The Eternal Charms of Storied Egypt

The Eternal Charms of Storied Egypt

This article appears in Volume 24: The Slow Issue

introduction to the splendours of Egypt begin with a canter
on horseback to the pyramids of Abu Sir along a landscape that
looks more like the surface of the moon than the earth. As the
lyrics of America’s Horse With No Name appropriately carousel
around my head – “The heat was hot and the ground was dry / But the
air was full of sound” – it hits me that I’m riding in the trail of
the legendary female Victorian explorer Gertrude Bell, who would
have enjoyed exactly the same view of this timeless and cinematic
landscape. Today you can still sidle up close to these
extraordinary temples without another soul in sight. As I gaze
across the horizon to the famous pyramids of Giza and the
lesser-known antique burial grounds of Saqqara and Dahshur, it
makes me feel intensely aware of my own minuscule position within
these immeasurable sands of time and space.

Egypt rarely escapes the stereotype of an exotic, dangerous
place full of pyramids crammed with cursed treasure and waiting to
be discovered by adventurous archaeologists. While it’s true that
to this day new artefacts are constantly being uncovered – a major
tomb near the Valley of the Kings was unearthed at the end of 2017
– the country’s reputation as a hotbed of political unrest,
following years of internal strife after the Arab Springs of
2010-2012, finally seems to be giving way to a more hopeful period
of peace and prosperity. Although caution is still recommended in
some areas, particularly if travelling alone, by the end of last
year Egypt’s tourism figures had almost doubled. With this renewed
interest you get the sense that these peaceful moments minus the
crowds will not be around for much longer.

@adrianmorris__ |

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