Alexandria Extension, Pre Tour – Out of the Tombs Ancient Egypt Revealed with Robin

Jan 23- 27, 2023

Discover the traces of Ancient Egypt in Alexandria with us!

Together we will explore the depths of the catacombs and visit the disappearing city of Tanis.

We will explore:

  • Wadi Natrun
  • Greco Roman Museum
  • National Museum
  • Biblioteca Alexandria
  • The Serapeum
  • Tanis

Day 1 – Cairo

You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

The day is at leisure.

Overnight Steigenberger Pyramids, Giza

Day 2 – Wadi Natrun and Alexandria

After breakfast we head off to Alexandira via Wadi Natrun.

Wadi Natrun was important to the ancient Egyptians because the valley’s salt lakes dry up in the summer and leave natron, a substance crucial to the mummification process.

Wadi Natrun is known for its Coptic monasteries where thousands of Christians escaped from Roman persecution in the 4th century. Of the 60 or so original compounds in the valley, only four remain. These monastery buildings are impressive, as they were fortified after Arab raids in 817CE.

After our visit and lunch at a local restaurant we drive to Alexandria and check into our hotel for the next 3 nights.

Overnights Sheraton El Montazah, Alexandria  B, L

Day 3 & 4 –  Explore Alexandria

Over the next 2 days we will explore Alexandria.

Kom el Dikka is a beautiful site with the extensive remains of a Ptolemaic university, Odeon, and Roman houses with beautiful mosaic floors.  It’s also the location of the conservation station where ancient statues brought up from the floor of the bay, are soaked to remove centuries of salt.

Nearby is the excellent Greco Roman Museum, with an astonishing collection of statues, coffins and terracottas.  Alexandria boasts many museums. The National Museum is in an elegant mansion that used to be a consulate. It has exhibits from all periods of the city’s history, from earliest times to the Nineteenth century.

Biblioteca Alexandria is the modern revival and restoration of the famous ancient Library. Architecturally stunning, it contains several exhibition halls and a very fine small museum of artifacts dug up during its construction. A planetarium is part of the biblioteca  complex.The Biblioteca is in constant use by students who can work in one of the most gorgeous study halls ever imagined. A tour of the building will surprise and delight.

The ancient Serapeum – a temple to Serapis that contained a large library. It still boasts Pompey’s Pillar. This has nothing to do with Pompey the Great, being actually a column of red granite from Aswan that once held a statue of the Emperor Diocletian, made to commemorate his suppression of a revolt in the city. It’s one of the largest columns in the word made of a single shaft. It’s surrounded by an outdoor Museum with sphinxes of Horemheb and the Ramesside kings, as well the remains of the library of the Serapeum and many tombs.
Overnights Sheraton El Montazah, Alexandria  B

Day 5 – Tanis and return to Cairo

After breakfast and checking out of our hotel, we head for Tanis.

Tanis is not a site that many people visit, despite the fact that it was home to the kings of the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Dynasties, and the location of their almost undisturbed tombs. Nowadays the silver coffins and other treasures of kings named Psusennes Sheshonk and Osorkon are in the Cairo Museum, but their surprisingly small decorated tombs are still there, ready for us to explore.

These tombs are not the only surprises at Tanis. Its ancient name was Djanet, which is the source of the Biblical name, Zoan. In the 1800s, many explorers and early archaeologists thought this mound in the marshes had been the city of the Exodus. Per-Ramesses. Many large and surprising monuments were uncovered with the name Ramesses II. Was it his capital, Avaris? In fact, the kings of the Third Intermediate Period who lived there were not wealthy enough to build great temples on their own, and so they scavenged and recycled columns, sphinxes, and enormous statues from Ramesses’ nearby abandoned city. Oddly enough, dozens of the monuments Ramesses used to decorate his capital had themselves been transplanted from Memphis and other cities. Many of the great statues with the names of Ramesses and his son, Merenptah, had originated in the Twelfth Dynasty, six hundred years before Ramesses, a thousand before Sheshonk.

Though Tanis contains the tombs of the kings of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, it has been known chiefly as an obelisk graveyard from the many Old and Middle Kingdom monuments moved to the site three thousand years ago. The Engineers and scientists of the Egyptian Antiquities Service have chosen to restore the old temple, to make it again the rival of Luxor and Karnak. Statues and obelisks are being restored, repaired and re-erected. We should get a much better sense of what Tanis looked liked in its glory days.

After our visit we will drive back to Cairo and check into our hotel. Extension ends with drop off at the hotel in Cairo. This night will be the first night of the Out of the Tombs tour.

B, Boxed lunch

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