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Things I Have Learned

Karl Sanders Of Ithyphallic Death Metallers Nile On Ancient Egypt
Toby Cook , January 12th, 2010 04:19

I blame Napoleon

I think we’ve got to blame Napoleon – if it wasn’t for Napoleon popularizing all this stuff a couple of hundred years back, would it have taken 19th Century Europe by storm? I doubt it. You see Napoleon sent his army to Egypt – to do a bit of conquering – and he also bought with him a team of 300 scientists and professors and various educated people to study the relics of Egypt that were then just lying around. At the time a lot of Egypt was buried under sand, there was just the top of stuff poking out – Like the Sphinx, basically just the head was sticking out of the sand, and a lot of other stuff was like that too – so there was all this culture that was all virtually unknown, even to the people of North Africa and the Arab people that make up the Egyptian populous by this point. So it was kind of a mystery, like “What is all this stuff? No one seems to know.” And of course at that time no one could read the hieroglyphics either. One of these guys that travelled with Napoleon though – someone called Jean-Francois Champollion – he discovered something called the Rosetta Stone, which was used to figure out and translate the ancient hieroglyphs. And so right there was born the modern art, and study, of Egyptology – before then there was no such thing. So yeah, I guess we can blame these fucking French fuckers!

Although brutal and certainly desecrating, the early tomb excavations of the 1920’s were invaluable

It’s a deeply contentious issue because if these people hadn’t uncovered the tombs and studied them, then we wouldn’t know about them and we wouldn’t be complaining about their destruction. If this stuff gets preserved for the posterity of humanity to any degree, then that’s a good thing. Sadly though once you dig something up out of the ground it’s not going to last forever anymore – it’s subject to decay; to air and moisture and the natural forces of nature. If you dig it up, you may as well destroy it as you've already started irreversible change! I can’t remember who said it but there’s a scientific law that say’s “The mere act of studying something changes it in to something other than it was before”. If you go and observe a hill of ants or something, and you study it and you go poking around in it, it’s no longer in the perfect natural order that it was before you came along. Now you’ve got a bunch of ants living in that little ant hill that are terrified that this guy is going to fucking step on their ant hill, and now they’re all scurrying around, trying to carry ant eggs and find a new place to put them. So are we observing the perfect ant society anymore? Well, probably not.

Erik Von Daeniken may have been on to something – sort of

Dallas’ [Toler-Wade, Nile bassist] 10-year-old son asked me not too long ago what I thought about all these aliens and pyramids and things, and I told him that _we_ are the aliens. Daeniken isn’t necessarily wrong when he says that advanced people have visited the earth from time to time, but I think that we are those people, I don’t think that human-beings are necessarily indigenous to Earth. I think we came from somewhere else, I think that we are these same people that we think came from somewhere else, who the fuck knows? We don’t know. I think that the more fun you can have with a theory, the more preposterous you can make it, eventually you realise that, wow, we really don’t fucking know what the fuck we’re talking about and it's all just speculation anyway. You have to take a leap of faith. But that leads us out of science and back in to religion – it seems as a race we are perpetually doomed to voodoo, hoodoo and mysticism.

Curses and Mummies rising from the dead? Yeah, I can believe that too

Hollywood doesn’t tend to have original ideas, so they’ve got to get the idea from somewhere. So yeah the curses do exist, but do we believe in them? And if we do believe in them, do they hold any power over us? If we choose not to believe in them, do they still hold any power over us, and we are just fools to try and deny the reality of these curses? Well, who knows? Who can fucking say, I don’t know, but it sure makes great fodder for death metal songs too.

That said, Hollywood has been pretty liberal with its ideas about ancient Egypt

To be honest though, I’m happy to let it ride because entertainment is often the gateway to a learning experience. How many people that are now enjoying careers as archaeologists or college professors got their first exposure to Egyptology from a Boris Karloff movie I wonder? So is it really that bad? If you really want to know about history, then it’s easy enough to go to a library, or turn on the History Channel or get on the internet and do a little actual reading for yourself. Hollywood is in the business of entertaining people, and we can’t blame them for taking historical liberties in the process of entertaining us and our children, that’s what we’re paying them for. It is society that has determined that entertainment supersedes education!

Have I ever wondered what life then was really like? Yeah – for about 20 seconds!

I think that’s probably part of the fascination when you’re looking into any culture from the past – you think, “Well, yeah... what would it have been like?” But after I think about that I think well I’ve got electricity, the internet, electric guitars and fucking air conditioning. I’m not going to fucking worry too much, wondering if I could somehow teleport myself back to a better time; no it wasn’t a better time, it was a smelly, dirty, fucking hot time!

It is irrefutable that the ancient Egyptians have left us a rich legacy

I think they’ve left a vast legacy, especially in terms of their architectural achievements, their systems of writing and their ideas about the governance of people. For me, the Egyptians were way ahead of the curve, way ahead of their time. They built a society and a civilisation that lasted thousands of years, I mean, how long has America been around? 200 years, there’s no fucking comparison. I think it’s irrefutable that the ancient Egyptians have left us a rich legacy of human knowledge and experience, and perhaps to some degree, a sort of guidance, to re-think the way we live our modern lives.

Blame the Romans – and the Arabs – for the fall of Egypt

When the Greeks took over 300 years before the Romans they didn’t fuck too much with the Egyptians, they let them keep their pharaoh system and their style of religion and a whole lot else, but after the Romans got finished it was really the beginning of the end, and after the Arabs took over they were pretty much done. From what I’ve read and the time-line of history it certainly seems that once the Romans were done, the Arabs came in and swept up the pieces and put the fucking nail in the coffin. There is no God but God, and simply by the fact that Allah is the only true God, and there are no other gods, the Arab mentality completely excludes the whole premise of the Egyptian polytheistic society.

Have I actually ever visited Egypt?

No. Not on a death metal budget!

There's a Pharoah Sanders joke in there somewhere

Nile's Those Whom The Gods Detest is out on Nuclear Blast now

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