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14 January 2010 @ 10:41 am
The Frankincense Trail & The Pharaoh Who Conquered the Sea  
For TV night yesterday we first watched the last episode of The Frankincense Trail - which took us to Jordan, Israel & Palestine. It's been an interesting series & this episode was no exception - a mix of gorgeous scenery, history & modern culture. I was particularly astonished by the fact that there were still Bedouin people living at(? near?) Petra until recently enough that Kate Humble could meet a young chap who'd been born there. There must've been a bit of a gap between the last programme & this one in filming time as it was set up to get to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve (whereas she was in Egypt in August). And some of the frankincense she'd brought from Oman was used in the Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, which was a nice touch to finish the programme on. The series as a whole certainly brought home how difficult this trade route would've been back before cars & modern conveniences, and how precious frankincense therefore was.

Second programme of the evening (after a break for chocolate pudding) was "The Pharaoh Who Conquered the Sea" and was quite frankly a bit of a letdown. The voiceover got more than one thing wrong in the initial scene-setting bit, and proceeded to continue getting things wrong (for instance Hatshepsut wasn't the first female ruler of Egypt - neither the first female regent (there was one in the first dynasty) nor the first woman to rule in her own right (there was one in the twelfth dynasty)). They also appeared not to have noticed that the ancient Egyptians knew how to make boats before they went to sea - they had that river there, you know? I'm sure that you need different characteristics to make a boat seaworthy rather than river-worthy, but water-tightness will already have been solved ;) Anyway, the basic premise of the programme was archaeologists making a replica of one of the boats that Hatshepsut sent to Punt and seeing if it could indeed have done that sort of journey. It was interesting seeing the boat being built, I hope they paid the Egyptian shipwrights a hell of a lot of money - it was all made with traditional methods and looked like very hard work. And the reconstruction/dramatisation bits showing us Hatshepsut were actually rather well done, lots of neat little detail & not too much "drama" for their dramatisation, which worked well. I spent the last fifteen or so minutes of the programme giggling in a puerile fashion though, which probably wasn't quite the intention ;) See, they named the boat "Min". Min is a fertility god, normally represented as a mummiform god, with an erect penis poking through the wrappings. So I assume they called the boat Min because the mast made them think of a penis? So there wasn't just the juxtaposition of this very male name with the boat being referred to as "she" like boats are. But also the puerile jokes just wrote themselves. Even if the script for the programme stayed away from them. Didn't stop me making most of them & giggling like a child at them the whole rest of the programme (putting the sail up ... can Min get it up? seeing how far the ship could sail ... can Min keep it up all day?) *snigger* So, er, anyway. Flawed programme, but interesting mostly for seeing the ship being built, and entertaining mostly in inappropriate ways ;)
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