Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Egypt’s Newest Antiquities

Newsweek (Tara Weingarten)

There’s never been a better time to visit the cradle of civilization: Egypt is on a tear to open newly restored antiquities. Beginning now, and for the next three years, the government will inaugurate an impressive 22 new museums and attractions throughout the country—all in anticipation of the vast sums of tourism money likely to flow into the country as a result.

This month sees the opening of the mind-boggling Avenue of the Sphinxes on the east bank of the Nile River, a promenade of 1,350 lionlike statues that once linked the opulent temples of Karnak and Luxor. Though archeologists weren’t able to unearth the entire avenue—it would have destroyed much of the modern town of Luxor built atop the ruin—a sizable portion of the alleyway was uncovered, exposing 900 original statues. Also on view are the remains of a Roman village on the site, complete with a large-production bakery, a wine factory, and a residential neighborhood, as well as several unearthed cartouches of Cleopatra, which experts believe prove she visited the grand avenue.

Also this month, Abusir, situated just outside Cairo between Giza and the vast burial ground of Saqqara, will open, showcasing a collection of 11 pyramids that have long been off limits to tourists. Just south of Saqqara, less than an hour’s drive from Cairo, the NK Cemetery has been revealed, allowing access to its painted tombs of the less-famous (though not less extraordinary) royal family members Maya and Horemheb.

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