Ruins, Thebes, Egypt about 1892

Ruins Thebes Egypt about 1892

RUINS, THEBES, EGYPT — Four thousand years ago there lay upon a plain, 600 miles inland from the Mediterranean and cut by the Nile into two unequal parts, a city which was to the ancient world what Rome was in the days of Hadrian, the Egyptian capital of Thebes. It so abounded in magnificent palaces, statues and temples, that their very ruins form today the marvel of the world and attract travelers from every quarter of the globe. Among its wonderful features, still in a measure preserved, are the two colossi, one of which was the famous “Vocal Memnon” of antiquity; and the overturned statue of Rameses II, which was the largest figure ever made by man, one solid block of beautifully polished stone weighing 900 tons! In Thebes also was the stupendous temple of Karnak, unsurpassed in grandeur, as well as many obelisks of great size and beauty. Homer called this city “Hundred gated Thebes,” but investigation has established the fact that Thebes was not surrounded by a wall. The “gates” referred to, therefore, are supposed to have been the splendid entrances to the many temples of the place, some of which are still standing. There is something indescribably mournful in the sight of the mutilated fragments of this once magnificent Egyptian capital. One marvels at the works constructed here and half believes that the Arabs are right in saying that the old Egyptians were wizards, able to transport mountains of stone at the mere stroke of the enchanter’s wand. But the glory of Egypt has departed. Race after race follows the same inevitable cycle of progress, culmination, decadence, decay and death. Egypt, the mother of civilization, has led the way, but none of its successors will leave such vast material vestiges of power, and few can show such proofs of intellectual ability. Standing on the threshold of pre-historic times, it nevertheless reveals to us a people marvelously skilled in astronomical calculations, art and science, and thoroughly convinced of immortality. Of all the countries of Antiquity, therefore, Egypt most charms us by the irresistible attraction of undying fame. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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