Why are crocodiles like Lord Voldemort?
I hope you've been enjoying the Z List Dead List Advent Calendar... and now I have an early Christmas present for you. A new episode of the British Museum Membercast!
The British Museum is famous for its Egyptian Collection. So I was incredibly excited we managed to get an interview with Marcel Maree... he's the assistant Keeper in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan. I do like the fact that departments in the museum have keepers. It implies that the objects go wandering about like the penguins at London Zoo*.
I know very little about ancient Egypt bar what I learnt at primary school. And Asterix...
Now, I think a lot of interviewers would see this as a hindrance... in fact knowing very little about a subject can be an advantage. If you are overly familiar with a topic it is easy to get to obsess over minor details or skip over the basics that listeners might be unfamiliar with. N.B.I wouldn't recommend it for political interviews. Lies could easily remain unquestioned by an uninformed journalist... but for factual information on art or science, being bit dim comes in handy. Thank goodness.
I learnt a lot during this podcast... some highlights were:
- The original mummies were preserved because they were buried in dry sand... it was only after rich people (well, Pharaohs at first) wanted coffins and tombs so they could take their stuff with them to the afterlife that preservation methods (embalming... removing the brain with a hook via their nose etc) became fashionable. Being greedy creates problems, even after you are dead!
- It was considered unlucky to talk about crocodiles by name - instead they were referred to as a type of plant... words were considered to be incredibly powerful and could conjure up evil omens if used incorrectly. Z List Dead List Fans already know that Egyptian spells helped win the first world war (see this episode). Magic, art and language were inseparable from each other. Some hieroglyphics were so powerful they were actually calved incorrectly - snakes missing heads etc. This was done to take their power away... imagine thinking that just doing something slightly different changes the meaning of a word Obelix was right those Egyptians were F#!*ing crazy...
- If you want to disrupt the afterlife of your enemies, destroy their noses. Lots of vandals attack the nose above all other body parts on their statues and on their pictures on the walls of their tombs.... why the nose? Without a nose, how are you supposed to breathe in the afterlife... yeah.
There are tons more fun facts including how the Egyptians sun cult thought the Sun itself was made of poo. Kinda...
...if the sun
were made of dung...
I hope you have a very merry festive time and will see you in the new year. If you are feeling the need to get all Christmassy might i recommend listening to the latest episode of setisoppO? It is proper yuletide listening:
Please do leave feedback, get in touch and sign up to my email newsletter - lots afoot in the new year. I don't want you to miss out!
*My friend Megan was once employed by London Zoo and claimed seniority to the Keepers. She made a habit of going to the penguin enclosure and demanding the keepers hand her a penguin. (I think they did it just to humour her). They are softer than you imagine.