Saturday, September 25, 2010

tanis and bubastis

I woke up this morning without any clear idea of how the day was going to go. I knew two things for certain: 1) I had no more water, and 2) I needed to be downtown by 8:00, which left me no time to go buy some, except at the cafeteria, which was closed. That was it.
In the lobby, I met up with two other students who were going on the Tanis trip and we shared a cab downtown, where luckily, we found a McDonald's, and I bought a water bottle for the day. I still didn't have any food, but my lovely friend Kim, ultra-prepared as she was and always is, let me eat the extra banana that she had brought with her. Thanks Kim!
Actually, we were joking about Kim being so prepared all day long. In one purse, she had a giant water bottle, her wallet, mobile, iPod, book, and probably more, as well as hand sanitizer and a mongoose. I'm not sure about the mongoose, actually, since I never saw it, but she did say it was in the zipper compartment, so I may never know for certain.
Also while we were at McDonald's, I stole toilet paper from their bathroom, which turned out to be my one concession to being prepared for the day.
Once everyone had arrived, we drove in the bus to the new campus to pick up the students who lived there, and then we were off to Bubastis, an ancient site in the middle of the delta. Here's the map of our trip:

The site of Bubastis is actually in the middle of the modern city of Zaq-a-ziq, so everywhere we looked we could see cars and apartment buildings, but that was okay. Originally, the site was a temple, although the monumental structure is completely gone now because like a lot of other sites in Egypt, it was torn apart for its limestone (which was then used to make quick lime for mortar), leaving the granite facing stone lying all around. If you look carefully, it's still possible to see how some of the temple was laid out, which was pretty amazing.
a colossal statue of a goddess, reconstructed
what most of the site looked like - granite blocks everywhere
a row of granite cobras with no heads
(this is why kim needed her mongoose)
you can see the outline of the hypostyle hall in the columns
monuments are great, because i can take
pictures of soldiers and not get in trouble
a well where the holy family stopped on
their journey through egypt, according to legend

After we explored Bubastis, we used the unfinished visitor's centre's scary scary bathrooms (thank you McDonald's!) and headed for Tanis. The drive was about an hour and a half, and we had a police escort the entire way. This was a little annoying, because I think we were drawing enough attention to ourselves already, what with the huge bus, that we didn't really need a squad car and a motorcycle with both their sirens on to announce our presence. The drive went really slowly, because we had to pass through lots of little villages on the way. It was interesting to see another part of Egypt outside of the big city that I've gotten used to. Well, that is, when I could stay awake. The professor lectured a lot during our drives, and he had one of those soothing documentary type voices and it just put me straight to sleep. I did manage to get a few pictures, though.
donkeys and a motorcycle
We arrived at Tanis around 1:30, and after the professor talked for a bit, explaining where everything was, we got to wander and take whatever pictures we wanted. The site was very different than what I expected, but still very interesting. Like Bubastis, it was full of granite blocks either left behind from previous constructions or moved to the site by the government for safe-keeping. Here's what we saw:
first, adorable puppies. don't worry, i didn't touch them.
a broken colossus of ramses the great, about 10 ft tall
another broken colossus of the pharaoh
- the queen is just visible behind his leg

the royal tomb of psusennes the somethingth - originally, the 'top' was
at ground level, and everything you see here was buried.
ancient egyptian sprite bottle - so much litter everywhere!
sorry, i don't remember what this means
it's probably horus/the pharaoh, though
broken columns
pretty sure this was the inscription on the cover
of my hieroglyphics textbook
hieroglyphs inside an opened tomb
inside a tomb - the granite sarcophagus
is it? could it be? the well of souls? yes. (no.)
who is that mysterious man in the distance?
Just as I ran out of water and was dying to get back on the bus, we did, and the air conditioning was probably the most beautiful thing ever. Then the drive back to new campus took three hours, and another hour to get back to downtown and catch a cab to Zamalek. Yay for Egypt traffic, again. Our cab driver was nice, though, and even admitted he didn't know where we were going, but was happy to follow our directions instead of just driving around randomly. As soon as I got into the dorms, I bought two big bottles of water and some dinner, and I'm not feeling so tired and dehydrated anymore.
So, that was my trip, and although I didn't find the ark of the covenant, I've concluded that going to Tanis was a good idea. It was a really long, really hot day, full of lectures and driving and big chunks of rock, but I'm glad I went. Even if it ate up my last day of the weekend and I have to go to class tomorrow and talk about Antigone and The Shipwrecked Sailor and pretend I know Arabic. That's okay. I went to Tanis.


  1. Maybe this is a silly question, but when you say "holy family" do you mean Jesus' family, or an Egyptian god? Did Jesus make it that far into Egypt just for vacation?

    The man on the rock was obviously a Nazi. You should be more careful next time!

    Also, how do you add captions to the pictures?

  2. Kim's mom must be so proud of her....growing up so responsible and sharing and such!!! I am especially impressed with the mongoose, but subtly kept, not ostentatiously displayed. Keep hanging with that girl...maybe you will start to carry your own mongoose! I love you sweetie! (Thank you Kim.) Love, Mom

  3. ahahah! i told you, you could get a pic of the police...just had to be paparazzi about it like i said... sneaky sneaky!! =) love the pictures and glad you had fun. =)

    only gotta say it makes me sad that there is so much trash at some of these locations....i mean these are priceless pieces of human history. not a dump. =/

    anyway.... talk to you soon! =)

  4. @sarah - the holy family is jesus' family, yes. according to egyptian pilgrimage literature, they spent a lot of time in egypt when fleeing king harrod. but it's not in the canonical bible per say.

  5. OMG!!! this is soo cool! i wish i were there to see this in real life :( i saw some stuff in the British Museum, but it wasn't as cool as this.