There is a tendency when traveling on the Nile to become directionally challenged (at least for me), and boggled by dates that run backwards as well. It feels strange to North Americans to travel up the mighty river to the south and down again to the north (it has to do with the current). And further, one wants to assume that the most ancient sites in Egypt are furthest up the river and that the progression of Civilization* moves from the interior toward the Mediterranean. Sensible as all this may sound, the reverse is true. The Nile runs from deep in the interior northward to the sea, and the oldest of the dynasties were closer to the Delta.

 In the movie Mountains of the Moon (1990), the source of the Nile is identified as Lake Victoria, south of Sudan. It seemed true at the time, but today it’s more complicated.  In Death on the Nile (1978), based on the Agatha Christie novel, viewers get a tour of the Nile in Upper Egypt starting at Luxor, once the ancient city of Thebes. In The Egyptian (1954), there is a fictional tale woven around Pharaoh Akhenaton who ruled circa 1353–1336 BCE. There is an even more blatant fiction on the same subject found in Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile (1961-64). Akhenaton was the father of Tutankhamun (King Tut), who gets no movie. The scene of the famous 1922 discovery of his tomb, however, can be seen in Valley of the Kings (1954). Tut died in 1323 BCE and the spotlight shifts to Ramesses II (say Ram-es-sees) and his troubles with Moses.

 Thebes was founded in the Middle Kingdom when the capital was shifted south, up the river, from Memphis in the north. There is not much news from this time otherwise. All of the Egyptian dramas mentioned above, with their attendant movies, took place in the New Kingdom, which drew to a close in circa 1100 BCE. The history of Egypt from then until the 20th century has been pretty much a catalog of foreign dominations.

*Go to FAQ for use of the term post-paradigm and capitalization of Civilization.

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