Deeper into Africa

Deeper into Africa January 11, 2024

 

A view of part of the monumental complex of Sultan Qalawun in the medieval Fatimid and Mamluk section of Cairo (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

Another good day, at least from my perspective.  We began it with a visit to the so-called Egyptian Museum — the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities — on Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.  Some of the rooms there have been emptied out a bit, with their objects probably having gone to the beautiful new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization or going now to the spectacular and enormous but still-not-open Grand Egyptian Museum, which is located  out by the pyramids in Giza and which, we’ve been told, will be the largest museum in the world when it opens.

But the old museum, which is now an antique in its own right, is still well worth visiting, despite its darkness and dinginess.  Our visit today was fairly brief and summary, but we still spent time at, among others, the beautiful Narmer Palette, the Merneptah Stela (with its important late-thirteenth-century BC reference to “Israel”), a large portrait bust of Queen Hatshepsut, and, of course, the treasures from the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo
The Cairo Citadel, with the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)

From the Egyptian Museum, we drove to the twelfth-century Citadel of Sultan Salah al-Din (Saladin), the famous hero of the Counter Crusades who is something of a personal hero of mine.  There, we visited the prominent nineteenth-century Turkish-style mosque of Muhammad Ali that was built within the Citadel, and looked out over the city of Cairo and, beyond, to the Giza pyramids.  The weather was fairly clear, and they were easily visible this time — which is not always the case.  I have to confess that I’ve never been especially fond of the Muhammad Ali’s mosque.  If I want an Ottoman-style mosque, I would prefer to go to Istanbul or Bursa or Edirne to see it

We had lunch at the Steigenberger Hotel, which is near to both Tahrir Square and The Egyptian Museum, and then headed over to the late-medieval bazaar area of Khan al-Khalili.  Some of our group went shopping there; others simply sat and visited with each other in one of the Khan’s cafes, facing the important mosque of Sayyidna Husayn,  My wife and I, though, accompanied by my former student and her husband (who are living here as a Church service couple), made a beeline for al-Mu‘izz Street, with its numerous sabil-kuttabs and the mosque, mausoleum, and madrasa of Sultan Qalawun.  This area was a favorite of ours back in our student days here, many years ago, and it was a nostalgic experience for us to visit it again.

Thereafter, we headed out to the Cairo International Airport and caught a flight down to Aswan, in the south of Egypt.  It was about 10:30 PM by the time that we reached our hotel and the hour is considerably later now, and I freely confess to being quite tired and to having a difficult time typing coherent sentences.  But I’m struggling heroically against unconsciousness, so please forgive stupid errors.

I’ve always enjoyed Aswan.  (So did Agatha Christie; she wrote her novel Death on the Nile here during a stay in a grand old hotel that is still standing a bit to the south of the place where I’m writing.)   Aswan is much smaller than Cairo, and the Nile River is still actually blue here.  The Nile Valley is narrow, and the contrast between “the desert and the sown,” between the rich green of the valley and the desert’s brown, is especially obvious and particularly beautiful here.  There is an African feel here that reflects Aswan’s ancient role as a center for the ivory trade between Egypt and the sub-Saharan continent.  And the sights to see are wonderful.  I hope that our group will like it as much as I do.

A bt of Switzerland in Egypt?
The Mövenpick Hotel in Aswan, where we’re staying tonight, is located on an island in the middle of the River Nile. We had to use a boat to reach it. Our lodgings last time were in the original building, to the left in the photograph shown immediately above. This time, we’re all in the newer building, to the right. (Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)

These three new items have recently appeared on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:

Conference Talks: Beauty and Truth in Moses 1, 2018 Temple on Mount Zion Conference, presented by
Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

The fourth “Temple on Mount Zion” Conference was held on Saturday, 10 November 2018 in the Tanner Building at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

The presentations were filmed, and both video and audio recordings of each presentation are available. The videos are currently available both at https://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2018-temple-on-mount-zion-conference/2018-temple-on-mount-zion-conference-videos/and on the Interpreter Foundation YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/theinterpreterfoundation. A YouTube playlist is also available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRMn4gyXMWLsWt34zVNC5FmTqBtFfcnxl. The audio recordings are available at https://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2018-temple-on-mount-zion-conference/2018-temple-on-mount-zion-conference-audio/.

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