Hieroglyphics and the timelessness of ancient Egypt

Well, almost a month has gone by since I came back from Egypt. It reminded me of Maze in many ways, mostly because of the enigmatic architecture and the way it blends so well into its surroundings. It would be hard to imagine those temples anywhere else after you see them in person. The truth is that as much as we have unearthed from ancient Egypt, not that much is truly known. We are limited by the artifacts and sparce written content from both the region, and the accounts of travellers. A reoccuring theme in Egypt’s history was the erasure of previous dynasties by the current one. The intension of the temples was to be resiliant in the face of change, war, progress, and the elements.

The basic ancient Egyptian ideology was: We are here today, and gone tomorrow. What have you done to be remembered?

Unfortunately the style of their art hardly changed. The rule of Akhenaten, the rebel king, was the only glimmer of differentiation from the traditional, rigid Egyptian style. This is truly the only shortcoming of their legacy. We can only be thankful that anything remained till now.

I mean look at this damn building. It’s basically the entrance to Maze. It looks nothing of the ancient world at all, but instead like the side entrance to Robart’s Library.

While it’s easy to see the modernity of these structures, their age is showing and increasing fast. Cairo is a highly populated city, and they do quite well for such a dense place, but it’s not working for the relics. The polution and din is taking its toll. While it’s disappointing to see these monuments degrade over time, one must only remember that they’ve existed this long, they have a long way to go still. It just sucks that modern times bring a highly concentrated form of pollution that makes things harder to restore.

In many ancient cultures a lot of things survive, in Egypt this was not the case; the buildings and tombs are some of the last remnants of this civilization. Both the Cairo and Alexandria museums contained sparce objects of the past, except of course the famous ones excavated in the 1800’s, Tutenkamun, etc. Everything else was ransacked and pillaged during the 2000-3000 years it’s been around. We’re lucky there’s anything left at all, really.

The clash of cultures doesn’t take away from the experience either. Although mostly muslim, the contemporary people have a deep respect and are proud of their history and ancient religion. They hate zealotry as it hurts their tourism. As hospitable people, this hostility towards ISIS and its ilk is common among northern African countries.

Room 17

There are many “rooms” in Egypt, within the temples, you can feel how old they are. In some cases, Christians seeked refuge in them and carved crosses over the other designs.

In addition, some of the graffiti at the temples was quite amusing. One fellow scribed his name on a pillar, “B. Mure”, after which someone else scribed underneath,”…is an idiot”. You can see why being a puzzle person might be fun here!

Is there anything else Maze related I can talk about? Sure, there are a lot of hats in ancient Egypt, signifying power and control. The kings’ hats were bowling pin shape, so that’s Maze related…

The crown of Isis (the goddess, not the terrorists) was literally a throne. I mean, how cool is that? For a 3000-year old << a e s t h e t i c 美 学 >> that is pretty rad. The bowling pin was the crown of Upper Egypt, while the thrown was the crown of Lower Egypt. Combined into the power of Voltron, the pharoah would rule both lands.

Birdfinder fans here it is. A falcon wearing a hat. The priests changed the hat depending on what time it was and told the peasants that the gods had changed the hats. How charming.

Hidden images and the question of Room 43 and the Minotaur

There has been some skepticism about the inclusion of a bull’s head within the sly face in 43. Did Manson really intend it? We’ll assume for the moment that he did. There are plenty of examples of hidden images within images, some of the most classic being Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s heads composed of fruits, or a librarian made of books, etc.

Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee, on the other hand, hid images using the omission of the centre of the image.

The most common (and boring) example is the old/young woman used in 1950’s TIME book sets while explaining psychology.

In all cases, the interplay between the two images remains the same. There is the issue of dominance, which image will give way to the other? In every case, one of the images is slightly concealed within the other. Arcimboldo’s fruits are realistic, it is the face that only appears from their ordering. Al Jaffee’s hidden picture of Nixon is comprised of the parts of the main picture, not its own entity. For the young/old woman, focusing on the young woman reveals her dimensions are more realistic than the old woman. While the point of this drawing is to determine whether the viewer sees the young or the old woman first, MY exercise is to establish that one of the perspectives of these types of drawings is always dominant.

If Manson means that there is a hidden bull in the sly face, how are we to establish that hidden bull face means Minotaur? Sure, you could say the horns in 9, the painting of Theseus in 7, the references to half animals, are all clues to back this up. But shouldn’t the solution be self-contained? A bull head without a man component is just a bull. Here is an example of an image of a man’s head, that when turned upside down, is bull-like. I can justify turning the image upside down because we just came from an upside-down room (29), and there are 9 amphorae here, 6 becoming 9 when looked at upside down. By the way I’m not saying any of this is true, or even good. It makes a bit more sense than trefoils.

Another problem is that you cannot reverse engineer the solution already assuming the Minotaur (or a bull head) is the Guide because it skews yours judgement, you can see minotaurs anywhere, as is demonstrated by this random session on an inkblot test. This was the very first slide.