Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Camel skeletons

Just finished Visit to the Great Oasis of the Libyan Desert, by George Alexander Hoskins. (So high-tech--I read it on my electronic reader.)
Note to self: Camel skeletons. On the way to the oases in Egypt's Western or "Libyan" desert, Hoskins passed many camel skeletons. I already knew this was a delightful feature of the Arabian desert, too; and a feature that needs to be in my fictional desert narrative somewhere. Maybe, now I've told my friends about it, I won't forget. Inch'Allah.
I wonder whether vultures and carrion crows visit "Empty Quarter", the barren heart of the Arabian desert. Probably not. Hmmm. Insects must live in even the driest desert, though.

Also just finished Letters from Egypt, 1863-65, by Lady Lucie Duff Gordon. (Also electronic.) A pretty lively account. She spent most of her time in the Luxor area. She depicts well the amazing tolerance of Luxor people for the foibles and eccentricities of foreigners. She also depicts a picturesque culture, much of which may have been lost, although people here still tend to dress in a more traditional fashion.

At church yesterday, I met a German woman whose grandfather collaborated with a remarkable Nubian man, preserving the songs and other traditions of Nubian Egypt. As we focus on antiquities, we shouldn't forget the importance of other aspects of Egypt's wonderful heritage.

And, in yesterday's sermon, Brice, the amateur egyptologist/professional clergyman, threw out the fact that ancient Karnak temple had a population (priests and others) of 80 thousand! Well, in the New Kingdom, for many decades, it was a hub of the Amon priesthood. And the Karnak site is 200 acres! (verified today at Mark Millmore's amazing Egyptian website). The temple precincts alone cover 61 acres. Just a bit or two of trivia.

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