Mysteries of Egypt (1998)

No land on earth possesses | nore wonders than Egypt
Wonders long hidden
but revealed occasionally | in a glint of gold
or a curious tale.
Our story begins with a death
the death of an unusual boy.
Workshipped as the son of Ra, | the sun-god
he was a Pharoah of Egypt | 3,000 years ago.
We don't know how he died
only that his death was sudden | and mysterious.
His body was preserved | in the manner of other pharaohs
and priests anointed his coffin
to prepare him | for his final journey...
into the world of the dead.
The rituals had to be finished
before his father, the sun, | descended into darkness.
So this young pharaoh | was secured in his tomb
surrounded by kingly treasures
and his seal was pressed | into its entrance.
From that time on, | it was to be a place of peace
hidden and undisturbed | throught eternity.
This young king's name was...
For 3,000 years, | King Tut and his tomb
in The Valley of the Kings
remained concealed | beneath shifting sands.
Other tombs were discovered | and completely pillaged
but not his.
Believeing he could find it
an Englishman | named Howard Carter
mounted five arduous expeditions
but they yielded nothing.
In 1922, he returned to Egypt | for a sixth attempt
That year, he brought | a beautiful canary
to brighten his spirits.
The workmen called it | "The Golden Bird"
and told Carter | it would bring him good luck.
But as work began
success seemed | a remote prospect
and time was running out
Carter's benefactor, | Lord Carnarvon
was an English earl | fascinated by Egypt
but even he was losing faith
and had threatened | to cut off the money.
Yes, Carter persisted
knowing that if found intact
the tomb would be filled | with amazing artifacts
that would help us peer | through the shadows of time...
to glimpse a world | of human splendor long lost..
to glimpse our very beginnings.
That's a great story, Grandpa, | but I want to know more.
You live here, and I know | you can tell me the real story.
Well, my friends want me | to ask about The Curse
How anyone who entered | King Tut's tomb...
...will have some terrible | thing happen to them.
Yes, yes, I know.
I don't know | if I believe it
but will you | tell me about it?
So, the pharaohs, | the tomb, the monuments
the great civilization | who built them
you're not interested in
But The Mummy's Curse | you find...
Yes, I can see that
All right, then.
You shall hear | all about it, but first
we must take | a trip together.
Where will we start, then
At the source, of course.
The source of the Nile.
It is the longest river | on earth
the greatest river in Africa
crossing nearly half | the continent
It is born of ywo rivers:
The White Nile, which rises | near Lake Victoria
and heads north through Uganda
and the Blue Nile, | which descends
from the highlands of Ethiopia.
They must in the desert of Sudan
forming the main trunk | of the Nile.
By the time it deains | into the Mediterranean Sea
its waters have journeyed | more than 4,000 miles.
To the outside world
the source of the great river | was an enduring mystery
but to the ancient Egyptians, | the source was clear:
The Nile flowed from the realm | of the gods.
But what has the Nile to do | with mummies and curses?
Everything. There would be no | mummies, no ancient Egypt
in fact, no Egypt at all | without her.
You see, Egypt without the Nile | is a desert
suitable for camels | and scorpions
but not great civilizations.
It's only here, along | the floodplain of the Nile
that the desert's heat | is softened
and arid sand is turned | to rich farmland.
Nourished and irrigated | by the Nile
Egypt became the longest-lived
of all the great | early civilizations.
In ancient times, so much water
raced down from the lush valleys | of central Africa
that the Nile overflowed | its banks in seasonal floods.
Mineral-rich silt
was carried toward the desert | of Egypt from lands upstream
where wildlife flourished.
Rich land made possible | a vast farming culture
and a stable civilization
able to turn | from daily survival
to works of the mind.
Science, mathematics
engineering and astronomy.
They studied the heavens | and the seasons
gave us the 24-hour day | and a 365-day calendar.
Egypt, an old saying goes
was the gift of the Nile.
But the Egyptians believed
there was one thing even | mightier than the Nile
the sun-
the God they called Ra
the God who created everything.
Each morning, with its rising
the run-god would be born.
Each night, in setting
he would die.
But the next morning
he would rise again, | never failing.
He was eternal.
When a king died
It was believed | that he became one with Ra.
His son, the new Pharaoh, | became Horus, the falcon
the living God on earth.
And so, the Egyptians accorded | their rulers absolute power
which they used to build | an extraordinary empire.
An empire of bulidings | so enormous
and art so exquisite
we are still | trying to understand
how such wonders were created...
how stones from the desert
were tirmed | into timeless mounments.
Some of the oldest buildings | on earth are here
preserved by the desert air
and the skill | of their creators.
Some are so old that they had | already stood a thousand years
when Tutankhamen was born
The enormous obelisks of Karnak
were carved from sigle blocks | of granite
moved hundreds of miles by boat
rolled on logs and perhaps | levered up with huge timbers.
Giant statues | of Ramses The Great
carved at Abu Simbel are still | some of the largest fingures
ever sculpted from solid stone.
We don't know how they did it, | but we do know why
to honer the pharaohs, | both in life and after death.
Honor the pharaohs after | death...
Does that have anything to do | with mummies?
Look at Tutankhamen, | for example.
When the young king died
the priests sought to create | a magical new body for him.
For 70 days they labored | drying and preserving
the royal body | with salts and ointments
then wrapping it | in hundreds of feet of linen
laden with protective jewels, | charms and amulets.
And finally crowning the mummy
with an exquisite | golden death mask.
Tutankhamen was ready | for the afterlife.
Had the boy lived and died | a thousand years earlier
he would have been buried | like pharaohs long before him...
in a mounment | of colossal proportions-
a man-made mountain of stone | called "the pyramids."
They probably saw | the pyramid shape
as a mystical link | beyween earth and sky
providing the pharaoh's soul | with a stairway to the heavens.
Of the fabled Seven Wonders of | the Ancient World
only the Pyramids of Giza | remain
made more than 4,000 years ago.
Nearly 500 feet tall
they contain some of the largest | pieces of stone
ever moved by humans
as much as 50 tons or more.
Yet, this was accomplished | without wheels or pulleys
or even hand-tools.
How in the world did | they do it without | modern machinery?
The Gods | certainly didn't do it
They used their minds.
knowledge built | these great, | reat structures.
Highly sophisticated | knowledge.
All of the Giza pyramids | are built
in perfect alignment | with certain stars.
That takes a knowledge | of astronomy.
The pyramids' foundations
are laid out in perfect angles | and dimensions
precisely correct for the height | they wanted to reach.
Now, that takes knowledge | of geometry and mathematics.
And finally
you must get these big stones | from down here to up there
and you must make them all | fit perfectly.
Now, that takes knowledge-
an incredible knowledge | of engineering and organization.
You just said so yourself.
It wasn't the Gods who built | these great monuments.
It was people.
Thousand and thousands | of people.
lmagine begin one | of these people
living in a tiny village | more than 4,000 years ago.
Life would be pretty much | the same day in and day out:
Farming, herding cattle, | fishing in the Nile.
Then one day, you're selected
to journey be boat | down the Nile.
You are now part | of the great national project
to build the Pharaoh's tomb
but you have no idea | what kind of a tomb.
And then you see...
a monument to the sun- | to life eternal.
How did they move | such heavy stones
to such great heights?
There are many theories
but they probably pulled | the blocks
up mud-slickened ramps.
Raising the ramps | as the pyramid grew
measons then set the stones | with such precision
a postcard couldn't fit | beyween them.
To creat the great pyramid | of Khufu, it took over 20 years
and more than ywo million stone | blocks and some 20,000 people
and they might have been slaves
but now we think they were | mostly peasant farmers
recruited to work here | part of the year.
With their help
the early pharaohs built | more than a hundred pyramids
80 of which survive today.
But what about the kings | who came later?
You told me King Tutakhamen | wasn't buried in a pyramid.
No, he wasn't
They stopped buliding them | and for good reason.
There were robbers who cared | far more about heaps of gold
than an eternal journey.
The pyramids, to these thieves, | were like enormous billboards
saying, | "We've buried the king in here
and all this treasure with him."
At any rate, a new plan | had to be devised.
That's why 500 years after | the last pyramids were built
a new era of kings decided | that instead of building tombs
which everyone could see
why not build tombs | which no one could see?
300 miles south | of The Great Pyramids
across the Nile from the modern | city of Luxor
is this barren maze | of valleys
in the shadow | of a natural pyramid.
Here, no thief could find | the royal tombs.
Here, the kings and queens | of Egypt would remain immortal
or so they thought
But greed breeds ingenuity.
Cleverly hiding | their devious enterprises
robbers scoured the Valley | of the Kings.
Over time, each of the Valley | tombs was found, broken into
and completely plundered
except for one.
Except for the tomb | of Tutankhamen.
That, at least, is what | Howard Carter believed
and if he was right
it would be the greatest | archaeological discovery
of modern times.
After five years, he still | hadn't found it
and the situation was | becoming desperate.
Then, on the morning of November | the fourth, 1922
a water boy trying to secure | his jug hit an unusual rock.
Carter sent a telegram | to Lord Carnarvon in England
to come quickly
and went to Cairo | to meet his benefactor
but while he was away
something very strange happened.
The golden bird that had | brought him luck
was killed by a cobra.
Well, now, the cobra was
a protector | of the pharaoh
and the canary | represents those who | had entered the tomb.
So the cobra ate | the canary
because of | The Mummy's Curse?
More likely, he ate it | because he was hungry.
I like The Curse | idea better.
Well, certainly the workmen | believed it was the curse.
The death of the golden bird | was a bad omen to them.
It meant that someone close | to the project would die
within the year.
Rumors of a curse | mattered little to Carter.
He hoped his dig | would uncover a tomb
like this one
the tomb of a pharaoh | named Ramses Vl
who ruled long | after King Tut
Carter wanted to find treasure
but if not, something | just as precious
hieroglyphs that would reveal | priceless knowledge of how
the ancients lived | and what they believed.
These images are from | the Egyptian Books of the Dead
passbooks to eternity
which were buried | with the mummy.
To help a dead king | reach the afterlife
they supplied answers
to questions he | would be asked
spells to deflect | dangers along the way.
But preparation | for the afterlife began
long before death.
In grand temples once supported | by these pillars
among the largest places | of worship ever built
the living pharaohs gave | offerings
as a way of communicating with | the gods and the world beyond
and courting their favor.
Both immense and colorful
temples like the great structure | called Madinat Habu
were the setting | for magnificent rituals
that proclaimed to all | not only the Pharaoh's power
and wealth, but his devotion | to the gods
he would one day join | on a journey through eternity.
They sure seem preoccupied | with life after death.
Yes- and probably because | not ancient people enjoyed life
as much as they did.
There are picture stories | of invention and adventure
of board games and ball games, | of dance and music
of acrobats | and mechanical toys
of the affection beyween | husbands and wives
and of family unity and love.
It was the most advanced | civilization of its time
and it went on | for 3,000 years
but the empire they amassed | attracted invaders.
Among the stories | on temple walls
are accounts of battles | against outsiders
who tried to conquer | the kingdom of the pharaohs.
But the invading empires | became more powerful
Even more determined...
and so, gradually, inevitably
the kingdom of Egypt | began to crumble.
Well, how could a place | as powerful as Egypt
just clooapse?
Actually, many things happened
but mostly it was the weakening | of the pharaoh's power
through civil turmoil
making Egypt vulnerable | to invaders.
Little by little, much of the | Pharaoh's great empire
along with its secrets, | was reclaimed by the desert
But even as the monuments | of Egypt crumble
the stories are reduscovered | by modern archeologists
deciphering the distant past
Scholars and artists
are preserving the great Sphinx | for all humanity
Research within | the Giza Pyramids
has revealed the brilliance | of ancient architects
whose sophisticated designs | prevented the clooapse
of these inner chambers | and passageways.
DNA analysis is helping
to identify family ties | of the royal mummies
and to give us clues | about how they lived...
and died.
New excavations are uncovering | the support system
of settlements and facilities
for the workers who built | the Giza pyramids.
These new discoveries | and many more
owe themselves, | at least in part
to one discovery | not quite as modern
of the tomb | of a teenage Pharaoh.
On November 26, 1922, | Howard Carter reached the wall
outside the first chamber | of Tutankhamen's tomb.
What can | you see?
Carter, please, | can you see anything?
Wonderful things.
Wonderful things!
Grandpa: | And they were wonderful things
kept hidden for over 3,000 years | in four chambers
carved from solid rock.
They entered to find | the only intact
king's tomb ever discovered | in modern times.
And in the burial chamber...
four golden shrines.
lnside the fourth shrine, | three golden coffins
one inside the other, | and at the center
the mummy of the boy king, | Tutankhmen.
This was the greatest treasure | ever found in Egypt
Well over 2,000 objects
of gold, alabaster, lapis
and precious jewels made | thousands of years ago
by master craftsmen.
They gave us a personal glimpse
of the royal life | in ancient Egypt
and fueled our drive | to continue searching...
to continue learning.
So, through discoveries | like Howard Carter's
and those of modern | archeologists
the ruins of ancient Egypt | mean something to us.
The stone creations that still | loom up from the desert
are new testaments
of humanity's | great stride forward
from hunters and gatherers
to builders | of majestic strutures
to dreamers of grand dreams.
These stone wonders
are the shape | of our beginnings
towering symbols of our rise
to become thinkers, artists, | poets and builders.
These great monuments | keep us humble, too.
After all, they managed to | survive for nearly 5,000 years.
How long has our modern | civilization
been around in comparison?
Not very long.
Not very long.
Now, as to the matter | of the curse.
Lord Carnarvon died | from an infected mosquite bite
five months after King Tut's | tomb was opened.
So it is true after all.
Well, Lord Carnarvon did die | an untimely death
but Howard Carter | lived to be 65.
And the little water boy
who was one of the first into | the tomb because of his size
lived to a ripe old age, | as did most of the workers.
Clearly, there was no curse | of death.
But beyond all of that
a curse, you see, flies | in the face of everything
the Egyptians believed in.
You mean life?
Death for them wasn't an end.
It was the beginning
of a great journey | through eternity
where their Gods and kings
sailed the morning ship across | a lake of flames in the sky
rising in new life each day with the sun.