Favorite Moments of 2013

Amidst all the homework and thesis-writing (let me just tell you: two theses per house is too many. I mean, someone has to do the laundry…) we did manage to have some adventures in 2013. We both graduate with our Master’s degrees this year, so I’m hopeful that 2014 will bring more site-seeing and travels.

Here are our top 4 Favorite Moments of 2013 (in order of appearance):

Bry:
1- Hot-air ballooning over the West Bank in Luxor and seeing the monuments from the air
2- Working for 4 weeks in Luxor at a monument restoration project
3- Visiting Disneyland again with my family
4- Camping in the Western Desert and visiting the Fayoum archaeological sites

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Brice:
1- Getting a tour of Luxor and Edfu from Bry
2- Our Anniversary getaway at a fancy hotel
3- Visiting Disneyland for the first time
4- Camping and driving around in the Western Desert

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Camping in the Fayoum: Scenes of the Desert

Last month we got to do something we’ve wanted to do since moving to Egypt: camp in the desert! There are many popular places for desert-camping in Egypt and I wanted to share some photos from this experience. We’re looking forward to camping in some other places in the future. (I’m dying to get to Siwa Oasis and the White Desert!) The trip was organized as an Egyptology field-trip to the Fayoum, so we visited several ancient sites as well – I’ll share some of those photos in a separate blog post.

We were driven across the desert to our campsite in 4-wheel-drive vehicles, with our possessions, tents and meals packed atop them. Getting stuck is something that happens often, but the pause while the vehicle manages to free itself from the deep sand is a beautiful respite from the bumpiness of the ride. DSC_0862

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A view of of Lake Moeris, an ancient lake that has given life to the oasis’ inhabitants for thousands of years. DSC_0858

The campsite from a distance.

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At the campsite.

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The little blue domes of our tents are visible in the distance as we drove away to see more desert sites.
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Sunset over our campsite.

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We’re back!

After being away from our apartment for my 4 week stay in Luxor at the South Asasif and our 7 week trip to the US to visit friends and family, we are so very glad to be home again! We’ve returned to Egypt during a chaotic time (almost everyone we talked to right before our return was incredulous that we still planned on coming back)… the “second revolution” began on June 30th and culminated with the removal of democratically-elected Egyptian President Morsi just days later. Brice and I were in line for a ride at Disneyland with my family when we saw the news… and all we really wished for was that we could be here to experience it with our adoptive home country.

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When we finally arrived back to Egypt a week ago, most of the country was experiencing a curfew that began at 7 pm and lasted until 6 am. Living under curfew is a very different and interesting experience! Traffic in Cairo, already notoriously bad, is worsened by the city-wide change in work hours, visiting hours, etc. The curfew was moved to 9 pm a few days ago, and yesterday moved again to 11 pm, hopefully making mobility in Cairo (grocery shopping, seeing friends, etc.) a little easier for us. My last semester of classes at the American University in Cairo begin tomorrow, on Sept. 2nd, and with this latest curfew push-back, all the evening classes on campus should be all to go ahead as scheduled.

All that being said, we are glad to be back and have had some quality catch-up time with our cats, apartment and friends. We’re excited to see what Egypt has in store for us next!

Egyptomania #3

Last semester I was made President of the Egyptology Club at the American University in Cairo (a huge surprise!). We’ve done some fun stuff so far (a museum trip and hosting a lecturer) and this week we have a booth set up on campus. Through a friend of a friend (how anything works here in Egypt) we found a woman who would make these ankh cookies for us to sell at our booth. And we were totally blown away by their cuteness!

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The Fayoum Pyramids

The most famous ancient Egyptian pyramids (the Giza pyramids) are located just a short drive to the west of Cairo; they are the largest and among the oldest ever built. But there are over a dozen pyramids south of the Memphite Necropolis, and several dozen even as far south as Sudan.

Last month we made it to a few of the pyramids near the Fayoum: the Hawara pyramid, el-Lahun pyramid, and Meidum pyramid.

The Hawara pyramid is a 12th Dynasty (Amenemhat III) mudbrick pyramid located along the Bahr Yusef in the southern Fayoum. The passages are now filled with water from a nearby canal! Beside it was once an enormous temple, dubbed ‘The Labyrinth’ by archaeologists because of its size and numerous rooms.

The Lahun pyramid is also a mudbrick pyramid over a stone core but with a missing stone exterior. The entrance is unusually on the south side of the pyramid, rather than the east side. It was built by Senusret II nearby the pyramid town of Kahun.

The Meidum pyramid was built by the builder of the first true-sided pyramid in Egypt, Sneferu. It was begun as a step-sided pyramid that was then transformed into a true-sided pyramid. Unfortunately, the Meidum pyramid was unsound in its construction (likely due to the poor limestone foundation) and it partially collapsed by the New Kingdom.

Site Visit: Karanis (Kom Aushim)

Hopeful to squeeze the last few adventures out of our Winter break, four of us loaded up into a friend’s car on Friday and headed in the direction of the Fayoum. The Fayoum is the area of a now artificially-sustained lake in a valley about 3 hours southwest of Cairo by car. It is most visited for its Late Period and Greco-Roman sites of towns and temples (many to the crocodile-headed god Sobek, the popular god of the region). Karanis is a large site at the northernmost of the Fayoum of mud-brick houses and baths, a marketplace and two stone temples.