One cannot come to Egypt and avoid being immersed in this country’s ancient history, the history of a complex and technologically advanced culture that flourished when Troy was still a florid town on the Bosphorus and Athens and Sparta were two villages…
You think of the Pyramids, and it’s difficult to realise that already during the “New Kingdom”, 3500 years ago, the Pharaoh Thutmosis IV had to launch a program to unearth the Sphynx that was being buried by the desert’s sand, being already 1000 years old…
Walking around Karnak, Luxor and the nearby Valley of the Kings, some names are recurring more often than others, and they are the names of some of the more famous Pharaohs: Hatshepsut, the Pharaoh’s widow who reigned for some years, first as a support to the young heir Thutmosis III, and then as a self-proclaimed Pharaoh, making herself portrayed as a man in the many monuments she had erected.
And Thutmosis III, no little kid himself: he got rid of the stepmother, destroyed her monuments to little pieces, had the two sacred obelisks that she built inside the Karnak temple shrouded inside a wall, and then set himself on a long and successful military campaing that brought Egypt to its maximum extension.
And Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaton and launched what is purported to be the first monoteist religion ever known, together with his beautiful wife Nefertiti, whose bust is one of the most famous monuments of all ancient Egypt.
And then, even if he was in fact a minor Pharaoh, Tuthankhamon, who died (perhaps murdered) in young age and whose tomb in the Valley of the Kings was found still intact in 1922, with its extraordinary collection of items that makes to think at what would have been in other, more important kings’ tombs, like the one of Ramesses II!
Right, Ramesses II, a megalomaniac who realised a lot of important buildings and monuments during his extraordinarily long reign, and also usurped many that were realised by previous kings; despite his self-aggrandising realisations, he also erected important monuments to his wife Nefertari, an exceptional case.
He was probably the Ramesses of the Bible, the one who ruled at the time of the Hebrews’ hexodus from Egypt.
The ruins in Karnak and Luxor speak of a rich society, capable of great realisations, whose decadence began many centuries before the foundation of Rome: when Julius Ceasar and Marc-Antony came to Egypt and were enchanted by Cleopatra’s beauty, the Reign had long lost most of its territory and its importance.