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Sunday, June 05, 2005

The mysterious land of Punt

From Al-Ahram Weekly (hat tip to the Daily Grail):

The mysterious Land of Punt, at one time identified with the Somali coast and now thought to be located in the southern Sudan or the Eritrean region of Ethiopia, was Ancient Egypt's source of luxury products, the place from where they imported valuable items not available in their own country. Regular missions set sail southwards through the Red Sea from the Fifth Dynasty or earlier, returning to Egypt with gold, ivory, ebony, gum and incense to be burned in temple rituals. The hides of giraffe, panther and cheetah, which were worn by temple priests, were imported along with live animals -- either for the priests' own menageries or as religious sacrifices -- as well as the sacred cynocephalus or dog-faced baboon. Little wonder, then, that Punt became known as the "Land of Gods", and as the personal pleasure garden of the great god Amun. The oldest surviving record of a journey to Punt is inscribed on one of the fragments of what became known as the Palermo stone, which dates from the Fifth Dynasty. Egyptians appear to have brought pygmies from this remote region, judging from inscriptions by the expedition leader Harkhuf on his funerary monument. By the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC) there was regular trade with Nubia, and an 11th-Dynasty record reveals that Mentuhotep III ordered no fewer than 3,000 men to sail to this source of plenty -- a place also mentioned in contemporary poems. Trade between Egypt and Punt appears to have been suspended after the 12th Dynasty and not resumed until early in the 18th, when the most famous expedition to Punt, that of Queen Hatshepsut, came as an outcome of a consultation with the oracle of the god Amun in which she was instructed to send a fleet of ships there. The expedition is featured in relief in Hatshepsut's mortuary temple at Deir Al-Bahri, which shows, in different registers, the finest representations of ships we have from the New Kingdom.
Great source material for historic horror fiction (or any historic fiction for that matter). What a setting!

3 Comments:

Blogger HP said...

Isn't the land of Punt located just beyond the twin pillars of Fourth and Goal?

BTW, I understand they're running a special: buy two dog-faced baboons for the regular price, and get a family-sized bag of tana leaves for the price of the 14 oz. bag. Offer only valid if you show your supersaver papyrii.

6/05/2005 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Carnacki said...

:)

6/05/2005 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Eritrean by birth gorwn up and have interest in those stones for so long, I have visited and tried to read some of the scriptions on the stones, and was unable to figer it out. But I dobut how much true your story is, becouse most of this stones are collected from burial places, and are only head stones telling the story of those buried rather than any thing else.

6/06/2005 07:43:00 AM  

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