Monday, February 15, 2021

Cairo Restaurants (Vol. 02): Xodó Restaurant - Four Seasons First Nile Boat

Stepping across the Nile water and into the clean, fresh interior of the First Nile Boat is your first indicator that this is a waterside venue worthy of its illustrious title.  Four Seasons First Residence’s brand new Brazilian restaurant, XODÓ, is bringing a large, very juicy slice of Rio to Cairo and is shaping up to be one of the most unique additions to the city’s already colorful dining scene.

As one of several high-concept restaurants set to open on the First Nile Boat, Xodo fuses the tradition of Brazilian cuisine with the contemporary dining experience that Four Seasons First Residence has come to be known for – and yes, they do the whole grilled-meat-on-a-skewer thing we’ve all drooled at on TV.

‘Churrascaria’ is a staple in the South American nation’s cuisine and sees staff cut succulent strips of beef and chicken off of a still sizzling skewer and straight onto your plate. Beyond this most carnivorous of delights, however, the authentic taste of Brazil can be found all across Xodo’s menu, even in its drink offerings which feature a range of different Brazilian-inspired cocktails.

Food-wise, the menu offers an eclectic variety of appetisers and fresh salads that are still very much rooted in Brazilian flavours, and it’s all down to a man who knows a thing or two about Brazilian cuisine. Having spent almost half of his life perfecting his own brand of modern Brazilian food, acclaimed Chef Guilherme Reis brings a wealth of experience and a creatively contemporary approach.

“I grew up in a humble environment where simple ingredients were used in every home, so I learned over the years to use these ingredients and elevate them to renowned five star signature dishes,” the Sao Paolo native said. “Coming from a traditional Brazilian family, most of our celebrations are centred on food, herbs and spices.”

Thrown in a Nile view to die for, a chic setting and an open kitchen that fills the whole restaurant with the most remarkable of aromas and you have restaurant that will set a new standard for dining-out in Cairo. 

Décor & Ambience

Clean, modern lines, a warm mix of wood floors and furniture in different hardwood shades, a great view out onto the Nile. There’s a jungle theme in the bathrooms and a samba and other Brazilian musical vibes playing on the soundtrack.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Cairo Restaurants (Vol. 01): 9 Pyramids Lounge - the First Restaurant at the Great Pyramids

Dinner with a view? It doesn’t get more spectacular than the newly unveiled 9 Pyramids Lounge at the historic Great Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx site close to Cairo, Egypt.

There's an Instagrammable view, having one of the Seven Wonders of the World as your view for a spectacular sunrise breakfast, exquisite lunch or a majestic dinner -- especially when you have all of the above after exploring the incredible plateau. We're talking about 9 Pyramids Lounge.

To combat the fall in tourist revenue since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Egypt has launched a massive restaurant complex with stunning views of the Great Pyramids of Giza, and a fleet of 30 electric buses that will ferry tourists from the city to the site.

9 Pyramids Lounge and Restaurant, which is managed and supervised by the Orascom Investment Holding Company, is located on the southern side of the pyramids plateau and overlooks nine pyramids in a unique and picturesque view.

9 Pyramids Lounge and Restaurant provides its various services of unique meals and drinks, which possess the highest quality, in addition to the capacity of holding a number of special events, in the arms of the great Egyptian civilization.

9 Pyramids Lounge located on the southern side of the Giza Plateau and overlooking nine pyramids, guests are sure to enjoy a unique dining experience. The restaurant and lounge take up a total 1,341 square meters divided into indoor and outdoor seating, , in addition to a private car park attached to the restaurant.

The restaurant is a simple wooden building. Visitors can choose to sit at tables or on pillows spread on the ground, Bedouin-style.

Serving Egyptian food, 9 Pyramids Lounge is open from 8 am to 6 pm, but last entry is 4 pm. 

The trial operation of the first environmentally friendly electric bus will begin through six main stations, starting from the Visitor Center station, passing through Panorama station, then the Menkaure station, Khufu station, then the Khafre station, ending at the Sphinx station before returning to the Visitor Center. 

The company is presenting the first model of an approved sales outlet for holders of licenses issued by the competent authorities only, as part of the development of the vendor system within the pyramids plateau in a distinct and upscale manner befitting the greatness and splendor of the ancient Egyptian civilization represented by all the antiquities contained in the region.

Furthermore, Dr. Khaled Al-Anani, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, stated in the opening Ceremony that in light of the engineering completion of 100 percent of the project to develop the antiquities area of ​​the pyramids and raise the efficiency of services in it, which was implemented by the Armed Forces Engineering Authority with government funding, preparations are underway to continue operating the project and that there will be a visitation from the visitors' entrance from the Fayoum Road before mid-2021.

He said: "Today we announce the opening of the first tourist restaurant in the Panorama area of ​​the Pyramids Plateau - without any heavy building or construction in accordance with the requirements of the archaeological area - as the first fruits of the protocol for providing and operating services in the area between the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Egyptian company, Orascom Investment Holding, which was signed in December 2018."

The Minister of Tourism and Antiquities added: “The restaurant is a simple wooden building with pillows spread on the ground, like the Bedouin style, in a unique location that sees all the pyramids of Giza.”

He also indicated the arrival of the first environmentally friendly electric tourist bus that will be used during the visit in the region after preventing the entry of vehicles and buses inside the archaeological area in order to preserve the antiquities, when the development project is completed and raising the efficiency of tourism services is opened before mid-2021. 
The development project guarantees the provision of transportation within the archaeological area, including buses and vehicles powered by electricity and environmentally friendly energy, and the provision of mobile and self-cleaning toilets, while introducing fast food, food and beverage services in the area in the places specified and approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and other agreed tourism services. 
This is in the context of the ministry’s keenness to improve the quality of services provided to visitors in the region, which is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.

Also, Enany stressed the Egyptian state’s keenness to have a tourist and archaeological infrastructure, which has a positive impact on the incoming tourism movement to Egypt, explaining that in conjunction with the completion of the project to develop the antiquities of the pyramid, increasing the capacity of Sphinx International Airport to double its capacity and opening it in 2021, the Grand Egyptian Museum will change the touristic map of Cairo.

Sawiris, chairman and CEO of Orascom Investment, said that the main goal that was set in mind since the first day of our entry into the project to manage and operate visitor services in the Giza pyramids area is to upgrade the services provided to a level befitting the civilization of Egypt and the greatness of this archaeological area while protecting it from pollution with all its kinds, maintaining the cleanliness and prestige of the place, and providing a unique and distinctive experience for tourists.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

New discovery, Sakkara: Hawass Announces New Archaeological Discovery in Saqarra

The Egyptian Mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, announced Saturday important archaeological discoveries dating back to the old and New Kingdoms.

The mission is headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, who works in cooperation with the Ministry of Antiquities and Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

These discoveries will rewrite the history of this region, especially during the 18th and 19th dynasties of the New Kingdom, during which King Teti was worshiped, and the citizens at that time were buried around his pyramid.

Mostafa El-Feki, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandria, said that the Zahi Hawass Center for Egyptology has been practicing its activities successfully since its establishment in 2018.

Today, El Feki expressed his happiness to participate in the ceremony announcing the archaeological discovery of the center, in Saqqara, which is a new breakthrough in the process of discovering Pharoahs antiquities in this region.

Hawass stressed that the mission had discovered the funerary temple of Queen Nearit, the mother of King Teti, part of which was already uncovered in the years prior.
The mission also found three mud-brick warehouses attached to the temple in the southeastern side – these stores were built to store temple provisions, offerings and tools that were used in the queen’s tomb.
Among the most important discoveries of the mission also at the site was the unveiling of 52 burial shafts, that reach to 10-12 meters deep, and inside these shafts hundreds of wooden coffins dating back to the New Kingdom were uncovered. This is the first time that coffins dating back 3,000 years have been found in the Saqqara region.
These coffins are wooden and anthropoid, and are many scenes of the gods that were worshiped during this period were represented on the surface of the coffins, in addition to various excerpts from the Book of the Dead that help the deceased to pass through the journey of the other world.

 The mission also succeeded in discovering a cache of anthropoid wooden coffins. Inside this shaft, 50 coffins were found in good condition.

The mission found inside the wells large numbers of archaeological artifacts and large numbers of statues in the form of deities such as the god Osir and Ptah Sukur Uzir, in addition to a unique discovery, where the mission found a four-meter-length papyrus and one meter in width representing Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead, on which the name of its owner is recorded, which is (Bu-Khaa-Af).
The same name was found recorded on four orchid statues; a wooden coffin was also found on the human body of the same person, and many beautiful shabty statues made of wood, stone and vines were found. It dates back to the era of the New Kingdom.

The discoveries found in the shaft are considered one of the most important findings uncovered in the Saqqara region. The mission also found many wooden funerary masks as well as a shrine dedicated to god Anubis (Guardian of the Cemetery) and beautiful statues of Anubis, as well as many games that the deceased used to play in the other world, such as the game (Senet), which is similar to the modern chess, as well as the (Twenty) game with the name of the player recorded.

Many artifacts were found that represent birds such as geese, as well as a magnificent bronze ax, indicating that its owner was one of the army leaders during the New Kingdom. The upper part of the stelae represents the deceased and his wife in an adoration gesture in front of god Osiris, while the lower part represents the deceased sitting and behind him his wife seated on a chair. Below the chair of the wife there is one of their daughters sitting on her legs and smelling the lotus flower, and above her head is the ointment flask.

In front of the man and his wife we see six of their daughters and sons, who were depicted in two registers, the upper one for seated daughters smelling the lotus flowers and above their heads are the ointment flasks, and the lower one for standing sons.

The mission also found impressive quantities of pottery dating back to the New Kingdom, including pottery that gives us evidence about the commercial relations between Egypt and Crete, Syria, Palestine. This discovery confirmed the existence of many workshops that produced these coffins, which were bought by the locals, as well as mummification workshops.
The mission studied the mummy of a woman and determined that this woman suffered from a chronic disease known as “Mediterranean fever” or “swine fever”, a disease that comes from direct contact with animals and leads to an abscess in the liver.
Dr. Sahar Selim, a professor of radiology at Qasr al-Aini, conducted studies on mummies using X-ray, and determined the causes of death and the age of the deceased on death, as well as studying a mummy for a young child.
Hawass confirmed that this discovery is considered the most important archaeological discovery during the current year and will make Saqqara, along with other discoveries, an important tourist and cultural destination. 
It will also rewrite the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom, in addition to confirming the importance of the worship of King Teti during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.3


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

News, Esna "3" : Temple Restoration Reveals Previously Unknown Names of Ancient Egyptian Constellations.

The restoration of an ancient Egyptian temple in Esna, located about 60 km south of the ancient capital of Luxor in Egypt, has uncovered the original colors of the temple inscriptions and images, and revealed previously unknown names of ancient Egyptian constellations.
The temple of Esna, dedicated to the Egyptian deity Khnum, is one of the last examples of ancient Egyptian temple architecture.
Only the vestibule, called the pronaos, of the original temple complex survived, because it was used as storage facility for cotton during the 19th century CE.
The building measures 37 m long, 20 m wide, and 15 m tall, and was decorated mainly during the Roman period (1st to 3rd century CE).

The roof is supported by 18 columns with wonderfully varied floral capitals in the form of palm leaves, lotus buds and papyrus fans; some also have bunches of grapes, a distinctive Roman touch.
It is decorated with astronomical scenes, while the pillars are covered with hieroglyphic accounts of temple rituals.
“In Egyptian temple architecture this is an absolute exception,” said Dr. Daniel von Recklinghausen, a researcher in the Department of Egyptology at the University of Tübingen.
“The work on the elaborate decorations probably took up to 200 years.”
“The real wealth, the inscriptions, was recognized by the French Egyptologist Serge Sauneron, who pushed ahead with the excavation of the temple and published the inscriptions in full,” the researchers said.
“But without the original colors, Sauneron could not recognize them under the layers of soot and bird excrement.”
“Now, the layers have been removed and the temple looks in part as it may have done some 2,000 years ago.”

“In addition, it now offers new approaches for Egyptology research,” said Professor Christian Leitz, director of the Department of Egyptology at the University of Tübingen.
“The hieroglyphics that Sauneron explored were often only very roughly chiseled out, the details only applied by painting them in color.”
“This means that only preliminary versions of the inscriptions had been researched. Only now do we get a picture of the final version.”
During the restoration, the scientists found the descriptions of the Big Dipper (Mesekhtiu) and Orion (Sah) constellations.
They also discovered inscriptions about the previously unknown constellations, including the Geese of Ra (Apedu n Ra).

“In the area of the astronomical ceiling, many inscriptions were not executed in relief, but only painted in ink,” Professor Leitz said.
“They were previously undetected under the soot and are now being exposed piece by piece.”
“Here we have found, for example, the names of ancient Egyptian constellations, which were previously completely unknown.”

News Egypt: Egypt’s Supreme Committee for Museums Display Scenario completes placing Amun’s mummies in New Administrative Capital Museum.

The Supreme Committee for the Museums Display Scenario has completed placing the mummies of the priests and priestesses of the god Amun, in their show cases in the Museum of Egyptian Capitals in the New Administrative Capital. 

Dr. Ali Omar, head of the Supreme Committee for the Museum Display Scenario at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, explained that these mummies arrived in the museum last week, coming from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, in order to enrich the display of the Museum of Egyptian Capitals in the new Administrative Capital.
He added that their show cases were prepared and sterilized in a special way to preserve the mummies inside. 

Mr. Moamen Othman, head of the museums sector at the ministry, said that these mummies were discovered in the royal cache in Deir el-Bahari in 1881, and belong to the mummy of Najm, the wife of Harihor, the chief priest of Amun, whose eyes were inlaid with white and black stones, which gives the feeling that they are still alive as well as wearing natural wigs and eyebrows.
As for the mummy of Nasi Khonsu, the second wife of the chief priest of Amun Banjum II, he said that it is considered a distinct example of the development of the mummification method of the 21st Family, where the eyes covered with stones and the dark yellow color of the skin gave a sense of vitality and freshness.  
As for the mummy of Banjum II, the high priest of Amun, Othman added that her skin was colored yellow and dark red, and the mummy was wrapped in thin linen with colored fringes.  
And the mummy of the grandfather of Ptah uf Ankh from Dynasty 21, fingers and toes are decorated with rings.  As for the mummy of Hanutawi, the wife of the chief priest of Amun, Banjum I, with a face Plump to show vitality.
Dr. Mona Raafat, the General Supervisor of the Museum of the Capitals of Egypt, explained that the museum received, during the past week, more than a hundred artifacts coming from a number of museums and archaeological storages; including the storages of the museums of Luxor, the royal carriages in Bulaq, Suez and the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, and the archaeological site of Mit Rahinah. She said that work in the museum is progressing in preparation for its opening.
She added that these artifacts have been selected carefully to enrich the museum display scenario to tell the history of the Egyptian capitals through different historical eras.
She pointed out that one of the most important pieces in the museum is a collection of Talatat stones depicting King Akhenaten and his wife Queen Nefertiti from the Luxor Museum storage, they are now being restored in preparation for their display; in addition to a Cuban carriage and a Kalash and a model of a war carriage which was a gift  to King Farouk.
The museum also received a number of mummies from the Egyptian Museum, mummies of priests and senior statesmen, in addition to a number of canopic jars and a wooden box inscribed with a picture of the god Anubis, to be displayed in the museum's funeral ritual hall.  This is in addition to a wonderful double statue of King Merenptah and the goddess Hathor from Mitt Rahman.
The Museum of the Capitals of Egypt tells the history of the Egyptian capitals through different eras. It consists of a main gallery in which the relics of a number of ancient and modern capitals are displayed. There are 7 capitals; namely Memphis, Thebes, Tell El-Amarna, Alexandria, Islamic Cairo, Khedivial Cairo.  The patterns of life are represented in each historical period of each capital separately, such as decorative tools, tools of war and fighting, the system of government and various correspondences.
As for the second section of the museum, it is a wing that represents the after life in ancient Egypt. It consists of the tomb of Tutu, which was discovered in 2018 in Sohag Governorate, in addition to a hall for mummies, coffins, and two shelves containing canopic jars and a set of false doors and alternate heads that simulate religious rituals in  Ancient Egypt.
The museum’s display will use modern technology, where the exhibition galleries are equipped with screens displaying an interactive panoramic film showing the history, and an illustration of each of the ancient Egyptian capitals.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Discovery , Sakkara "2": Secrets of mummy's portrait exposed under microscope after 1,800 years.

ANALYSIS of an ancient speck of paint has exposed the secrets of a portrait buried alongside an Egyptian mummy more than 1,800 years ago.

The striking painting, known as The Portrait of a Bearded Man, hails from the second century AD when Egypt was under Roman control.

Consequently, the painting does not resemble Egypt's two-dimensional murals that adorned the walls of its numerous temples and tombs. Instead, it is a very life-like depiction of the person it was buried alongside nearly 2,000 years ago. 

The portrait was discovered in Faiyum, some 62 miles southwest of Cairo. Experts have dated it to between 170 and 180 AD, and the painting one of about 1,100 similar works of art from the Roman period of Egypt's history. The portraits were painted onto wooden boards and wrapped up into the linens used to hold their mummified owners together.

Archaeologists believe these depictions not only represent a likeness of their owner but also hold clues about their status in life - one they held or aspired to hold before death. And according to a team of researchers who analysed microscopic amounts of purple pigment from the portrait, status played a big role in how these portraits were assembled.

Darryl Butt, a material scientist at the University of Utah, US, who co-authored a study of the portrait, said: "We're very interested in understanding the meaning and origin of the portraits, and finding ways to connect them and come up with a cultural understanding of why they were even painted in the first place." A small part of the Faiyum portrait shows purple marks on the man's Roman toga or robe - a symbol of status known as the clavi.

Glenn Gates of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where the portrait is housed, said: "Since the purple pigment occurred in the clavi - the purple mark on the toga that in Ancient Roman indicated senatorial or equestrian rank - it was thought that perhaps we were seeing an augmentation of the sitter's importance in the afterlife."
But according to Dr Butt, the purple pigment has only raised more questions about the Egyptian mummy.

In some cultures, the colour purple is viewed as a symbol of death, while others consider it a symbol of life. Purple was also often associated with royalty in ancient times and is still thought of such today. Queen Elizabeth I, for instance, forbade everyone but royalty from wearing the colourAnd purple is believed to have been particularly revered in the Byzantine Empire as a symbol of power.

Dr Butt said: "So the presence of purple on this particular portrait made us wonder what it was made of and what it meant. The colour purple stimulates many questions."

To better unlock the secrets hidden within the portrait's pigments, Dr Gates sents a microscopic particle to Dr Butt and his team to analyse. The speck of paint was about the same width as a human hair - 50 microns across.

Dr Butt said: "The process of analysing something like this is a bit like doing surgery on a flea." However, the expert and his colleagues were able to determine the purple pigment was synthetic in nature, and not naturally from the glands of the Murex sea snails as most purple dyes were at the time.

Instead, the researchers have suggested the purple was an accident - possibly made by mixing together red and blue indigo dyes together. The dye was then likely mixed with clay or a silica material into a pigment that was bound with beeswax. Pigments made this way are known as lake pigments.

Dr Gates said: "Lake pigments were thought to be without crystallinity prior to this work.

New Discovery, Sakkara "4": ‘Death has become a big business.’ Elaborate coffins illuminate hidden history of ancient Egypt.

Last week, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced a spectacular find. More than 100 elaborately decorated wooden coffins, many containing intact human mummies, were unearthed at the Saqqara necropolis, a burial complex covering 160 square kilometers and located 20 kilometers south of Cairo. 
The most recent finds date back roughly 2500 years, to a time archaeologists call Egypt’s late period.
Unlike earlier eras in Egyptian history, when prominent people were laid to rest individually in multichambered tombs or inside massive, eye-catching pyramids, Egyptian archaeologists found these coffins stacked two and three deep at the bottom of deep underground shafts.
The artifacts illuminate a lesser known era in Egypt’s history: one separated from the reigns of more familiar pharaohs like Tutankhamun and Ramesses II by more than 700 years of turmoil, civil war, and decline.
Science spoke to University of Tübingen archaeologist Ramadan Hussein, who has excavated extensively at Saqqara but was not part of the latest dig, about what the new finds reveal about the ancient Egyptians. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Why are there so many coffins at this site?

A: By 650 B.C., Egypt was starting to get back on its feet and become a power in the Mediterranean again. At some point the center of power moves back to Memphis, on the other side of the Nile and also about 20 kilometers south of Cairo. Saqqara once more becomes the main cemetery for a thriving, wealthy city full of temples. All those priests and government officials were high-income individuals; that explains why we have so many beautiful coffins from the late period. The richness of the city at the time is reflected in the richness of the burials.

Meanwhile, there’s an intellectual movement to look back at Egyptian history and revive its traditions. They even call it a renaissance at the time: They’re reviving art, literary traditions, and religious practices from 1000 years earlier. That shows up in the decorations and burial practices. You can see a nostalgia for what was good in Egyptian history in the cemeteries at Saqqara, like inscriptions on the coffins replicating religious texts from the walls of nearby pyramids.

Q: Yet Egypt has changed. What do the burials tell you about what was going on at the time?

A: In the late period, Egypt has started becoming an international power again, and as a result it’s becoming a real mosaic of ethnicities: There are Phoenicians and Greeks and Libyans, and you can see their influence in the grave goods, from a gilded silver mask made from imported metal we discovered in 2018 to pottery and precious oils. Trade connections with Greece are intensifying. Many of the coffins at Saqqara are made from expensive wood brought in from southern Europe and elsewhere around the Mediterranean.

Q: But there are no new pyramids.

A: No, but death has become a big business. Discoveries like this are important for what they tell us about how you administer a cemetery and run the business of death. Priests and undertakers at Saqqara are selling everything from mummification services to burial plots. The ideology of death had shifted. People weren’t focused on the size of their tomb, they were happy to be buried in a sacred precinct and a nice coffin.

For example, a lot of these coffins come from shafts cut into older buildings: Apparently the best way to sell new cemetery plots was to put them close to places considered ancient and therefore sacred. Undertakers would just stack as many coffins as they could in tunnels at the bottom of each shaft—they promised customers it would be in a sacred space, not that it would be private.

Q: Is there more to come?

A: Will we see another find like this? Definitely. There are more of these shafts we haven’t found yet. But analyzing the texts and scenes on the Saqqara coffins alone is going to give us work for the next 50 years.


Cairo Restaurants (Vol. 02): Xodó Restaurant - Four Seasons First Nile Boat

Stepping across the Nile water and into the clean, fresh interior of the First Nile Boat is your first indicator that this is a waterside ve...