For my whole life, as long as I can recall, I have been fascinated by history, time, science and archaeology. Literature from 1001 Arabian Nights; The Iliad; tales from Marco Polo; King Arthur and his knights to Dante’s: The Divine Comedy; Kuhn’s: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and more recently contemporary works from Harari in: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind have all influenced and shaped my understanding of this world and the intense desire to discover more. So much so that by the time I entered high school, my interest stretched to all fields from palaeontology (study of dinosaurs) to taking archaeology (study of ancient cultures) and anthropology (study of human society) as majors in my first degree at university.
These academic pursuits were lucky enough to be followed by practical opportunities. From walking the expanse of the Great wall of China; the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli (Turkey); The cities of Pompei; Chasing the Black Stone in Istanbul (link: Hajar Al-Aswad); Exploring the ancient glow-worm caves in Waitomo, South Island of New Zealand and the subterranean Catacombs of Paris. These adventures all have more than tourism in its founding; they each represented a particular scientific, historical or cultural bookmark on my individual bucket list. We all should have a bucket list – things we hope to do, see, or experience before we finally close our eyes. This surely, is all our time on this planet is about, touching eternity in our backward and forward histories to know where we fit and then discovering our purpose on this obscure third rock from the sun.
As a scientist, I think I may have found my calling within my natural curiosity. I have been fortunate enough to have encountered many cultures and discover histories that few are aware of and fewer still have touched. The proud kingdoms of Mapungubwe (North of present day Pretoria); Great Zimbabwe (from where the contemporary country gets its name); the mega-territories of Mali, who produced much of the gold still in circulation today (just Google: Mansa Musa). Many of these kingdoms had trade networks spanning continents, across oceans, as well as political and social systems that would revolutionise history as we have learned it in the school syllabi. Much of this history is now lost within the irrelevant fact–gerrymandering of the last century and it remains the task of our generation to correct the injustice of record that has been perpetrated and tell these stories as we return.
Probably one of the best known of these great African kingdoms would be the histories surrounding the ancient Egyptians. It may be baffling, but much of the history of the ancient Egyptians stretch as far back as 6 000 years ago. Now to give you an understanding of that – Jesus (Nabi Eesa) lived approximately 2 019 years ago – thus the present year. The structures that inform us of the ancient Egyptians are 4 000 years older than that, or 3 times all the recorded history from the biblical time till present day. If that doesn’t blow your mind, read it again. Some of the best known of these structures remain the Great Pyramids of Giza – But just how did they come there, who built them and what do they mean?
In December 2019 I intend to travel through these ancient lands, visiting the last remaining wonders of the ancient world. I have never been before. This journey has been a dream for almost 20 years, from a time as a student where one has more ambition than means, and now where balance between time, ambition and means strikes a harmonious tone, the sand of time beckons to be explored.
In this five – part series of articles I will share my upcoming trip through the histories of the region. Starting in Ancient Cairo; the cities of Luxor and El Tor; onward through the Sinai Desert; the ancient Wadi’s of Jordan and the fabled city of Petra; exploring the history of Islamic science in the region and its influence on contemporary technology and culture. Beyond the curiosity and academic encounters, I aim to solve some of the mysteries in chronology I have had for many years – how this region, currently considered to cover many territories of the troubled hotspots of the Middle-East, really gave us the modern world. I hope you will join me on this adventure.
Scientist, Adventurer, Rock Climber, Author, Eternal student
Cape Town, Republic of South Africa
Facebook: Saahier Parker