chapter  3
28 Pages


Abandoning the city, physical forgetting
WithBenedict Anderson

In Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, Jan Assmann examines the connections between life and death in Egyptian culture as a constant preoccupation that was socially and symbolically woven into daily rituals. Living was to be in the awareness of death and death was a means of continuing life into an afterlife. In spite of their cultural preoccupation with death, the Egyptians ‘hated death, and in a sense, they built their tombs as a countermeasure to it’. Spread along the Nile from Alexandria to Aswan, the monuments and tombs that enshrined the Pharaohs, high-ranking officials and the wealthy elite have continued their remembrance over millennia. In 1784 the French architect Etienne-Louis Boullee planned a funerary memorial to capture – through building – the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and gravity. Devastated and depopulated urban landscapes, coupled with huge task of reconstruction after end of war, created a forum for rethinking existing traditions of urban planning.