Daily Prompt: Planet

I’ve been working on this post for a few days because it takes me a while to both watch the documentary and get my notes typed up. Luckily, I have it finished and ready to go on the day that planet is the daily prompt. Because our planet is amazing, isn’t it? So many different places to see, so much history, world wonders! I’m happy I get to tag it with the day’s prompt.

This is part of the documentary series by the BBC The Frankincense Trail. In this segment, we’ll follow the trail up the Nile River in Egypt. I’ve included a summary with screencaps, quotes, and also added some supplemental material. I almost feel like I need to research more into some of these places the documentary visits. I saw a couple of the temples while watching the new Ancient Aliens series the other night. Sorry, no aliens visiting planet Earth in this documentary.

I’ve sorted this summary by location with the documentary video at the end and a link to Part 1.


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The frankincense trail of the pharaohs, who used frankincense smoke to communicate with their gods, begins along the Nile River at Egypt’s southern border.

Who was responsible for shipping frankincense? The Nubians, a civilization that predates that of the pharaohs’ Egypt. They controlled trade along the Nile. Today their boats carry tourists instead of frankincense.

More on the Nubians from Huffington Post:

The Nubians are one of the oldest civilizations in the world, having lived alongside the Nile river in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan for thousands of years.

Today, most Nubians live on the fringes of society in Egypt. Nubian communities have been forced to leave their homes near the river to make way for reservoirs and dams several times in the past 100 years.

In the 1960s, more than 50,000 Nubians were forced to vacate their lands and offered a place in desert settlements near Kom Umbo during the construction of the famous Aswan High Dam. Some families moved to the settlements, while others sought refuge on islands north or in villages in Gharb Aswan.

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The BBC crew was invited to a Nubian wedding party. For a gift, they brought some of their frankincense. Frankincense smoke is used to consecrate the marriage.

This is the 3rd day of the wedding celebration, though Nubian weddings can last up to 40 days. The groom paid for all 200 of his guests and saved for seven years to pay for it. The bride has been waiting inside while the women prepare a ritual blessing incense of frankincense, herbs, and bark.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom are given away by their mothers and blessed by incense smoke.

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Philae Temple, because of its geographical location in the southernmost part of Egypt’s territory, probably doubled as a trading post. The pharaohs believed that the smoke from frankincense allowed them to assume the power of the gods.

The original temple was actually moved after a dam was built and flooded it. It’s the same temple dug up from the original location and placed across the river.

Near the Valley of the Kings, the Queen Hatshepsut Temple shows a vandalized image of her on a wall making an offering of frankincense. The Queen was the first to burn huge quantities of frankincense and is the creator of the Feast of Amun. The feast lasted a week and featured a pyre that continuously burned frankincense. The frescos in the temple are some of the earliest records of frankincense being transported.

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The Karnak Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak, comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings. Building at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I.

“This is one of the most astonishing things about Egypt. You walk around a corner and there’s yet another whalloping great temple.”

In ancient Egypt, a priest would lead a procession carrying burning frankincense. The pharaoh would then present it to a statue of a god. If the ritual was performed well, it meant prosperity for Egypt. You can see scenes depicting this ritual carved into the walls of the temple.


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One of the most holy locations for the Coptic Christians in Egypt is located here. They believe that Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus fled to the caves here.

The fasting of the Virgin Mary is celebrated from the 7th-22nd of August according to the Coptic calendar. Frankincense, if they have it, is burned for the celebration with the belief that the smoke will deliver their prayers to God. During the parade, people try to get as close to the Bishop as possible to be blessed.


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GIZA, EGYPT – NOVEMBER 13: The three large pyramids of Menkaure (L), Khafre (C) and Khufu loom over the horizon November 13, 2004 at Giza, just outside Cairo, Egypt. The three large pyramids at Giza, built by King Khufu over a 30 year period around 2,550 B.C., are among Egypt’s biggest tourist attractions. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In the Great Pyramid, like all ancient Egyptian funeral rituals, frankincense would’ve been the main offering.

Sinai Desert

The frankincense trail makes a turn east and away from the Nile River at this point. From the Sinai Desert, it’s a 2-day, 30 mile journey by foot and camel to the Red Sea coast.

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This local doctor with no formal medical training treats his patients with herbs and plants from around the desert. Here they’re collecting an herb that’s like a desert rosemary to treat a stomach ulcer.
A sheikh checks to see if she was possessed by a jinn spirit while she slept by burning frankincense. If the embers are pure white, then there is no jinn spirit. The embers are then added to water to make a blessing.

Next stop: Jordan! Part 1 of the trail visiting Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.