For nearly as long as I remember I have wanted to go sailing on the Nile river. I have done some sailing in the past and I find it to be both relaxing and a way to get a different perspective on any place bordering a body of water. In the case of Aswan, and in fact in all of Egypt, the Nile is not just a river, it is the artery carrying the lifeblood of the nation and virtually all life revolves around it. The sailboat shown above is called a felucca, a traditional wooden sailing boat used in the protected waters of the Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean including Malta, and particularly along the Nile in Egypt, Sudan, and also in Iraq. They are usually able to hold ten passengers and the crew consists of two or three people. The felucca has remained, over the centuries, the primary transportation of the Nile. Its ancient form still graces the river as it has done since the time of the Pharaohs. Motorized barges transport bulk material and modern cruise ships transport tourists, but the felucca remains despite modern alternatives. The felucca rarely has any form of engine and relies entirely on the breeze which builds during the day and usually subsides at night, and the Nile River's current. Egypt is blessed with a predominant southerly wind that pushes sailboats upriver, while allowing them to return on its current downstream.
Everyone would love to find a treasure map. The Turin Papyrus Map is an ancient Egyptian treasure map, generally considered the oldest surviving topographical and geological map from the ancient world. It shows the locations of gold and slilver mines, where to quarry the prized bekhen-stone and it also depicts roads to the Dead Sea port used to travel to the fabled Punt, a place with even more gold. Punt was also really famous as the source of the biblical Frankincense and Myrrh, worth its weight in gold and used by the ancient Egyptians, along with natron, for the embalming of mummies and temple ceremonies. Although there are a few older topographic maps from outside Egypt, they are all quite crude and rather abstract in comparison to the relatively modern looking map drawn on the Turin papyrus.
The map was drawn about 1160 BC by the well-known Scribe-of-the-Tomb Amennakhte, son of Ipuy. Apparently his hieroglyphic cursive style is so distinctive there’s no doubt when an archaeologist sees it, could someone identify you after four thousand years by your handwriting? It was prepared for Ramesses IV’s quarrying expedition to the Wadi Hammamat in the Eastern Desert. According to the inscription on the map, this included 8,362 men, which makes it the largest recorded quarrying expedition to Wadi Hammamat (Valley of Many Baths) after one about 800 years earlier during the Middle Kingdom’s 12th Dynasty. Most likely, it was drawn as a visual record of the expedition to be viewed by either Ramesses IV or Ramessenakhte, the High Priest of Amun in Thebes, who organized the expedition for the king. The village where Amennakhte’s house and tomb were found is Deir el-Medina, home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom (1550–1080 BC). Tomb builders, artists, craftsmen and their families lived there during a period of about 400 years, leaving a rich record of daily life in that era. The Turin Papyrus was found in Amennakhte’s family’s private tomb, by the notorious Bernardino Drovettithe, the back of which was re-used by Amennakhte. In 1824, King Charles Felix of Sardinia acquired much of the personal collection of Drovetti, including this map, which went to the University of Turin and formed the foundation for the Museo Egizio in Turin.