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Reflection Paper on Egypt, a BBC documentary

Art Appreciation

There may be many stories surrounding the discoveries of ancient artifacts, burial
sites of ancient civilizations and its antiquities, but none surmounts the extraordinary
tale of of the Great Belzoni. Giovanni Belzoni, a circus-man turned explorer; we had a
film-showing about his exciting adventure, full of sour and dangerous experiences, his
challenges and exploits. Plainly saying, during the film-viewing I was getting
goosebumps. I could not help but smile in every hard situation he finds himself in. I
got excited with the story. I am not being sarcastic when I say that I laugh at the
misfortunes he encountered but rather I was happy on how he handled things. A man
so simple and so gullible yet achieved so great a feat that he until today is a topic
when it comes to appreciating arts. Belzoni loved arts as he loved adventures, no
matter what the cost is, he simply is dedicated to his work and passionate towards art.

I want to be like Giovanni, and I also believe that arts are not only relics of the
past but also tell us a story. The study and appreciation of arts is so essential in my
life and in my chosen career because it is something beautiful and it can be shared too.
The love for arts is very innate to me that it made me think that every aspect of our
lives is so beautiful, every emotion every episode of our life whether it be sad or
glorious, glad or in mourning, it made me remember the very reason of existence that
is to enjoy life. With arts I feel free, and I try to understand things greatly that
sometimes it seems to me that there is actually not a thing in the world that is not
beautiful.

The documentary reminded me of how hard it is to stand my ground and continue


despite opposition from others. But it also reminded me that after all the challenges
and the hard work one receives his reward, which is great and much more precious
than money, power and/or fame. One receives contentment and with contentment,
comes happiness.
Gerard John Gino Cabonegro

Lecture 02
Part 5: Late Dynastic ~1080 B.C.E.
There is the rise of other conquering empires in western Asia and in the northern Mediterranean.
Egypt experiences greater involvement with the wider world and is eventually integrated to the Roman empire
which dominated the Mediterranean arena.
Egypt became threatened by foreign military powers.
Lecture 02
Part 6: Ptolemaic ~323 B.C.E.
This era began when Ptolemy I invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharoah of Egypt in 305 B.C.E. The era
ended with the death of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt.
The Hellenistic (Greek) culture - influence of Ptolemy - begann to thrive in Egypt. On the other hand, the
Ptolemies also took Egypian traditions. They allowed themselves to be portrayed in public monuments in
Egypian style an dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life.
The Ptolemies faced rebellions from native Egyptians because they were unwanted.
The foriegn and civil wars led to the decline of the Ptolemaic kingdom and its annexation by Rome.
This is one of the most documented periods of teh Hellenistic era. There are many papyri documents written by
Greeks and Egyptians that have been discovered in Egypt.

Indus Valley Post No.1


ANCIENT INDIA: Moved by the search for the meaning of life
INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION:
1. Harappan Era ~3000-1500 BCE
2. Vedic Era ~1200~500 BCE
3. Classical Era ~600 BCE
Indus Valley Post No.2
1. Harappan Era
The Harappan Civilization was the largest civilization in the world during its reign from 3000 to 1500 BC. This
culture was unique in that its cities were extraordinarily similar throughout a geographically widespread area, yet
there is no physical evidence of a central unifying government. Regardless, the civilization appears to have been
very peaceful, with an emphasis on trade rather than agriculture or war.
This culture existed along the Indus River in present day Pakistan. It was named after the city of Harappa which
it was centred around. Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were the greatest achievements of the Indus
valley civilization. These cities are well known for their impressive, organized and regular layout. Over one
hundred other towns and villages also existed in this region. The Harappan people were literate and used the
Dravidian language. Only part of this language has been deciphered today, leaving numerous questions about
this civilization unanswered.
The Harappan civilization was mainly urban and mercantile. Inhabitants of the Indus valley traded with
Mesopotamia, southern India, Afghanistan, and Persia for gold, silver, copper, and turquoise.
The Mesopotamian model of irrigated agriculture was used to take advantage of the fertile grounds along the
Indus River. Earthlinks were built to control the river's annual flooding. Crops grown included wheat, barley, peas,
melons, and sesame.
This civilization was the first to cultivate cotton for the production of cloth. Several animals were domesticated
including the elephant which was used for its ivory.
Arts and Artifacts
a. In contrast to other civilizations, burials found from these cities are not magnificent; they are more simplistic
and contain few material goods. This evidence suggests that this civilization did not have social classes.
b. Remains of palaces or temples in the cities have not been found.
c. Most of the artwork from this civilization was small and used as personal possessions. The first objects
unearthed from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were small stone seals. These seals were inscribed with elegant
portrayals of real and imagined animals and were marked with the Indus script writing. The seals suggest a
symbolic or religious intent. Stone sculptures carved in steatite, limestone, or alabaster depict a male figure who
may have represented a god. Pottery figures were shaped into humans and animals. Very few bronze figures
have been recovered.
d. No hard evidence exists indicating military activity; it is likely that the Harappans were a peaceful civilization.
The cities did contain fortifications and the people used copper and bronze knives, spears, and arrowheads.
Decline of Harappan Civilization (2000-1900)
The Harappan civilization experienced its height around 2500 BC and began to decline about 2000 BC. Possible
reasons:
a. Agricultural problems with the topsoil erosion which depleted the soil nutrients, including a change of course
of the Indus River may have forced the people to leave their towns and move north eastward in search of more
fertile land.
b. Aryan people (a group of warrior nomads) from the north migrated into their area. They were known to be
conquering and violent, and could have killed the inhabitants by burning the cities.
With the migration of the Harappan people due to the flooding and in search of more fertile land, the Aryans were
able to take over the area.
Indus Valley Post No.3
II. VEDIC ERA
Introduction: Aryans migrate into the Indus Valley (1300 B.C.E.)
The Aryans absorbed remnants of the Harappan Civilization and integrated them into their own culture to form
the Vedic culture.
Aryans were a fierce and conquering people whose culture was oriented around warfare. Their religion also
reflected their culture, as it was dominated by warring storm-gods and sky-gods. This warlike nature was
preserved in the later Vedic religion (see the "Rig Veda"), where the god Indra was portrayed as a conquering
deity who smashed cities and killed enemies.
In the "Hymn to Parusha" in the "Rig Veda", the god Parusha sacrificed himself to himself, and out of his parts
came the different classes of Indian peoples. Each of the pieces of his body developed into a different portion of
society. His mouth became the Brahmin or priests; his arms became the Kshatriyas or warriors; his thighs
became the Vaisya or merchants, farmers, herders and artisans; and the feet became the Sudra or slaves and
servants. Thus, while each part of society had its own role, it was still and single body. This became the basis for
the socially stratified caste system.
Perhaps the Aryans used this creation myth to subjugate the darker-skinned people they conquered (the
Harappans). Further, the Aryans saw themselves as superiors to the people they conquered as evidenced in the
Indo-European root word of their name, "ar", meaning "noble" or "superior."
The oldest Scriptures in all of India and the most important are called the vedas. All Hindus recognize the Vedas
as the true origin of their faith because of the spiritual meaning behind them. The Scriptures served as a base for
inner searching among the Indo-Aryan people as they were composed by seers or ancient prophets while in a
state of inspiration.
1. Rig Veda (1200-900 B.C.E.)
- Loosely referred to as a book of mantra.
- The Rig-Veda is the most important collection of the Vedas which have over 1,000 hymns that are mythology of
the Hindu gods, and is considered to be one of the foundations of the Hindu religion.
- These Vedas were passed on orally for many generations. When they were written down, they were first written
in Vedic, an early form of Sanskrit. Then around 300 B.C. the Vedas were written down in the form we have them
today.
2. Sama Veda: knowledge of chants or basic hymns recited at sacrifices
3. Yajur Veda: knowledge of rites or how to make sacrifices book
4. Athara Veda: knowledge given by Athara who was a sage.
Example of Veda - Aryan people praised their gods at religious ceremonies. The subject of the hymns is the
personification of the powers of nature. The hymns are written in poetic form and can be changed, creating a
worshipful mood in a person that could transport into another state of mind.
The religion that sprang forth from the Vedas helped shape Indian society. For example, the Rig Veda and Vedic
literature were used in the development of the caste system.
Indus Valley Post No.4
III. Classic Era
The Classic era was ushered in as a reaction to the bloody ritual sacrifices. Two important teachings flourished
during this time:
a. Siddharta Gautama: Buddhism
b. Vardhamma Mahavira; Revision of Jainism
Indus Valley Post No.5
a. Siddharta Gautama: Buddhism
Narration of Gautamas Life:
Buddha was born in the Shakya clan that belonged to the warrior (Kshatriya) caste. His father was Shudhodana
and his mother Maya. Before Buddha was born his mother had a dream in which a white elephant descended
from heaven and entered her womb. At birth the name given to him was Gautama, probably after the more
ancient Vedic seer to whom some of the hymns in the Rig Veda are ascribed. Buddha was also known as
Siddhartha which means 'he whose aim is accomplished' The latter name seems to be a title given to him by his
disciples}.
The Prophecy of Buddha
At his birth, a sage is said to have told King Shudhodana that Gautama would grow up to be a powerful king. But
to become a king he should be kept away from the sorrows of 1ife. And if perchance he happened to see any of
the sorrows of life he would become an universal teacher. Keen as King Shudhodhana was to see Gautama to
be a successful ruler, he built up special palace for Gautama from where he could set his eyes on none of the
world's sufferings. Even when the prince Gautama went out for stroll or ride, all unpleasant objects were
removed so as to prevent Gautama's mind from being disturbed.
Gautama seeing the real world
But the prophesy of Gautama becoming an universal teacher was destined to be fulfilled. One day through some
lapse, Gautama managed to slip out unnoticed from the palace. Riding through the streets of the city he saw for
the first time in his life, a lame person, a sick person, a dead body and an ascetic.
These sights made a deep impact on his tender teenaged mind and he set thinking upon the cause of sufferings
and sorrow. Consequently, Gautama began neglecting the affairs of the State which his father had assigned to
him. Alarmed at his son's strange behaviour, King Shudhodana, to get his son off this brooding decided to marry
him to a princess Yashodhara. Some days after marriage a son was born to them who was named Rahula.
But married life could not distract Gautama from his life's mission for long. When his patience was at the end of
its tether, Gautawna decided to forsake family life and one day he slipped out of his palace along with his servant
Chandaka. After moving out of the city, Gautema cut off his hair removed his royal ornaments and jewels, his
rich garments and sandals and gave them to Chandaka and bid him to return to the palace with the news of his
(Gautama's) departure.
He gave up his claim to the succession of his father's throne and left the palace. He studied Yogic meditation
with two Brahman hermits and achieved high cognitive states in both trance and meditation, but his desire for
absolute truth was not satisfied.For the next six years, Sidhartha placed his body under severe asceticism,
which included extreme fasting and suspension of breathing. These practices almost killed him, but they did not
satisfy his search for truth.
He finally ended his acetic lifestyle and began to eat. Sidhartha decided to meditate until the absolute truth would
lie clearly in front of him. He meditated under a Bodhi tree where he sat facing east.
At the age of thirty-five, on the night of the full moon, Sidhartha reached enlightenment and became an
"enlightened one"--a Buddha (c. 528 BC) He had at last discovered the truth he had sought, and he immediately
shared it with five ascetics who had practiced near him.
After a few weeks of rest, he decided to teach the way to enlightenment to others and went to Deer Garden
where he held his first sermon, Sidhartha felt a strong call to teach others even though he could never teach the
content of enlightenment, only the way of enlightenment. Buddha called his teachings "the middle way",
because it was in the middle between asceticism and indulgence.
For the next forty-five years he taught as the Buddha or "Shakyamuni" (sage of the shakaya"). He also
established a community of monks called sanga.
The Buddha (the Enlightened One) died after forty-five years of teaching at the age of eighty.
Indus Valley Post No.6
b. Vardhamma Mahavira; Reformer of Jainism
Mahavira helped reform the Jaina faith as its although the last Jaina Tirthankara.
Jainism gave the world Non-Violence as an Ethical Outlook. Jainism like Buddhism arose us a protest against
the ritualism of the Hindu religion. It's origin is traced to Vedic times.
Vardhamma Mahavira ("Great Hero") was born in 599 BC in Kaundinyapura near modern Patna. He was born to
a high-ranking family and received an education fit for a nobleman. He learned about literature, art, philosophy,
and military and administrative sciences. Mahavira practiced self-discipline and gave up luxuries by giving
charity to beggars.
When Mahavira left his family at the age of 30, he also gave up all property, wealth, and pleasures. He left his
home and mediated, fasted, and went without water. After all this, Mahavira tore out his hair and wandered
naked with a piece of cloth on his shoulder. Mahavira essentially became a homeless man. This did not bother
Mahavira, because he was going to teach the Jain Religion.
Mahavira attracted all kinds of people, including kings, queens, rich, poor and both men and women. Mahavira
taught that the center of right conduct was the five great vows of which he preached until his death.
Five great vows:
a. asteya: to not take anyone's private possessions,
b. satya) to always tell the truth,
c. aparigraha: to not own any property,
d. ahimsa: to not injure or annoy any living thing
e. brahmacarya: to have complete celibacy.
Mahavira's quest, for himself and others, was to finally reach nirvana or salvation. Nirvana is the attainment of
the blissful state of one's self and of total freedom from the cycle of birth, death, life, pain, and misery. The final
step for Mahavira and all that follow him was the final removal of the karma or self.