Friday, February 20, 2009

Lecture Notes: 'Egypt guy' discusses pilgrimages, graffiti

The Brown Daily Herald - Campus News (Matthew Klebanoff)

Issue date: 2/19/09 Section: Campus News

Known in his field as "the Egypt Guy," Eugene Cruz-Uribe, a professor of history at Northern Arizona University, discussed Egyptian pilgrimages before a small audience in Salomon 001 Wednesday night.

In his lecture, "Valley of the Kings to Philae: Ancient and Modern Pilgrimages," Cruz-Uribe explained that people often went on pilgrimages for medical reasons, both physical and spiritual.

"A pilgrimage would be a journey of at least a day, if not multiple days, and it had to have some sort of significance," he said.

The sites that Cruz-Uribe discussed included the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, the Colossi of Memnon and Philae - the three main pilgrimage destinations for Romans traveling through ancient Egypt, he said.

Cruz-Uribe discussed research he conducted primarily after receiving a Fulbright scholarship to teach at Egypt's South Valley University for the 2006-07 academic year.

Much of Cruz-Uribe's talk focused on ancient graffiti covering the sites. Written in the third person, the graffiti often served as prayers for individuals who were deemed gods after their deaths.

"I always wonder about what kind of society allows people to write on the sides and walls of their church," he said, adding that he believes people etched graffiti onto churches once they were no longer in use.

One inscription, which read "Djedhor forever," will serve as the title for a book Cruz-Uribe plans to write on ancient Egyptian graffiti, he said.

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