Month: March 2017

Cairo Inside Out

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All images from Cairo Inside Out (AUC Press)

As I remember it now, the first day I landed in Egypt to take up the role of Director of AUC Press, I was whisked off in the evening to celebrate the launch of a new book. Heavily jet lagged, much of that event is lost to me, but I do remember my impressions of walking into a curious little café on the corner of two very busy streets.

The dark wood of the furniture and walls contrasted harshly with the light and color outside, but, even though the walls on two sides were framed only in glass, somehow the noise coming from the streets was deadened, providing a little sanctuary from the assault on my weary senses. (more…)

The Great Temple, Abydos

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The celebrated nineteenth dynasty pharaoh, Seti I, reigned from around 1290 to 1279 BC, and is memorialized in a temple slightly to the south of the ancient burial ground of Old Kingdom pharaohs at Abydos in Egypt. (more…)

The Terrific Mr Mummific

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A few months ago, in my Egypt Today column, I described the ways in which museum curators and archaeologists are bringing together a number of scientific techniques in order to delve deeper, and more meaningfully, into the real lives of individuals who were mummified in ancient Egypt (see http://egypttoday.com/blog/2016/10/02/unraveling-the-private-lives-of-mummies/)

While many specialists feel increasingly uncomfortable about the public display of mummies, in the context of the growing worldwide interest in Egyptology, we recognize that the display of mummies will remain, well, a fact of life. (more…)

Ibn Tulun Mosque

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The Ibn Tulun Mosque, Cairo

Ahmad Ibn Tulun (835-884) was the son of a Turkic slave and was raised at the Abbasid court in Samarra. Through both luck and talent, Ibn Tulun rose through the courtly ranks until, at the age of 33 (in 868), he was appointed governor of Egypt. His own military success and the growing weakness of the ‘Abbasid caliphs led Ibn Tulun to form an independent sub-kingdom consisting of Egypt, Palestine and Greater Syria in 880. (more…)

Mosques of Egypt

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All images are from The Mosques of Egypt (AUC Press)

Some months ago, I wrote an article for my Egypt Today column that concentrated on what many consider to be one of the most serene and spiritual spaces in the whole of Egypt—the Mosque of Ibn Tulun (see: http://egypttoday.com/blog/2016/02/02/the-lost-city-of-ibn-tulun/).
This month, I have been reading more about Ibn Tulun, and more than eighty other mosques around Egypt, in a new publication: The Mosques of Egypt by Bernard O’Kane. The book is sumptuous—a true publishing tour de force combining the unrivaled subject expertise and photographic talent of the author, and the best in editorial and production values. (more…)

St. Peter’s Obelisk

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Re-erecting an obelisk

The ancient Egyptian obelisk at the center of St. Peter’s Square, Rome, was placed there in 1586, though it had been brought to Rome much earlier by the Emperor Caligula. Re-erecting the Aswan red granite obelisk—25.5 metres high—took the efforts of 900 men working 44 winches, 140 horses, and 0 aliens. (more…)