Egypt boasts some of the most important historical sites in human history, making it an instant draw for storytellers and creatives. The fact that so much of the ancient Egyptian civilization still stands today only enhances its ability to inspire us. For many, seeing the pyramids is on the bucket list, and if it’s not, you only have to look as far as Karol G’s music video with 86 million views, “Cairo,” for further convincing.
The Colombian singer with 28.9 million YouTube subscribers isn’t the only creative drawing inspiration from the North African nation. Ancient Egypt has been integrated in different ways into the final products of pop culture. To help you bolster your reasons for traveling to Egypt, here’s how to base a trip itinerary on locations made famous by modern media.
While the shark movie Mako from Egyptian director Mohamed Hesham El-Rashidy is worth a watch for an Egyptian spin on the creature feature genre, we turn to Hollywood first. Perhaps the most beloved movie drawing from Egyptian mythology is The Mummy. The 1999 flick with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz was all about campy action and made over $400 million at the box office.
The story of The Mummy begins in 1290 BCE, with the assassination of Pharaoh Seti I after he finds his mistress having an affair with the high priest, Imhotep. This introduction is set in Thebes, and while the movie was mostly shot in Morocco and Thebes isn’t on the map anymore, you can travel down to Luxor. You can see the great ruins of Thebes on the west bank of the Nile, including the extravagant Necropolis.
J.J. Abrams may now have a track record for struggling to deliver a satisfying ending, but he’s worked on some of the biggest properties in entertainment. The sequel trilogy may have been a debacle, but fans will always celebrate Star Wars Day – even the flights at Heathrow had some fun – and for the most part, audiences will remain fond of the TV show Lost.
One of the many little hints and mysteries that were kept in Abrams’ favorite bo, was a giant four-toed foot statue. Discovered in the second season of Lost, by the sixth season, it was revealed to be a colossal statue of Taweret, built by Egyptians who found their way to the island. Taweret was a revered household goddess in the time of the New Kingdom (1550 to 1069 BCE) when she was worshiped as a protective deity of fertility.
The massive archaeological site Amarna is responsible for much of what we know about the importance of Taweret today. Located 36 miles south of the city of Minya, Amarna was the capital city of the civilization once established by Pharaoh Akhenaten in 1346 BCE. The excavations discovered many depictions of Taweret on household objects in Amarna, as well as in the form of carvings on the walls.
Easily the most famous application of the scarab beetle of ancient Egypt is, once again, in The Mummy. The movie and its sequels are now in 4K Ultra HD on sale at HMV, and in each, scarabs take the form of bejeweled decorations set to tempt explorers into prizing them from temple walls. Once the greedy do so, the beetles come to life, swarming all intruders and killing them off in particularly gruesome ways.
In ancient Egypt, however, the scarab was revered and often used to symbolize renewal, with many seeing its ball-rolling across the desert as reflecting the sun’s death each night and reincarnation the next morning. This sacred beetle was the inspiration for Scarab Roulette hosted at the live online casino Betway. Much like the renewal of the sun seen to be reflected in scarabs, the roulette wheel spins around, stops, and starts with a new game.
To see the glorious scarab as depicted in ancient times, you could venture into the deserts of Egypt and see them rolling their balls across the dunes. Or, you could go to the grand temple complex of Karnak. Unlike the common depiction of the sun atop a beetle with its wings spread, the scarab statue at Karnak Temple is an enclosed beetle atop a large podium. Even today, people circle the statue three times for good luck, per the Egypt Independent.
A great medium to turn to for experiencing ancient Egypt and coming up against the characters of its rich mythology is video gaming. Few games can measure up to the detail and adventure into the grand civilization as Assassin’s Creed: Origins, in which you can see so much of the empire at its peak. In the 2017 release, one of the best locations is Alexandria, predominantly because of the famed lighthouse.
The real Lighthouse of Alexandria was destroyed after several earthquakes rocked the region in 956 and 1303. To recreate it in-game, the developers had good information to use, according to Vice, even if the real site now houses the Citadel of Qaitbay instead. You don’t have to play the video game to experience the famed monument, though, as you can get $80 dive packages in Alexandria to go into the harbor to see its remains.
Use these famous entertainment products to inspire your trip to Egypt and discover the majesty of the nation’s ancient history.