Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Leave a comment

The Pyramids of Sudan

And talking about things Egyptian… did you know that Sudan has roughly twice the number of pyramids of Egypt?
And the whole things looks… incredible.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The burial place of Osiris

The temple of Isis at Philae used to stand guard at the first cataract of the Nile.
With the construction of the Aswan Dam the area was flooded, and later the temple was moved to a new location.
The original Philae is mentioned by numerous ancient writers, including Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Ptolemy, Seneca, Pliny the Elder. It was, as the plural name indicates, the appellation of two small islands, and the reputed burial place – one of the burial places – of Osiris, and only priests were allowed to live there.

And right now we can take a look at the temple and surrounding buildings in this fine animation.

The approach by water is quite the most beautiful. Seen from the level of a small boat, the island, with its palms, its colonnades, its pylons, seems to rise out of the river like a mirage. Piled rocks frame it on either side, and the purple mountains close up the distance. As the boat glides nearer between glistening boulders, those sculptured towers rise higher and even higher against the sky. They show no sign of ruin or age. All looks solid, stately, perfect. One forgets for the moment that anything is changed. If a sound of antique chanting were to be borne along the quiet air–if a procession of white-robed priests bearing aloft the veiled ark of the God, were to come sweeping round between the palms and pylons–we should not think it strange.
(Amelia Edwards – 1873-1874)


Leave a comment

Karavansara Free Library: Georg Ebers

4f33d756b86612f6bf4e199cca2a532b--literatureYou have to admit the idea had potential: popularize the subjects of Egyptology and Ancient History by writing historical romances.
And so Egyptologist Georg Moritz Ebers, a German that had pursued a legal career before he moved on to Egyptology, becoming teacher of Egyptian language in 1868 in Jena, decided to pursue a parallel career as a novelist.

The guy was a legit Egyptologist, and today is mostly known for the Ebers Papyrus, a medical text from 1550 BC, in the form of a scroll containing 700 magical spells and practical remedies.
Ebers had not actually “discovered” the papyrus – he had just purchased it from Edwin Smith, an American from Orlando, Florida, that lived in Egypt and acquired various documents from sources unknown.
This is not actually strange – a lot of Egyptian antiques were not discovered, but bought by Europeans and Americans from various purveyors of ancient goods. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Cursed by the pharaohs

md22104412845I tried.
No really, I tried.
I took the afternoon off, a nice bowl of tea, and I attacked Curse of the Pharaohs, the book about Tutankhamen’s curse I had found at a free giveaway a few months back – you’ll remember I posted about it.

Considering I am currently sketching an Egypt-related project – plus of course the Aculeo & Amunet and Contubernium stories, and the idea of re-playing Masks of Nyarlathotep… all this considered, a nice afternoon reading about Egyptian curses looked like a nice way to have fun and do research at the same time.

But what the heck… Continue reading


Leave a comment

Studying archaeology for fun and profit

I often write about the joys of doing research for what we are writing.
In general, I tend to do a lot of research “on the fly” when writing short fiction – like using Google to find out what’s the most popular brand of beer in Arkansas or the timetables of trains to and from Paris.

514215So, when I am writing short fiction – or when I get major doubts while cleaning up a first draft – my first stops are, unsurprisingly, Google and Wikipedia, with Pinterest (now that I can access it again) as the go-to place for visual references, and YouTube for action-related info.

For longer works, I still rely on books, and as far as online resources are concerned, I go for a MOOC whenever possible.
I think it was Mary Gentle (wonderful writer – her Rats and Gargoyles is highly recommended) that said that university courses are the best way to do all the research you need on a subject with the minimum of fuss. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Six Objects from the Turin Egyptian Museum

As I mentioned a while back, I was part of a MOOC hosted by the Manchester University, about Ancient Egypt as perceived through six objects in the collections of the Manchester Museum.

egypt2

As part of the course, I had to submit a short paper covering my choice of six objects, chosen to explore a certain facet of the Ancient Egyptian history or culture.

I chose six papyruses from the collections of the Turin Egyptian Museum – or Museo Egizio di Torino, in Italian – that show a different face of Ancient Egypt… and feature magic, murder, mayhem and naked women.

cropped-jewelry

Now that the course is over and my paper has been evaluated, I thought someone out there might be interested …

so here it goes

It’s a very simple, lightweight pdf document, eleven pages of loose text with some extra links for images1. You can read it online, or download it – it is distributed under a standard Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike license.

I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Comments are very welcome.
Cheers!


  1. but who knows – one of these nights I might try and expand it a little and do a DeLuxe version…