There’s a certain irony in that a forgotten sacred language of our African ancestors was decoded by a team of Europeans, in just the 20th Century, from examination of the Rosetta Stone, an artifact of the Ptolemy Period, which was “discovered” by a French soldier. It’s equally twisted that, for the most part, we call the geography of ancient Kemet, the Kemetic divine entities, and the great rulers of the Nile Valley by Greek names. Consider the giant lion-bodied colossal that has crouched on the Giza Plateau facing the rising sun for 10,000 years or more. Now we know that the Kemetians (ancient Egyptians) called it Ra Hormakhet. However, the colossal continues to be referred to by academia and the world at large as the Sphinx, which is the Greek name for it. But if it weren’t for alien grave robbers and thieves or the 19th Century campaigns conducted by Napoleon Bonaparte and his army that took target practice at Ra Hormakat’s face deliberately obscuring its African identity what would we know of the lands of the ancients today? If not for the European invention of Egyptology, the innately racist study that does its best to portray the ancient Egyptians as anything but black Africans, would we have intellectual access to this most sacred and significant part of our African ancestry today? Until the onslaught of the Egyptologists, the ruins of Kemet were mostly hidden by mountains of sand. Yet the wake of continual invasions, occupations, and missions to discover and to plunder by outsiders has been total cultural appropriation, a massive amount of physical theft, and more vandalism than is to be believed.
Amongst the 63 brothers and sisters on the Kemet Nu tour there was a palpable shared terror in witnessing how much of the ancient etchings had been chiseled off the monuments and the pillars and the walls of the temples and funerary spaces. Seemingly every nose and set of lips on the statues and colossi with recognizably prognathous features were specifically bashed off or gouged out with little exception. The bigger than life colossi of the monarchs of the Old Kingdom like the Djoser and Sneferu were disfigured as such. Amenemhet I, Amenemhet III and Queen Sobekneferu of the Middle Kingdom and still more sutans of the New Kingdom got the disfigurement treatment apparently to bilk their black African heritage. These sutans were the patrons and protectors of high culture, the curators of non-duplicable architecture and the sponsors that advanced the dawn of science and medicine, land cultivation and the arts. Custodians of the first moral code and mystery systems, their religious ideas, philosophy and structure of government were exported to the rest of the world. Gerald Massey called Ancient Egypt “the light of the world,” yet still these great sultans had their graves robbed and their granite likenesses strategically marred. Carefully planned afterlives were absolutely wrecked. Their mummified bodies were dug up, packaged and taken to the west where they were violated in the name of science and where most of the cadavers still remain.
Now in a state of dilapidation, Teti’s tomb from the outside is a pile of rubble. Yet it was the first Pyramid constructed in which there was sacred script etched onto the inside walls, which raised off the walls when we hiked down into its sacred chambers to see it.
Teti Seheteptawy was the first sutan of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (2345-2333 B.C.). Kemet prospered under his rein while he sent trade expeditions to Byblos and Syria. Teti arranged for the marriage of his daughter Seshseshet to a nobleman named Meruka. Meruka’s tomb sits beside Teti’s, which is situated deep in the desert sands of Sakkara just northeast of the Great Step Pyramid Funerary Complex of Djoser Neterkhet, Kemetic monarch of the 3rd Dynastic Period. It was designed by the multi-genius Imhotep.
When you first arrive at Teti’s site, the adjacent above ground tomb for the nobleman is the first structure you find.
We were excited to see the ancient single-story rectangular building that looked quite modern as well as the little bit of artistic reliefs that covered it in a few patches. That scarcity seemed odd, but what else was to be expected from a structure that was basically 4000 years old. The logic was that time punishes as wind and sand is moved across the eons, but it turned out that most of the damage was due to robbery of the pyramid’s granite and limestone protective covering.
A purchased ticket is required to enter most of the ancient historical sites. There are old, sun-weathered Arab Egyptian men in faded galabias and turbans acting as guardians posting at each site. They watch the tourists and make sure that you don’t violate the Egyptian government’s rules for entering the grounds—no touching, often no videos, sometimes no cameras! The rules tend to be switched up from year to year. No cameras with flashes! The flash destroys the ancient paints—fair enough. But cameras with no flashes? We were informed they exasperated something or other yet as to what exactly remained unexplained. So pretty much no cameras were allowed inside the sites, period, unless you ponied up a ransom—basheesh! With the exception of the Cairo Museum, from 5 to 20 Egyptian pounds (each) would let you snap as many shots of the sacred texts and embellishments as you had time to take. Your ancestors left texts that could survive an eternity in order that you could know thy self and decode your genius.
The fee was a bit of an insult, but of course, those with cameras ponied up. To the much bigger frustration, the degraded netccher, Brother Kwesi picked up on our collective gloom then promised us much more sacred art and netccher as we went south to Waset, the ancient city and place of Ipet Recyt (the great Luxor Temple). We breathed sighs of relief from the reminder that the ancients wrote on everything! Their messages were meant to be intact for the great grand children of infinite posterity. It would take another 2000 years for them to chisel it all off and then only over our dead bodies.
We took a three-hour tour of the Cairo Museum in the morning before we flew to Waset. No cameras. The Cairo Museum was a hot stuffy building with no air circulation but which housed thousands of Kemetic artifacts and colossi from every dynastic period. It was difficult to hold on to so much information mentally while the souvenir books for purchase did not have photos of the artifacts I wanted to remember—the distinctly black African ones. One of the first things Brother Kwesi pointed out was the relegation of the granite colossi of Ni Maat Ra Amenemhet (Amenemhet III), a major sutan of the Middle Kingdom from prominence at the front of the museum before 1994 to its present place, a nowhere cranny in the hole of the museum where it was completely obscured. According to his rendering, Amenemhet III was a well-muscled regal black African with dreadlocks!
His rein from 1843 to 1797 B.C. was marked by a focus on improving Kemet’s interior instead of the more typical sights on expansion. He was responsible for the first use of hydraulic engineering to bridle the Nile for the benefit of agriculture. He created canals to aid farming as well as built “the great lake” by flooding the basin of Mer-Wer then constructed retention walls around it. Amenemhet III was responsible for the Nilometer in Aswan, a marking on the Elephantine rock that lines the Nile for the purpose of taking annual water level measurements. This great sutan was a huge builder of monuments and buildings and a champion of the arts. Of his credits is the Labyrinth at Hawara, which was the largest building ever constructed. He built the first paved road and the black pyramid at Dahshur. He increased the wealth of Kemet from working the Sinai Mines and the quarries at Hammamat. A stand out ruler, he was praised by his people and deified in death. A major sutan of ancient Kemet, you would never find his colossi in the museum or learn about his accomplishments without a guide like Ashra Kwesi that led you by the hand and pointed it out.
There is no evident chronological arrangement to the Cairo Museum. When it’s not a total hodgepodge of ancient things, there are groupings based on likeness of stuff. All the sarcophaguses are in this area. Mummies go here. All blue toys are in the same area. Jewelry is in a specified place, et cetera. There are strategically placed items and collections meant to draw the eye and lend importance as well. This is unfortunate for the guest who then can’t get a grasp on the differences between kingdoms, dynasties and contributory trends. Everything feels random.
The pyramid builders are the Old Kingdom sutans. With the exception of Amenemhet III, rulers from the Middle, Golden Age and beyond did not build pyramids. Persian, Macedonian, Ptolemic, and Byzantine rulers who did not even speak or write the Kemetic language are then confused for significant sutans of ancient times that built the nation. There was some temple construction and completion by the Kemetic priests under certain Ptolemaic sutans, for instance. However, that story needs an asterisk and further explanation. The artesian builder priests often left the alien kings’ cartouches blank as a telling sign of passive protest against them.
As we rounded the museum, Brother Kwesi said often “that is in the British Museum” or “that is in the Louvre in Paris” or “that’s at the Vatican” (Remember from Part I, at least 3 of the great tekenus (obelisks) are now in the above 3 countries). We were beginning to get a sense of just how much bounty was looted from Kemet. The main attraction at the Cairo Museum is the King Tut Exhibit. First let’s discuss, King Tut’s predecessor, Akhenaten who just so happened to have a well displayed room honoring his legacy.
We’ve all seen the likeness of Nefer Kheperu Ra Wah En Ra Amenhotep. Doppelganger to president Barack Obama with his thin long face, he was the son of Queen Tiye and Amenhotep III. This sutan devoted his entire 17-year rein as monarch (1358 -1340) to changing the nation’s religion from one that praised Amun Ra to the worship of Aten represented as the sun disk. In fact, he changed his name to Akhenaten to support that purpose. He also moved the capital from Waset where Amen Ra was patron diety 400 miles north to a brand new city he called Akhenaten. He viewed himself as a ruler of non-aggression and Kemet, which was constantly under siege by foreigners, suffered as a political power on the world scene because of that. Akhenaten did nothing to support his Kemetic territories in Asia, so the size of the empire shrunk significantly. He let the temples that were dedicated to other deities decay while he plundered them for materials to build temples dedicated to Aten. He neglected government responsibilities and the country suffered under his leadership. An interesting note about Akhenaten is that all the images of him portray his long face on an oddly shaped feminine body. His successors largely viewed him as a traitor who let the country deteriorate while he led its people astray spiritually. Because of this Akhenaten is excluded from the king’s list at the Temple at Abydos. The list that is etched onto a wall in a temple chamber contains the names of 2000 years of African Kemetic sutans in chronological order beginning with the first monarch of a united Kemet, Narmer.
Neb Kheperu Ra Tutankhaten, King Tut, was married to one of Akhenaten’s daughters and ascended to the throne of Kemet at the tender age of nine-years-old. When he became ruler, the country was in a shambles due to his predecessor Akhenaten’s terrible policies as a ruler. Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamen and spent his rein trying to correct the damage caused by his father-in-law. He restored the national religion to the worship of Amun, returned the capital to Waset and repaired dilapidated temples. He refocused the army and sent it on missions to Asia. Tutankhamen died at the age of 19. He was laid to rest in the Valley of the Kings in the smallest of 63 suten tombs. An Arab guide led a European tomb raider to the tomb in the 20th Century. The shocking amount of golden splendor the tomb raider found was extracted from the country and sent on tour for all the world to see. Today it is displayed in a poorly lit room on the second floor of the Cairo Museum. My question is where is the bounty from the other 62 monarchs’ tombs? Where are the mummies and their tons of golden splendor? Aside from refurbished writing on the walls and giant granite sarcophaguses, in the three tombs we visited, there were no things to see. My guess is that most of the stolen loot is in Europe hidden under lock and key in private collections. But seriously, where is all that gold?
We left for Waset (Luxor) and just shy of midnight arrived at our new hotel situated so that the wall of the lower terrace was a bank of the Nile. There, watching the wide quiet river was the best place in the world to be. A speckling of apartments lit the far bank as did the mountainous backside of the Valley of the Kings, which was illuminated so that it became an electric rock at the bottom of the black sky, which was full of stars and a quarter moon. It quickly became the spot to gather during late nights for port, small talk and rumination over the mysteries. But then there were those of us who processed the day’s finding with meditation somewhere else out of doors beneath the African night sky. The next evening we visited Ipet Isut.
Ipet Isut, (Karnak Temple) in Waset (Luxor) for me was the most difficult site to visit as far as destruction to it was concerned.
It is not clear to me who originally built Ipet Isut but it was created to honor the triad for Waset, Amun, Mut and Khonsu and was added onto by sutans of the Middle Kingdom especially Menkhepe Ra Tehutimes (Thotmose III) and Neb Maat Ra Amenhotep (Amenhotep III) and User Maat Re Setep En Ra Ramessu Meriamen (Ramses II) of the New Kingdom. In the cosmology, Khonsu “the chronographer” the lunar god of time and fertility was the son of Mut the vulture goddess of the sky and Amun, mighty god of the hidden wind also known as Amen Ra the sun god whose animal symbol is the ram. They were the divine triad of Waset. Under Akhenaten’s rule, evidence of the old gods was destroyed so as to promote the new yet short-lived monotheistic cult of Aten. However, sutens particularly of the 18th and 19th Dynastic Periods restored the temples and praise to Amen Ra, and the Waset triad rebounded. An amusing note about Amun: Greco-Roman religion worldwide, Christianity, uses the word Amen, the Hebrew revision of the word Amun, to close out their prayers oblivious to the word’s origins. In the bas-reliefs, Amun is often portrayed with a fully erect penis.
Sadly when we, the Kemet Nu Family arrived in July 2015, the temple that had been restored and improved upon by the Golden Age sutans had been severely vandalized evidently as an ongoing assault for centuries. Brother Kwesi showed us video footage of a Muslim Egyptian chiseling out medunetccher from the walls of the temple less than ten years ago while another brother on the trip with us who had come before noted that there was more damage to an area he had taken pictures of just the previous year. It was difficult to witness. In some parts of the Ipet Isut complex so much of the reliefs had been scratched off the walls that you were pretty much just left to admire the architecture. The feelings were both anger and helplessness. What could one possibly do to stop the erasure of our history? Clearly time was much less an enemy of antiquity than were and are men. Even restoration efforts are questionable. Whoever does the restoration makes a difference as to what exactly and how truthfully and accurately these relics are restored. And after a restoration, is the output still considered authentic? Much of the damage to the sites would be impossible to repair even when financing and the will to do it is there. My gut response is to urge my sisters and brothers to go to Kemet now while there is still sacred writing left to see. Plundering and vandalism over thousands of years have taken their tolls on many of the sites, and though they are protected national monuments now, on some level the assault continues today.
The next day, we visited Ipet Recyt aka the Temple of Waset (Luxor), which had a tempering affect on my nerves. It was early morning when we arrived. The new sun was not yet at its zenith yet it shined down on our party that was completely clad in white and quite the visual as we processioned into the world’s first university.
“Make way for the African Royal Family” – Badawe, our beloved guide
We began the day with two wedding renewal vow ceremonies then we entered the Temple of Amun and thoroughly explored the grounds. The lessons left by the ancient priest scribes on these walls were endless. On one wall of particular interest to me were the first numbering system and how the ancients counted.
Yes, there had been extreme vandalism to this complex as well, but the take away here was that it would be impossible to completely destroy this sacred site because the ancients wrote endlessly.
The giant pylons in the colonnade courtyard were covered with sacred art while the girth of one was the width of 17 adults interlocking hands around its base while its height was about 3 stories. In certain spots the paints and pigments were still vibrant. There use of color, particularly blue was striking. It is unclear to me which monarch actually laid down the first stones of the temple dedicated to Amun or Amen; however, Amenhotep III, did much building onto Ipet Recyt. It was very much a project built over time in that like Ipet Isut various sutans added onto what had existed before their reins.
One thing that I found heartening was that at some of the ancient sites, the priest scribes made the bas-reliefs up to ten inches deep into the walls making their writing impossible to scratch off.
This was particularly true at the Ramesseum that was across the river from Waset.
The notable story that was repeated in every site that Ramessu built or which honored him was his defeat of the Hittites. All of the memorials we visited included the Laws of Maat and showed the immaculate conceptions of the particular sutan, as every sutan that took the throne underwent an immaculate conception in alignment with a divine entity. They also had to have the backing of Maat daughter of Ra who represented righteousness and judgment so she was prominently featured as was Ghekmet the lion goddess of war. Amun Ra, Mut, Tehuti, Hetheru, Asar (the god of the dead) and Anubis were prominently featured. Aset, Heru (Horus) and Set were typical sights. Aspects of their cosmologic stories were repeated to the point of familiarity. Ankhs were everywhere and in every other hand on the walls. Scarabs were abundant. Heru’s wings of resurrection spanned every temple entrance. The divine entities being praised by and interacting with the particular ruling monarch was the typical wall art. The monarch praised the divine entities that in turn supported their reins, their military campaigns and ensured the wellness of Kemet. Repeat.
The southern most leg of the journey was in Aswan. It was there that I actually had the chance to swim in the Nile, which was the best part of the trip for me.
There I felt the closest to the natural world that I have ever experienced and there I found a full sense of inner peace. In this part of Kemet where it reaches 115 degrees and which the locals refer to as Nubia and to themselves as Nubians, there was considerably less damage done to the sacred bas-reliefs than we had seen in the north of the country as well as in Waset. Racist European Egyptologists and philosophers have asserted that the genius of Egypt began in the north of the country due to interfacing with Euro-Asiatic influences, which then traveled up stream into Nubia. In fact, the father of modern racism, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, in 1831, was the first to suggest Egypt should not be considered as part of Africa.
“At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the World; it has no movement or development to exhibit. Historical movements in it-that is in its northern part-belong to the Asiatic or European World. Carthage displayed there an important transitionary phase of civilization; but, asisNahoenician colony, it belongs to Asia. Egypt will be considered in reference to the passage of the human mind from its Eastern to its Western phase, but it does not belong to the African Spirit. What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History.” [Hegel, The Philosophy of History, 99.]
The trouble with his theory is that Kemetic sutans acknowledged that their ancestors came from the south. They married royals from Punt (present day Somalia) and back into Nubian (Sudan and Southern Egypt) monarchies and built monuments in the south as homage.
Most of the divine netters worshipped across Kemet came from inner Africa as did the basis of their beliefs and rituals. A core belief is that humans have a spirit that must be cared for in the afterlife.
“The persistence of the human soul in death and its transformation into a living and enduring spirit is a fundamental postulate of the Egyptian Ritual and of the religious mysteries.” (Massey. Ancient Egypt the Light of the World. P. 152)
This belief system up until recent times was held by African and, subsequently, aboriginal peoples alone and was refined by ancient Nile Valley cultures (which were also black).
“The author of Africana testifies that the Central African tribes among whom he lived were unanimous in saying there is something beyond the body which they call spirit or pure spirit, and that ‘every human being at death is forsaken by the spirit.’” (Massey. Ancient Egypt the Light of the World. P. 154)
However, this is just one example of a shared African spiritual paradigm. Honoring and praising ancestors is another common African ritual that is shared across the continent and thusly in the ancient Nile Valley.
“African spiritualism which might be volumously illustrated culminated in the Egyptian mystery system.” (Massey. Ancient Egypt the Light of the World. P. 154)
Other linear connections are the language of picture writing and use of symbols that we found etched on rocks and stones in the south as well as in the great temples and funerary spaces of later periods.
Furthermore, the Kemetic monarchs were constantly at war trying to keep Euro-Asiatic tribal groups from invading Kemet.
Unfortunately, in academia, Kemetic history is only really considered from the first Dynastic Period, (3200 B.C.). Ashra Kwesi explained that just for the builders of Ra Hormakhet and then later the Great Pyramids of the Giza Plateau to have positioned them so precisely required that astrologists had to have been able to observe cosmic movements of astral bodies for at least 26,000 years. This is corroborated by an account of the historian and last Kemetic priest Manetho.
“According to Manetho, who was a master of the secrets that were known to the Hir-Seshta, the keepers of chronology in Egypt had reckoned time and kept the regtister for a period of 24.900 years.” (Massey. Ancient Egypt the Light of the World. P. 120)
A single cycle of this cosmic event would have taken a 13,000-year period and just as long to confirm an extrapolation. They would also have had to develop the science of methodical observation in the first place. The evidence of such astute astronomy is the absolute perfect alignment of these great structures with stars in the Orion belt.
“The earth’s axial precession occurs in a cycle every 26,000 years. This is the phenomenon that alters the declination of all visible stars from Earth “Thus from its highest point at the meridian transit it takes the stars of Orion’s belt about 13,000 years to descend to the low point, last registered in 10,450 BC, that is immortalized in stone on the Giza plateau. As another 13,000 years pass, the belt stars very slowly rise again until the belt is back at 58 degrees again; then during the next 13,000 years they gradually fall once more to the last point registered in 10,450 BC. This cycle is eternal: 13,000 years up, 13,000 years down, 13,000 years up, 13,000 years down, for ever.” – Robert Bauval (pg 445) source
This means that the pre-dynastic periods, which are discounted by Egyptologists, are crucial to understanding the African science and cultural foundation of all that is Kemetic. Where other than this region of the world was there civilization so advanced 26,000 years ago?
It was day 14 on our journey when we were on a boat on the vast, turquoise Nasser Lake to visit the Temple of Kalabsha when Ashra Kwesi dropped yet another bit of hard news.
He explained how the making of Nassar Dam and thus the lake that flooded the delta displaced thousands of Nubians disrupting their traditional ways of life and leaving them in dire straights. Whole communities were rounded up and moved far away from the Nile, their livelihoods and everything familiar. Suddenly they found themselves helpless and fully dependent on the State. The forced move set them in a desert environment they had no idea how to navigate let alone survive. There has been no retribution or real solutions for the displaced Nubians since the construction of the dam in 1968. Also creation of the lake submerged hundreds if not thousands of archeological sites that were then lost to us and ruined by the saline water. The entire site of the Valley of the Kings was deconstructed and moved out of the path of Lake Nasser. However, the majority of sites in the region were left to ruin and obscurity. The upside was that it created much needed electrical energy for Egypt while tributaries helped to irrigate more land, but in addition to the disruption to thousands of Nubian lives, the dam created a barrier that prevents the rich silt of the south from traveling down the Nile and reaching the farm land down stream. Today Egyptian farmers depend on chemical fertilizers and pesticides typically used by farmers in the United States.
Today, an ongoing tragedy is the construction of a dam along the Nile in Southern Sudan (pre-dynastic southern Nile Valley region, Ancient Kush, Ancient Nubia, Ancient Ethiopia, et cetera). It is presently under construction and its completion threatens to flood an area in which there are at least 200 known yet un-archived archeological sites that will be lost if the dam project goes through. From what I’ve read, the project has been interrupted because of both civil disruption within Southern Sudan as well as the need for agreements between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan that have not been reached. In other words, they are fighting over water rights to the Nile. So here again, we are left to consider what if anything there is be done to stave off more erasure of our African history. The clear response is to do something. Talk to your crew about it. Read more about what’s going on in Africa and make the connection to self and home, wherever that may be. Like this blog post and forward it to your friends and family. Save your duckets and return to Kemet, Ethiopia, and Nubia. Write, sing, draw, dance, talk, teach or simply continue to learn, but do something!
Ben-Jochannan, Dr. Yosef A. A. Black Man of the Nile and His Family. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 1989.
Hansberry, William Leo. African History Notebook Volume 2: African & Africans as Seen by Classical Writers. Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1981.
Kwesi, Ashra& Merira. Afrikan Builders of Civilization A Pictoral History of Famous Personalities from Ancient Egypt. Kemet Nu Productions, 1995.
Massey, Gerald. Ancient Egypt the Light of the World. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 1992.