Day 5: Thursday, February 7.
Some days on the tour are more about traveling to the next destination rather than pure archaeological tourism, and today was to be one of those days, with an important exception: a trip en route to the ruins of ancient Memphis. Morning saw our hotel check out, and the loading of our bags onto the bus that would eventually take us to the Cairo airport and thence to Aswan, where we are to board our cruise ship on Lake Nasser. At Memphis, our guide Mahmoud showed us the archaeological park formed out of statues and temple parts from this, the capital of Egypt during most of the ancient millennia. We also saw column bases from the poorly-known (and hardly published!) palace of King Merneptah, excavated in the... Read More
Day 4: Wednesday, February 6.
Our plan for a morning visit to the Egyptian Museum, located in the now globally famous Tahrir Square, has been on my mind for weeks prior to the departure of this trip. Even the smallest chance of any disturbances in the area would prevent our visiting the treasures located in the museum. Through careful AIA Tours planning, and as a great benefit of our “behind the scenes” special access, the museum was opened to our group exclusively at 7 AM, two hours before the public opening.
We all felt quite special as the museum staff opened the ornate, early 20th century iron gates of the museum just for us, ushering us into the entirely empty museum garden. For professional Egyptologists, the chance to... Read More
Day 3: Tuesday, February 5.
After a cold and very rainy arrival in Cairo a week ago, I was relieved to wake up to a spectacularly clear view of the pyramid of King Khufu at Giza for the first full day of our AIA Tour: Behind the Scenes in Ancient Egypt.
Heading up by bus to the plateau, most of us chose to withstand the briefly cramped conditions of the ascending passages of the interior of Khufu’s pyramid so that we could marvel at the vast internal space of the Grand Gallery, and the massive masonry of the burial chamber. Our group was amused to find that, although the pyramid was nearly empty, we were nonetheless not alone in the burial chamber: two visitors were already there, carrying out resonant, Tibetan-style chanting next to... Read More