The World Today for June 11, 2021
NEED TO KNOW
Writing Its Story
The coronavirus pandemic devastated Egypt’s most important industry, tourism.
In 2019, more than 13 million tourists visited the North African country, earning it $13 billion. It was a return to pre-2011 numbers – afterward, the street protests of the Arab Spring kept visitors away. Last year, however, due to Covid-19, 3.5 million foreign tourists came to the country.
“2019 was a fantastic year,” Mahmoud el-Rays, a tour guide at the recently opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, told the Associated Press. “But corona reversed everything. It is a massive blow.”
Now, however, as the pandemic recedes, Egyptian leaders hope the new museum and a host of bombshell archeological discoveries might lure back foreigners enthralled with the mysteries and the glory of the pharaohs and reignite the country’s economic engine in the process.
In an effort to drum up interest, Egyptian officials recently and with no small amount of pageantry transported 22 of the most prized mummies from central Cairo to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with flashy vehicles and military bands. The Times of Israel described the event as a “grand parade” designed to showcase Egypt’s rich heritage.
Shortly thereafter, archeologists found a 3,000-year-old buried city in southern Luxor that dates back to ancient Egypt’s golden age. The formerly lost city provides crucial clues into how Egyptians lived their daily lives when their civilization was at its wealthiest.
“The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun,” Johns Hopkins University Egyptologist Betsy Brian said in an interview with the BBC.
These and other discoveries reflect how archeologists are digging away from some of the high-profile ancient sites like Luxor that have long drawn researchers, Smithsonian magazine wrote in a story that detailed how workers found 250 remarkable rock-cut tombs at a necropolis near Sohag on the east bank of the Nile, north of Luxor.
They are also showing how the story of ancient Egypt is still being written. As the Washington Post explained, the finding of an ancient temple in Saqqara revealed the name of Queen Neit, the previously unknown wife of a pharaoh who lived more than 4,300 years ago.
The same story mentions how archeologists recently found a 5,000-year-old brewery, potentially the world’s oldest, in Egypt. The facility could produce around 5,900 gallons of beer at a time for royal funerals and other official occasions, according to Deutsche Welle.
Nobody will ever fully solve these ancient mysteries. But archeologists have already succeeded in demonstrating how the ancient Egyptians were not so unlike us.
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