Take A Virtual Tour Of Egypt While On COVID-19 Quarantine

With the recent coronavirus outbreak, many of us have cancelled our travel plans for the year. However, we can turn our time in isolation into a period of exploration. Harvard has teamed up with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to bring us five new virtual experiences. Each is a detailed 3D map that we can explore similar to Google Maps on street view.

Let’s take a look at what gems of Egypt we can explore right from the comfort of our home.

The Tomb Of Queen Meresankh III

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Almost everyone is familiar with the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. However, there’s another Egyptian treasure waiting for you to explore nearby. The mastaba tomb of Queen Meresankh III is an overlooked piece of history you don’t want to miss.

Of our virtual tours in this list, this site is the oldest of them all. Harvard archaeologist George Andrew Reisner had initially discovered the tomb in 1927.

The virtual tour takes us inside to enjoy hieroglyphic inscriptions on walls as old as 5,000 years old. What’s impressive is that the carvings and paintings have stayed well-preserved. You can still see the remains of their original coloring and etching.

The first floor features ten statues of women, representing Meresankh III’s queenly relatives. As we go down to her sarcophagus on the first floor, we pass by statues depicting the queen and her mother. We see a reconstruction of the ancient coffin, as the real thing is at Cairo’s Egyptian Antiquities Museum.

Ben Ezra Synagogue

In Old Cairo stands the Ben Ezra synagogue. The site is famous as folklore says that it is here that the Pharaoh’s daughter discovered baby Moses. This site was originally a Coptic church, but the patriarch later sold it to a group of Jews.

No longer an official place of worship today, the synagogue now serves as a museum. The area has undergone several renovations to look like what it does now. Ten tall marble pillars hold the synagogue structure, which features a gold and blue interior.

Mosque-Madrassa Of Sultan Barquq

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Another more colorful site to visit is the mosque-madrassa of Sultan Barquq. The site is a well-visited location due to its massive size and Islamic style of architecture. The structure dates back to the medieval period when Cairo was a center of trade.

The architectural design of the old school is one good reason to explore it. The intricate structure of the mosque stands on the site of an extravagant palace. You’ll be able to explore and appreciate these intricacies in the virtual tour.

The Red Monastery

To further showcase the religious diversity of Egypt is the Red Monastery near Souhag. The Coptic Orthodox site gets its name from the red bricks that form its exterior. We have yet to discover the history of the monastery, with experts only estimating it to be built by Saint Pishay in the fourth century AD. Inside, colorful frescos stand over the monastery’s white walls.

The Tomb Of Menna

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Rounding out our virtual tours is the Tomb of Menna, dating back to the 18th dynasty of Egypt. It is a popular site that officials consider to be one of the “most visited” tombs of the era.

Compared to pharaohs, we know little about the ancient official. However, we can stand to discover what information there is by exploring his tomb. For instance, the site records all the titles he held, including Scribe of the Lord of the Two Lands. He was also Overseer of Fields of Amun. Menna’s position was unique as he held positions in both palace administration and temple.

The tomb showcases well-preserved paintings that depict Menna’s life. What’s interesting to note is that all depictions of the official are damaged, with the face scratched out. Ancient Egyptians believed that a person’s soul inhabited images such as these. Damage to these paintings would mean someone wanted to erase Menna from history.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown off many of our plans. “You probably won’t be going on vacation next month, but someday this will end — and eventually, this cabin fever will become a distant memory,” says Scott Bea, PsyD.

Until then, you can use up some of that free time to discover the beauty and wonder of Ancient Egypt. Five virtual tours await you. Discover the Tombs of Queen Meresankh III and Menna, the Ben Ezra synagogue, the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq, and the Red Monastery.

This ancient world’s diverse and rich culture is sure to keep you sane and in awe during this quarantine. Experience Egypt while still staying safe at home.

Faith And Society: How Religious Beliefs Shape The Modern Day Egypt

The Golden Rule can be found in religions and philosophies all over the world. It was first written down in ancient Egypt. —

When it comes to famous tourist destinations, Egypt has always been on the top of lists since the time of enlightenment. But what made these tourist destinations different from other countries is its correlation with the ancient civilization and the religious beliefs that every Egyptian family still carries until now.

Since the early 1300s, Egypt has been practicing their religious beliefs as the basis for making laws of the state. The legislative branch of the Egyptian government sees the predominant religion like Islam as a primary pillar that can shape society for the future generation. However, let us also tackle and look at the relationship of other minor religious beliefs like Christianity and Judaism to modern Egyptian society.

Islam As The Predominant Religion

Egypt’s population consists of roughly 94 percent of Muslim believers. A large part of this population considers themselves as the follower of Sunni Islam in which they recognize the four caliphs as the rightful leaders of the state. Meanwhile, there is also a small portion of this population that faithfully believes in Mu’tazila, Shia Twelvers, and Ismailism. Apart from that, the renowned principal and long-standing Islamic university ever recorded in the world is in Egypt.

Al-Azhar University offers Islamic studies that enhance the Muslim believer’s principles, convictions, and practices in which it can foster a beneficial impact on all sectors of the Egyptian community. After graduation, the majority of the students from the university pursue working in the government where they can facilitate legislative decisions that follow the Islamic rules. It is also to support the propagation of Islamic faith which citizens believe to be an effective political system and the only way they can afford the preservation of order.

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Although Islam and its rules have contributed a positive impact to the community as the official state religion of Egypt, flaws continue to emerge such as denial of religious freedom. The government is firm with the decision of not recognizing non-Muslim individuals because they believe that it is in contradiction with national peace. So for citizens who have converted and practiced other religious belief, they are arrested and subjected to penalization.

It is an old truth but a frequently forgotten one: there are no leaders without followers. If followers decide to take a different route then the individual at the front ceases to be the leader. — Mark Van Vugt Ph.D.

Christianity As The Second Religion

The Christian religion in Egypt still exists to around five percent of the population despite the prominence of Islamic faith in the country. A large portion of the Christian community in Egypt belongs to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria where the Bible is the basis of services and lessons.

Because of the presence of Christianity, the government has adopted a more democratic way of leadership in the country. The 12 diocesan bishops serve as the authorities or councils in the community, where they handle the finances of the Christian churches in the area. They are authorized to administer rules in regards to education, heritage, and marriage.

Just like Islam, the leaders of the Christian church in Egypt have established primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges that hone children to the teachings of the gospel. Aside from that, a strong foundation of Sunday-school movement has been visible for years to offer religious education, good ethics, and manners to incapable children who cannot go to Coptic schools.

Judaism: The Lowest In Number Among The Recognized Religions

Although Judaism is considered one of the oldest broad evangelical religions present in the world, it is still one of the lowest in terms of the number recognized in Egypt. Records estimate that less than one percent of present-day Egypt’s population practices Judaism. The 40 Jews remaining in the country is a representation of the ones who left after the massive migration to Israel in 1948. 

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A lot of Jewish religious practices are very much family-oriented. For example, they never forget the tradition of doing Sabbath meal where relatives unite in one table to honor the sacred day. Since the religion of Judaism is a faith of action, believers tend to seek both obedience to the law of the land and obedience to the law of the spirits which contribute to the holiness of the world. The remaining population of Egypt who believes in Judaism follows rules that help with keeping a group of individuals together for the betterment of the future generation.

Unrecognized Religions

The remaining percentage of the entire population of Egypt belongs to the unrecognized religions such as Atheism, Hinduism, Baha’I Faith, and Agnosticism. The religions mentioned are the religious beliefs that were not able to register their customs and traditions to the Department of Religious Affairs. The lack of state recognition of the religions is an indication of a more complex processing system in the country. For example, an individual who has Baha’I faith that is residing in Egypt may have a hard time registering for bank accounts, educational institutions, and businesses.

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Since the early times, faith and society were never separate. They always come hand in hand because religion is instituted to regulate society. There is a strong potential for religious beliefs and practices to enormously address social issues. That is why it has taken up accountability to improve the shape of society in all aspects.

We don’t control other people, the weather, the economy, our bodies and health, our reputation, or things in the past and future. The only thing we have complete control over is our beliefs—if we choose to exercise this control. — Susan K Perry Ph.D.

3 Unique Ways Egyptians Handle Stress 

Egypt is more than just the tombs and mummies. It is a nation located where Africa and Asia meet. Moreover, it is a country surrounded by deserts, pyramids, and rivers. With its rich culture and history masked with mystery, it is a fascinating place to visit.

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Egyptian Hieroglyphs: An Iconic Writing System 

Of all the ancient scripts in the world, perhaps one of the most well-known is Egyptian hieroglyphs. Whenever people see the distinctive symbols, many of them remember the old adventure movies they grew up with, the ones where the hero explores long-lost tombs of ancient pharaohs, seeking danger and thrill.  

 

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5 Unique Egyptian Traditions

The population of Egypt, the earliest civilization, was maintained by beer which was consumed by every person – man, woman, and child – at every meal. — Stanton Peele Ph.D.

Egypt is a magnificent country. It has impressed tourists and the rest of the world with its unique and breathtaking attractions. This country also has a rich culture dating from three eras – the Pharaonic era, the Christianity era, and the Islam era. Egypt has exciting and unique traditions as well, dating back to thousands of years ago but are still practiced up to today. Let us explore and understand some of these traditions.  

 

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