May 12, 2012

Resurrection Men, 1825 | Luxor - Walking Through Egypt

Resurrection Men, 1825 
Anne Katherine Elwood

Egyptian Resurrection Men
It is said, the Egyptians had a tradition that they were to rise again at the end of three thousand years, but it may be assumed they anticipated a more glorious resurrection from the grave than being thus ignominiously tom from their tombs, and exposed and examined in a manner so revolting to humanity, to satisfy the curiosity of the traveller. For my part I see little difference between the resurrection-men in London, who steal the bodies of the dead for the purposes of science, and the mummy-seek- ers in Egypt, who exhume for curiosity. Why are not the corporeal frames of ancient Egyptians to be considered as sacred as those of Europeans? And why should not those who disinter the Egyptians expect to be haunted by the ghosts of Amenophis or Rameses of Thebes, as soon as those of Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson of London?

Most of these mummies were wrapped in cloth of a saffron hue, and a quantity of it, their former habiliments, was scattered about, but we were so pressed for time that we could spare but little for the investigation of objects so curious and so interesting: and, oh! how did we wish for some of those hours of frivolity and ennui, which, from the conventional forms of society, are necessarily often spent in civilised company, to devote to the wonders that surround us; but we saw so much in so short a period, that neither my physical nor my mental powers were competent to appreciate properly all I beheld. In comparison with what we had just viewed, Pompeii appeared modem, and bread out of the Tomb of King Sesostris made that in Italian ovens no curiosity.

Lodging in the Valley, 1829
Jean Francois Champollion
Our caravan, composed of donkeys and savants, therefore set itself up here on the same day, and we are occupying the best and most magnificent lodging that it is possible to find in Egypt. It is King Rameses (the fourth of the 19th dynasty) who gives us hospitality, for we are all living in his magnificent tomb, the second that one meets on the right when entering the Valley of Biban-el-Malouk. This rock- cut tomb, admirably preserved, receives enough air and enough light that we lodge there marvellously. We occupy the first three rooms, which form a length of sixty-five paces; the walls, from fifteen to twenty feet in height, and the ceilings are all covered in painted sculptures, whose colours preserve almost all their brilliance. It is a true habitation of a prince. . . . Such is our establishment in the Valley of the Kings, a true resting place of the dead, because you find here neither a blade of grass, nor living beings, with the exception of the jackals and hyenas, who the night before last devoured at a hundred paces from our palace the donkey which had carried my servant Mohammed.

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