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"An idiots guide to Hathor"

I was scrolling through a list of writing assigments offered by a writers website I sometimes visit when this particular entry caught my eye: "Did the ancient Egyptians invent the electric light-bulb?".

The fearless audacity of the question was such that critical-thinking gave way to a kind of perverse curiosity and without hesitating I clicked the accompanying link to view the evidence in support of this strange theory. The link swept me away to...

...Hathor, Egypt, the most arresting pile of rubble I've ever seen, it's desolation surpassed by only one other place on Earth: Bakersfield, California.

I clicked through dozens of badly focused photographs of pockmarked masonry and shadowy, dust-choked chambers until I finally arrived at the "money-shot", the pictorial representation of what some claim to be a functional light-bulb. I studied the object for about a minute and then exited the site, convinced that this was, indeed, a subject worth writing about.

I wrote the entire piece in less than 30 minutes and posted it without regret, knowing that I'd done my best to defend legitimate historical research and the scientific method. The question, "Did the ancient Egyptians invent the electric light-bulb?", as silly as it may sound, demanded a rational answer. Hopefully the following essay will provide that answer...


"An Idiot's Guide Hathor"

I looked at the link, I saw the photograph of the alleged "light-bulb", and I was immediately struck by the sheer, pornographic grandeur of it. Maybe it's me, maybe I got hang-ups, maybe I'd even flunk a Rorschach Test but for the life of me it looks like the Big Guy, the Pharaoh or whatever, is brandishing this thing that, whatever it is, is capable of evoking various strong reactions among a group of female "attendants". The figures that don't look intimidated or startled look...well...delighted, one is nearly apoplectic, spreading her arms to the sky as if to say: "All mine?" If you ask me, anyone who sees a light-bulb when they look at that picture has some kind of Edison fetish or something.

Anyway, I'd like to know how the electrical engineers explain the poor upsidedownguy whose being bludgeoned into a hole in a stump by the enormous...item...in the pharaoh's hand and what is that on the wall behind them? It looks like an x-ray! By God! The lower portion of a human rib-cage, the spine and the hips. Wow. Ancient x-rays. Imagine that.

And what kind of an operation are they running out there at Hathor anyway, that they would let a bunch of "electricians" from Norway walk in there and start telling them how to do archaeology? Electricians.

And now, because of that, you have electricians being quoted as if they're Egyptologist's and you have Egyptologist's talking about light-bulbs and through it all you have this picture in everybody's face that is so lurid, so vivid and so provocative that it defies my abilities to fully describe it, and nobody's coppin' to it. Why? What are they hiding?

I have a theory, I call it: "A theory about Egyptology and maybe a little about electricity too."

I think we all agree, the real "bone of contention", if you will, is the "item" or "thing" that the large pharaoh-like figure is wielding over the various women: What is it's significance? Is it a light-bulb or a lotus? Or is it something else? This is the precise point at which my theory kicks in:

Inside the "bulb" is a thing the "electricians" claim is a filament but how many asymmetrical filaments have you ever seen? They are almost traditionally symmetrical, balanced. But not this one, no, it is twirled and then curled at the end, like a shepherds staff...It is "off-balance". If the end of the "item" where the cord comes in housed a small electric motor, something that the "electricians" will tell you was well within the technological abilities of the Egyptians, you could actually impart spin to that shepherds staff but you'd have to be careful: Because of its asymmetrical shape, the staff would eventually pick up a speed-wobble; beyond a certain number of RPMs the entire apparatus would begin to...vibrate. Boy, would it vibrate.

And anyway, good lighting wasn't as much as a concern to the Egyptians as the guys from Norways Local #44 of the Electricians Union would like us to believe. It almost makes you wonder if they don't see the ancient light-bulb thing as an opportunity to hit Egypt up for retroactive payments on electric-bills. Lets see, six or seven-thousand years worth of back-payments plus late charges...wow.

My girlfriend doesn't know the first thing about monument building but when I described the scholarly debate that was raging over how the carvings were done without light she blurted out something about doing all the "artsy" stuff while the stones were still in the quarry and then shipping them with assembly instructions...then she threw an ashtray at me and I called her a "bimbo" and hid the booze.

By focusing on the deviant practices of our ancestors we reveal them for the perverts they were and, in that way, drag them and their primitive, itchy, sweat-stained laundry into the cold, hard light of day. We shine the lamp of morality upon their deeds and find them wanting and totally incapable of utilizing electricity in a meaningful way. Just because people lived thousands of years ago doesn't give them the right to be shamelessly primitive or lacking in common-sense and I, for one, will always stare at ancient Egyptians differently now that I've come to a deeper understanding of their shortcomings as a dead culture.

One more thing: If today's archaeologists were half as tough as guys like Heinrich Schliemann and Charles Leaky, we wouldn't have to hear these distressing stories about electricians and other blue-collar types causing trouble at historical sites. Maybe the guys at Hathor should invest in some barbells and boxing-gloves and toughen up a little instead of laying around eating Fig-Newtons and watching Avatar for the zillionth time.

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