National Geographic: Egypt - Quest for Eternity


One hundred and fifty years ago

the king of France had

this obelisk brought

from Egypt to grace

the heart of Paris

Three thousand years earlier

it had been dedicated to the

great pharaoh Ramses II

with these words

"so long as heaven exists

your monuments shall exist

and your name shall endure

like the heaven."

Through the 30 centuries

that the pharaohs ruled Egypt

the people of the Nile created

the most glorious monuments

the world has even seen

among them

the largest place of worship

in the ancient world

These miracles in stone were

tributes to their gods and kings

They believed that man, like the sun

could die and be reborn

They constructed elaborate tombs

to protect the body

and house the soul

throughout eternity

They created guides to

the underworld

Books of the Dead

to insure immortality

And on their monuments

they left the testimony

of their faith

These inscriptions are keys with

which we unlock the secrets

of ancient Egypt

Ladies and gentlemen

now we are at the temple of

the queen Hatshepsut...

And, as they have since

the days of Herodotus

Antony and cleopatra

thousands journey here

to see these wonders

going down to the Green Valley

for the holy visit of Amun-Re

to the goddess Hathor once

a year for 15 days...

But today, having endured

for 50 centuries

these seemingly imperishable

structures are threatened

Their fate may be determined

in our lifetime

so, people of science, soul

and conscience

travel here from all over the globe

to save

the priceless monuments

to decipher the meaning

of the messages

before they disappear forever

This is the story of

the land of Egypt

and the quest for eternity

The Nile

Flowing through the endless miles

of Egypt's desert sands

its precious waters gave birth

and breath

to one of the

greatest civilizations

that has ever taken hold on our planet

"Hail to you, Oh Nile!"

Went an ancient hymn

"sprung from earth

come to nourish Egypt

Food provider, bounty maker

who creates all that is good."

The river's annual flooding left

rich deposits of silt

utilizing it, farmers developed

a settled life

sustained by its abundant waters

the land and crops prospered

Even mud from the Nile's banks

provided the people

with material for everything

from clay pots to the bricks

with which they built their homes

The Nile itself was Egypt's highway...

boats sailed northward

with the currents

and south with the prevailing winds

To predict the time when the

river would overflow

the ancients developed a calendar

our own evolved from it

Along the extended oasis of

the Nile Valley

a way of life emerged

that still endures today

virtually unchanged from the furthest

reaches of recorded time

And in the time of the Nile's

annual flooding

when the farmers could not till

their fields

they built the pyramids-tombs

for their pharaohs

All that remains of the seven Wonders

of the Ancient World

they were stairways to heaven

For to all Egyptians

their religion promised an afterlife

The largest monument ever constructed

the Great Pyramid contains more than

two million immense limestone blocks

each weighing over two tons

One hundred thousand men toiled

for 20 years

without wheel, horse

or iron tools to create it

that their pharaoh might

join the sun god

and live in eternity

This dedication to gods and

kings was to sustain the Egypt

of the pharaohs for 3,000 years

From the beginning, the Nile was

the soul of the land

The lotus growing on the river

banks symbolized

the people of Upper Egypt

the papyrus, shimmering in the

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