fifty kilometers, lying to the north and the south of Memphis, the capital of Old Kingdom (B.C. 3000-2350). The oldest types of pyramids are shaped in the form of stepped ones, as found in Saqqara area near Cairo, but most others are smooth-faced.

The Great Pyramid (the pyramid of King Cheops) of Giza is considered best built among its kinds. It covers 53,000 square meters with six and a quarter million tons of stone, each of which weigh two and a half tones. The squareness of its north and south sides is said to have a margin of error of only 0. …

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