Almost 100 years ago, Howard Carter came across one of the most shocking discoveries of the 20th century. It was, specifically, on November 4 when this British archaeologist found the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, registered as KV62, and the impressive treasure that composed it. A century has already passed since then and, despite the advances in archaeology and the interest aroused by the culture of the country of the Nile, there are still unresolved questions about the life of the Egyptian king. Therefore, this milestone will be one of the axes of the fifth edition of the International Meeting of Ocultura, an event that, on this occasion, will focus on a civilization as fascinating as that of Ancient Egypt.
From November 10 to 13, the Zaragoza Auditorium will host this meeting, which has already been held twice in the Aragonese capital since it moved to the city last year. If then it focused on extraterrestrials and UFOs, this time it will be the mysteries of Egypt that will occupy the program. In it, renowned experts will address various issues to shed light on them or delve into the problems they raise.
Its promoter, the writer Javier Sierra, winner of the Planeta prize, explains that Ocultura already had “a great reception last year” despite the complicated circumstances related to the pandemic, and this year they wanted to repeat “with a far-reaching theme such as Ancient Egypt”.
It comes, precisely, in a 2022 in which, in addition to the centenary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, also marks the 200th anniversary of the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone, “which is the archaeological piece that allowed the reading of the texts of ancient Egypt and, therefore, access to their culture,” he says.
A full program with renowned experts
Its program includes presentations such as that of the Egyptologist from the University of Manchester Nacho Ares (November 10, 19.00 hours), who will give a keynote lecture to find out where the current knowledge about the reign of Tutankhamun and his own figure.
“We know a lot about Tutankhamun’s treasure, because 5,000 pieces were found, but we know practically nothing about the reign of the pharaoh himself; there are hardly any references in other monuments, steles or inscriptions of the time,” says Sierra about this Egyptian king.
In fact, he insists that it is a “very, very obscure” reign, which causes a contradiction: “We have his treasure, which is wonderful, but we remain in ignorance about his personality and what he did in his life,” he says.
Also participating from London will be the historian Andrew Collins (November 11, 6 p.m.), author of the book, recently published as part of the Ocultura Library, ‘The Lost Legacy of Tutankhamun’, in which he wonders about the absence of documents in the tomb.
The architect of Egyptian and Belgian origin Jean-Paul Bauval (November 11, 7 p.m.), will talk about issues such as the construction techniques that could be applied in the Great Pyramid, the advanced mathematics that the ancient Egyptians mastered to erect such a construction, which is still standing and other issues related to this question.
The figure of Jesus Christ will also be present in this edition of Ocultura, specifically, with the intervention of the theologian Llogari Pujol (November 13, 12.00 pm), author of the controversial book ‘Jesus, 3,000 years before Christ’, in which he investigates ancient Egyptian texts to conclude that the evangelists copied them “to give more authority to the figure of Jesus,” says the promoter of Ocultura.
The epigrapher and expert in Egyptian writing Carmen Ruiz (November 11, 6 p.m.) will conduct a workshop to explain the rudiments of hieroglyphics, while Salva Rubio and Cesc Dalmases, the authors of the comic ‘The Immortal Pyramid’, which adapts Sierra’s work, will also be in the auditorium in Zaragoza.
The editor and symbology expert Sebastián Vázquez (Nov. 12, 6 p.m.), also a scholar of the history of religions, will delve into how the ancient Egyptians used the symbol “as a basic tool to build their culture.”
“We are trying to build a day that fascinates everyone a little,” says Sierra, who anticipates “surprises” such as possible live connections with Egypt, specifically, “with a journalist or an Egyptologist” who are working in the field.
An ancient fascination
On the fascination aroused by Ancient Egypt, Sierra recalls that the Romans already looked in that mirror. “Today, for example, Rome is the city with the most Egyptian obelisks, more than any archaeological site in the country of the Nile itself or any vestige of any city of the ancient pharaohs,” he says.
“From the time of the Romans until today, that admiration has not diminished, indeed, it went up a lot with Napoleon Bonaparte,” he explains. “In the 19th century, Napoleon conquered Egypt, rediscovered Egypt for Europe and, in some way, reawakened what experts call ‘Egyptomania’“.
Thus, for Sierra, the human being “has never” stopped looking at that civilization. “Partly because we know that we come from it,” he says. In fact, he alludes to the fact that the Greeks and Romans, the cultural basis of Western society, “had as their base, in turn, the ancient Egyptian culture.”
“The power structures, fashion, cosmetics, cosmetics, basic medicinal instruments… all of that actually comes out of Egyptian civilization and we recognize and identify with it,” he adds.
And, of course, he refers to “all the mysteries” it left behind. “Despite all the progress we have made in archaeology, we still don’t know how the pyramids were built, for example, and that continues to generate much discussion, much debate, among experts and much speculation among the general public,” he says.
Oculture, the hidden behind the great culture
But, beyond the mysteries of Egypt that this meeting raises, what does the term occultism consist of? Sierra relates that it is a neologism coined at the end of the 20th century in Europe “to refer to all the influences, sometimes esoteric, of secret societies or simply information that should not transcend public opinion due to political or religious interests at a given time and that have served to build our society.”
“Occult is to discover that, for example, Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery after participating in some séances”, points out the ‘alma mater’ of this appointment. A U.S. president, he continues, whose wife “was a convinced spiritualist” who influenced her husband so much “that she ended up taking him to these sessions and he was convinced that he had to abolish slavery.”
Another case Sierra exposes is that of the department created by English Prime Minister Winston Chuchill in the midst of World War II “to fabricate false prophecies of Nostradamus, false horoscopes and false esoteric information” in order to discourage Hitler, who was “an obsessive of the occult sciences”, in his plans to conquer Europe.
“That is occultism, that is, everything that is hidden behind the great culture,” he concludes.