A few months ago, a colleague and I were discussing topics – my colleague is an archaeology graduate, active in the art field, both old and new, therefore scientific and disciplined, two qualities which I don’t posses – so the interest we both find in common subjects is geometric – an impossible quadrature of the circle in aesthetic and spiritual terms; two people on opposite mountain tops looking over the same vista. All that to say we don’t always agree, but we like hearing about the view from the other side. Practical and comparative parallax, if you like, the best way to see depth in any subject.
Usually the theme means one of us is out of depth (usually me) but then that’s where the interest lies. (Each time, I learn something. You don’t learn to swim if your feet are always firmly on the bottom.)
This time, the topic was ruins: what they are, how they got there, and most importantly, what we ought to do with them…
ON BECOMING A RUIN
When you walk into Westminster Abbey, along the aisle, after the graves of scientists and poets, you can find yourself in a spot where to your left lies Queen Elizabeth I and to your right Queen Mary I, one on each side of their grandfather Henry VII.
Westminster, built in the 16th century, goes well beyond the limits of faith. In the world, of all places I have visited, it is the one that most reminds me how wonderful humanity can be, with its marvelous ability to create, build, destroy and rebuild.
Passing near Dickens, Laurence Olivier, Newton and Elizabeth I, you can feel that quality that other countries have always envied and hated for centuries: the respect that England has for itself.
Dedication of the Battle of Britain Memorial window in honour of ‘The Few’ at Westminster Abbey, 10 July 1947.
Westminster reflects all this. It is a temple dedicated to story, is like a journal that continues to be updated. Walking inside it, I understand that no damage, no trial, can ever bring Westminster to be a ruin, a remnant of what once was, because it is constantly linked to the present, with a foot always in the past, in touch with the future without forgetting history.
But, back to the beginning; the last chapel, at the tomb of Henry VII who died in 1509, the eye falls on the colors and shapes of the windows that rise behind the tomb, tall and stately, where, as if by chance, you can find an air pilot and just below to the left, a hole in the wall, glass-lined.
The hole, caused by bombing during the Second World War, was sealed but was not “repaired”. There was nothing to fix; the hole, like the windows dedicated to the RAF, are now part of Westminster, as if there had always been there.
Westminster has the ability to resist becoming a ruin. In a country like Italy, none of this would have happened. The hole would have been plugged, the original stained glass windows of the chapel would have been replaced by copies identical to the original dedicated to Mary, or maybe, things would have been left as they were, obeying a principle of abandonment and the process begun to become a ruin.
Becoming a ruin is not as easy as you might think. There is no instruction manual, no options describing gradual abandonment, catastrophe or war. In the face of the unforeseeable, it can go any way. The result, however, remains the same: the need to not be rebuilt.
The notion of an inexorable, all-devouring time is nonsense. Time destroys nothing. Everything depends on us, even when there is destruction, our capacity to rebuild and reinvent could easily ensure that in the world there are no ruins left at all. This is a sad thought.
But a ruin, however beautiful, as a fixed point in time, is a ruin because someone allowed that it so become. For what it’s worth, I believe Italy is set to become the largest, most beautiful and wonderful ruin of the whole world.
Italy is blind to the potential of its own history. We are slowly letting it go, but lately there have been many complaints and much debate. On one side, people who say that we should take more care of our ruins; on the other, those who reject the idea that the ruins could be nothing but ruins.
In Rome, a controversy has erupted on the subject of the arena of the Colosseum. The arena was not only the battleground of gladiators, it was the roof over two underground levels containing animals, staff, pulleys and “props”. Built of wood, it did not survive fire and damage following the abandonment of the coliseum. The arena floor eventually collapsed, the underground levels were partially buried.
Rome, The Colosseum as it is today.
It was rebuilt in the last century, but again removed, to ensure that we could see those two floors in which hid the Colosseum’s secrets. Today only a small portion of the arena is paved, just to give an idea of how it once was, but there are those who would like to bring back the flooring of the entire surface.
This is a problem from an ethical point of view, less from the practical point of view, even less from the point of view of return on image investment. Build up a new arena, it would mean giving new light to the Colosseum, a structure unique in the world, not just a tourist attraction, not just to collect an entrance fee. It’s true, in the galleries already there are areas dedicated to exhibitions, but the arena could open a whole world of new activities and opportunities for aggregation that go beyond simple “tourism”. Perhaps we can be more than tourists inside the Colosseum? Maybe we can be actors on stage of new arena, spectators of something different than the ruins themselves. The superintendent of the Archaeological Heritage of Rome fortunately likes this idea, and wishes take it forward, but he faces political inertia and old habits, opposition led by those for whom the Colosseum is purely a ruin, and must remain so.
We do not dare so much as the British, we do not repair, do not care, we barely restore, and not to rediscover an ancient splendor, but only to bring to the first stage of deterioration places that will never be used again. Think about the Imperial Forums in Rome, if we could put stalls and recreate markets, you think you will not be able to feel the historical value of the place if it was reused again as a market? We seem to think they are so fragile and precious, well, perhaps what is happening in Pompeii requires us to think so, now a ruin is a ruin, there is no going back; the only future envisaged for ruins is wear and tear from tourism, and eventual destruction and disappearance. We can’t imagine a future for them different from the present.
Then, finally, when the destruction is total, the ruin would be replaced with a memorial to ruin itself.
This brings us to the second precondition for becoming a ruin, something that also happens to humans who longer have a function, becoming useless, although even that, as irreversible as it sounds, always depends on us. History, technology has led us to abandon wooden house for stone and concrete, but there are wooden houses that are worth being kept alive.
Think of the Globe Theatre in London, built in 1599, destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1614, had to wait three centuries before someone understood that although not a perfect project, the memory and the value of the theater were far stronger than ideological criticism. It was rebuilt in 1987, a reconstruction that while possibly unfaithful to the original, brings with it the construction techniques of the time, the structure of wood, the walls and roof of the stands. At the same time, below the arena, after the entrance, there is a modern and avant-garde lobby. Why have just a memorial? Why have only a crumbling ruin? Or nothing at all?
Left: The Globe meets the media. Right: Happy Birthday Mr. Shakespeare
Being without a function leads us inexorably into the abyss of ruin, and perhaps there is no remedy to emerge again from the ashes.
But, I’m an hopeless optimist, I do not see the ruins as something now lost, something untouchable, I do not see the ruin as a thing from which we can expect nothing. But instead of thinking about what might be the tools to find new glory and new splendor, the secret is that it is the ruin itself to be the tool.
The nature of ruins, their aspects both good and bad, depends not on the ruins themselves, but on our perception of them. Non essere causa del tuo male, ma del tuo bene.
At UNESCO, for the past several years, there is a discussion about a Japanese temple. To become Unesco site, a place or a particular cultural aspect must be so rare as to be unique specimens in the world, or be very threatened.
Ise Grand Shrine is a traditional Japanese temple, its peculiarity is that the temple is rebuilt every 20 years; the present building is the 62nd reconstruction. The temple has a long history, but there isn’t a millennial temple, rather the idea and the culture behind it. It is rebuilt again with the same techniques passed down carefully. Fortunately UNESCO protects not only the material but also the immaterial, culture as an idea and philosophy, and this will probably make the Ise Temple a future Unesco site.
Approached from this perspective, the old image of the ruin is based on the new one that we give and we attribute them in the future. Guaranteed the respect that it deserves, the ruin remains, but we complete it, we make it stronger, more attractive, more useful. The hole is embellished, is not plugged, it stays there, but the glass allows us to see where that last shot came from, so that we might hope to dodge the next
In that light, the valuation seems something extremely simple, but it is not. Politics and money are too often are the decision makers. There are places where the ruins, even with the bet of intentions, have no possibility of recovery, they will remain beautiful ruins, tied to the past.
These ruins, always using the tape measure of UNESCO, are destined to remain forever the Tentative Lists, in a kind of indefinite purgatory, as wonderful traces of a glorious past. The present does not have those criteria that would allow them to become patrimony of mankind, remaining relegated to a condition in which few people know that they exist, and even fewer know that they can visit them, even locally. Little is being done for these places to make them better known.
A Tentative List particular, the number 5408, literally reads:
“Justification of Outstanding Universal Value:
Criterion (iii): Lycian Civilization is unique to Teke Peninsula, Mediterranean Coast of Turkey in the world. Lycian League is also unique for being the first democratic union of the ancient times which actually inspired the democratic systems of the modern times. The city states are firmly bounded with this system and this system was assurance of the equal representation of the cities in the parliament. This federation brought strong ties between the citizens in the social life.
The political power gained by the Lycians through this federation contributed much to their survival against the invasions by the outer powers of their time.
“Criterion (iv): Lycian cities are easily distinguished with their characteristic architecture which is very well known for this part of the world and mostly well preserved. Especially the rock-cut monumental tombs are very distinctive in Anatolia and quality of stonemasonry of these people is noteworthy. Lycian cities mostly situated along the seaside on the overlooking hills to the sea and represent the solid relationship of these people with the sea.
Comparison with other similar properties: No other comparison is possible, because Lycian civilization is onlyexisted (sic) in this part of the world and Anatolia. “
No comment is needed, I can only leave you with photographs of this “tentative list”, as a dedication to all those places that because of a few in power, because of not having access to money for protection before and valorisation after, will be destined to be the ruins that sooner or later will disappear and of which will remain only the memory.
Irene Fanizza, Padua, Italy
RUINS: INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE
You can find a lot in a ruin besides old stones and crumbling mortar. I spend enough of my time wandering about in them, not unlike some character who inadvertently stepped beyond the frame of a painting by Friedrich, and has since been wandering among ruins, seeking a way back to the blank spot he’s left on the canvas.
Ruins are not unlike music, the sustained and fading notes of the past. Curiously, like dinosaurs, they haven’t been around that long. About the time the first iguanodons were emerging from their long sleep and taking shape in the imaginations of the public (initially as squat and lumpy quadrupeds, snouts comically capped with diminutive rhinoceros-like horns), ruins were at last gaining long-deserved recognition as well.
Additionally, like so many sweeping cultural changes, this recognition came on the threshold of radical and irreversible societal shifts. The industrial age had shifted focus – and populations, aided by quiet yet determined social wars; the Inclosure Acts come to mind – from rural to urban, mines and factories gave us smog for Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries, steam took over from sail, as the world began to shrink. (We are never so adept at looking back as when we are leaving something behind.) In France, Prosper Merimée and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc decided it was high time to give a voice to silent and crumbling masonry. Merimée was appointed inspector general of the Monuments Historiques on May 27, 1834. (Victor Hugo had declared La Guerre aux démolisseurs in the Revue des Deux Mondes two years before.)
Followed Viollet-le-Duc’s (controversial) restoration of Pierrefonds, Carcassonne, Vezelay, Notre-Dame de Paris (with the now-famous chimères, elbows posed pensively on parapets) and countless other decaying structures. It was about time; prior to that, abandoned castles and the like had been open-air quarries of ready-to-use stone, and many had already been much diminished, not so much by time as by enterprising masons. If the Coliseum in Rome has the ragged silhouette it has today, it is not because of shoddy Roman workmanship, but because so much of it found a place in more recent constructions.
The foundations of this new temple of thought, though, had already been paced off a generation before, across the Rhine in Germany, with the Romantics languidly promenading thoughts of faded glory against sunsets, in tailed coats and top hats. This painterly re-evaluation of nature naturally included ruins, though they were not the especial focus. Others were taking care of that, with the folly for follies seeing the construction of artificial ruins on rich estates, gigantic garden decorations ranging from Egyptian pyramids, Classical temples to more
plausible ruined abbeys and castles.
The romantic and the ideal ruin. Left: The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel, by Louis Daguerre, 1824. Centre: Ruins, by Ferdinand Knab, 1888. Right: Glastonbury Abbey With The Tor Beyond, by George Arnald (1763-1841)
Or perhaps it all began earlier, when Piranesi was busily engraving his unforgettable Carceri, and Rome itself was a ruin. From a city perhaps exceeding two million inhabitants in the first century CE, by Piranesi’s time, after century upon century of invasions, plagues and other calamities, only 150,000 could call Rome home. (From a low point in the 10th century of perhaps 30,000; Rome would only reach the proportions it once had in the 1940’s, 1800 years after its heyday.) It must have been stupendous monument to vainglory; ruins as far as the eye could see, with a scattering of inhabitants. (What I would give for a wander through Rome in the 17th century…)
Rome in ruins: Salario Bridge, engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Who knows exactly what our ancestors thought of ruins? (For the most part, they may have been too busy creating them.) Whatever they may have thought over millennia, concerted and generalized preservation of ruins is not yet two centuries old.
Isolated monuments had occasionally been revisited. The Sphinx at Giza was also variously reshaped, restored and shored up over the centuries, and excavated from the drifting sand a number of times.
The enigmatic ruin: The Sphinx, from The Children’s Encyclopedia, edited by Arthur Mee. Published by The Educational Book Company,London, 1920’s
One of the very first – and failed – attempts at restoration took place around the year 199 CE when the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus “fixed” one of the Colossi of Memnon, in Luxor. In the third century BCE, an earthquake toppled the torso of one of the statues, and cracked the base. It was the beginning of the statue’s lyrical career. Witnesses began to report hearing the statue “sing”, usually just before dawn, a sound Strabo described as sounding “like a blow”, and Pausanias as “the string of a lyre” breaking. Others described it as a whistling or keening sound, and travelers came from afar to witness the plaintive cry, as well as for the good luck it was supposed to bring. Then, the statue was repaired, with five rows of sandstone blocks fashioned into a clumsy silhouette and the dawn keening silenced forever. Symmetry: one, mystery: zero.
The mythological ruin: The Colossi of Memnon. From left to right: Photo by Antonio Beato, 19th century; The Colossi of Memnon in the flood season, by David Roberts, 1846-1849; The Colossi of Memnon, Thebes, by Carl Friedrich H. Werner, 1872; The Colossi at dawn, by H. R. Schutz; The Simoom, by Ludwig Hans Fischer, 1878; The Colossi of Memnon, by Hubert Sattler, 1846.
Before we acquired an appreciation of the weathered past, by the time the interest in archaeology, which began in Egypt and Greece, came closer to home, ruins, along with forests, mountains, rivers and much of what has become the elusive residence of the sublime, had no voice.
The noun “ruin” is only attested from the late 14th century, with the same sense as the verb which preceded it, descended from the Latin ruina “a collapse, a rushing down, a tumbling down“, via the Old French ruine. Ruins “remains of a decayed building or town” appears in the mid-15th century. A straightforward enough genealogy, but a short one, in view of the existence of ruins themselves.
Where does that leave us today? Ruins present no danger (except the purely physical, of course, in the form of falling clocks of masonry on incautious noggins), they stoke no political fires, they are passive and patient. By now, we have stepped beyond trying to improve on them, to recreate a perfect past, to recapture some imagine perfection of the ancients. A good century and a half has covered controversial late 19th-century restorations with a patina of history in their turn.
Let’s face it; we adore them because they are broken. We are drawn to broken things – museums are full of them: faded, cracked remnants of lives suspended in clay, stone, wood, glass or metal. We love them because they have moved beyond practical into intellectual usefulness; witness of vanished lives, they have gone beyond our reach and become art. (That is the defining thing about art; we don’t mess with it. We scrutinize it, we social-comment on it with all the sagacity we can muster, we parody or reinterpret it, but we don’t touch the originals except to preserve or restore.) Notwithstanding the occasional and spectacular refreshing of a chapel here and there, we don’t seek to mend broken things. (While objects can remain visibly fragmented, we are less partial to damaged paintings, and more often than not, expect them to be restored.) Do we want to see the face of the Victory of Samothrace, or run our hands over Venus de Milo’s shapely arms? Not really. Their absence justifies our existence, lets us perceive the past from a vantage point. The missing bits remind us that immortality is a hard slog, with heavy lifting and damaged corners.
The myths of the freefall from grace, of the abandoning of a Golden Age, so permeated our culture, (horizon-wide echoes of our own intimate life-journeys but on a vaster scale) that these immobile reminders of our past must be overgrown and crumbling to comfort us in our mobile brevity. (Ozymandias is more meaningful poetically than historically.) They remain still and endure; we, always in motion, do not. They offer a day pass for immortality, without the hard seats and frequent stops.
The allegorical ruin: Ozymandias, by Arthur Watts
That is why we so religiously preserve ruins, something inconceivable only two centuries ago, when antiquarians were wealthy gentleman looters, slowly metamorphosing into archaeologists and wunderkammers transformed from private to public collections to become the first museums, the eagerly amassed flotsam of aristocratic expeditions and canny overseas agents encumbering the authorities via generous bequeathals. (The oldest known museum, dating from 530 BCE, was to be found in the city of Ur, curated by Princess Ennigaldi, daughter of Nabonidus, the last of the kings of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The Renaissance saw museums established in Italy, but most institutions date from the 18th century.)
Museums though, house the mobile remnants; ruins, on the other hand, remain for the most part sagely where they were put, they don’t engage in movements of ill-considered nationalism or ethnocentricity. (The more diminutive and detachable cousins of ruins, antiquities, were happily stolen from Greece and Egypt for decades. Lord Elgin may have put the Marbles in his luggage, he had to leave the Parthenon be, though given the number of obelisks that strayed abroad from Egypt, never to return, the definition of “portable” is an ample one. Early in the 20th century, wealthy American magnates could still purchase European abbeys to ship to the USA.) Nonetheless, ruins have acquired a sort of neutrality through their steadfast abnegation, left high and dry by the swelling and shifting tides of migration and conquest. They are the patient survivors of time and the elements, of pogroms, reformations and zealotry.
Their patience, akin to the patience of Nature, mutes even the ill-intentioned passions dedicated to their willful defacement. The cold-chiseled coats-of-arms, the shattered features and limbs, are mutely and selflessly displayed. (Statues take their punishment unflinchingly; willful damage immediately takes on a surrealist quality.) All these mutilations are the eternal shame of those by whose hands the damage done. Time doesn’t heal stone; the maiming is as fresh as the day the dust settled. Time, though, eventually places ruins beyond our reach. If we watch with some satisfaction bronze dictators prized off pedestals, and with legitimate and ineffectual dismay antiquities topped with crowbars, smashed with sledgehammer or blown apart with explosives, it is because the former are still part of our world, the latter removed from it, and we have finally recognized ruins for what they are: Art. For that very reason, they require our protection, since they cannot defend themselves.
They deserve, as just recompense for their patience, to be placed beyond the reach of our passions, at least those destructive or interventionist ones, where we wish to eternally remain center stage, to be the principal players, where any other presence, be it inert and millennia old, is intolerable, where we would keep the past alive not for its own sake, but to provide significance to our dominance. We can’t rewrite history, but we like to think we can ignore portions of it by removing from the corner of our eyes inconvenient reminders of a past otherwise beyond our reach. Ruins need to remain beyond the grasp of that misguided egocentricity; how their silent silhouettes can irk is incomprehensible.
We can, and should, of course seek to arrest to some degree time’s erosion of ruins, but deftly, discretely, without compromising their nature. (We can, and do, dig carefully in their vicinity, the realm of archaeologists and historians.) Within earshot of ruins, the past murmurs to attentive minds; too heavy a restoration would still those voices, and we would only reveal that we have misunderstood.
Ruins are places of contemplation, like the spaces in front of paintings, spaces that should stand outside our petty preoccupations, for their own sake. In a sense, they are the sacred within the secular, belonging to no one, but to all.
Caspar David Friedrich. Left, the ruin as art: The Abbey in the Oakwood, 1808–10. Centre, man as the focus of the sublime: Wanderer above the sea of fog, 1818. Right, nature as ruin: The Sea of Ice, 1824
Ruins are Art, and thus require, in terms of the passions they solicit, that these passions be the apposite ones. No more than we would expect to make new arms for the Venus de Milo should we expect to “improve” on ruins. We may enthuse over the Mona Lisa or remain indifferent, but we wouldn’t propose that she would be prettier in a blue dress or with blond hair; we don’t draw up plans for a new nose on the Giza Sphinx. The Buddhas of Bamiyan likely listened in dismay to the chorus of would-be saviors who almost immediately proposed repairing them with concrete or resin; why make matters worse, they might have observed, just do a better job of protecting us next time.
The arena of our undertakings is the present and future, not the past. The remains of the past can be erased, but not the past itself. Rewriting history doesn’t change it, although it does change our view of it, usually for the worst, rarely for the better, as we shoehorn the past into our restricted view of things. We like the past to be convenient, to comfort and conform to our views, but the past just is, imposing our brief takes on old stories is petty. Leave the past – and above all, the lingering notes of the past – out of it.
That’s the reason ruins are so necessary to us. As Art, they define those human undertakings that are beyond our need to intervene, impose or change. These fading notes require that we listen, rather than raising our own out-of-key chorus to drown them out.
If we know what not to do with ruins, what then should we do with them? That’s the whole point. What do we do with Art? Principally, we content ourselves to pose only our regard upon it. We experience it without seeking to impose more than our reflections, contemplations and interpretations (modern art is a different matter of course; I am thinking of art by those who are no longer amongst the living). These encounters can be the well-cemented hooks on which we hang our concepts and thoughts, where we can come into the closest possible contact with the true nature our time on this Earth.
They are symbols of our acceptance to engage in Time itself, not as an unavoidable consequence, but as an action that may endure. Ruins are at our mercy, we may bulldoze them if we wish, but such acts only reinforce the transitory nature of our presence; you can destroy works of art, (and goodness knows humans have proved themselves to excel at it) you can’t destroy Art itself.
The ruin as the actor and the stage: the enigmatic works of Monsù Desiderio. For more:Two Gentlemen from Naples
Regrettably, for something that doesn’t really belong to us, we have total responsibility, a burden we assume with varying degrees of success; any errors we make remain disfigurations until time gathers them up in distance and makes them part of history. Later generations will shake their heads, and discuss how backward we were.
Equally, ruins of some age (before the dominance of reinforced concrete, a substance that ages poorly, and without elegance) are made of materials found in nature, and their attrition leads them back to the nature from whence they were quarried. (Of course they cannot be preserved unchanged, and indeed should not be, since their recipe is entropy and their raison d’être abandonment, but time for them flows so much slower than for us.) They possess a harmony rarely equaled, that of substance and form, tempered by time, encroached by wild and growing things they are the perfect places for thought to wander unfettered. They may no longer house human beings, but they can house our imaginations, be the realms of wandering thoughts.
No practical archaeology for me, I have a nodding acquaintance with the wings of history’s stage, but little more. I’d rather leave that to others. My favoured domain is harder to describe, mixing myth-genesis, story and image, but I do know where those things are best found: within sight of old walls and crumbled arches. (If it were possible, I would speak in etymons and paint in imagos – admittedly nonsense, but an entertaining fancy nevertheless.) That is why I am so grateful to circumstance, for placing all that wealth of imagination across my path. No pretensions of mystagogy, no postulating for apprentice hierophant, no desire to become the centre of anything, just a sense of sensibility and a willingness to listen for fading notes.
Where that leaves me is with the profound conviction that Art is a work of many hands, and especially those of time, and especially in regards to stones humans place on stones. The works created belong to us in a way that is so far beyond our brief endeavours that to wander in a ruin is to wander in time, past the liminal threshold into the sublime, in the same way the first Romantics awoke to the hectic beauty of nature. We, like they, are shielded from its worst extremes, our minds are freed by that distancing to wander. Ruins are places of introspection and effacement of self; they deal well with the morning and evening light, witness to the ever-reenacted union of Eos and Astraeus, with Aeolus as best man, those transitional moments when the soul is less solidly anchored to the consciousness, and when it is more likely to be reached by the voices of numinae (if there is not a Lares of ruins, there should be).
Where that leaves me is with the sentiment that ruins are the perfect numenon for the numinous (if you’ll pardon an indulgence of alliteration), the finite spaces that can house the infinite, as nature does. They are on the frontier between worlds past and present, human and natural, so many outposts on the borderlands between the commonplace and the transmundane.
Where that leaves me really, though, is wandering through a ruin, whenever I possibly can. I might stop looking to get back into that canvas and see what’s over hill and horizon.
And besides, chances are that blank spot has been overgrown with ivy by now.
John Howe, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
 “Be not the cause of your evil, but of thy good.”
 Viollet-le-Duc is buried in the Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery, in Lausanne, possibly not even under the modest headstone on plot 101 – many graves were relocated to make way for a freeway. He deserves far better; though monuments to his name abound, they are all of his own creation, done during his long and energetic career.
 The Romantic painters of the British Isles have Oliver Cromwell to thank for all those striking ruined abbeys and churches that were such favoured subjects. In a brisk half-decade, between 1536 and 1541, over 900 abbeys, monasteries, nunneries and religious houses were suppressed, many falling into abandonment and decay.
 Legend has it that Horemakhet arrived from the west in some forgotten time, before settling down facing the Nile to contemplate the rising sun. From where he came, we don’t know; with his long tail, he carefully effaced his tracks. For a little more on the Sphinx: The Sphinx with a Thousand faces
 Memnon was a King of Ethiopia, hero of the Trojan War, slain by Achilles. His name, “Son of the Dawn” (he was reputed to be the son of Eos, goddess of dawn), led to his association with the statues, the whole Theban necropolis eventually becoming known as the Memnonium. The statues are actually representations of Amenhotep III, who reigned in the 14th century BCE.
 The current sense dates only from the mid 19th century. Heinrich Schliemann plowed vigorously through layer upon layer of city under the tell at Hisarlik, bent on unearthing Homer’s fabled Troy and spiriting away “Priam’s Treasure” by night. Arthur Evans applied rather more scientific rigour in Knossos.
 My guess is that Jungian psychopomps happily reside in ruins, along with the thistles and ivy (and the ghost of Edmund Burke).