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Traveling through Egypt

Traveling through Egypt: From 450 B.C. to the Twentieth Century

Edited by Deborah Manley
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Traveling through Egypt
    Book Description:

    “Egypt is one of the two wings of the world, and the excellences of which it can boast are countless. Its metropolis is the dome of Islam, its river the most splendid of rivers." —al-Muqaddasi, c. 1000 To travelers, Egypt is a place of dreams: a country whose lifeblood is a mighty river, flowing from the heart of Africa. Along the fertile fringe of its banks an astonishing civilization raised spectacular monuments that our modern minds can hardly encompass. For centuries this past dominated travelers’ minds—yet the present and its great buildings too engaged their interest and admiration and gave them pleasure. The experience of Egypt has over the centuries inspired travelers to write of what they saw and tried to understand. These travelers’ observations are part of the history of modern Egypt, for seeing ourselves through others’ eyes helps us to understand ourselves. The compilers of this anthology have selected records of travelers from many countries and cultures over many centuries, and, mainly using the Nile for a pathway, here offer these travelers’ observations on the many facets of Egypt. The collection includes extracts from the writings of Herodotus, Strabo, Ibn Hawkal, al-Muqaddasi, Pierre Loti, Rudyard Kipling, Florence Nightingale, and many more.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-275-1
    Subjects: Middle East Studies, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Lady Tobin, traveling through Egypt with her husband in 1853, wrote about keeping a journal—the record upon which her account of her journey would depend:

    I quite agree with Miss Martineau that one of the greatest nuisances in travelling is keeping a journal. One is far more disposed to lie down and rest after a fatiguing ride of eight or nine hours on a camel, beneath a burning sun; than—having made a hasty toilette—to take out one’s writing materials. I persevered, however, and rejoice that I did so.

    We can rejoice also for it was upon such...

  4. 1 Alexandria, the Delta, and Suez
    (pp. 5-28)

    At Cairo, where I live, which is near the middle [of Egypt] there are sometimes four or five showers in the year, sometimes more, but rarely; in the upper provinces only one or two; nothing would grow therefore if the vegetation depended on rain, and though there are heavy dews, these would be quite insufficient; the sun is so powerful that the whole land would be one vast sandy desert, dry and barren, were it not for the wonderful river Nile.

    At a certain season every year this river begins to rise gradually; it is supplied from the mountains where...

  5. 2 Cairo
    (pp. 29-64)

    No one ever talks about the beauty of Cairo, ever gives you the least idea of this surpassing city. I thought it was a place to buy stores at and pass through on one’s way to India, instead of its being the rose of cities, the garden of the desert, the pearl of Moorish architecture, the fairest, really the fairest, place of earth below. It reminds me always of Sirius; I can’t tell why except that Sirius has the silveriest light in heaven above, and Cairo has the same radiant look on earth below; and I shall never look at...

  6. 3 The Environs of Cairo
    (pp. 65-76)

    The ultimate object of our excursion was the tombs of the Mameluke Sultans. These are situated, as it would appear, in the very heart of the Desert; and it struck me as one of the most singular features of Grand Cairo that, from the very centre of population, from a scene of luxuriant cultivation, we in a moment, without the slightest preparation, passed on to a plain and hills of sand. Not a tree, nor a habitation breaks the uniformity of the surface; nothing is visible but a district of graves, extending as far as the eye can reach; and,...

  7. 4 Up the Nile from Cairo
    (pp. 77-98)

    In the meanwhile, our first business was to look at dahabeeyahs; and the looking at dahabeeyahs compelled us constantly to turn our steps and our thoughts in the direction of Boulak—a desolate place by the river, where some two or three hundred Nile-boats lay moored for hire. Now, most persons know something of the misery of house-hunting; but only those who have experienced them know how much keener are the miseries of dahabeeyah-hunting. It is more bewildering and more fatiguing, and is beset by its own special and peculiar difficulties.

    The boats, in the first place, are all built...

  8. 5 Nubia and Beyond and Turning North
    (pp. 99-148)

    As we approach the scenery of the cataracts, very fine palm-trees again greet the eye, the hills begin to assume a darker hue, and the sandstone gives place to the granite rock. A few Roman ruins crown the top of the hills on the eastern bank as we proceed. On the western, the sand of the desert lies thickly strewn upon the rocks. Here was the island of Kubanieh, and the home of our Reis. He landed, and was surrounded by a very respectable body of black relatives, for they are Nubians; and before parting he left a basket full...

  9. 6 Northward down the Nile
    (pp. 149-160)

    We were under weigh during the night, and soon after breakfast reached Komombo—where we remained twenty-four hours, to give the Reis an opportunity of seeing his wife and children, who resided there. We walked to the famous Temple over a strip of parched ground, between the cracks of which lupins were sprung up—and along the edge of a field which some Arabs were preparing for cultivation. Near this field was a fine cotton plantation, where several Nubian slaves—the happiest of Egypt’s population, for they are generally well treated and have nothing to lose—were busily employed.


  10. 7 Luxor and the West Bank—the Thebes of Old
    (pp. 161-190)

    Mrs. Belzoni, at an early stage of her life in Egypt, was returning from Aswan to Luxor so that her husband, Giovanni, could arrange the collection from the west bank of the great head of Ramses II which now dominates the Egyptian halls of the British Museum. Mrs Belzoni was not, in the terms of her days, ‘a lady’ and her experiences of Egypt were very different from those told here by most of the other women—who were ‘ladies.’ When the Belzonis arrived in Luxor from their journey to the south and her husband set about his ‘business’ of...

  11. 8 Egypt Beyond the Nile—the Desert
    (pp. 191-204)

    The Countess came to Egypt through the desert from Palestine.

    Oh, believe me, dear mother, the desert is very tedious! If you can call to mind how the country looked between Berlin and Strelitz, before the road reached to the Baltic, you may form some notion of the desert. Sand, sand, and nothing but sand; or where water appeared amongst it—a green oasis. But suppose you were borne upon a camel, and then tell me thatennuiwould not accompany you the whole distance. A desert remains a desert. The majority of people who come hither are so delighted...

  12. The Travelers: Brief Biographies
    (pp. 205-210)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-214)
  14. Index of Travelers
    (pp. 215-216)