Facts About Egypt

Egypt is a usual route for many, a country with a difficult binary character. On the one hand, there are endless ancient sands, unique architectural monuments, legends about deities and kings, the noise of the streets, where time seemed to stand still. On the other hand, there are modern hotels to please tourists, faceless all-inclusive oases. But in order to look at Egypt with different eyes, it is enough to know a little more about it: history and modernity are full of incredible surprises.

Egypt is a usual route for many, a country with a difficult binary character. On the one hand, there are endless ancient sands, unique architectural monuments, legends about deities and kings, the noise of the streets, where time seemed to stand still. On the other hand, there are modern hotels to please tourists, faceless all-inclusive oases. But in order to look at Egypt with different eyes, it is enough to know a little more about it: history and modernity are full of incredible surprises.

1. Egypt is no less than 50 centuries. At the turn of the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. e. about 40 city-states on the banks of the Nile first united under the rule of two rulers, and then, after a bloody war between the Upper and Lower regions, under the sole rule of the victorious Pharaoh Narmer.

2. The Sinai Peninsula is located between two continents – Africa and Asia. Egypt borders on Libya, Sudan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority and is washed by the Mediterranean and Red Seas, which are so popular among holidaymakers.

3. Egypt is the most populous state in the Middle East: in 2017, the number of its inhabitants exceeded 97 million people. They are mainly settled along the Nile, because more than 90% of the territory is occupied by a lifeless desert. About 35-40% of adult Egyptians earn less than 2 USD per day, and only 2-3% of citizens can be called wealthy.

4. In 2011, a girl named Facebook was born in Egypt. Yes, Facebook Jamal Ibrahim. An unusual, to put it mildly, name was invented by a happy father, and not because, for example, the cult social network introduced him to his wife (it would be too romantic), but because the dictator Hosni Mubarak was largely dismissed thanks to online activism.

5. Egypt is the most economically developed of all the Middle Eastern countries, one of the main sources of income – it’s easy to guess, tourism (it employs about 15% of the working-age population). The influx of funds is also provided by ships passing through the Suez Canal, wealthy Egyptians living abroad and exporters of cotton, oil, fruits and vegetables.

6. The climate in Egypt is not the most gentle: in the summer the air in the shade heats up to + 40 … + 50 ° C, and in the evening it gets noticeably colder, so sweaters and windbreakers will come in handy. The sultry khamsin wind brings sand clouds, fortunately, the mountains protect the resorts from storms. It is good to rest in the Red Sea (the warmest on Earth) in winter: the average January air temperature is + 20 … + 25 ° C, water – +21 ° C. True, at night the thermometer drops to + 10 ° C, and frosts do occur in deserts.

7. Memphis is not only the last resting place of Elvis Presley in the United States, but also the first capital of Ancient Egypt. The city was once famous for its majestic burial and temple complexes, and today the silt-covered ruins are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

8. In the pantheon of the ancient Egyptians – more than 1400 gods and goddesses. The most famous are the almighty Amon Ra, the lord of the underworld Osiris, the goddess of motherhood and fertility Isis, the guide of souls Anubis and the demiurge Ptah.

9. The film statuette “Oscar” is suspiciously similar to the figurine of the Egyptian god Sokar – the patron saint of the dead, whose cult center was that very Memphis. The play of letters is also suggestive: if it is a coincidence, then it is too ambiguous.

10. Contrary to popular belief, the pyramids of Egypt (the only surviving wonders of the world) were built not by powerless slaves, but by skilled workers who received remuneration. The “duck” was spread by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who was born much later than the events described. Recently, archaeologists have discovered that the builders lived freely, ate quality food in equipped canteens, and buried them next to the tombs of the pharaohs – an honor inaccessible to an ordinary slave.

11. It is no coincidence that the glass pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre resembles the tomb of Cheops. It was she who inspired the architect Bei Yuming, who wished to pay tribute to Egyptian greatness and invaluable cultural heritage.

12. The Great Sphinx lost its nose in 1798, during Napoleon’s war with the Turks, but this is not certain. A traveler from Denmark Frederic Norden noticed the absence of this organ almost half a century earlier, and some scholars impute vandalism to a religious fanatic of the 14th century who carried out Muhammad’s ban on depicting living beings.

13. The pharaohs were not at all as pretty and slender as in the pictures that have come down to us. They often abused bread, honey and alcohol, and therefore suffered from overweight, but court portrait painters at all times are prone to flattery.

14. But what Cleopatra looked like, nobody knows for sure. There is not a single reliable portrait that accurately conveys the appearance of the seductress. On coins, she was depicted with large eyes, wavy curls, a humped nose and a protruding chin – these are hereditary features of the Ptolemaic dynasty, so an approximate image still emerges.

15. The city of Heraklion, according to legend, founded by the son of Zeus, Hercules, was accidentally discovered in 2000 by Franck Godeot from France. But not on land, but at the bottom of the Abu-Kir Bay near Alexandria, at a depth of 10 m. 14 thousand artifacts of wood, stone and gold, 64 ships and mysterious ruins were hidden under water for 12 centuries.

16. About 80-90% of the Egyptian population profess Islam, but the country also has Christian shrines: in Cairo – the Coptic Church, the Church of St. Mary, the monasteries of St. Anthony and St. Paul, on the Sinai Peninsula – the monastery of St. Catherine, in Hurghada is another Coptic temple.

17. The highest point of the country is Mount Katerin (2629 m), several kilometers southwest of Sinai. It is here that the Sinai Way ends – one of the best hiking tracks on the planet according to Wonderlust magazine.

18. The Egyptians are still the discoverers: glass, cement, toothpaste (then – a powder of salt, pepper, mint and toffee), a comb, soap (animal and vegetable fats plus lead or sodium carbonate mined in the Nile) and even (one of versions) condoms were invented here.

19. And also Egypt is the birthplace of cosmetics: tinctures from medicinal plants were used as creams, a mixture of sea salt and ground coffee beans was used as scrubs. Instead of ink – paint from burnt almonds, antimony, graphite and (beauty requires sacrifice) crocodile droppings, instead of blush – pounded mulberries, instead of shadows – soot, antimony, copper, ash and ocher. Simple Egyptians whitened their faces with clay and chalk, and the beautiful Cleopatra – all the same crocodile droppings, poor thing.

20. Wigs, too, most likely, were invented in Ancient Egypt, but things are much more interesting with what they wore – that is, with their heads. One of the mummies was found to have a transplanted skull, the first descriptions of the brain were found on papyri, there is also evidence of transplantation of limbs and internal organs, plastic surgery on the face, heart bypass surgery and even gender reassignment. In general, modern medicine is only approaching the 1900 BC level.

21. And again about the heads: special coasters made of glass, wood, alabaster or stone served as pillows for the Egyptians. True, for the Egyptians who have died, not those who are still alive: thanks to the firm and high headrest, the blood supposedly continued to circulate, the body remained vigorous, and the demons were held in place.

22. The national symbol of Egypt is the steppe eagle, depicted on the state emblem. It was this bird that adorned the western wall of the Cairo citadel, built by Sultan Salah ad-Din at the end of the 12th century.

23. On the Sinai Peninsula there is a “hammam of the pharaohs”: a grotto with dry steam warming up to +120 ° C, which can only be reached by crawling through narrow caves accompanied by Bedouins. After the sauna, it is pleasant to soak up the underground hydrogen sulphide lake, the mud of which heals rheumatism and other ailments.

24. Moldy bread turns out to be a great disinfectant. Mold does contain substances that block dangerous microorganisms, therefore, the fight against infections in Ancient Egypt went with a bang.

25. The world’s first testament was drawn not by the owner of some glorious Jewish surname, but by the son of Pharaoh Khafr in the 3rd millennium BC. e. He left his estates to his wife, sons and daughters – all in justice, in the best traditions.

26. Beer is the favorite alcoholic drink of the ancient Egyptians. It was brewed from dates and wheat or barley, it quickly deteriorated, and the dead pharaohs were wished for “loaves that would not turn stale, and beer that would not sour.” Today, almost all Egyptian foam is produced by the Heineken corporation; Stella, Sakara and Meister are worth a try.

27. Strange, but many Egyptian houses are without roofs, as if they should. The thing is that buildings without a roof are exempt from real estate tax, and rain is rare here, only 25 mm of precipitation falls a year, so a roof is not so necessary.

28. In Cairo, there is the Manshiyat-Nasir City of Scavengers, a Coptic quarter on the outskirts, where representatives of the relevant profession have been settling since 1969. They are even singled out as a separate social group of Zabbalins, who receive a fairly decent income, but the smell is specific over the area.

29. Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for being the first Arab ruler to make peace with Israel. But his fate turned out to be sad: in 1981, at a military parade, Islamic fundamentalists opened automatic fire, in which the president and 11 of his associates were killed.

30. The Nile is the longest river on the planet after the Amazon and the only one in all of Egypt (the rest are its branches and channels). To control the unprecedented power, it was necessary to build the huge Aswan Dam. A 75-meter memorial in honor of brothers in spirit from the USSR who helped build the waterworks. The bas-relief on the impressive lotus tower is made in the style of socialist realism, the view from the observation deck is magnificent.

PS If someone is not surprised enough, we finish off: the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses II has a real Egyptian passport. Moreover, modern: in 1974 it was taken to Paris for examination, and living or dead visitors to France definitely need a passport, so the resourceful Egyptians cooked it up. Column “name” – “Ramses II”, date of birth – “- / – / 1303 BC. e. “, nationality -” Egyptian “, profession -” king (deceased) “. Curtain!