What REALLY happened at the dawn of that amazing civilization?
Nobody REALLY knows. So you (a historical fiction writer) think you can just fabricate the stuff. Not quite. There are plenty of people (I am excluding professional historians and archaeologists here) who do know. You have to do your research; and that’s when the trouble starts.
Time-lines especially become a blur of contradictions and “facts” are constantly superseded by new findings. Take Dynasties 00 to 03, for example. Every publication hungrily perused for indisputable dates lists a different year, even century, as the beginning and duration of those dynasties. Of course, we are dealing with things that supposedly happened five-thousand years ago; and those inconsiderate scribes never saved their scrolls in “The Cloud.”
Then take the names of kings, their wives/consorts, and places. Most widely recognized are cities described by the Egyptian priest Manetho (written in Greek). But he, too, was a few thousand years late to the party and—so they say—had quite a good imagination. The Greek historian Herodotus gave us “Memphis,” and “Thebes,” and “Abydos,” among many others. The pyramid of Mycinerus? Really? Did Menkaure (also spelled Menkaura and Mencaure) speak Greek? One therefore needs to choose between the various spellings for the same thing and, if you happen to concoct a story around that time, stick to it throughout your book.
For me, it all started when I stumbled upon the various publications describing, nay, expounding on individual research. One stumbling block was the often apparent hesitation for different archaeologists to accept each others’ opinions. Likely for fear that new assumptions and findings might usurp some already published and accepted scientific papers. Hello! Are they chiseled onto modern Rosetta Stones?
Then there were the now familiar names of the ancient sites: Hierakonpolis, Herakleopolis, Heliopolis. “Wait a minute. These are all Greek names,” I sputtered, and then had a heck of a time to find the ancient name Ineb-hedj (City of White Walls). Yes, it’s the well-known Memphis. It definitely wasn’t Memphis during the First Dynasty. Finally, I stuck as best as I could to the ancient names resorting to appendices and a glossary for readers who wanted to know and compare.
Ideally for my book, there would have been a map at the beginning. I love maps. But the e-book doesn’t really lend itself to that. Besides, I am no good at drawing (volunteers gladly accepted).
So what is an innocent soul like me doing traipsing in and out of this ancient minefield? Sometimes, I think that, just maybe, I should be writing erotica instead (it certainly sells better). But, I suspect, that too requires certain research (volunteers not requested).
In the end, a writer can only hope that the story itself prevails, with the exotic backdrop enhancing rather than challenging a reader’s experience for Khamsin, The Devil Wind of The Nile.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Austria, Inge H. Borg completed her language studies in London and Paris. To continue her study of French (in a round-about way), she accepted a job at the French Embassy in Moscow. After Ms. Borg was transferred to the States, she worked on both coasts, and after several years of living in San Diego, she became a US citizen.
Ms. Borg now lives in a diversified lake community in Arkansas, where she continues to write historical and contemporary fiction. She also published a non-fiction book about her cat and its former shelter buddies. Her poetry has been published in over twenty anthologies and was chosen for professionally recorded readings. Her hobbies include world literature, opera, sailing and, of course, devising new plots for future novels.
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