May 3, 2012

Night Monsters, c. 450 B.C | Walking Through Egypt

Night Monsters, c. 450 B.C.
Herodotus
The country is infested by swarms of gnats, and the people have invented various methods of dealing with them; south of the marshes they sleep at night on raised structures, which is of great benefit to them because the gnats are prevented by the wind from flying high; in the marsh-country itself they do not have these towers, but everyone instead, provides himself with a net, which during the day he uses for fishing, and at night fixes up round his bed, and creeps in under it before he goes to sleep. For anyone to sleep wrapped in a cloak or in linen would be useless, for the gnats would bite through them; but they do not even attempt to get through the net.

Cairo in Evening
“The Field of Victory,” 1908
Elbert Farman
It was nearly sunset when I arrived at Mansurah, wearied by the heat and dust and by constantly viewing the panorama of the day. The station was on the opposite side of the river from the city. The only way of crossing was by a small boat, although as early as the thirteenth century, at the time of the Crusades, there was a fortified bridge at this place.

Mansurah, though a city of thirty thousand inhabitants, then had no hotel. It is on the right bank of the Damietta branch of the Nile and sixty miles from its mouth. It is a town of medieval origin, historically noted for being the scene of one of the important battles of St. Louis (Louis IX) of France. It was here that this real hero of the middle ages gained at great sacrifice of life, in 1250, an important victory over the Saracens. The Crusaders were soon after defeated at the same place and St. Louis taken prisoner. It is this Saracen victory that is said to have given the place the name of Mansurah, ‘the victorious’ or, as it has sometimes been rendered, ‘field of victory’.

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