By Alejandra Ocampo
Photos by PoloLine
When referring to Egypt, it is a must to travel back around 5,000 years ago to discover one of the most ancient and powerful civilizations. Egypt it is indeed, a country that’s left one of the richest cultural and historical legacies to humanity, which goes around the Pharaos, the advanced techniques of mummification and their funeral traditions, the massive pyramids and the Sphynx of Giza, the mythical Nile River, their mythology, Alexandria and its legendary Library, which is considered perhaps the most important of all the Ancient Era.
One of the most wonderful things the Ancient Egypt culture has left to humanity are the hyeroglyphs, the formal writing system, which can be admired today in the ruins of palaces and temples as well as in those papyrus or engraved stones displayed in the Museums. The hyeroglyps combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic ellements, with a total of around 1,000 characters, usually engraved in wood or stone, and later in papyrus, and was the writing system of the scribes. Jean-Francois Champollion, a French Scholar, Philogist and Orientalist is renowned as the decipherer of the hyeroglyphs and a crucial figure on Egyptology. He made his significant discovery by studying a piece of the Rosetta Sone, which contains fragments of a decree signed by Pharaoh Ptolomaeus V, engraved in granite.
PoloLine went to Egypt, exactly to Kings Polo Club, set in the outskirts of Cairo – on the shores of the Red Sea – to bring the coverage of the tournaments hosted in October, in the first ever professional complex dedicated to equestrian sports in the country. It is a splendid place, which several facilites, that aim not only to expand polo in Egypt but also to compete in the highest level. In addition, Egypt has a large equestrian tradition, which goes back to the New Kingdom, around 1.500 BC, when Pharaoh Tuthmose I built the first chariots to go to war; those were the times of one of one the most powerful monarchs of ancient world, Pharaoh Ramesses II. Since the Ancient Egyptians didn’t know horses, scribes had to invent an specific hyeroglyph to refer to horses in their writings.
The Arab Republic of Egypt is set in the northeast corner of Africa and most of its territory is comprised by the Sahara desert, tracing its heritage along the Nile River. The country’s capital is Cairo and the second most important city is Alexandria. Egypt is considered the craddle of Western Culture alongside the Mesopotamian. The earliest inhabitants migrated from the Sahara Desert to set in in two areas alongside the Nile River, in order to form two “countries” known as Upper and Lower Egypt. Later on, and under Pharaoh Menes, these two “countries” became one around 3.100 BC.
The history of Ancient Egypt is split in three Empires:
-Old Kingdom: The period known as the “age of the pyramids”, and the building of the legendary funeral pyramid complex of kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, in addition to the Sphinx of Gize, a massive limestone statue of a reclining spnhix, a mythicap creature, whose face is believed to represent Pharaoh Khafre. The last Pharaoh of this period was Turtankhamun, famous for the discovery of his rich and intact tomb in 1922.
– Middle Kingdom: A period of economic welfare
– New Kingdom: The Golden Age of Egyptian Monarcy, with Ramesses II as the most representative of them all, whose contribution to the growth of the Empire was widely significant.
After a series of various Intermediate Periods, the last dynasty fell in 340 BC, whey they were defeated by the Persians. Greeks would come later followed by the Romans in 30 AD, when Octavious beat Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius in the battle of Actium. Seven centuries later, Egypt was a part of the East Empire and the Byzantine Empire.
Modern Egypt was born in 640 AD through the Arab invasion, that introduced Islam as well as their languages, and formed part of the dominions of the powerful Sultan Saladin. After centuries of battles against several civilizations and armies, that included a brief campaign by Napoleon Bonaparte, Egypt declared its Independence in 1805, under the ruling of Sultan Mehmet Ali.
Thoroghout the XX Century, and after several conflicts, especially the British occupation, the Republic is set in 1952, under the rule of the first president, the powerful Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, who is also known as one of the strongest leaders of the Middle East.
CAIRO AND ALEXANDRIA
The city of Cairo is Egypt’s capital, and the largest city of the Arab world, with around 16 millions of inhabitants. It is set near the Nile delta and was founded in 116 DC by the Romans. The original name of Al-Quahira was given to the city by the Fatimidis, a tribe from an ancient islamic caliphate. Cairo was set capital of the country in 1952.
Despite the political fights and troubles, Cairo is a city plenty of history and culture. It was declared Human World Heritage by UNESCO in 1979, due to the richness of its museums, relics and history. The Egyptian Museum, unveiled in 1902, holds the largest collection of art of the Ancient Egypt.
Alexandria is the second largest city of the country founded in 331 BC, and owes the name to its founder, Alexander the Great, who was proclaimed Pharaoh of the then wealthy city. Alexandria’s remarkable contribution to culture was the legendary Library, one of the largest and significant libraries of the ancient world, set around the III Century BC, during the Helenistic Period (323 to 30 BC). The library acquired many papyrus scrolls and texts, but it is unknown how many scrolls were housed – the estimated number goes from 40.000 to 400.000. Many important and influential personalities of culture of the ancient world frequented the Library, that provided a vast culture in those years with the aim to putting together a large collection or rolls of papyrus, literature, art and history for posterity. It was destroyed by a ferocious burning, which, to this date, it is a mystery for historians. Although it is believed that it was set on fire by the Romans during the III Century AC, one thing is for sure – the destruction of the Library meant a dreadful lost of priceless treasures to human culture.