January 25, 2022
By: Kenzy Hesham
Have you ever heard the story of the Ancient Egyptian Priestess, Bentreshyt? She lived in the Temple of Isis in Abydos after being abandoned by her mother at the age of 3. In her late teens, King Seti fell in love with her breathtaking beauty although it was a violation of religious laws. When she found out she was pregnant, she committed suicide to protect King Seti from the shame and dishonourement.
She believed that one day their eternal love would bring them back together in the afterlife. What if I told you that this wasn’t an Egyptian myth, but in fact the life story of the British woman Dorothy Eady (1904 – 1981)? Or at least that is what she believed.
In 1907, at the age of 3, Dorothy Eady fell down a flight of stairs, was knocked unconscious and presumed dead by the family doctor. To his astonishment, he found her playing on her bed an hour later when he came to prepare the body. However, Dorothy was far from being back to her normal self. She began to have recurring dreams of life in a huge columned building, and she often insisted that she wanted to go home.
You may be thinking to yourself that these are the delusions of a young girl with an overactive imagination, and I must say the people in the British Museum on the day Dorothy visited would have probably agreed. Upon entering the Egyptian galleries, Dorothy proceeded to kiss the feet of the statues, sit next to a preserved mummy and insist that she be left there with her people.
In 1931(at the age of 29), Dorothy followed the yellow brick road to the Emerald City: Egypt. There, she married Abdel Maguid and had her first son Sety (his name was a tribute to her lover). Fuelled by a passion for Egyptology, she became the first woman to work for the Department of Antiquities at Abydos. It was at The Temple of Seti where people started to question their previous notions about Dorothy as they watched her stand before a plot of land- as ordinary and undistinguishable as the rest -and declare it the sight of the central garden of the temple.
Hours of excavation revealed a garden with Dorothy’s exact recollection of tree types and arrangements. Like a map uncovering the path to hidden treasure, Dorothy led a team of bewildered archeologists to a tunnel, north of the temple, which had gone unnoticed for decades.What was even more jaw dropping was her ability to perfectly describe images that had never been disclosed to the public. She was adamant that her discoveries were based on memories and not research or intuition.
Some say she may have created this delusion as a coping mechanism. Others believe she may have been influenced by books and movies about Egypt,romance and reincarnation as they were quite popular back then. We may never know the truth behind Dorothy Eady; however, we can’t turn a blind eye to her immense contribution to the field of Egyptology. As her friend Dr. Hanny El Zeini stated, “I cannot honestly remember the number of Ramesses, Nefertitis, Cleopatras and Hatshepsuts I have encountered. Most such persons remain satisfied with boring their friends with details, but Dorothy Eady differed from the competition, and here lies her fame and interest.”
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