Author of the Month

Black Genesis (cont.)
By Robert Bauval & Thomas Brophy

… Before we go into this, however, we must understand better why the CPE made the mistake of leaving out of their research and investigation the regions of Gilf Kebir and Jebel Uwainat, for even with the problem of their great distance from Nabta Playa, it should have been obvious that they were in some way related to the ancient people who developed Nabta Playa. Let us review, then, where and when this intriguing story of the Egyptian Sahara really began. Surprisingly, it was not in Egypt but in the dimly lit corridors of Balliol College, Oxford, England.

From Chapter Two, section Oxford Gentleman, Queen’s Lover, and Deep Desert Explorer:

When we think of the Arabian deserts and their rolling landscape of golden dunes, for most of us what comes to mind are romantic figures such as Lawrence of Arabia, Omar Sharif, or even Rudolf Valentino. Few will think of Ahmed Hassanein Bey* or even know who he was. It may come as a surprise to many, then, that according to the Royal Geographical Society of London, Hassanein Bey is ranked as the greatest desert explorer of all times, so much so that the director of the desert survey of Egypt at that time referred to Hassanein’s desert exploration as “an almost unique achievement in the annals of geographic exploration.”

So who really was Ahmed Hassanein Bey, and why is he important to our investigation into the origins of the pharaohs? Ahmed Hassanein was born in Cairo in 1889. He was educated at an English private school, as was then customary for well-to-do families in Egypt. As a young man, he was sent to England to complete his gentleman’s education at Balliol College, one of the most prestigious institutions of Oxford University. The very stiff-upper-lip education that he received there would serve Hassanein well for the diplomatic career he was destined to pursue in Egypt. Described by his peers and biographers as an exotic blend of court official, diplomat, Olympic champion (he represented Egypt in Brussels in the 1920 Olympics and in Paris in 1924), photographer, writer, politician, royal tutor (to the future King Farouk) and an incurable romantic (among his amorous conquests was the lovely Queen Nazli), Hassanein was the last of the great desert explorers. He also had an excellent family pedigree: he was the son of an eminent scholar of Al Azhar Islamic University as well as the grandson of Egypt’s last admiral and naval hero. Endowed with such impeccable breeding and education, as well as having wit, charm, and panache, Ahmed Hassanein was to become one of the most influential figures in Egypt, holding no less than the high ranks of chief of the Diwan and chamberlain to King Farouk. It is said that the young king was so dependent on Hassanein that the latter’s untimely death in 1946 triggered the demise of King Farouk, which finally led to his abdication and exile in 1952. Tall, slender, romantic, charming, polite, *[Bey is a Turkish title for “chieftain.” —Ed.] and dashingly handsome, Hassanein’s true passion, however, was not politics or glamorous women but the open desert or, to be more specific, the great Egyptian Sahara. This passion would eventually drive him to undertake the most daring of desert expeditions and to discover one of the most mysterious places on earth…

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