Welcome to the latest Ancient Egypt stories that made the headlines over the first week of May.
With reference to the recent Sham el Nessim celebrations, renowned Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass said that celebrating with Spring and having salted fish meals are inherited habits from Ancient Egypt as they used to salt and dry the fish in the old Canopus city. Moreover, they served it to guests, in addition to adding it to their meals.
Regarding the eggs, Hawass explained that Ancient Egyptians came across eggs in 5 B.C. and they imported chickens and eggs from the Persian cultures.
Therefore, eggs were a precious gift for the pharaoh. Hawass said, the Ancient Egyptians used to gift their wives a lotus flower in the early morning on that special day. Then, family members would gather to decorate eggs celebrating the cheerfulness of life.
So, Spring Day (Sham El Nasim) turned into a national and social celebration for all Egyptians regardless of their religions, symbolizing the beauty and continuity of life and its beauty after winter.
Last week, the Department of Cultural Development and Community Communication in the Office of the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities launched an initiative titled “Hekayetna", meaning “Our Story”, in cooperation with the public and technical education sectors of the Ministry of Education and Technical Education.
Dr. Rasha Kamal, Director of the Department, said that this Initiative is part of the annual agenda of the department, which aims to raise tourism and archaeological awareness among school students at all educational stages, by implementing a number of visits to tourist and archaeological sites in various Egyptian provinces, and linking these visits to local and international events and modern archaeological discoveries.
She explained that the first phase of this initiative is to highlight the efforts in the tourism and antiquities sector to preserve our heritage, where the administration launched a competition for students of 22 schools to choose the best videos and audio recordings illustrated by students in Arabic, English, French and German about the royal mummies Golden Parade that took place earlier this year.
Six schools won the competition, and the prize was an introductory tour inside the Central Exhibition Hall and the Mummies Hall of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, and the distribution of certificates of honour.
Dr. Kamal pointed out that the administration also organized a visit for a number of other students of schools in Cairo and Giza to the NMEC, while another group of students from schools in Qena and Luxor visited the temples of Karnak and Luxor, with the aim of providing them with information about the royal mummies since their discovery in Luxor, the places they have been exhibited in during the past years, until their recent journey to their permanent display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
Dr. Mustafa Al-Saghir, who supervises the Karnak antiquities area, said that during the trip, a number of students wore clothes inspired by ancient Egyptian costumes, and carried banners with printed pictures and the names of the kings and queens of ancient Egypt whose mummies were transported in the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade in April.
Egypt will showcase a royal mummy and exact replicas of the royal mummies at the Expo 2020 in Dubai, said Commissioner General of Egypt at Expo 2020 Dubai and Head of the Egyptian Commercial Service, Ahmed Diab.
It is possible that the mummy will be one of the 22 mummies that were transferred in the recent Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.
Expo 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic and will now take place in Dubai from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. This is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.
Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, followed up on the progress of the transportation of the first Solar Boat (Khufu boat) from its display site at the Khufu Boat Museum in the Pyramid Antiquities Area to its new display place at the Grand Egyptian Museum.
Dr. Waziri explained that the packaging and reinforcement work on the body of the boat is conducted in accordance with scientific international standards used in the transfer of antiquities, and according to the set schedules. He added that the restoration team carried out a comprehensive cleansing of the body of the boat before the reinforcement work, taking very good care of the safety and security of the parts of the boat during the transfer, in addition to the use of acid-free materials in the packaging process.
During the visit, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities was accompanied by Dr. Tayeb Abbas, Assistant Minister of Tourism and Antiquities for Archaeological Affairs of the Grand Egyptian Museum, Dr. Issa Zidan, Director General of Restoration and Antiquities Transfer at the Grand Egyptian Museum, and Professor Ashraf Mohieddin, Director of the Pyramid Antiquities Area.
The first Khufu solar boat was discovered in May 1954 by Engineer Kamal al-Mallah and is considered one of the most unique archaeological discoveries of King Khufu. Egyptian restorer Ahmed Youssef restored and rebuilt the boat over a period of 14 years.
Tourists visiting Egypt’s famed pyramids may rarely stray from the beaten track, but a project focused on rural villages adjoining the ancient sites now encourages them to do so.The scheme takes visitors to a verdant strip of farmland thick with palm trees that runs south of the Giza pyramids, between the lesser-known pyramids of Saqqara and Dahshur and the western bank of the Nile.
There they can get a glimpse of local communities as part of Visit Badrashin, a sustainable tourism project funded by the European Union.“When a tourist visits, they can pass by a farmer here and have a cup of tea in the fields, buy handicrafts from a woman selling them or eat traditional food from the area,” said Heba Ragab, a tourism expert who works on the project.
The project includes the villages of Saqqara, Abu Sir and Dahshur, all in the district of Badrashin, and offers training to the local community in an effort to help them tap into tourism revenues and protect their livelihoods.
“They trained me on how to deal with clients; we never had any tourists come to this area,” said local, Mohamed Hamdy, “So now, I’ve become a local tour guide.”
The coronavirus pandemic has reduced tourist arrivals in Egypt to a fraction of their previous levels and the project’s activities have been scaled back, but visits have continued.
On one recent outing, a small group of tourists were taken on a tour of the Saqqara complex before being taken for a traditional fast-breaking evening meal nearby during the holy month of Ramadan. Women from the village rolled vine leaves, baked bread and grilled chicken, ending the meal with cups of mint-infused tea, sipped around an open fire.
According to the directives of Prime Minister Dr. Mostafa Madbouly, the Ministries of Civil Aviation, and Tourism and Antiquities have decided to extend the initiative to support domestic tourism in Egypt until May 31.
The decision is part of the government's package of promotional measures to support the tourism and aviation sector and its staff at the direction of the President to support the sector and its employees and stimulate tourism.
Airfares for Egyptians and foreigners are fixed at a single price, including taxes, to go and return from Cairo and Alexandria to Luxor at LE 1500, to Aswan LE 1800, from Cairo or Alexandria to Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada and Taba LE 1800, and to Marsa Alam LE 2000.
The initiative was originally launched by the Ministries of Civil Aviation, and Tourism and Antiquities last January.
And that is it for this week.