As I traveled around ancient civilizations visiting archaeological treasures in the places where cultures began — the neighborhood of Rome’s earlier Etruscan digs, the archeological treasures of Athens, Greece, the temples and artifacts in Pergamon, and Istanbul, Turkey — the rioting in Greece was all too close by. Of course, I’m forever disappointed not to have gotten to Egypt because of the safety concerns. The common traditions among ancient cultures though, was brought home all the more by the eruption of the subjected victims of a tradition that enables dominant parties to enslave and abuse the working people.
Soon, I’ll be putting up photos I took of the art showing pampered elites taking their ease in adorned glory while around them the workers go their way as best they can. The courts of the Pharaohs were altogether the epitome of luxury that denied even humanity to those it was built on.
While I was traveling, I had The Blue Nile by Alan Moorehead along for a good read. It’s an outline of area conquests including Napoleon’s – and ending with Ethiopian conquest, with the defeat of Emperor Theodore by a British invasion that brought along elephants to carry the baggage. While hilarious, the picture journalist Moorehead gives of the caste system is totally relevant to the present public overthrow of the abusive system that keeps them from enjoying the fruits they produce. Egypt’s particularly debased rulers included the warrior caste called the Marmeluke beys, spectacular troops that consisted almost entirely of captive Nordic ethnic soldiers, chosen for glamor and brought up as a horde of moguls that lived off of the common populace.
A telling point made by Moorehead is the shocking contrast of Egypt’s voluptuous monuments from the past with the squalor of the present day. Although he was writing in the early sixties, nothing much has changed until recent revolt by the workers who’ve been subjected by modern day Mamelukes to below poverty level conditions.
Inescapable in the writing of our own recent past, too, is the assumption that until the West discovered them, the lives of our eastern civilizations were irrelevant. It’s a note that we’re only gradually seeing as arrogant and wrong. Moorehead operated under the Western illusion that our jodhpurs were superior to the arabic robes, because we had more scientifically developed weaponry that defeated them. . . . Read the rest of this entry →