Friday, October 31, 2014

News: Al Khalifa monuments are under restoration

Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mosque and Mausoleum and both Qubet Aateka and Al-Gaafari at Al Khalifa area in Al-Sayeda Zeinab are finally under restoration

Rokaya mosque and mausoleum
Egypt's antiquities ministry in October is to start a comprehensive restoration project of three of Al-Khalifa area's monuments, including Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mosque and Mausoleum and both Qubet Aateka and Al-Gaafari.

Al Khalfa area is located in Al-Sayeda Zeinab district in Down Town Cairo and it houses a number of Islamic monuments from the Ayuubid and Fatimid era. Among the most important is the mausoleum of Queen Shagaret Al-Dur, wife of the Ayyubid Sultan Nagm Al-Dim Ayub, the Mosque and Mausoleum of Prophet Mohamed's daughter Al-Sayeda Rokaya and both Qubet Aateka and Al-Gaafari which are mausoleums of members of Prophet Mohamed family.

Antiquities Minster Mamdouh El-Damaty told Ahram Online that the project – funded via a US grant of $116 million – should help promote tourism to Egypt.

Rokaya mausoleum from inside
Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, said the restoration work will be carried out in two phases. The first is consolidating the structure's foundations, columns and walls. Also, cracks that have spread over the buildings in the past centuries will be restored while salt accumulated in several locations inside and outside the structures due to the high rate of humidity will be removed.

The second phase includes the restoration of all the buildings' wooden items, as well as repairing or replacing damaged tiles. All the decorative elements of the ceilings will also be restored.  

According to the project timeline, the restoration project is to be completed in July 2015 and the three monuments will be ready for official inauguration, said Abdel-Aziz.

Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mosque and Mausoleum was built by Al-Sayeda Alam Al-Amireya, the wife of Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah in remembrance of Prophet Mohamed's daughter Rokaya. It is located at the western side of the Al-Khalifa street adjacent to the Sagaret Al-Dur mosque. The mausoleum has three arcades and two niches with gypsum foliage elements. Neighbouring the Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mosque and mausoleum found both Qubet Aateka and Al-Gaafari.

Qubet Al-Gaffari was built in 1120 AD and it belongs to Mohamed Ibn Gaafar the grand-grand son of Prophet Mohamed's cousin Ali Ibn Abi Taleb. Qubet Aateka was built in 1122 AD and it belongs to Al-Sayeda Aateka bent Zeid, Prophet Mohamed's aunt.

Abdel Aziz said that Qubet Aateka is very important because it houses the oldest Fatimid dome ever found while Qubet Al-Gaffari and Al-Sayeda Rokaya mosque and mausoleum display a distinguished Islamic decorative elements and were built later after their death to commemorate them.
Source: Ahram Online

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New Discovery, Red Sea: Archaeologists Discover Remains of Egyptian Army From the Biblical Exodus

Suez|Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced this morning that a team of underwater archaeologists had discovered that remains of a large Egyptian army from the 14th century BC, at the bottom of the Gulf of Suez, 1.5 kilometers offshore from the modern city of  Ras Gharib. The team was searching for the remains of ancient ships and artefacts related to Stone Age and Bronze Age trade in the Red Sea area, when they stumbled upon a gigantic mass of human bones darkened by age.

The scientists lead by Professor Abdel Muhammad Gader and associated with Cairo University’s Faculty of Archaeology, have already recovered a total of more than 400 different skeletons, as well as hundreds of weapons and pieces of armor, also the remains of two war chariots, scattered over an area of approximately 200 square meters. They estimate that more than 5000 other bodies could be dispersed over a wider area, suggesting that an army of large size who have perished on the site.

For centuries, the famous biblical account of the
 “Red Sea Crossing” was dismissed by most scholars
 and historians as more symbolic than historical.
Many clues on the site have brought Professor Gader and his team to conclude that the bodies could be linked to the famous episode of the Exodus. 

First of all, the ancient soldiers seem to have died on dry ground, since no  traces of boats or ships have been found in the area. The positions of the bodies and the fact that they were stuck in a vast quantity of clay and rock, implie that they could have died in a mudslide or a tidal wave.

The shear number of bodies suggests that a large ancient army perished on the site and the dramatic way by which they were killed, both seem to corroborate the biblical version of the Red Sea Crossing, when the army of the Egyptian Pharaoh was destroyed by the returning waters that Moses had parted. This new find certainly proves that there was indeed an Egyptian army of large size that was destroyed by the waters of the Red Sea during the reign of King Akhenaten.

This magnificent blade from an egyptian khopesh, 
was certainly the weapon of an important character.
 It was discovered near the remains of a richly decorated 
war chariot, suggesting it could have belonged
 to a prince or nobleman.
This astounding discovery brings undeniable scientific proof that one the most famous episodes of the Old Testament was indeed, based on an historical event. It brings a brand new perspective on a story that many historians have been considering for years as a work of fiction, and suggesting that other themes like the “Plagues of Egypt” could indeed have an historical base.

A lot more research and many more recovery operations are to be expected on the site over the next few years, as Professor Gader and his team have already announced their desire to retrieve the rest of the bodies and artefacts from was has turned out to be one of the richest archaeological underwater sites ever discovered.

New Discovery, Badrashin: As a result of illicit dig, Thutmose III temple discovered

Minister of Antiquities announced today the discovery of remains of a New Kingdom temple in Tell AlAziz, Houd Zelikha in Badrashin, 40 km south of Giza pyramids.

The discovery is a result of illicit dig by someone under his house. We have to mention that it is not the first attempt to be foiled by the authorities in the same area in the past year. 

It is the third time that we know of. Previous illicit digs produced Middle Kingdom stele and pottery.

The Tourism and Antiquities police has been working with a committee from Giza Antiquities for 3 days at the site to lower the ground water level and they managed to find 7 stelas, remains of pink granite columns bases as well as a pink granite statue was submerged under the underground water.

The statue represents a seated person of 2.5 meters height and the arms are broken of the statue. The statute was moved to Sakkara warehouse for cleaning and restoration.

The temple is more likely belongs to Thutmose III and an excavation project will start to continue the work in the site.

The tourism and antiquities police received information of illicit dig in the area and the district attorney was informed to grant a search warrant to the house. 7 persons were arrested during digging including 2 Palestinians. They had diving suits, oxygen bottles and goggles.

Afifi Rohem, member of the committee, said "It was difficult to work on the site as the water was 9 meters deep so we used the Arab Constructors modern equipments to lift the statue."
Photos by Luxor Times Magazine

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

News, London: Egyptian Philae obelisk revealed anew

Fresh information is being obtained on the Philae obelisk, the stone monument that played such a key role in helping to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Today, the pink granite shaft stands on the UK National Trust's Kingston Lacy estate in Dorset, where it was brought from the Nile in the 1820s.

The obelisk's inscriptions, with those on the famous Rosetta stone, contained clues to interpret the ancient symbols.

Now, the monument is being studied anew with modern imaging techniques.

Oxford University researchers say their investigations are revealing markings that were previously too worn to be investigated properly.

"The last time anyone made a good record of what was on this stone was in 1821 when a lithograph was commissioned to celebrate the obelisk's arrival at Kingston Lacy," explained Dr Jane Masséglia from the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents.

"We had no way of knowing that that drawing was correct. But our images show that whoever did the lithograph, especially of the hieroglyphs, made a really great job.

"The other big thing for us is the Greek inscription. Even when the obelisk first came to Kingston Lacy, people looked at it and said they couldn't make out the whole thing; there were large sections that were rubbed away.

"But we can now see the remains of that in a way no-one has been able to do previously," she told BBC News.

The obelisk was used with the Rosetta stone to
 help interpret the ancient symbols
The toppled 2nd-Century BC obelisk was observed on the Nile island of Philae by adventurer and collector William John Bankes on one of his grand tours.

The obelisk carries Greek inscriptions at its base and hieroglyphs up the length of its pointed shaft.

It is the repetition of the names of ancient Egyptian kings and queens - Ptolemy and Cleopatra - in both writing forms that gave scholars important leads in their quest to translate the older of the two symbolic systems.

But part of the Greek text was always difficult to discern, and the obelisk's exposure to the British climate over the past 200 years has only made that task more difficult.

The Oxford remedy is Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). This involves photographing a stone surface as it is lit from many different angles.

Although the shadows in any one picture will accentuate the relief, it is by combining the whole imaging series that the full topography becomes apparent, especially when colour and specular effects are carefully controlled. Using RTI and other scanning methods on the obelisk has literally shone a light on those previously illegible sections.

"It gives us a good opportunity now to look at the relationship between the two inscriptions, to see if they're talking about the kings in similar ways - because there's the potential that they were appealing to different ethnic communities," said Dr Rachel Mairs, who is affiliated to both Oxford and Reading universities.

"You've got the hieroglyphs that are showing the king as a traditional pharaoh, and the Greek that might be saying something a little bit different to other people reading those inscriptions."
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

News, Minya: Aten Antiquities Museum in Upper Egypt - When it will be open??

On the Nile bank of Minya stands the pyramid-shaped building of the Aten Museum, waiting for the completion of its final phase, in order that it may welcome visitors next year.

The museum was designed by the German government as a gift for the Egyptian government in 1998, according to the partnership between the Aten Museum and the Hildesheim Museum in Germany.

The building was modified by late architect Gamal Bakry, and museum consultant Mahmoud Mabrouk designed the grounds to provide a suitable landscape for outdoor exhibitions.

The museum grounds, which overlook the Nile, take up 25 feddans. The building is made up of five floors and features 14 exhibition halls, a large conference hall, and a school of museum and restoration studies.

An open air theatre in the grounds displays a collection of ancient Egyptian replicas.
Adel Abdel Satar, head of the museums section at the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), told Ahram Online that the museum will put on display a large collection related to the monotheistic king Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, which was unearthed at Amarna city in Minya.

This collection includes statues of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, as well as of his father, king Amenhotep III, and his mother Tyie. The exhibition will also explore Egypt's relations with its neighbours in the period by displaying the diplomatic archive of Egypt from  the reign of Akhenaten.

A set of talatat stones, blocks of a standardised size used during Akhenaten's reign, will also be on display. The talatat were used during the reign of king Akhenaten in the construction of temples to the god Aten at Karnak and Amarna, the capital city of Egypt during Akhenaten’s reign.

Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim announced that, according to the friendly relations between the Aten and Hildesheim museums, the later will help the ministry to execute and complete the museum’s final phase through a fund raising and donation campaign, and providing any required experts.

The final phase requires funds of LE60 million.
Source: Ahram online 

3D movie about Akhenaton & Nefertiti 

Minya famous sites : 
* The village of Bani Hasan houses 390 rock-cut decorated tombs and chapels from the Middle Kingdom (2000–1580 B.C., especially the sixteenth dynasty). 
more images for Bani Hassan Clickhere 

Akhetaten (Tel Amarna) was built by Pharaoh Akhenaten and dedicated to the god Aten. Akhenaten lived there in isolation with his beautiful wife, Nefertiti, and daughters, devoting himself to themonotheistic religion that he preached. The glorious remains of the palaces, temples and tombs still exist today. 
more images for Akhetaten Clickhere 

* Other significant archaeological sites in the governorate of Minya includes: 
Tuna el-Gebelmore images Click here
Ashmounin (Hermopolis), more image Click here
El Shiekh Ebada , more image Click here 

Back Home: German returns statuette to Egypt

Egyptian Ushabti funerary statuette - Photo courtesy of TNN Egypt
CAIRO: According to his late mother’s will, a German national voluntarily returned an ancient Egyptian Ushabti funerary statuette, which will be displayed at the Egyptian Museum, head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Restored Artifacts Department Ali Ahmed told The Cairo Post Wednesday.

According to Ahmed, the German man, currently living in South Africa, called officials at the Egyptian Embassy in South Africa earlier this month expressing his wish to fulfill his mother’s will and hand over the figurine to the Egyptian authorities.

The German individual told the embassy that his mother, who died in 2012, had purchased the statuette from an antiquity trader in the west bank of Luxor during a trip to Egypt in 1995.

“The 12 centimeter-high statuette is in a good state of preservation with its original outstanding blue and green colors. It has been examined by a committee of archaeologists who confirmed its authenticity,” said Ahmed. It will be on display at the restored artifacts section at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, he added.

Ushabti figures, from an ancient Egyptian term meaning ‘to answer,’ were placed inside tombs, pyramids and graves for the purpose of serving the pharaoh in the afterlife, Dean of Minya University’s Faculty of Tourism and Hotels archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Thursday.

“During the New Kingdom Period, [1580 B.C.-1080B.C.], 365 statuettes were placed inside each tomb in order to ensure the pharaoh’s afterlife demands would be met all through the year. Ushabtis are usually carved with inscriptions asserting their readiness to serve the deceased,” said Sabban.
Source: Cairo Post  By/Rany Mostafa
  • To All Posts About Back Home Antiquities CLICK HERE

News: Cross Egypt Challenge motorcycle rally kicks off Nov. 14

Cross Egypt Challenge competitors in earlier race -
Photo courtesy of Cross Egypt Challenge Facebook Page
CAIRO: The Cross Egypt Challenge (CEC), the annual 3,000-kilometer motorcycle and scooter rally, will run through Egypt from Nov. 14-22, according to a statement on the CEC website.

“For the fourth year in a row, the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) will organize the event in a bid to attract more tourists to Egypt, support alternative sports in Egypt and revive the country’s main source of income,” Ahmed Shoukry, the chairman of the International Tourism Sector at the General Authority for Tourism, told The Cairo Post Friday.

The rally will start from Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria and pass through Cairo and on to the Red Sea resorts of Ain Sukhna, Gouna and Marsa Alam, according to the CEC website.

On Nov. 17, the event will cross the Eastern Desert to Upper Egypt’s governorate of Luxor then to Aswan and Abu Simbel at the very southern border of Egypt. It will then move northward through the Nile Valley through Assiut Governorate before finishing at the foot of the Giza Pyramids on Nov. 22.

“This is the longest and most challenging route to date and includes a total distance of 2,950 kilometers to be covered over the course of nine days,” according to a statement on the CEC website.

The event is open to all riders of motorbikes and scooters from all over the world. Competitors from over 22 countries are expected to participate.
Source: Cairo Post By/Rany Mostafa
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Rallye des Pharaons - Round of FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

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Our Treasures Abroad, London: 3,000-year-old Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus that once held a mummy discovered in living room of Essex pensioner

An Egyptian sarcophagus that once held the mummified body of a woman 3,000 years ago has been found on display in a pensioner's living room.
The 3,000 year old sarcophagus was found during a routine 
search to value items at a pensioner's Essex home
Auctioneers discovered the wooden artefact during a routine valuation of items in the house in Essex owned by a woman who had recently moved into a nursing home. But they did not expect to come across the 6ft tall sarcophagus, which has carved hieroglyphics inside.  It is thought to have once housed a noblewoman and to have been placed in an Egyptian burial chamber in 1,000 BC.

Mark Stacey, the expert from Reeman Dansie auctioneers in Colchester, Essex, who discovered the sarcophagus said: 'The hairs went up on the back of my neck when I walked into the drawing room. It stood out like a sore thumb.

'It was stood up against a wall and was being used as a decorative item. It's the sort of thing you would expect to see in the home of the Addams Family. 'It is certainly the oldest item I have been asked to look at in my career and probably one of the most exciting.

'It would have been used as a coffin for a mummified woman and placed in something like a burial chamber. 'She would have been a noble person but nothing like a pharaoh.' The once colourful exterior of the coffin is faded but there are clear facial features that have been carved out of the wood. Experts believe the face was then covered in a type of plaster and painted.

It is believed to have been given to the woman, who has not been identified, about 60 years ago and is likely to have been purchased by a museum that closed down.

The find comes as an ancient 2,300-year-old Egyptian coffin sold for £12,000 last month after it was found in a house in Bradwell-on-sea in Essex.  It was sold despite Egyptian officials tried to block the sale suggesting it had been illegally removed from Egypt.

Gina Vince (left) is a cataloguer at Reeman Dansie Auction 
House that will sell the ancient sarcophagus (right)
The coffin also had a painted face and hieroglyphics and was found standing upright in a room only accessible through a hole an outside wall. The latest sarcophagus was among a number of Egyptian things in the house, but was the oldest one found by auctioneers.

Little is known about its history but it is thought the coffin was brought over from Egypt following the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century.

James Grinter, managing director of Reeman Dansie, said: 'In the 19th Century it was very common for people to collect ancient Egyptian objects. The fascination began after Napoleon invaded Egypt around 1800.

'British people were inspired and many items ended up being brought back. People used to have parties where they would unwrap mummies for entertainment. 'The mummy that was once inside this coffin is long gone but the coffin itself has survived. Somehow it found its way into a museum.

He added: 'We often come across small ancient Egyptian items but coffins are extremely rare to find in private hands - we weren't expecting it at all. 'It's quite an eerie thing but absolutely stunning - it takes your breath away. The sarcophagus is tipped to sell for £6,000 at the auction being held on November 24.
Ancient Egyptian coffin lid sold for £12,000 - despite Cairo officials attempting toblock auction

Cairo: Egyptian antiquities ministry launches campaign to clean historic sites

Campaign started in Islamic Cairo, with help from local residents

El-Damaty participating in the cleaning campaign
The Ministry of Antiquities launched a campaign on Saturday to clean the locations of Egypt’s archaeological sites, in collaboration with local NGOs

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh El-Damaty told Ahram Online that the project aims to encourage the public to participate in cleaning and developing archaeological and historical sites in Egypt, in an attempt to preserve and protect Egypt's heritage.

He said that the campaign will extend to all archaeological sites nationwide, to create clean, well-developed areas where archaeological sites are located.

El-Damaty and Abdel-Aziz cleaning
Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, head of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, said the first phase of the campaign had started in medieval Islamic Cairo in the areas of Al-Gamaliya, Al-Azhar, Al-Ghouri, Al-Darb Al-Ahmar and Bab Al-Wazir.

El-Damaty, Abdel-Aziz and a group of children who live in the area participated in the cleaning campaign.
Source: Ahram Online
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News: Zaazou calls on Italian tour operators to resume Egypt operations

Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou has called on Italian tour operators to resume operations to Cairo and Upper Egypt, Deputy Tourism Minister for Marketing Affairs Sameh Saad told The Cairo Post Friday.

Zaazou is currently participating in the 51st edition of the TTG Incontri travel fair, which takes place from Oct. 9-12 in the Italian city of Rimini.
“I would like to tell you and the whole world that Egypt is safe now. The safety of tourists is ensured by unprecedented security measures in the archaeological sites and hotels in Cairo and Upper Egypt,” Zaazou was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram Friday. “I’m sensing a recovery in cultural tourism coinciding with Egypt’s high season. Thousands of European and North American tourists are currently visiting Egypt,” Zaazou added.

As for the TTG Incontri participation, Saad said Egypt for the first time was chosen to be the partner state in Italy’s most comprehensive event for tourism.
“Italy is among the top five tourism markets of Egypt and accounts for over 20 percent of the European tourism market,” he added. During his three-day visit to Italy, Zaazou held meetings with several Italian tour operators and airline companies to discuss joint cooperation with the purpose of restoring tourist travel from the Italian market, Saad said. Over the past few months and due to a slight improvement in Egypt’s security status, many European countries have begun lifting travel bans to parts of Egypt. Many have lifted their travel ban to the Sinai, but still impose it on Cairo and Upper Egypt.

According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, travel advisories issued for the Sinai Peninsula caused tourism revenues to decrease in the first quarter of 2014 to $1.3 billion, down 43 percent from the same period in 2013. Italian tourist arrivals fell from 848,000 in 2010 to 458,000 in 2011, and edged up to 570,000 in 2012, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Italian tourism figures for 2013 were not available, but are presumed to be dire due to travel bans and unrest following the events of June 30, 2013.
Source: Cairo Post 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Short Story: Tracing the steps of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt

The land of Egypt had been constantly blessed by the presence of prophets. Abraham, Jacob and Moses lived parts of their religiously enlightening stories in Egypt, and the chronicles of their lives will always remain a source of inspiration for the whole world.

The Virgin Mary and her son Jesus, the messenger of peace to mankind, came to Egypt and stayed there for three years and 11 months. The Virgin Mary who, according to Islam, was chosen “above the women of all nations” made a historical journey to Egypt full of hardships every step of the way to protect her son Jesus from the oppression of King Herod.

Jesus and his mother Mary came to Egypt and years later they left it, but they never left the hearts and minds of Egyptians.

The Biblical book of Isaiah vividly depicts the effect Jesus had on Egypt and the Egyptian people:  “Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud, and will come into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt will totter at His Presence, and the heart of Egypt will melt in the midst of it.” (Isaiah 19: 1)
The steps of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt

The Journey begins

According to the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said to him, “Arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:23)

When Joseph arose, he took the two-year-old child and his mother at night and departed into Egypt seeking shelter in its lands from King Herod who intended to kill all infants of the area in search for the child who was said would threaten his throne.

Joseph fetched a donkey for Mary, carrying the little baby in her arms, while Joseph led the way taking the donkey by its leash. They set off to Sinai through untrodden ways avoiding known paths for fear they might be caught, but risking the dangers of wild beasts and savage tribesmen.

Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (photo: mawwal)
The Holy family proceeded from Bethlehem to Gaza, hence to El-Zaraniq (also known as Floussiat) which is located east of Lake Bardawil. Then they moved on through northern Sinai until they reached Farama mid-way between El-Arish and present-day Port Said. Farama was the last stop in Sinai after which the Holy family put behind them the perils of the wilderness.

After that the Holy family entered Tel Basta or Basta, which is near Zagazig in the Sharqya governorate, almost 100 km northeast of Cairo.

The residents of Tel Basta were worshipping idols and this offended the family so they left the place. It was said that the presence of Jesus in the place caused the idols in the city to crumble. The family then headed south to the town of Mostorod which came to be called, in those days ‘Al-Mahamma’ about 10 km from Cairo.

Tell Basta a 1st century well that some believe to be 
created by Jesus Christ (photo: holyfamilyegypt)
‘Al-Mahamma’ means ‘the Bathing Place’, a name given to the town because the Virgin Mary bathed the Christ child and washed his clothes.

If we visit the place, we will find the Virgin Mary Church in Mostorod which was built in 1185 AD. Egyptian church sources said that the church has a well that can heal patients who believe in Mary’s blessings.

The Holy family travelled north-east from Mostorod to Belbeis about 55 km from Cairo. They rested there in the shade of a tree which came to be called “the Virgin Mary’s Tree”. The town of Meniet Samannoud was the family’s next destination. It is in the Gharbya governorate, north-west of Belbeis.

The Virgin Mary Church in Mostorod 
(photo: jesusloves)
The town contains a granite trough which was used by the Virgin Mary for kneading dough for a lady in the town. The residents of Samannoud received the family with kindness and hospitality that earned them many deserved blessings. It is worth noting that there is a Virgin Mary’s church in Samannoud, but the name of the church was changed later into (Martyr) Abanob Church.

Towards the north-west, the Holy Family now travelled until they reached the city of Sakha, in the lake-district of Burullus, in the present-day governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh where a rock was found bearing the foot-print of Jesus.

a rock was found bearing 
the foot-print of Jesus
The rock was found on 27 of September 1984 AD.

After crossing the Rosetta branch of the Nile, the Holy family went south to Wadi Al-Natroun (Natroun Valley). Monasteries were built in the valley to commemorate the Holy family’s passage there such as the Monastery of Al-Baramus, the Monastery of the Syrians and the monastic settlement of St. Macarius.

The family moved south towards Cairo and crossed to the east bank of the Nile. They went to Matarya where they rested under the shade of a tree that still stands and is called “Mary’s tree”. The infant Jesus caused water to flow from a spring, from which he drank and blessed and in which the Virgin washed his clothes.

Virgin Mary Tree (photo: etltravel)
She poured the washing water on to the ground, and from that spot, the fragrant balsam plant blossomed: besides the healing and pain-soothing properties of this balm, its essence is used in the preparation of the scents and perfumes of which the holy Chrism is composed of.

The ancient Virgin Mary church was built in Matarya, and people continue to visit it seeking blessings especially on Mary’s birthday on 22 August.

After Matarya, the Holy family went to Old Cairo, or Misr el-Kadima, the spiritual impact of their presence is still felt to this day; though their stay was brief, for the Governor of what was then Fustat – enraged by the tumbling down of idols at Jesus’s approach – sought to kill the child.

Church of Abu Serga
The Holy Family took shelter from his wrath in a cave.

In later years, the Church of Abu Serga (St. Sergius) was built. This, and the whole area of the Fort of Babylon, is a destination of pilgrimage, not only for Egyptians but for Christians from around the world.

An air of piety and devotion pervades the whole district. In the area, there are interesting Christian sites such as: the Church of Abu Serga and the Crypt of the Holy Family beneath it, the Church of St. Barbara, the Church of St. George (in the Palace of Waxworks), the Church of the Virgin, identified by its alternative name of Qasriet Al-Rihan (Basil Pot) and Al-Muallaqa (Hanging Church), dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The Holy family proceeded until they reached Al-Maadi, then known as Badrashin. A sailing-boat carried them up in the Nile towards southern Egypt, where it docked at the village of Deir Al- Garnous (the later site of the Monastery of Arganos).

st-george church old cairo
Heading south, they went to Bahnassa then Samalout and crossed the Nile again from that town to the spot on the east bank of the river, where the Monastery of the Virgin now stands upon Gabal El-Tair (‘Bird Mountain’) east of Samalout.

Once more crossing the Nile, back to its west bank, the Holy family travelled southward to the town of Al-Ashmounein, but it seems that they did not tarry long there.

Finally, the Holy family headed to Mount Qussuqam, in the governorate of Assyut, where the Monastery of Al Muharraq was established.

Hanging Church
The longest time of the family’s stay in Egypt was in this area which was about six months and ten days, and that’s why it is called the Second Bethlehem.

It was the last spot in Egypt where Jesus stayed before the return journey following the news of Herod’s death.

It was there at the very spot where Al-Muharraq Monastery stands that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young Child’s life.” (Matthew 2:20-21).
Source: TNN
The Holy Family in Egypt by Paul Perrys
Jesus in Egypt