Khaled Hafez

on Towers…
and Pyramids:
ALANICA Elements

Site: Towers

When Stones Keep the Histories… When Stones Can Tell… Relic stones are secret keepers, divulging information through archaeological and anthropological excavation, and the world is connected in ways where history disseminated genetics, culture and ways of life that always require digging into time and space.

When written history emerged, stories of invasions and conquers were documented to become the witness of culture, language, belief and civilizations. Persia invaded Egypt twice in its three thousand years of antiquity, introducing horses, military technique, and tens of elements, and adopted from Egypt the architecture, bureaucracy, governance, agriculture and tens of other aspects of civilizations. Persia extended later in history during the Middle Ages to the Alans and the Ossetians. Crypt towers are those relics found in Egypt, Iran and Ossetia; the human knowledge that invented the architecture of such stone towers is difficult to attribute scientifically to a particular civilization, but they all remain as a witness of ways of life and of peoples who lived, exchanged, defended themselves and buried their knowledge, all for us to explore today and tomorrow.

Reflection One:

1961: The Cairo Tower

The Cairo Tower is a concrete tower located on the Guezira Island, close to the cosmopolitan areas of Zamalek and Dokki, equally close to the gorgeous downtown Cairo. Built in 1961, precisely sixty years to the day, it is the tallest concrete structure in Egypt, and some claim “also in North Africa”. The Middle East has seen much taller structures in concrete cities that have almost no history. Till 1971, the Cairo Tower was the tallest structure in Africa, claiming 187 meters in height. Considered a contemporary structure, we get to know the name of the Egyptian architect who designed it, inspiring from ancient Egyptian visual and architectural elements, precisely the lotus flower. The architect is Naoum Shebib.

Image from the internet

Reflection Two:

1999: My Cairo Tower

From 1999 to 2001, I was shooting expired 35mm film in analogue photography of the changing face of cosmopolitan Cairo. For three years I went to the same places to photograph from different locations at the top of the Cairo tower, the haphazard mud brick buildings creep over the green agricultural are, as well as the increasing number of cars that crossed the thousands of years old Nile River. The project I entitled “Cairo Xtreme”.

Cairo Xtreme XI, expired 35mm film, printed on archival paper, 15x15cm, 1999-2001

Reflection Three:

600 BC: The 4-Towered Fortress Versus Cement Cities.

From 2008 till 2019, Egyptian Egyptologists discovered the ruins of an ancient fortress dating to the 26th Dynasty, in North Sinai. The fortress was a mud-brick stronghold, used for reconnaissance and as a frontier defense frontline. The fortress with its disappeared towers is much reminiscent of the defensive medieval towers and castles of Ossetia, where fortresses and towers are located within the mountains; the same for the mountainous area of the 4-towered Fortress. The mud bricks that constituted “mud cities” where ancient history took place, I juxtapose with the contemporary “cement cities” that are mushrooming today in a globalized world.

For that, I have created a large photography project during the Covid-19 months of 2019 and 2020 entitled “The Illustrated History of the Mundane”, with several “chapters” that include “Cement Cities”, ‘Dark Cities” and “Beside Home”.

Image from the internet

Reflection Four:

Construction: A Pyramid

A pyramid is an ancient pyramidal masonry structure that can be found in Egypt, Sudan, Mexico, and recent archaeological finds prove them also present underwater in some parts of Asia. For some reasons, some humans needed to build such perfect geometrical structures, the reasons for which is yet to be known: worship, rituals, burial, or landmarks for alien astral beings to come share our lands and mountains. Egyptians believed that the perfect pyramidal shape represents the early primordial form, from which our earth was created. The straight line forming the descending lines of the shape of a pyramid represents the descent of the sun rays. The perfect architecture always entailed collective labor, such needed throughout history in the construction of towers and castles; labor that created millennia. There are 138 pyramids in Egypt, the three of Guiza are part of every school child and every citizen of the world. Every Egyptian family when they get a chance they visit and take family photographs of themselves, perhaps to make a line in the book of history.

Family picture, 2007

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