Egypt : Land Before Time

In recent years, the number of people touring Egypt has slowly dwindled. This is most likely due to the violence in the Middle Eastern region and the few bombings and kidnappings that have occured in recent years. However, these cases are pretty much isolated, and the thousands of people who visit Egypt every year thoroughly enjoy their experience there.
Egypt is famous for a lot of things, from their exotic perfumes, fine cotton, and the mysteries of mummification and their ancient religion. However, I would like to focus on the architectural and engineering wonders of the Egyptian civilization. When the tribes in Europe and Africa were still building huts and shelters, the Egyptians have already constructed monstrous monuments hundreds of feet in height and width. It is this superiority that has elevated the ancient Egyptian civilization as one of the greatest civilizations in the world.
The Great Pyramids of Giza
By far the most famous of Egypt's architectural wonders are the 3 Great Pyramids located at Giza, near Cairo. These monuments are hundreds of feet in height, and have survived the test of time for the last 4500 years. There are over a hundred pyramids of various sizes in Egypt, and more in neighboring Sudan. These monuments serve as tombs for the great pharaohs of ancient Egypt, and stand as testimony to the power and influence of these pharaohs.
When you stand at the bottom of the Great Pyramids, looking up at their magnificence, the feeling is indescribable. You begin to wonder just how the ancient people managed to construct this huge structure with only the help of the simple tools available at that time. And this feeling of awe intensifies when you take the opportunity to descend into the pyramids via the original entrances that were used thousands of years ago. When you touch the walls of the now-empty tombs beneath the pyramids, you will feel as if you were there thousands of years ago when the tombs were freshly carved. (One warning: You might not want to enter the pyramids if you are claustrophobic!)
The Sphinx
Next to the Great Pyramids at Giza is the enigmatic Sphinx. A gigantic statue with the head of a man and the body of a lion, the great Sphinx stares silently at the east, perhaps watching the sunrise, or perhaps protecting the great pyramids from whatever evils that may threaten to destroy them. The Sphinx is just as old as the pyramids, aging over 4500 years (or more, depending on which group of archaeologists you believe).
Almost everyone has heard of the Sphinx with its missing nose, and some might wonder how he actually lost his nose. (Do not believe what you saw in the Disney cartoon Aladdin) Almost everyone has seen many pictures, or perhaps the Discovery channel, showing the Sphinx in various angles. But you have to visit it, to stand there right next to it, to realize why both the Sphinx and the Pyramids are the most famous man-made structures in the world. Just the front paw of the Sphinx is larger than a human being!
The Wonders of the Nile
The architectural wonders of ancient Egypt are not limited to those at Giza. As you travel along the Nile River (incidentally the longest river in the world), you will come across other monuments. Chief of these is the Valley of Kings near Luxor. It is here that many kings from many of the ancient Egyptian dynasties were entombed. Each tomb is unqiue and is a wonder in its own right. Unfortunately, most of the treasure that was entombed with the pharaohs have long been stolen by tomb raiders. Only the well-hidden tomb of Tutankhamun managed to survive more or less intact to this day.
Further south, near the town of Aswan, are the famous temples of Abu Simbel. Constructed during the reign of Ramses II, better known as Ramses the Great, these two temples feature much-larger-than-life statues guarding the entrances. And beautiful hieroglyphs still adorn the walls of the temples.
The few monuments I've mentioned are just a small fraction of the many wonders that can be found in Egypt. If you have any interest in ancient civilizations, or want to know more about the wonders of ancient Egypt, you owe it to yourself to visit this ancient land before its wonders are eventually swept away by the sands of time.
If you would like to know more about the wonders of Egypt, do check out the following sites:
Pyramids of Giza
Nile River
And if you want to learn more about the other aspects of Egypt, do visit
by: Steven N. Ng

Egypt Resorts And Attractions

If you make a decision to spend your vacation in Egypt, usually you have a choice of two sea resorts – Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh. They both are very popular, but Hurghada is situated in African continent while Sharm El Sheikh lies on Sinai peninsula.
About 30 years ago Hurghada was just a simple fishing village. But now, with it's a resort with crystal clear water, untouched reefs. It has become one of the best Egyptian tourist destinations. A significant part of its fame Hurghada gained as one of the best diving centres of the world. Like all oriental cities Hurghada make living out of trade, so if when you walk along the city, be ready to beat off the pressing offers of the sellers, deserving to make you buy their souvenirs. There are some more entertainments except shopping and diving in Hurghada. You can make a jeep trip to a desert, visit Bedouin’s village there; you can see corals and some natural preserves. Hurghada is also has aqua-park. Fishing is one of the popular tourist’s activities in Hurghada too. Today, Hurghada is known as a party town, particularly among Europeans. Locals and others will tell you that life begins at night in Hurghada, with the many, many clubs.
The best time to visit Hurghada is October-November. In winter there are strong winds and it becomes dark very early.
When you are in Hurghada don’t miss the chance to see one of the most outstanding monuments of Egypt history – Luxor and the Valley of the King. Pharaoh’s tombs and ancient temples are worth visiting.
Sharm el-Sheikh is one of the most accessible and developed tourist resort communities on the Sinai peninsula. All around are Bedouins, colorful tents, mountains and sea. Na'ama Beach is one of the center of the tourist activities. Located just north of Sharm, this area is developing into a resort town of its own. For those who like shopping, the Sharm El-Sheikh mall provides shops with both foreign and local products, including jewelry, leather goods, clothing, pottery and books. Nobody leaves Sharm el-Sheikh without several useless but very pleasant souvenirs. Like Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh is famous for diving too, but it has more diversity in corals.
Those, who choose Sharm el-Sheikh also has opportunity to watch the attraction of Sinai peninsula - The Monastery of St Catherine, Mount Sinai (or Mountain of Moses), Pharaoh's Island and Salah El Din Citadel, Nabq National Park, Ras Abu Galum National Park and so-called 'Coloured Canyon'
The last but not the least of the Egypt must-sees is Cairo with its pyramids. From either Hurghada or Sharm El-Sheikh it will be a long trip, but you will never regret it!
When you going to Egypt, be aware that 3-star hotels in Egypt have nothing to do with 3-star hotels in Europe. So, it’s better to choose 4 or 5 star hotel. Probably it saves you from many inconveniences. Often, the large hotels have zoos, playgrounds, discos, bars, a number of pools and even small theaters. So, may be you will to want to leave your hotel.
Anyway, a trip to Egypt promises to be exotic and interesting expierence.
by: Constance Blair

The Red Sea in Egypt for Scuba Diving

For many Europeans, traveling to the Red Sea for scuba diving is like many North Americans going to the Caribbean. For a scuba diver based in North America or anywhere else outside of Europe or Africa, a journey to the Red Sea is considered one of the more exotic scuba diving trips. Like other overseas travel, getting to the final destination is the hardest thing. The Red Sea can be dived from ports in both Egypt and Israel but most international scuba divers do so from the Egyptian side. There are two major scuba diving areas in Egypt, Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada. Sharm El Sheikh at the northern part of the Red Sea is the more established center having been a popular vacation resort area as both Egyptians and Europeans have been vacationing here for many years. The local scuba dive industry grew along with the overall steady growth of classy resorts, shops and other tourist services in Sharm El Sheikh. Hurghada, once just a sleepy fishing village along the west side of the Red Sea, is starting to grow as scuba divers discover this alternative to Sharm El Sheikh.
More than likely, travelers going to either Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada will have to fly to Cairo before connecting with Egypt Air or taking a bus to their final destination. Many scuba divers turn their Red Sea diving trip into a major extended holiday in order to both dive and see the many wonderful ancient Egyptian sites such as the pyramids. There are many things to see and do in Egypt in addition to the ancient ruins including museums, markets and Nile river cruises. So it is highly recommended to do some research and plan accordingly for any trip to Egypt as one would not want to run into the situation where not enough time was allocated to see everything one wants to see there in addition to scuba diving.
Many of the scuba operators in Sharm El Sheikh are affiliated or close by to a hotel resort. Most of the dive shops are actually owned and staffed by Europeans working in Egypt. This is similar to the situation in the Caribbean where many of the scuba operators there are American owned. The Red Sea has a higher salt content than Caribbean waters so it is recommended to add 4 to 5 more pounds to the amount of weight divers usually use. Like most European diving, the scuba community here in Egypt uses the metric system so weights will be in kilos while air pressure will be in bars. Most dive computers should be able to display both metric and imperial systems.
Many scuba operators in Sharm El Sheikh use a very interesting system for scuba tanks. Rather than using their own tanks, their dive boats go to a common central barge anchored in the harbor. This is where all the scuba tanks are supplied from and the dive boats collect the number of tanks they need for day’s dive trips. At the end of the trips, used tanks are dropped off at the same barge before heading back to port.
The majority of the dives in the Red Sea are semi drift dives where the dive boats drop off divers at the dive sites and then pick them up afterwards. One very different aspect of the Red Sea compared to other dive destinations in the world is that the coral reefs here can extend up to very shallow depths. As a result, the standard safety stops at 15 feet are done drifting among many of these sloping reefs along with the accompanying marine life. Therefore, these are some of the most scenic safety stops scuba divers will ever do. This is certainly different from the usual bland safety stop in the Caribbean. One thing to note is that the maximum allowable depth for recreational scuba divers in Egypt is 30 meters which is about 90 feet.
As expected, the marine life in the Red Sea is spectacular. There are many species of fish, crustaceans and marine plant life here that are not found in the Caribbean. In fact, many of them are indigenous to the Red Sea only. While lionfish can be extremely rare sightings elsewhere, they are quite abundant in the Red Sea which is a real treat for scuba divers. It is also not unusual to jump in the water to be among a large school of tuna or other fish. Many night divers will see coral reefs here to be more spectacular than in the Caribbean.
For many scuba divers, the Red Sea is one of those ‘must dive at least once in a lifetime’ destinations. It is a very unique place to dive especially with the desert background visible from the dive boats. The excellent diving with the many awesome sights of Egypt make the Red Sea a dream dive trip for any scuba diver.
by: Clint Leung

Why Egyptian Cotton Is Still King

Egyptian cotton has become wildly popular for bedding in recent years. Why exactly? Does it really matter?
It was thought for ages that cotton was cotton and thread count was king when choosing quality sheets. That is no longer true. Consumer guidelines for buying bedding suggest that cotton from Egypt is superior to other cotton. Is this true and, if so, what is the big difference?
Egyptian cottons are used to create bedding of all types from sheets to pillowcases to comforters. The long staple or long fiber of Egyptian-grown cotton means that there is more continuous fiber to use when creating threads or yarns. This yarn is smaller in diameter yet stronger than other cottons. Smaller yarn means that more threads per square inch can be use to create stronger fabric which is light in weight yet breathes well.
More threads per inch mean that the thread count on the bedding label will be higher. Many buyers think that choosing high thread count sheets is the only gauge of quality. This is not true, but in the case of cotton grown in Egypt, the higher thread count means the fabric will be incredibly strong and will last for years and years. If cared for properly, Egyptian produced cotton fabric used for creating bedding products can last for decades.
The hand or feel of the sheets created from Egyptian grown cotton is a bit harder than other cottons when the bedding is new. However, with every single laundering, the cotton sheets from Egyptian fibers become softer and softer. Like a fine wine, age improves the Egyptian fiber cotton bedding and, unlike many products, you will prize your Egyptian fiber sheets of cotton more and more as they age and become soft and cuddly.
Cotton grown in the Egyptian fields will also produce less lint and therefore will not pill after repeated washings as some materials may do. At one time, the only way to obtain Egyptian fiber cotton sheets was to shop in high-end expensive stores. This is no longer true and most department stores and online bedding stores carry a selection of Egyptian produced cotton sheets and other bedding items for the buyer seeking this quality product.
King Cotton was once the name for the cotton grown in the Deep South of the United States. This cotton has much shorter fibers or staple than the Egyptian produced cotton. Egyptian fiber is now considered the king of all cottons for its durability and luxurious feel. After all, we spend almost one-third of our lives in our beds and our bedding should be comfortable and durable. Choosing the right sheets made from the king of cotton, Egyptian produced fibers, you will experience a bed that is comfortable and cozy.
A word of caution regarding bedding labels: if the package says "cotton rich" the actual amount of cotton, whether Egyptian or other cotton, is not stated and can be a very small amount. It is better to select products that state 100% cotton or, if choosing a blend fabric, that clearly state the exact proportion of cotton in the bedding. This will ensure your product composition is one that you will be pleased with.
If the package says "percale", this means that the thread count is at least 180 count. Many people believe that percale is a fabric type in its own right. This isn't the case at all; it simply means the thread count is 180 or more. Percale can be 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and other fibers!
Sferra Brothers always has a special eye for quality and their Celeste linens in 100% cotton from Egypt is no exception. These mix and match fine quality linens are created with 406 thread count. The linens are cool and crisp yet soft for luxurious comfort. White plus 10 solid colors are available. You simply can't go wrong with these machine washable luxury linens.
Matouk Classics collection includes the Lowell design. These Egyptian long fiber cotton sheets are 600 thread count for true luxury. Available in white with one inch sateen tape accents around edges of pillow cases and on sheet hem. Select choice of five solid colors for the accent. These linens are elegant enough for the finest bedrooms.
Frette's 600 thread count Royalty sheet sets come in a shade called "money green" which is actually a deep olive green. Other colors are also available. The linens are accented with a square jacquard weave around the edges for a very distinctive, classic look. If you want beauty beyond compare, these linens from Frette are for you.
Egyptian remains King of the cotton world today and will retain that crown for many years into the future.
You'll find this long staple cotton used in sheets by many different designers and can enjoy this Egyptian luxury, suitable for the kings and pharaohs in your very own home!

by: Patricia Bowlin

Overview of Egypt for Travelers

From Pyramids to the Valley of the Kings, the Arab Republic of Egypt oozes history. If you are considering traveling to Egypt, you should know the following about the country.
Overview of Egypt for Travelers
Egypt has plenty of land, but much of it is sparsely inhabited. This leads to a situation where the vast majority lives within relatively compact urban places. As the most populous Arab nation, nearly all of people live along the Nile River, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria. Cairo in particular is one of the world’s most densely populated cities with a whopping 3,800 people per square mile and roughly 18 million in the extended city. Traffic jams are legendary to say the least.
Travelers to Egypt are almost always going to see the pyramids and various archeological remains of the Pharaohs. Just so you can sound like you know what you are talking about, here is a very brief history on the rule of the Pharaohs.
Around 3,100 BC, Mena united Egypt and became the first Pharaoh. 30 dynasties would follow and are categorized as the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Empire. In 525 BC, the last Pharaoh was overthrown by the invading Persians. The pyramids of Giza were built during the fourth dynasty. The Great Pyramid is the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu. The Valley of Kings you will visit is only partially an accurate representation. More than a few of the sites were actually moved to higher elevations to save them from flooding caused when the Nasser Dam went into operation.
As for modern times, Egypt covers an area of roughly 386,000 square miles. The capital is Cairo with a population between 16 and 18 million people. The climate is universally dry and hot. Life is sustained almost totally by the Nile.
The people of Egypt are known as “Egyptians.” The total population is over 77 million and growing at a rate of 1.78 percent per year. 94 percent claim to be Muslim. Arabic is the official language although English and French are also spoken. 57 percent of the people are literate and life expectancy is 71 years of age.
As this overview shows, the country is unique in that it is almost totally reliant upon the Nile River. Without the Nile, Egypt would be bereft of its heritage and modern state. Fortunately, it has learned to ride herd on the longest river in the world.

by: Richard Monk

Tour Egypt for Ancient and Exotic Adventures

If you've ever dreamed of witnessing the magnificence of the Great Pyramids, standing in awe before the Great Sphinx, or reveling in the treasures found in King Tut's tomb, the magic of Egypt awaits you. You can tour Egypt for an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
Whether you want to cruise the Nile in the style of Cleopatra or visit the Valley of the Kings, a Cairo program tour may be just the thing to fulfill your dreams. If your tastes lean toward adventure travel, a Cairo tour may mark the beginning of a journey that will include, for example, a diving excursion in the Ras Mohammed underwater nature reserve or a trek to a desert Bedouin Camp.
A Cairo museum tour will enchant you with the breathtaking antiquities of ancient Egypt, while retaining the services of a Cairo travel guide will allow you to experience the beauties and mysteries of a city from a local perspective.
If you have an interest in Egypt's ancient Holy Lands, you can travel Cairo and see the Red Sea and visit Old Cairo, where early Judaism and Christianity flourished.
While you're in Cairo, photo travel adventures await. You'll want to bring plenty of film - or extra storage cards for your digital camera - when you visit the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Saint Serguis Church, the Great Citadel begun by Saladdin, and the Mohamed Ali Mosque, also known as the "Alabaster Mosque."
In Cairo, Egypt, travel can mean entering a time machine and visiting the sites of a wondrous and mysterious civilization, or enjoying very modern activities and amenities such as golf, cruises, and even bowling. You'd be doing yourself a disservice, though, if you didn't learn at least a bit about ancient Egypt before booking a Cairo, Egypt tour.
Some other things to know before you go:
* According to the U.S. State Department, a passport and visa are required to visit Egypt. Although renewable, 30-day tourist visas are available for US$15 upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, if you're arriving overland, you should obtain your visa prior to your arrival in Egypt.
* Egypt has close to 79 million residents, and Egypt's size is approximately three times the size of New Mexico.
* The official language of Egypt is Arabic, although French and English are widely spoken and understood.
* Egypt is bisected by the fertile Nile Valley, which spurs Egypt's economy.
* The currency is the Egyptian pound, and the exchange rate in 2005 was 5.78 Egyptian pounds per U.S. dollar.
Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, with the right tour, Egypt will enchant and engage you, drawing you in to its ancient mysteries.

by: Chris Robertson

The Role of Animals of Ancient Egypt

To the ancient Egyptians, animals were created by the gods and given rights equal to that of mankind. They saw animals not as their subjects, but rather as independent beings, and treated them with respect. [A] The Nile served as a source of food and was the most important factor to the agriculture of the region. Fish were plentiful and could be eaten roasted, boiled, salted, preserved, or simply dried in the sun. Because the Nile would flood annually, it revitalized the land with water and fertile silt, enriching the soil to grow wheat, fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, it provided thick grasses on which animals would graze. The people of ancient Egypt were mainly pescarian, meaning they would often eat fish. The Nile supplied many types of fish, including: catfish, mullet, tilapia, sturgeon, eel, carp, and perch, which were all an important source of nourishment. Along the Nile, there were restrictions on the types of fish that could be eaten because of their connections with the gods. The Pharaoh and other priests would abstain from eating fish altogether because it was forbidden by one of their deities as a food reserved for peasants. Bread was their main staple, made from wheat and barley. From time to time, they supplemented their diet with antelope, which they hunted. Occasionally they ate pork and goat, which were raised on farms. The Egyptians also raised sheep, cattle, geese and ducks. These animals not only provided them with food, drink, leather and skins, but also helped with their daily lives. Oxen and cattle were used for plowing the fields, and other animals were used for trampling seeds into the soil, and eating unwanted grain. Birds were of extreme importance to the ancient Egyptians as well. Along the Nile, the bird-life included the falcon, kite, goose, crane, heron, pigeon, ibis, vulture and owl. Numerous birds were actually kept in sacred flocks and some were elevated in status to become temple animals. From the vast collection of ancient Egyptian artwork, evidence exists of several species of birds that are now extinct. Beekeeping began in Egypt around 2500 BC in the Fifth Dynasty. Egyptians loved honey and they would take great pains to cultivate it. They not only kept bees, but they also actively went out and searched for the honey of wild bees. They would use bee wax for embalming, offerings to the gods, medicines, makeup, and as a bonding agent. They named the honeybee after the bull-like god named Apis because they believed it had similar characteristics. (The historian Herodotus described this bull as being black, with a white diamond on its forehead and two white hairs on its tail.) Horses were introduced much later into Egyptian society – around 1500 BC. They were a status symbol for the owners and were mainly used to carry chariots into battle and for ceremonial occasions. Horses were rarely ridden and if so, only by royalty. They were well cared for and given individual names. Donkeys were the main beasts of burden. They were used as pack animals and for carrying heavy bundles of grain from the field to the threshing floor. Female donkeys, which produced higher-protein and sweeter milk than cows, were kept as dairy animals. Hunting was seen as a symbol of mastery over animal forces. Egyptians believed it was their role to conquer the land. Dogs, resembling greyhounds, would help them while hunting. There is evidence from the tomb paintings that the ancient Egyptians sometimes took along cheetahs they had tamed. The hunters knew their animals well. They studied their characteristics, including their diet and mating habits. This knowledge brought about a great respect for the animals and aided them in the hunt. Oftentimes, they would hunt great cats, which were not always killed. [C] Smaller jungle mammals and wild cats, such as the cheetah, were often kept as family pets. Ramses the Great is said to have had a pet lion. Dog, cats, monkeys, and birds were also a part of the nuclear family. So devoted were these ancient people to their pets, that upon the pet's passing, they would often carry out the same rites and rituals as they would for any other family member. Pets and sacred animals were mummified and put in special cemeteries. Animals that belonged to the Pharaoh's royal family were mummified and buried with them so they could continue in the afterlife together. The following inscription for a well-loved dog was found in a tomb dating from the 5th or 6th dynasty: "The dog which was the guard of His Majesty. Abuwtiyuw is his name. His Majesty ordered that he be buried, that he be given a coffin from the royal treasury, fine linen in great quantity, incense. His Majesty gave perfumed ointment and [ordered] that a tomb be built for him by the gang of masons. His Majesty did this for him in order that he might be honored". [1] For many years, animal mummies have been overlooked while research went on regarding human mummies and other treasures found in the tombs. The study of this previously neglected area of Egyptology has finally changed, thanks to the work of Dr. Salima Ikram, one of the leading experts in Egyptian funerary archaeology. Dr. Ikram is the founder and co-director of the Animal Mummy Project at the Cairo Museum. This project has shed new light on the past, revealing the techniques of mummification and the reasons for it. Regarding the latter, Dr. Ikram tells us four reasons why animals were mummified. 1. They were mummified because they were sacred. 2. They were mummified to please the animal deities (i.e. as offerings to the gods). 3. The ancient Egyptians believed that the afterlife included animals. Therefore, they wanted their pets to continue with them in the afterlife. 4. A certain number of animals were mummified in order to provide food for eternity. These ancient tombs are time capsules filled with ancient treasures, many of which we are still deciphering and trying to understand. Some of the tomb findings have been items made of animal products, which were used in many ways. Bone was plentiful and the ancient Egyptians fashioned it into jewelry and arrowheads. Glue was made from animal hide and from sinews. Feathers were used as ornaments. Twisted animal gut and sinews were used in the making of stringed instruments. Ivory usually came from Nile hippos and were used for carving combs and jewelry. Egyptian burials often included sculpted clay and carved wooden figures, tools, and utensils in hopes they would service the dead in the afterlife. These were often part of a larger diorama or miniature three-dimensional scene. Because so many of these elaborate models have been found in the tombs of the royal families, we've learned a great deal about the customs of these people. For example, there are miniature models of butcher shops, scenes of counting and inspecting cattle, and scenes of plowing the fields. There are wonderfully detailed wall paintings and reliefs decorating the tombs, giving us further information about daily life in Ancient Egypt. It is interesting to note that much of this remained hidden for 4,000 to 5,000 years. As Robert Fulford has written, "...Because the tombs were hidden so well, many of them remained intact until about 200 years ago, when the modern world began discovering them and prying them open, one after another, in wonderment and excitement and gratitude. And so our own civilization, through the collaboration of grave-robbers, scholars and art lovers, has come to know far more about Egypt than would otherwise be possible". [2] _____ [A] [B] [C] [1] Giza Digital Library: Giza Bibliography of George A. Reisner (1867-1942) Reisner, George A. "The Dog Which was Honored by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt." Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 34, No. 206 (December 1936), pp. 96-99. [2] "Eternal optimists: The Royal Ontario Museum's exhibition of Egyptian art reminds us of a civilization that believed you can take it with you" The National Post Toronto, Canada 2 March 2004 Copyright 2006 Melanie Light
by: Melanie Light

Traveling Around Egypt And Ba

Egypt is one of the most thrilling places, mainly because of its Pyramids. Egypt is also one of the vacationing spots for the people living in the west and also people living in other parts of the world. This is the perfect trip for a family who wants to add an educational value to their vacation. Unlike most vacation spots, parents drop their children of at an amusement park for hours at a time. A trip to Egypt is a trip that the entire family can enjoy A grand tour for Egypt starts from Cairo (Ancient Egypt), which includes religious and Islamic sight seeing. Cairo is also one of the major airports in Egypt. Normal tour for Cairo will start from Giza pyramids (Great pyramids), Saqquara (Step pyramid) and even the Egyptian Antiquities museum. This is like a first day tour. Then the tour usually moves on to Luxor and Aswan, these places are visited either by train or flight. Tours also include visiting some places like Citadel and Khan el-Khalili market in Islamic Cairo, also visiting the churches and Coptic museum in Cairo. Egypt is a place for Religious tours, Adventure and Specialty tours, golfing tours, fishing expeditions, Birding tours, Nature tours, Simple Holidays, Beach vacations, Scuba diving vacations, Western or Eastern Desert, The Sinai, Jordan, Kenya and the Israel. Shopping is unlimited in Egypt being a historical and a religious place, one can find many exciting and inventive things to buy. Food is delicious in Egypt, some of the famous delicacies of Egypt are, Egyptian bean salad, Egyptian stuffed egg plant with rice, meat and okra stew, Egyptian stuffed pigeon, Egyptian green soup, Egyptian salty rice, stuffed grape leaves, fig cakes, um ali (famous dessert of Egypt), Egyptian spiced drink etcAll the dishes of Egypt are made in a unique way; there are recipe books available for people who become lover of the food in Egypt. Arabic is a common language that is spoken in Egypt. It is not very hard to learn basic Arabic so communication is made between people who do not understand English. There are various transports that are available in Egypt, getting to places isn’t difficult because of the arrangement of buses, trains, water transport and flights. It is quiet reasonable to travel in Egypt. Proper planning is recommended so that one would not get confused if going to Egypt the first time. Maps are available so detailed study of Egypt will help in the entire trip.
by: Cathy Peterson

Ancient Egyptian Art -- Timeless and Beautiful Today

Ancient Egyptian Art is one of the most recognized, admired and collected art in the history of the world. From delicate gold jewelry to vivid paintings to massive statues dozens of feet tall, for over 5,000 years Egyptian art has fascinated, delighted and awed generation after generation with its beauty, style and mystery. While genuine ancient pieces of art are rare and extremely valuable, modern Egyptian artists make beautiful art and jewelry that is inspired by some of the greatest recovered works from ancient sites, and which adheres strictly to the styles used by ancient artists. Jewelry in gold and silver with inlaid stones are fashioned after pieces of jewelry recovered from ancient tombs. Papyrus Paintings are painted in vivid color on genuine papyrus, made using the same principles developed thousands of years ago on the banks of the Nile, where the papyrus plant grows to this day. Paintings are executed in the style of frontalism, one of the most striking characteristics of ancient Egypt. Frontalism Frontalism is the style in which every known piece of ancient Egyptian art was produced. In paintings, the style of frontalism means that the head of the character is drawn in profile, while the body is drawn from a front view. However, even though the face is in profile, the eye is drawn in full, as it would be seen from the front. The legs always face the same direction as the head, with one foot forward and one back. Ancient Egyptian figures, especially of gods and pharaohs, are noticeable for their very formal, even rigid stance and posture, but their faces are always serene, regardless of the scene in which they are depicted. There were very strict rules about how a god or pharaoh could be represented, which even included a prohibition against anything being drawn in front of the face or body of the pharaoh, even when the scene depicted clearly required it for any kind of realism. Realism was simply not a goal of ancient Egyptian Art. It is these very formal and stylized rules that have made Egyptian Art one of the most widely recognized forms of art in the world. Over thousands of years Egyptian artists adhered to this one style, which is quite remarkable, especially as compared to the extreme differences in art expression that have occurred in the modern world in just the past 100 years or so. The only acknowledged variations are in the portrayals of animals and common people as compared to the more formal depictions of pharaohs and gods. As can be seen in many Egyptian paintings, animals and common people or slaves are represented in a more natural manner, though still within very strict and formulaic rules. This frontalist style is the primary reason why ancient Egyptian art is so easily recognizable, and its appeal has lasted through many centuries to this day.
by: Ann Hession

The Customs of Egypt: What To Expect

If you’re traveling in Egypt, you’re in for a treat. Egypt is a country steeped in ancient history and fascinating culture. With their intriguing archaeological riches, gorgeous and long-standing artistic traditions, and friendly, hospitable customs, Egypt is truly a wonderful place to visit. If you’re planning a trip to Egypt soon, here’s what to expect from its culture and people. Religion is everywhere. In Egypt, Muslim is the dominant religion—although there are many Christians, especially Coptic Christians, as well. But religion and particularly Muslim tradition dominates the culture. Expect most businesses to close on Fridays, except for Christian-owned companies, which will close on Sundays. In addition, devout Muslims are called to prayer five times a day. If you are visiting a home or business during this time, don’t be surprised if your visit stops while the prayer is conducted. Alcohol: when in doubt, ask. The Muslim religion restricts its members from drinking alcohol. However, most Egyptians won’t mind if you drink, as long as it’s not overdone. If you have any doubt as to whether it’s appropriate to drink alcohol in some social situations, ask. You are allowed to bring up to one litre of alcohol with you through customs, and you can buy alcohol at duty-free shops and liquor stores in Egypt. You may have trouble ordering beer or wine in a Muslim-owned restaurant, however. Crime in Egypt: it’s rare, but be prudent. Egyptian culture puts a lot of emphasis on extended family. Each person in a family is responsible for the good reputation of others in that family, and a bad deed done by one member can shame an entire family. Crime in Egypt is quite rare as a result—and many travelers will tell you that the streets of Cairo are much safer than those in Western cities. However, it’s important to take the usual precautions—avoid walking alone through deserted areas you’re not familiar with, keep your passport and traveler’s cheques protected, and so on. In touristy areas, be wary of pickpockets. For women: not as restricted as you’d think. Although Egypt is technically a conservative Muslim society, many visitors are surprised by the numbers of Egyptian women they see in professional occupations. Egyptian women work in business, government, law, medicine, higher education, and many other professions. Some may wear veils and head coverings, but many do not. Foreign women are not generally restricted in Egypt. However, the cultural dress code in Egypt is much more conservative than it is in the West, for both men and women. Even though it’s hot, female visitors are usually encouraged to wear loose-fitting clothing, long skirts or pants, and shirts that cover the shoulders—no tank tops—in order to avoid unwanted attention from men. Women visiting Egypt may encounter some segregation during their travels. Buses, for example, usually seat women in the front and men in the back. Trains often have a first car reserved for women as well. Crime is rare in Egypt, but women must be more careful than men—especially when traveling alone in rural areas. Most of the time, women alone are perfectly safe in Egypt. But as in all areas of the world, practical precautions should be taken. For men: don’t let casual intimacy surprise you. Egyptian men kiss other men on the cheek. Many Western men are disconcerted by this, but it is a customary friendly greeting in Egypt. In general, Egyptians are “close talkers” and don’t require a lot of personal space when interacting with others. Men visiting Egypt must be especially careful when interacting with Egyptian women. In traditional families, it’s considered unseemly for men and women who are not related to speak. Even in professional situations, it may be considered forward to make eye contact with women. If you are asking about an Egyptian person’s family, avoid asking in too much detail about female relatives. You may be trying to make friendly conversation, but a conservative Egyptian may interpret your questions as inappropriate interest. Baksheesh: don’t tip professionals. It’s considered highly inappropriate to tip professionals. Unlike in Western countries, tipping in restaurants is generally not expected—although it is appreciated. If you take a taxi, don’t tip. You will usually have to negotiate your fare, and the taxi driver will incorporate the tip into the price for the ride. Some will perform a simple service for you and ask for “baksheesh” in return—especially in tourist-populated areas. Be aware that you do not have to tip in every situation, and it is not always considered a required part of social etiquette in Egypt. Egypt is a land rich in cultural tradition, art and architecture, ancient history, and modern hospitality. Its cultural traditions can be difficult for some travelers to understand, but do your best to accommodate local custom. Be flexible and open-minded, and you’re sure to have a good time.
by: Darren Panto

The Fascination with Ancient Egypt Continues...and Offers Unique Gift Ideas

The mystery and intrigue of ancient lands never ceases to amaze the curious with tales of King Tut, regal queens, the Great Pyramids, pioneering pharaohs, and the allure of gods, such as Anubis and Isis. This is the world of ancient Egypt and its popularity only continues to grow, as lines gather to take a peek at the King Tut Exhibition in London and wide-eyed children imagine what a real mummy looks like. As the holidays draw near, there are plenty of sweaters, ties, and bathrobes to consider, but only a few presents can provide a unique conversation piece like Egyptian replicas and related gifts. Consider the Egyptian King's Throne (7.5" X 5.75") – hand painted with shades of gold and sky blue – highlighting clever animal detailing decorating the legs. The Egyptian Ceremonial Throne offers intricate decoration with vibrant shades of gold, black, and orange. To offer the presence of the "Boy King" into the home of a relative or friend, imagine the regality of the Large Egyptian Coffin of King Tut (measuring 16"), representing the infamous king who took to the throne at the age of 11. While you may not own the glittering treasures of ancient Egyptian pharaohs, you can still hide away jewelry and any other keepsakes in a variety of elaborately decorated Egyptian vessels and boxes, which make perfect gifts for the holidays. The uniqueness of each piece transports you into the center of one of the most intriguing ancient cultures in history. The Eye of Horus vase is rather attractive, while the Egyptian Pharaoh selection is cleverly constructed. The Egyptian Round vase offers an explosion of blues and reds, while the Egyptian Cobra vase uses two snakes for handles. An Anubis-inspired flowerpot and Egyptian Scarab jewelry box also make great gifts for the holidays. In the morning, imagine gazing into one of the three different kinds of mirrors offered at Home Furnishing Boutique, such as: the hand painted Egyptian Round Wall Mirror with images of fish; the Cobra Mirror (which stands upright on a tabletop base); and the highly decorative hand mirrors with ornamental handles and hand-painted exterior scenes that display King Tut's sarcophagus, Egyptian goddesses (such as Hathor), or other features of the Egyptian culture. Pens and Letter Openers To please the executive who needs a little flair added to his or her office, consider one of the eye-catching pens and/or letter openers with an Egyptian theme. You may choose from Anubis, King Tut, and Bastet (an appealing cat-like display) for pens that come in a pack of six. Letter openers display the same characters with the option of Nefertiti. Decorating the Home – Egyptian Style On the home front, elaborate clocks and coaster sets can breathe life into a drab coffee table. Add spice by presenting loved ones with an Egyptian Anubis Clock or a coaster set depicting King Tut, Maat, or a scarab. Perhaps, an ashtray will do, as there are a handful of selections to ponder, including items shaped like a pyramid or Egyptian scarab. Another option puts a pharaoh's face on display, while the Anubis Ashtray showcases the ancient god of the dead with the jackal head. Candle lovers will find delight in the exotic themes of holders that exhibit an alluring kneeling Anubis, Egyptian cat, the regal King Taharga, or the elegant wingspan of the Princess Cleopatra Candleholder. Medium-sized statues may also decorate shelves and end tables, as a host of selections are available for the choosing. Ibis-Headed Thoth highlights the god with the bird-like head who is associated with magic, writing, and science. Serket is a vision of gold – the protector of poisons and snakebites. The winged display of Maat represents the law, morality, and justice. There are also statues that present 8" obelisks in sand and dark brown colors; a large Egyptian sphinx; an Egyptian girl on a boat; and Isis with open wings. Other statues depict various gods and goddesses, including Ptah (god of craftsmen), Khons (watches over night travelers), and Hathor (the personification of the Milky Way). As for placing a creative piece of furniture into the home of loved ones, an array of items encourages a unique and fascinating transformation of décor. Treat your father or grandfather like the king he is by delivering a life –size Egyptian King's Throne with exquisite detail. The Princess Sitamun Ceremony Throne is rather attractive with its black and gold color scheme. Tables also make great holiday gifts, as one may choose from a striking tea table, colorful Pharaoh Bar, and an assortment of glass-top selections, including sarcophagus and King Tut imagery. Among all these wonderful gift ideas, you will surely find one for everyone on your list.
by: Brian Banks

Top Ten Places To Visit In Egypt

There’s no other place in the world that holds more mystery than the country of Egypt. The smell of the mysticism of the ancient Egyptians still lingers over the place. This ancient atmosphere seems to fill its every nook and cranny with secrets yet untold. 1.) Pyramids of Giza And perhaps there is nothing more mysterious, and more worthy of seeing in Egypt than the esteemed Great Pyramids of Giza. These are the pyramids of Khufu, Kafhre, and Menkaura. These perfectly shaped structures leaves everyone in awe and in wonder about how exactly they were made, considering that the ancient Egyptians had no advanced technology to work with. 2.) Sphinx And of course, if you’re going to go to the Great Pyramids, then you might as well go to the Sphinx. This is one of the most mysterious structures in Egypt. Even now, archeologists are still arguing about its origin and its purpose, making it the subject of the famous phrase, “the Riddle of the Sphinx.” 3.) Abu Simbel These two temples were built by Pharaoh Ramesses II to commemorate himself and his wife, Nefertari. It’s a breathtaking place, and its temples are hailed as one of the most beautiful in Egypt. What’s even more interesting about the Abu Simbel is the amount of effort put into relocating and preserving it. 4.) Cairo And of course, if you really want to immerse yourself in Egyptian culture, it would be best for you to go to the capital city, Cairo. The place is teeming with bazaars and restaurants where you can buy your taste of Egyptian culture. It’s surely not a place to miss. 5.) Temples of Karnak What better way to experience ancient Egypt than to visit the very place where they worshipped their gods. The Temples of Karnak is the biggest site for Egyptian worship. It has a monument to just about every god in the Theban religion. 6.) The Nile River And of course, you can’t miss out on the famous Nile River. It is, after all, what nourished Egypt and turned it into the place of wonder that it is. In fact, what’s great about visiting the Nile is that you can take a Felucca and sail down the legendary river, taking in the sights of the city and the sunset. 7.) Valley of the Kings The Valley of the Kings or Biban El Moluk is the place where Egypt’s most esteemed pharaohs were buried. This place is teeming with mummies and undiscovered treasures. In fact, this is the place where archeologists found one of the most famous mummies of all time – Tutankhamun. 8.) Egyptian Museum Of course, since it would be unwise to leave the Egyptian treasures in the tombs they were found in, the archeologists put them in the Egyptian museum where they would be put under high security. If you want to learn about Egypt, this is the best place to start. There’s no other place with a higher concentration of Egyptian artifacts, and you can even follow the tour so that you can be oriented with the history of each of the artifacts. 9.) Siwa Oasis Egypt isn’t all about temples and pyramids, there’s a place where you can just let loose and have fun – the Siwa Oasis. Here, you can take a swim in the cool waters to ward off the desert heat. It is rumored that Alexander stopped here during his great conquest. 10.) Necropolis of Sakkarah And indeed, you can’t miss something as intriguing as a ‘Necropolis’ or, if translated, a City of the Dead. Here, you will find the less popular pyramids of Egypt, the step pyramids. However, though they are less popular than the great pyramids, they’re still suffused with great history and culture.
by: Jonathan Williams


ēˈjĭpt, Arab. Misr, biblical Mizraim, officially Arab Republic of Egypt, republic (1996 pop. 59,272,382), 386,659 sq mi (1,001,449 sq km), NE Africa and SW Asia. It borders on the Mediterranean Sea in the north, Israel and the Red Sea in the east, Sudan in the south, and Libya in the west. Egypt's capital and largest city is Cairo. In addition to the capital, major cities include Alexandria, Port Said, Suez, Tanta, and Aswan.
The great mass of Egypt is located in Africa; the Sinai peninsula is the only portion situated in Asia and is separated from the rest of the country by the Suez Canal. Egypt N of Cairo is often called Lower Egypt and S of Cairo, Upper Egypt. The principal physiographic feature of the country is the Nile River, which flows from south to north through E Egypt for c.900 mi (1,450 km). In the far south is Lake Nasser, a vast artificial lake impounded by the Aswan High Dam (built 1960–70), and in the north, below Cairo, is the great Nile delta (c.8,500 sq mi/22,000 sq km). Bordering the Nile between Aswan and Cairo are narrow strips (on the average 5 mi/8 km wide) of cultivated land; there are broad regions of tilled land in the delta.
West of the Nile is the extremely arid Libyan (or Western) Desert, a generally low-lying region (maximum alt. c.1,000 ft/300 m), largely covered with sand dunes or barren rocky plains. The desert contains a few oases, notably Siwah, Farafra, and Kharga. In SW Egypt the desert rises to the Jilf al-Kabir plateau. East of the Nile is the Arabian (or Eastern) Desert, a dissected highland area (rising to c.7,150 ft/2,180 m) that is mostly barren and virtually uninhabited except for a few settlements along the Red Sea coast.
The Sinai peninsula is a plateau broken by deep valleys; Mount Catherine, or Jabal Katrinah (8,652 ft/2,637 m), Egypt's loftiest point, and Mount Sinai, or Jabal Musa (7,497 ft/2,285 m), are located in the south. Northern Sinai, largely a sandy desert, contains most of the peninsula's small population, which lives mainly in towns built around wells.
The vast majority of Egypt's inhabitants live in the Nile valley and delta, and the rest of the country (about 96% of Egypt's total land area) is sparsely populated. Most modern Egyptians are of a complex racial mixture, being descended from the ancient Egyptians, Berbers, sub-Saharan Africans, Arabs, Greeks, and Turks. Arabic is the official language; many educated Egyptians also speak English and French. About 95% of the people are Sunni Muslims, and most of the rest belong to the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church (see under Copts).
Economic growth in Egypt has been held back by a severely limited amount of arable land (less than 5% of the total area) as well as a large and rapidly growing population. After 1945, a large proportion of funds and energy were devoted to preparing the country for warfare with Israel and later to rebuilding after the destruction incurred in the Arab-Israeli Wars. The country's industrial base increased considerably in the 20th cent., especially after 1952. The state owns much of the economy and plays a decisive role in its planning; however, in recent years Egypt has moved toward a more decentralized, market-oriented economy, and there has been an increase in foreign investment.
The country's farmland is intensively cultivated (usually two, and sometimes three, crops are produced annually) and yields-per-acre are extremely high. Control of the Nile waters by the Aswan High Dam brought considerable additional land into cultivation, but the needs of the growing population have prevented the accumulation of significant agricultural surpluses. Most farms in Egypt are small and labor-intensive. Nonetheless, about 40% of Egypt's workers are employed in farming. The principal crop is cotton; rice, corn, wheat, beans, tomatoes, sugarcane, citrus fruit, and dates are also produced. Cattle, sheep, water buffalo, donkeys, and goats are raised, and there is a fishing industry.
Petroleum and natural gas (found mainly in the Gulf of Suez) are produced; the principal minerals are phosphates, salt, iron ore, manganese, limestone, gypsum, and gold. Cairo and Alexandria are the main industrial centers; major manufacturing plants are also located in the other cities of the Nile valley and delta and at Port Said and Suez. The leading manufactures are refined petroleum, chemicals, fertilizers, textiles, clothing, processed foods, construction materials (especially cement), iron and steel, and metal products.
Leading imports include machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, durable consumer goods, capital goods, fertilizers, and wood products. The principal exports are crude and refined petroleum, cotton, textiles, metal products, and chemicals. The chief trade partners are the European Union nations, the United States, and Japan. Considerable foreign exchange is also derived from a tourist industry that has waxed and waned with the nation's various political and military crises. The Suez Canal, another important source of foreign exchange, was closed during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and not reopened until 1975. The canal has since been deepened and widened, and navigation transit fees are a source of revenue. The country's rail and road networks are largely found along the Mediterranean coast and in the Nile valley.
Since the 1970s billions of dollars in economic aid have poured into Egypt from the United States, Arab neighbors, and European nations. However, the country's inefficient state-run industries, its bloated public sector, and its large investments in warfare resulted in inflation, unemployment, a severe trade deficit, and heavy public debt. A series of economic and fiscal reforms undertaken in the 1990s, with support from the International Monetary Fund, appear to be having a positive effect on the country's overall economy, and the quality of life and many of Egypt's services have shown improvement.
Egypt is governed under the constitution of 1971. Executive power is held by the president, who is nominated by parliament and approved by public referendum for a six-year term. The legislature consists of a people's assembly and an advisory council. The government must approve the formation of political parties, and those based on religion are illegal. However, the largest one, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been permitted to operate openly at times. Administratively, Egypt is divided into 26 governorates.
The Ancient Empire of the Nile
The valley of the "long river between the deserts," with the annual floods, deposits of life-giving silt, and year-long growing season, was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations built by humankind. The antiquity of this civilization is almost staggering, and whereas the history of other lands is measured in centuries, that of ancient Egypt is measured in millennia. Much is known of the period even before the actual historic records began. Those records are abundant and, because of Egypt's dry climate, have been well preserved. Inscriptions have unlocked a wealth of information; for example, the existing fragments of the Palermo stone are engraved with the records of the kings of the first five dynasties. The great papyrus dumps offer an enormous amount of information, especially on the later periods of ancient Egyptian history.
Among the many problems encountered in Egyptology, one of the most controversial is that of dating events. The following dates have a margin of plus or minus 100 years for the time prior to 3000 b.c. Fairly precise dates are possible beginning with the Persian conquest (525 b.c.) of Egypt. The division of Egyptian history into 30 dynasties up to the time of Alexander the Great (a system worked out by Manetho) is a convenient frame upon which to hang the succession of the kings and a record of events. In the table entitled
Dynasties of Ancient Egypt, the numbers of the dynasties are given in Roman numerals, and the numeral is followed by the dates of the dynasty and a notation of famous monarchs of the era (each of whom has a separate article in the encyclopedia). Since there are many gaps and periods without well-known rulers (occasionally without known rulers at all), those are given simply with dates or are combined with better-recorded periods.
The Old and Middle Kingdoms
A high culture developed early, and the Old Kingdom is notable for artistic and intellectual achievements (see Egyptian architecture; Egyptian art; Egyptian religion). From the beginning there was a concept of the divinity or quasi-divinity of the king (pharaoh), which lasted from the time that Egypt was first united (c.3200 b.c.) under one ruler until the ultimate fall of Egypt to the Romans. According to tradition, it was Menes (or Narmer) who as king of Upper Egypt conquered the rival kingdom of Lower Egypt in the Nile delta, thus forming the single kingdom of Egypt. In the unified and centralized state created by Menes, the memory of the two ancient kingdoms was preserved in formalities of administration. Trade flourished, and the kings of the I dynasty appear to have sent trading expeditions under military escort to Sinai to obtain copper. Indications show that under the II dynasty, trade existed with areas as far north as the Black Sea.
The III dynasty was one of the landmarks of Egyptian history, the time during which sun-worship, a new form of religion that later became the religion of the upper classes, was introduced. At the same time mummification and the building of stone monuments began. The kings of the IV dynasty (which may be said to begin the Old Kingdom proper) were the builders of the great pyramids at Giza. The great pyramid of Khufu is a monument not only to the king but also to the unified organization of ancient Egyptian society. The V to the VII dynasties are remarkable for their records of trading expeditions with armed escorts. Although Egypt flourished culturally and commercially during this period, it started to become less centralized and weaker politically. The priests of the sun-god at Heliopolis gained increasing power; the office of provincial rulers became hereditary, and their local influence was thereafter always a threat to the state.
In the 23d cent. b.c. the Old Kingdom, after a long and flourishing existence, fell apart. The local rulers became dominant, and the records, kept by the central government, tended to disappear. Some order was restored by the IX dynasty, but it was not until 2134 b.c. that power was again centralized, this time at Thebes. That city was to be the capital for most of the next millennium.
The Middle Kingdom, founded at the end of the XI dynasty, reached its zenith under the XII. The Pharaoh, however, was not then an absolute monarch but rather a feudal lord, and his vassals held their land in their own power. The XII dynasty advanced the border up the Nile to the Second Cataract. Order was preserved, the draining of El Faiyum was begun (adding a new and fertile province), a uniform system of writing was adopted, and civilization reached a new peak. After 214 years the XII dynasty came to an end in 1786 b.c. In the dimly known period that followed, Egypt passed for more than a century under the
Hyksos (the so-called shepherd kings), who were apparently Semites from Syria. They were expelled from Egypt by Amasis I (Ahmose I), founder of the XVIII dynasty, and the New Kingdom was established.
The New Kingdom
The XVIII dynasty is the most important and the best-recorded period in Egyptian history. The local governors generally opposed both the Hyksos and the new dynasty; those who survived were now made mere administrators, their lands passing to the crown. Ancient Egypt reached its height. Its boundaries were extended into Asia, with a foreign province reaching the Euphrates (see Thutmose I). Letters known as the Tell el Amarna tablets are dated to this dynasty and furnish the details of the reigns of Amenhotep III and his son, Akhnaton. As Akhnaton neglected his rule in the pursuit of religion, letters from local rulers became increasingly urgent in begging help, especially against the Hittites. Of the rulers following Akhnaton in this dynasty, Tutankhamen is important for his law code and his enforcement of those laws through the courts. Architecture was at its zenith with the enormous and impressive buildings at and around Thebes.
Egyptian civilization seems to have worn out rapidly after conflicts with the Hittites under the XIX dynasty and with sea raiders under the XX dynasty. With a succession of weak kings, the Theban priesthood practically ruled the country and continued to maintain a sort of theocracy for 450 years. In the delta the Libyan element had been growing, and with the disappearance of the weak XXI dynasty, which had governed from Tanis, a Libyan dynasty came to power. This was succeeded by the alien rule of Nubians, black Africans who advanced from the south to the delta under Piankhi and later conquered the land. The rising power of Assyria threatened Egypt by absorbing the petty states of Syria and Palestine, and Assyrian kings had reached the borders of Egypt several times before Esar-Haddon actually invaded (673 b.c.) the land of the Nile.
Assyrian rule was, however, short-lived; by 650 b.c., under Psamtik, Egypt was once more independent and orderly. Greek traders became important, and their city of Naucratis, founded by Amasis II, thrived. Attempts to reestablish Egyptian power in Asia were turned back (605 b.c.) by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, and Egypt fell easy prey (525 b.c.) to the armies of Cambyses of Persia. Despite occasional troubles, the Persians maintained their hegemony until 405 b.c. New dynasties were then established, but they did not regain the old splendor. The Persians again became dominant in 341 b.c. Egypt, rich and ill-defended, fell to Alexander the Great without resistance in 332 b.c.
When Alexander's brief empire faded, Egypt in the wars of his successors (the Diadochi) fell to his general Ptolemy, who became king as Ptolemy I. All the succeeding kings of the dynasty were also named Ptolemy. The great city of Alexandria became the intellectual center and fountainhead of the Hellenistic world. The Ptolemies maintained a formidable empire for more than two centuries and exercised great power in the E Mediterranean. The Jewish population was large—perhaps as much as a seventh of the total population—and even the Palestinian Jews looked to the Alexandrian Jews for guidance.
The rising power of Rome soon overshadowed Egypt, but it was not until Ptolemy XI sought Roman aid through Pompey to regain his throne that Rome actually obtained (58 b.c.) a foothold in Egypt itself. Cleopatra, the daughter of Ptolemy XI, tried to win back power for Egypt, especially through Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Octavian (later Emperor Augustus) actually annexed Egypt to Rome, putting to death Cleopatra's son, Ptolemy XIV, who was the last of the Ptolemies. Egypt became a granary for Rome; the emperors from Augustus to Hadrian raised the irrigation system to great efficiency, and Trajan reopened the ancient Nile–Red Sea canal. In the 2d cent. a.d., strife between Jews and Greeks in Alexandria brought massacres.
Christianity was welcomed in Egypt, and several of the most celebrated Doctors of the Church, notably St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and Origen, were Egyptians. Egypt gave rise to the Arian and Nestorian heresies, and Gnosticism flourished there for a time. The patriarch of Alexandria was probably the most important figure in Egypt. After St. Cyril, Monophysitism became the national faith; out of this arose the Coptic Church. The hostility of the people to the Orthodox Byzantine emperors and officials probably helped Khosru II of Persia to gain Egypt in 616. It was recovered (c.628) by Heraclius I, but the Persian invasion proved to be only a forerunner of the more serious Arabian invasion.
Islamic Egypt
The Arab conquest of Egypt (639–42), only some 20 years after the rise of Islam, made the country an integral part of the Muslim world. Until the 19th cent., Egyptian history was intimately involved with the general political development of Islam, whether unified or divided into warring states. Under the Umayyad caliphate many of the people continued their adherence to Coptic Christianity despite the special tax exacted from infidels. Eventually, the settling of colonists from Arabia and the increased conversion of peoples to Islam reduced the Christian population to a small minority. The Greek and Coptic languages went out of use, and Arabic became the predominant language.
The Abbasid caliphate (founded c.750) at first held Egypt under complete subjection, but the unwieldiness of its vast domain encouraged provincial governors to revolt and to assert their own rule. In the 10th cent., Egypt fell to the Fatimid claimants to the caliphate, who invaded from the west. The Fatimids founded (969) Cairo as their capital, and with the establishment (972) there of the Mosque of Al-Azhar as a great (and still active) Muslim university, they further emphasized the change of Egypt from an outpost of Islam to one of its centers.
The strain of the Crusades and internal political disorder led to the fall of the Fatimids and to the founding by Saladin of the Ayyubid dynasty. The strategic position of Egypt made it a logical target of the Crusaders, who twice (1219–21, 1249–50) held Damietta, then the chief Mediterranean port, but could advance no farther.
The later Ayyubid rulers came excessively under the control of their slave soldiers and advisers, the Mamluks, who in 1250 seized the country. Until 1517, when Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the Mamluks maintained their turbulent rule, with frequent revolts and extremely short tenures for most of the sultans. Nevertheless, they built many great architectural monuments. Their importance by no means disappeared with the establishment of Ottoman power, for the Egyptian pasha (governor) was compelled to consult the Mamluk beys (princes), who continued in control of the provinces.
Ottoman control had become almost nominal by the administration (1768–73) of Ali Bey, who termed himself sultan. The Ottoman Turks, however, continually attempted to assert power over the unruly beys. On the pretext of establishing order there, Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I) undertook the French occupation of Egypt (1798–1801); yet his real object was to cut off British trade lines and, eventually, to detach India from the British Empire. All his efforts were bent to establishing French power in the region. The Ottoman Turks, however, ultimately joined the British in forcing out the French.
The French withdrawal was followed by the rise of Muhammad Ali, a former commander, who was appointed (1805) Egyptian pasha by the Ottoman emperor. He permanently destroyed (1811) the Mamluks' power by massacring their leaders. Using Europe as a model, Muhammad Ali laid the foundations of the modern Egyptian state. He introduced political, social, and educational reforms and developed an effective bureaucracy; he also undertook massive economic development by expanding and modernizing agriculture and by starting large-scale industry. Under his rule the empire eventually extended from Sudan in the south to Arabia in the east and Syria in the northeast. Abbas I (reigned 1848–54), Muhammad Ali's successor, undid some of his reforms and was followed by Muhammad Said Pasha.
European Domination
In 1854, Said granted Ferdinand de Lesseps a concession for the construction of the Suez Canal, a project that put Egypt into deep financial debt and robbed it of its thriving transit-trade on the Alexandria-Cairo railroad. In addition, the strategic nature of the canal, which opened in 1867, shifted Great Britain's focus in the Middle East from Constantinople to Cairo and opened the door to British intervention in Egyptian affairs. Said was followed by Khedive (viceroy) Ismail Pasha, whose rule was characterized by accelerated economic development, Westernization, and the establishment of Egyptian autonomy. The cost of Said's reforms, of the construction of the Suez Canal, and of his conquests in Africa, however, put Egypt deep into debt and forced Ismail to sell (1875) his Suez Canal shares to the British. Egypt's financial problems led to further subordination of the country to great-power interests. Ismail was forced to accept the establishment of a French-British Debt Commission.
In 1879, Ismail was compelled to abdicate in favor of his son Tewfik Pasha, who was confronted with financial and political chaos; his situation was complicated by the outbreak of a nationalist and military revolt (1881–82) under Arabi Pasha. The British reacted to the revolt with a naval bombardment of Alexandria in July, 1882, and by landing British troops, who defeated Arabi Pasha at the battle of Tell el Kabir and went on to occupy Cairo.
The British consolidated their control during the period (1883–1907) when Lord Cromer was consul general and de facto ruler. By 1904 the governments of France, Austria, and Italy agreed not to obstruct Britain in its intention to stay in Egypt indefinitely. During World War I, after Turkey joined the Central Powers, Great Britain declared Egypt a British protectorate and deposed Abbas II, the allegedly pro-German khedive, substituting Husein Kamil (1914–17), a member of his family. After the war Egyptian nationalists of the Wafd party, led by Zaghlul Pasha, were especially vigorous in their demands for freedom.
Under the rule of Ahmad Fuad (who later became Fuad I), a treaty providing for Egypt's independence was concluded (1922). It went into effect in 1923 following the proclamation of a constitution that made Egypt a kingdom under Fuad and established a parliament. Great Britain, however, retained the right to station troops in Egypt and refused to consider Egyptian claims to the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (see Sudan). The British protectorate was maintained until the promulgation of a new treaty in 1936, which made the two countries allies and promised the eventual withdrawal of British troops. Fuad was succeeded by his son Farouk. In 1937 a further step toward sovereignty was accomplished by an agreement (which went into effect in 1949) to end extraterritoriality in Egypt.
In the postindependence years, Egypt's internal political life was largely a struggle for power between the Wafd party and the throne. The constitution was suspended in 1930, and Egypt was under a virtual royal dictatorship until the Wafdists forced the readoption of the constitution in 1935. During World War II, Egypt remained officially neutral. However, Egyptian facilities were put at the disposal of the British and several battles were fought on Egyptian soil (for details of the military engagements, see
North Africa, campaigns in).
After the war, demands were made for a revision of the treaty of 1936. Repeated talks failed because of Egyptian insistence that Great Britain allow incorporation of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan into Egypt. An Egyptian appeal (1947) on this subject to the Security Council of the United Nations was also in vain. Egypt actively opposed the UN partition of Palestine in 1948 and, joining its forces with the other members of the
Arab League, sent troops into the S Negev. Israeli forces, however, repelled the Egyptians in bitter fighting (see Arab-Israeli Wars).
In domestic politics, the Wafd acquired a majority in 1950 and formed a one-party cabinet. The struggle between King Farouk and the Wafdist government intensified, and several political uprisings led to violence. On July 23, 1952, the military, headed by Gen. Muhammad Naguib, took power by coup. Farouk abdicated in favor of his infant son, Ahmad Fuad II, but in 1953 the monarchy was abolished and a republic was declared. Naguib assumed the presidency, but, in his attempts to move toward a parliamentary republic, he met with opposition from other members of the Revolutionary Command Committee (RCC). Increasing difficulties led to the extension of martial law. Col. Gamal Abdal
Nasser emerged as a rival to Naguib, and in Feb., 1954, Naguib resigned.
Egypt under Nasser
Nasser took full power in Nov., 1954. Under the new constitution, he was elected president for a six-year term. The long-standing dispute over Sudan was ended on Jan. 1, 1956, when Sudan announced its independence, recognized by both Egypt and Great Britain. British troops, by previous agreement (July, 1954), completed their evacuation of the Suez Canal Zone in June, 1956. Tension increased in July, 1956, when, after the United States and Great Britain withdrew their pledges of financial aid for the building of the Aswan High Dam, the Soviet Union stepped in to finance the dam. Nasser then nationalized the Suez Canal and expelled British oil and embassy officials from Egypt.
On Oct. 29, Israel, barred from the canal and antagonized by continued guerrilla attacks from Gaza, invaded Gaza and the Sinai peninsula in joint arrangement with Britain and France, who attacked Egypt by air on Oct. 31. Within a week Great Britain, France, and Israel yielded to international political pressure, especially that of the United States, and a cease-fire was pronounced. A UN emergency force then occupied the Canal Zone in Dec., 1956. Israeli troops evacuated Egyptian territory in the spring of 1957.
In Feb., 1958, Syria and Egypt merged as the United Arab Republic. They were joined by Yemen in March, creating the United Arab States. The union was soon torn by personal and political differences, and a Syrian revolt (1961) led to its virtual dissolution.
Egypt embarked on a program of industrialization, chiefly through Soviet technical and economic aid. Both industry and agriculture were almost completely nationalized by 1962. In the early 1960s, Nasser strove to make Egypt the undisputed leader of a united Arab world; his chief and most effective rallying cry for Arab unity remained his denunciation of Israel and his call for that country's extinction. From 1962 to 1967, Egyptian forces provided the chief strength of the republican government in Yemen, where the royalists were backed by Saudi Arabia. Heavy losses finally moved Egypt to withdraw, and the republicans ultimately gained control. Egyptian military might continued to increase with the acquisition of powerful modern weapons, many of which were supplied by the USSR. In 1965 and 1966 two anti-Nasser plots were discovered and crushed. Nasser assumed near absolute control in 1967 by taking over the premiership and the leadership of the Arab Socialist Union (ASU), the country's sole political party.
In the spring of 1967, Egyptian troops were ordered to positions on the Israeli border, and Nasser demanded that the UN peacekeeping force stationed on the Egyptian side of the border since 1956 be withdrawn. Following the UN evacuation, Arab troops massed on the frontier, and Nasser announced (May 22) that the Gulf of Aqaba was closed to Israeli shipping. Other Arab states rallied to Egypt's support.
On June 5, Israel launched air and ground attacks against Arab positions and after six days achieved a rapid and decisive victory despite the Arab superiority in numbers and armaments. When the UN cease-fire went into effect, Israel held the Sinai peninsula, Gaza, and the east bank of the Suez Canal. After the war, Egypt received a massive infusion of Soviet military and economic aid in a program designed to rebuild its armed forces and economy, both shattered by the war. Egypt's postwar policy was based on two principles: no direct negotiations with Israel and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which, in part, called for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from occupied territories.
After Nasser's sudden death in Sept., 1970, Vice President Anwar al-
Sadat succeeded him as president. An abortive coup took place in May, 1971, but Sadat emerged in control. A new constitution was ratified in Sept., 1971, when the country changed its name to the Arab Republic of Egypt. Sadat modified somewhat Nasser's hard line toward Israel but continued to demand Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and threatened to renew the war in order to regain the lands. In 1972, Sadat ousted all Soviet military personnel stationed in Egypt and placed Soviet bases and equipment under Egyptian control, thus reversing a 20-year trend of increasing dependence on the USSR. Unrest in 1973 led to the forced resignation of the governmental cabinet and to Sadat's assumption of the premiership.
The 1973 War
Another war with Israel broke out on Oct. 6, 1973, when Egyptian forces attacked Israel on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Israeli forces were caught off guard as Egyptian units progressed into the Sinai, and fighting broke out between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. The fighting escalated both on the ground and in the air.
After Israel had stabilized the Syrian front, its troops crossed the Suez Canal and toward the end of the war were in control of some 475 sq mi (1,230 sq km) on the west bank of the canal between Ismailia and Adabiya, surrounding the city of Suez and trapping Egypt's Third Army on the east side of the canal. Sadat called for a cease-fire coupled with the withdrawal of Israel from territories it had occupied since 1967. At the same time, Arab countries, by reducing—and later stopping—oil exports to selected countries supporting Israel, put pressure on the United States to get Israel to pull back from the occupied lands.
On Oct. 22 the United States and the USSR submitted a joint resolution to the UN Security Council calling for an immediate cease-fire and the beginning of peace negotiations. The Security Council voted to establish a UN emergency force made up of troops from the smaller nations to supervise the cease-fire. Through the mediation efforts of U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Egypt and Israel agreed to face-to-face negotiations on implementing the cease-fire. On Nov. 9, Israel accepted a proposal, worked out by Kissinger and Sadat.
Peace and Internal Unrest
A result of the intense U.S. effort to secure a settlement was the resumption of diplomatic relations between the United States and Egypt, which had been severed since the 1967 war. This marked the beginning of closer relations with the West. After regaining both banks of the Suez Canal as a result of the postwar agreement, Egypt, with U.S. assistance, began to clear the canal of mines and sunken ships left from the 1967 war. In 1974, following a visit to Egypt by U.S. President Richard Nixon, a treaty was signed providing U.S. aid to Egypt of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In 1977, Sadat surprised the world with his visit to Jerusalem and plans for peace with Israel. On Mar. 26, 1979, Egypt signed a formal peace treaty with Israel in Washington, D.C. By 1982, Israel had withdrawn from nearly all the Sinai. Egypt was suspended from the Arab League as a result of the peace treaty. A boycott by Arab countries was imposed on Egypt, and Libya, which had cut ties with Egypt in 1977, provoked border clashes.
Domestic unrest between Muslims and Christians in 1981 led to a crackdown by the government. Tensions heightened, and Sadat was assassinated on Oct. 6, 1981, by Muslim extemists. He was succeeded by Vice President Hosni Mubarak, who faced growing economic problems as well as continued opposition from militant Muslim fundamentalists. A change in foreign policy brought renewed ties with Jordan.
President Mubarak continued amicable relations with Israel and the United States and remained active in the Middle East peace process. In 1989, Israel returned the last portion of the Sinai that it held, the Taba Strip, to Egypt. Relations with the rest of the Arab world improved, and Egypt was readmitted into the Arab League in 1989.
Opposition from Islamic fundamentalists heightened during the 1990s; from 1992 to 1997, more than 1,200 people, mostly Egyptian Christians, were killed in terrorist violence. A 1997 attack on tourists visiting the Temple of Hatshepsut at Luxor claimed some 70 lives. During the same period, an estimated 26,000 Islamic militants were jailed and dozens were sentenced to death. In return for Egypt's anti-Iraq stance and its sending of troops in the Persian Gulf War (1991), the United States dismissed $7 billion in Egyptian debt. Participation in the war strengthened Western ties and enhanced Egypt's regional leadership role but was not popular domestically. In 1999, Mubarak was returned to office for a fourth six-year term.
Ancient Egypt
See W. S. Smith, Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (1958); Pierre Montet, Lives of the Pharaohs (1968); W. M. F. Petrie, History of Egypt (6 vol., 1898–1905, repr. 1972); H. I. Bell, Egypt from Alexander the Great to the Arab Conquest (1949, repr. 1977); W. E. Budge, The Dwellers on the Nile (1977); Nigel Strudwick, The Administration of Egypt in the Old Kingdom (1985); C. P. Ingraham, The Legendary History of Ancient Egypt (2 vol., 1986); Naphtali Lewis, Life in Egypt Under Roman Rule (1986).
Modern Egypt
See Charles Issawi, Egypt at Mid-Century (1954); Mahmoud Zayid, Egypt's Struggle for Independence (1965); P. M. Holt, Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, 1566–1922 (1966); Jacques Berque, Egypt (1972); R. W. Baker, Egypt's Uncertain Revolution Under Nasser and Sadat (1978); Elie Kedourie and S. G. Haim, ed., Modern Egypt (1980); Israel Gersheni, The Emergence of Pan-Arabism in Egypt (1981); Christina Harris, Nationalism and Revolution in Egypt: The Role of the Muslim Brotherhood (1964, repr. 1987); Joel Beinin and Zachary Lockman, Workers on the Nile (1988); Anthony McDermott, Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak (1988); Gehad Auda, Political-Military Relations in Egypt (1990); P. J. Vatikiotis, The History of Modern Egypt (4th ed. 1991).____________________

The British Museum

The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than 7 million objects[3], are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents,
illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present.[a] The museum is a Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.“The wonders of the museum brought here to Bloomsbury from all around the world's imagined corners are numberless. How can they be named? As well tally each leaf of a tree. They come here out of the living minds of generations of men and women now dead – Greek and Assyrian, Aztec and Inuit, Chinese and Indian – who have conceived and carved and hammered and tempered and cast these objects to represent the worlds around them, visible and invisible.[4]”The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House in Bloomsbury, on the site of the current museum building. Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum of Natural History in South Kensington in 1887. Until 1997, when the current British Library building opened to the public, the British Museum was unique in that it housed both a national museum of antiquities and a national library in the same building. Since 2001 the director of the Museum has been Neil MacGregor.[5]As with all other national museums and art galleries in Britain, the Museum charges no admission fee, although charges are levied for some temporary special exhibitions.[6]
History1.1 Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum1.2 Foundation (1753)1.3 Cabinet of curiosities (1753-78)1.4 Indolence and energy (1778-1800)1.5 Growth and change (1800-25)1.6 The largest building site in Europe (1825-50)1.7 Collecting from the wider world (1850-75)1.8 Scholarship and legacies (1875-1900)1.9 New century, new building (1900-25)1.10 Disruption and reconstruction (1925-50)1.11 A new public face (1950-75)1.12 The Great Court emerges (1975-2000)1.13 The Museum today2 Governance3 Building4 Departments4.1 Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan4.2 Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities4.3 Department of the Middle East4.4 Department of Prints and Drawings4.5 Department of Asia4.6 Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas4.7 Department of Coins and Medals4.8 Department of Prehistory and Europe4.9 Department of Conservation, Documentation and Science4.10 Libraries and Archives5 Controversy5.1 Disputed Items in the Collection6 Galleries7 See also8 Notes9 References10 Further reading11 External linksHistorySir Hans Sloane, founder of the British MuseumSir Hans SloaneThough principally a museum of cultural art objects and antiquities today, the British Museum was founded as a "universal museum". Its foundations lie in the will of the physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). During the course of his lifetime Sloane gathered an enviable collection of curiosities and whilst not wishing to see his collection broken up after death, he bequeathed it to King George II, for the nation, for the princely sum of £20,000.[7]At that time, Sloane’s collection consisted of around 71,000 objects of all kinds[8] including some 40,000 printed books, 7,000 manuscripts, extensive natural history specimens including 337 volumes of dried plants, prints and drawings including those by Albrecht Dürer and antiquities from Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Ancient Near and Far East and the Americas.[9]Foundation (1753
On 7 June 1753 King George II gave his formal assent to the Act of Parliament which established the British Museum.[b] The Foundation Act, added two other libraries to the Sloane collection. The Cottonian Library, assembled by Sir Robert Cotton, dated back to Elizabethan times and the Harleian library, the collection of the Earls of Oxford. They were joined in 1757 by the Royal Library, assembled by various British monarchs. Together these four "foundation collections" included many of the most treasured books now in the British Library[10] including the Lindisfarne Gospels and the sole surviving copy of Beowulf.[c]The British Museum was the first of a new kind of museum - national, belonging to neither church nor king, freely open to the public and aiming to collect everything. Sloane's collection, whilst including a vast miscellany of objects, tended to reflect his scientific interests.[11] The addition of the Cotton and Harley manuscripts introduced a literary and antiquarian element and meant that the British Museum now became both national museum and library.[citation needed]
Cabinet of curiosities (1753-78Montagu House
The body of trustees decided on a converted 17th-century mansion, Montagu House, as a location for the museum, which it bought from the Montagu family for £20,000. The Trustees rejected Buckingham House, on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace, on the grounds of cost and the unsuitability of its location.[12][d]
With the acquisition of Montagu House the first exhibition galleries and reading room for scholars opened on 15 January 1759. In 1757 King George II gave the Old Royal Library and with it the right to a copy of every book published in the country, thereby ensuring that the Museum's library would expand indefinitely. The predominance of natural history, books and manuscripts began to lessen when in 1772 the Museum acquired its first antiquities of note; Sir William Hamilton's collection of Greek vases. During the few years after its foundation the British Museum received several further gifts, including the Thomason Collection of Civil War Tracts and David Garrick's library of 1,000 printed plays, but yet contained few ancient relics recognisable to visitors of the modern museum.[citation needed][Indolence and energy (1778-1800)Colossal Marble Foot
From 1778 a display of objects from the South Seas brought back from the round-the-world voyages of Captain James Cook and the travels of other explorers fascinated visitors with a glimpse of previously unknown lands. The bequest of a collection of books, engraved gems, coins, prints and drawings by Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode in 1800 did much to raise the Museum's reputation however Montagu House became increasingly crowded and decrepit and it was apparent that it would be unable to cope with further expansion.[13]The museum’s first notable addition towards its collection of antiquities, since its foundation, was by Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803), British Ambassador to Naples, who sold his collection of Greek and Roman artefacts to the museum in 1784 together with a number of other antiquities and natural history specimens. A list of donations to the Museum, dated 31 January 1784 refers to the Hamilton bequest of a "Colossal Foot of an Apollo in Marble". It was one of two antiquities of Hamilton's collection drawn for him by Francesco Progenie, a pupil of Pietro Fabris, who also contributed a number of drawings of Mount Vesuvius sent by Hamilton to the Royal Society in London.Growth and change (1800-25)The Cyrus Cylinder .
In the early 19th century the foundations for the extensive collection of sculpture began to be laid and Greek, Roman and Egyptian artefacts dominated the antiquities displays. After the defeat of the French Campaign in the Battle of the Nile, in 1801, the British Museum acquired more Egyptian sculpture and in 1802 King George III presented the Rosetta Stone - key to the deciphering of hieroglyphs.[14] Gifts and purchases from Henry Salt, British Consul General in Egypt, beginning with the Colossal bust of Ramesses II in 1818, laid the foundations of the collection of Egyptian Monumental Sculpture.[15] Many Greek sculptures followed, notably the first purpose-built exhibition space, the Charles Towneley collection, much of it Roman Sculpture, in 1805. In 1806, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803 removed the large collection of marble sculptures from the Parthenon, on the Acropolis in Athens and transferred them to Britain. In 1816 these masterpieces of western art, were acquired by The British Museum by Act of Parliament and deposited in the museum thereafter.[16] The collections were supplemented by the Bassae frieze from Phigaleia, Greece in 1815. The Ancient Near Eastern collection also had its beginnings in 1825 with the purchase of Assyrian and Babylonian antiquities from the widow of Claudius James Rich.[17]
In 1802 a Buildings Committee was set up to plan for expansion of the museum, and further highlighted by the donation in 1822 of the King's Library, personal library of King George III's, comprising 65,000 volumes, 19,000 pamphlets, maps, charts and topographical drawing.[18] The neoclassical architect, Sir Robert Smirke, was asked to draw up plans for an eastern extension to the Museum "... for the reception of the Royal Library, and a Picture Gallery over it ..."[19] and put forward plans for today's quadrangular building, much of which can be seen today. The dilapidated Old Montagu House was demolished and work on the King's Library Gallery began in 1823. The extension, the East Wing, was completed by 1831. However, following the founding of the National Gallery, London in 1824,[e] the proposed Picture Gallery was no longer needed, and the space on the upper floor was given over to the Natural History collections.[20]
[ The largest building site in Europe (1825-50)Left to Right: Montagu House, Townley Gallery and Sir Robert Smirke's west wing under construction (July 1828)The Grenville Library, (1875)
The Museum became a construction site as Sir Robert Smirke's grand neo-classical building gradually arose. The King's Library, on the ground floor of the East Wing, was handed over in 1827, and was described as one of the finest rooms in London although it was not fully open to the general public until 1857, however, special openings were arranged during The Great Exhibition of 1851. In spite of dirt and disruption the collections grew, outpacing the new building.[citation needed]
Archaeological excavations
In 1840 the Museum became involved in its first overseas excavations, Charles Fellows's expedition to Xanthos, in Asia Minor, whence came remains of the tombs of the rulers of ancient Lykia, among them the Nereid and Payava monuments. In 1857 Charles Newton was to discover the 4th-century BC Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the 1840s and 1850s the Museum supported excavations in Assyria by A.H. Layard and others at sites such as Nimrud and Nineveh. Of particular interest to curators was the eventual discovery of Ashurbanipal's great library of cuneiform tablets, which helped to make the Museum a focus for Assyrian studies.[21]
Sir Thomas Grenville (1755–1846) was a Trustee of The British Museum from 1830 assembled a fine library of 20,240 volumes, which he left to the Museum in his will. The books arrived in January 1847 in twenty-one horse-drawn vans. The only vacant space for this large library was a room originally intended for manuscripts, between the Front Entrance Hall and the Manuscript Saloon. The books remained here until the British Library moved to St Pancras in 1998.[ Collecting from the wider world (1850-75)
The opening of the forecourt in 1852 marked the completion of Robert Smirke's 1823 plan, but already adjustments were having to be made to cope with the unforeseen growth of the collections. Infill galleries were constructed for Assyrian sculptures and Sydney Smirke's Round Reading Room, with space for a million books, opened in 1857. Because of continued pressure on space the decision was taken to move natural history to a new building in South Kensington, which would later become the British Museum of Natural History.
Roughly contemporary with the construction of the new building was the career of a man sometimes called the "second founder" of the British Museum, the Italian librarian Anthony Panizzi. Under his supervision, the British Museum Library (now the British Library) quintupled in size and became a well-organised institution worthy of being called a national library. The quadrangle at the centre of Smirke's design proved to be a waste of valuable space and was filled at Panizzi's request by a circular Reading Room of cast iron, designed by Smirke's brother, Sydney Smirke.[22]Panorama of the circular Reading RoomUntil the mid 19th century the Museum's collections were relatively circumscribed but, in 1851, with the appointment to the staff of Augustus Wollaston Franks to curate the collections, the Museum began for the first time to collect British and European medieval antiquities, prehistory, branching out into Asia and diversifying its holdings of ethnography. Overseas excavations continued and John Turtle Wood discovered the remains of the 4th century BC Temple of Artemis at Ephesos, another Wonder of the Ancient World.[23][ Scholarship and legacies (1875-1900)
The natural history collections were an integral part of the British Museum until their removal to the new British Museum of Natural History, now the Natural History Museum, in 1887. With the departure and the completion of the new White Wing (fronting Montague Street) in 1884, more space was available for antiquities and ethnography and the library could further expand. This was a time of innovation as electric lighting was introduced in the Reading Room and exhibition galleries.[24]
In 1882 the Museum was involved in the establishment of the independent Egypt Exploration Fund (now Society) the first British body to carry out research in Egypt. A bequest from Miss Emma Turner in 1892 financed excavations in Cyprus. In 1897 the death of the great collector and curator, A.W. Franks, was followed by an immense bequest of 3,300 finger rings, 153 drinking vessels, 512 pieces of continental porcelain, 1,500 netsuke, 850 inro, over 30,000 bookplates and miscellaneous items of jewellery and plate, among them the Oxus Treasure.[25]In 1898 Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bequeathed the glittering contents from his New Smoking Room at Waddesdon Manor. This consisted of almost 300 pieces of objets d'art et de vertu which included exquisite examples of jewellery, plate, enamel, carvings, glass and maiolica, in the tradition of a schatzkammer or treasure houses such as those formed by the Renaissance princes of Europe.[26] Baron Ferdinand's will was most specific, and failure to observe the terms would make it void, the collection should be,“placed in a special room to be called the Waddesdon Bequest Room separate and apart from the other contents of the Museum and thenceforth for ever thereafter, keep the same in such room or in some other room to be substituted for it.[26]