Nearly a decade ago, archaeologists at Wadi al-Jarf on Egypt’s Red Sea Coast found a cache of papyrus fragments dating from the reign of the 4th Dynasty King Khufu (Cheops), he of the Great Pyramid at Giza, dating from 2633-2605 BCE. These fragments appear to be the “oldest written documents” ever found (document meaning material approximating paper as opposed to some other material); more interesting perhaps is that they are from logbooks—tasks, travel, supplies, rations—of an official called Inspector Merer, who ran a work gang who also transported stone blocks destined for the Great Pyramid.
One would think that comparing civilizations as far removed in time and space as Ancient Egypt and Ancient China might not reveal much. Yet Professor Tony Barbieri’s Ancient Egypt and Early China: State, Society, and Culture gleans much from a deeply-researched comparison of political structures, diplomatic relations, legal systems, ideas of the afterlife, and other aspects.
Anthony Barbieri-Low starts his book comparing ancient Egypt and early China by saying it was a somewhat off-the-wall thing to do.
Tarab comes from an Arabic word to beat a rhythm. But it has come to denote the ability of the musician to unite his or her audience in a common experience of ecstasy. Some of the most moving moments in this show dedicated to the Divas of Egypt are not the films or stills of Um Kalthum or Warda, but the faces of the audience captured during their performances.
Many years ago a Parisian dance act from Pigalle received an invitation to play at a nightclub on Cairo’s Pyramid Road. Like “costumes” at the Crazy Horse today, the dancers’ body stockings left nothing to the imagination. The audience of worldly Cairiotes, the tarbouche-wearing musicians with their lutes and durabukas, the indefatigable army of busboys, gazed on this spectacle of female nubility with a mix of indifference and condescension.
This is a modern-spelling edition of John Greaves’s Pyramidographia (1646), together with some miscellaneous travel-writings, letters and a biography of Greaves by Thomas Birch. It includes a full scholarly introduction and detailed notes. This book is the first of its kind in English, and undertakes a scientific evaluation of the pyramids through metrics, using state-of-the-art instruments and drawing on both ancient and modern authorities, amongst which is included Arab and Persian writers as well as Western sources.