Not much is known about how the Great Pyramids of Giza were built. Often viewed as something that simply shouldn’t have been possible, many struggle to figure out how exactly materials were transported. One legend tells a story of the Egyptians architects instructing the laborers to build canals that would transport materials to the site via boats and rafts. Though probably not the most practical of solutions, the free cost of slave labor made things as impractical as canal building, completely possible.
When first hearing this legend, I was skeptical. While the Egyptians are famous for their ingenuity, I couldn’t help but feel like building canals simply to transport materials. It wasn’t until my source explained that the slave labor at the time meant that there was virtually no risks in doing things that required that much more effort.
The informant (L) is a 22 year old film student at the California State University Los Angeles. She grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her grandparents started an oil business in Oklahoma and had to live in Saudia Arabia once the business took off, from 1974 until 1991. They traveled while they were living overseas and would often bring back gifts for their family still in Oklahoma. One of these gifts was an ankh from Egypt for each person of the family. Though L’s family is Mexican, the gifts were given because they are connected to Isis and Isis is connected to the concept of life according to the Egyptians. L was not alive at the time so she did not receive one of the ankhs, which she was slightly bitter about. She still believes in the power of the ankh in protecting her family, and said that everyone in her family who has one wears it or displays it in their house. She also gave me an example that proved the ankhs protected her family. Her older brother was working in a factory in Oklahoma when he was a young adult and due to an accident, one of the machines malfunctioned and spit out shrapnel. Though her brother was not the one using the machine, he was so close to the machine that shrapnel hit him before he could get out of the way. When he looked down, he realized that the shrapnel had hit the ankh he was wearing and bounced back instead of cutting into his body. The ankh is worn over his heart, so the shrapnel could have done major damage if it had managed to pierce his skin. L believes this is physical proof that the ankhs protect her family from harm.
L seems to be very convinced that the ankh protects her family, and the example regarding her brother makes it seem that the ankh both protects the family from physical problems (like the shrapnel) and provides a sense of comfort for those who have an ankh to wear. While L wishes she had her own, she implied that the protection extends even to members of the family who do not have their own personal ankh. I also think the connection to the ankhs have to do with their origin: the grandparents brought them to the family and therefore connected themselves to the ankh as well as the ankh being a spiritual object in ancient Egypt. By having an ankh, the family is connected to itself and something more than what is on this earth.
My informant learned this from her parents when she was a child. It is the origins of the Roma people
“The oldest stories come from Egypt. Gitano is how they say gypsy in Spain, so Gitano like hyptano. Like Egyptian. They say that on the outskirts of Egypt there lived the mystery people. They had the knowledge of the past and future and could cure people. They would be called in by the pharaoh if he needed soothsayers….so the Roma people became very powerful in the land. And people got jealous and so they drove them out into the desert and they continue to wander and continue to be a nomadic people.”
My informant believes that this is a very important story because the Roma people are nomadic and so it is important to know where they came from.
It is very important for this group to know where they come from, especially since they have been so split up over the centuries. Nation states do not take kindly to nomadic people who wander over their borders and so the Roma people need to be strong in their identity. This story also allows them to have always been outsiders with mysterious powers. It’s very empowering for a people to know that they had all of this power before and could continue to use it.