A Travellerspoint blog

Egypt: Cairo: Ancient Egyptian History 101

May 2, 2011

sunny 98 °F

All the Egyptians we’ve meet have been very friendly and more than happy to help, sometimes. . . for a little “baksheesh” or tip. We got the news today that Osama Bin Laden has been killed while we’re here in a Muslim country. We were definitely a bit nervous about the backlash but so far there has been none. Some people have asked our opinions on the whole thing and we keep our answers pretty vague :) We had a good idea about where to go in Egypt thanks to Tony’s Aunt Pat and Sonia’s help. We just decided to walk around Cairo and talk to a few travel agencies about what we’d like to book. Our third try was Khaled at Othman tours and he put together an 11 day package for the two of us for a total cost of $820 including a Nile cruise, all transport, most meals, and personal tour guides for the ancient sites!?! The only thing it didn’t include was admission fees to the sites and alcohol. You know what they say things about when things seem too good to be true so we’ll all see how it works out :)

We had gotten a personal recommendation for lunch so we headed to Felfela for delicious chicken schwarmas. We were the only non-Egyptians in the place! Ruby was politely reminded by a young girl in a hijab that her t-shirt was riding up in the back when she sat down—that was a first! We thought of our friend Loz and her aversion to rotating meats. . . Egypt may not be the place for her! :)

After getting all of that sorted out we were off to the Egyptian museum in Cairo which is housed in a striking pink colored building with ruins on the outside as well as inside. Tony got us an awesome guide, Assam, who was totally thorough in explaining so much of the history. Sadly they don’t allow cameras inside :( We got to see a replica of the Rosetta Stone; the real one is in England. They say Herodotus the Greek wrote the history of Egypt so some of the names are different from what we remember learning in school. He reminded us about the different periods of history in Egypt: the Old, Middle and New Kingdom separated into dynasties 1-30) as well as the Greco-Roman Period followed by the Islamic period.

For mummification the ancient Egyptians would take out the stomach intestines, liver, kidneys and brain and place them into canopic jars. They would leave the heart in because it would be weighed against a feather in the afterlife to determine if the person had been good or bad in life. If it was a heavy heart the person would be sent to the equivalent of hell. They also had a whole exhibit on mummified animals including cats, a crocodile over 18 feet long and even baboons. . .you don’t think we’d make it without seeing monkeys in this country right?! We saw tons of statues of famous pharaohs; one of our faves was the tiniest statue (9cm) of King Khufu for whom the Great Pyramid in Giza was built. This is the only known image/carving of Khufu since his tomb has yet to be discovered. We also checked out the contents of Hatep-Heres’ (mom of King Khafre of the 2nd pyramid) tomb including tons of funerary furniture for her afterlife. It was so uncomfortable looking you’d have to be dead to enjoy it! We didn’t know it but we would actually go INSIDE her pyramid where these things were found.

The highlight though was the contents of King Tutankhamen’s (Tut’s) tomb! He was the youngest king at the age of 9 and died early and suddenly at the age of 19. His is one of the only tombs that had any valuables remaining inside it because normally thieves would loot the tombs. Luckily, King Tut’s tomb was under another tomb and wasn’t ever discovered by thieves. That is until 1922 when it was accidentally discovered. The museum has a collection of his burial masks, nesting sarcophagi, jewelry, and so much more. Everything was gorgeous and so intricately detailed it’s unbelievable. Ruby wishes she could have some of those pieces made for herself . . . too bad she’d have to wait until death to wear them!

After the long day we headed over to El Gad (another local rec) for some of the BEST falafel and hummus ever. It looks like France is not the only country that eats pigeons—add Egypt to the list! We didn’t try it again though :) Afterwards we loved walking through the Khan el-Khalili market, it was really colorful and the shop owners were friendly. By the way, there are definitely mosquitoes that bite out here . . . and Ruby is tasty to them!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 11:31 Archived in Egypt

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My bf's favorite dish in Egypt (he's Egyptian) is pigeon (hammam mahshi). His mom made it for us at home using quail and it was really yummy :-)

by christysuzanne

LOL .. I guess we should have tried it! Did you see our post in France about our first experience with pigeon? :)

by Tony.Ruby

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