An ancient civilization on the front lines of the war on terror, Egypt is an extraordinary country to experience. We began in Cairo to study pyramids, pharaohs, and life in the volatile land of the Nile. Here are some things we learned:
1. Pyramid conspiracy theories suggest that the pyramids were built by aliens or angels. Experts are able to prove the pyramids were built by nothing more or less than manpower, because we’ve found evidence of the “rough draft” pyramids all over Egypt.
2. Also, the pyramids weren’t built by slaves. Construction occurred during the annual Nile flood season when farming wasn’t possible and the river provided an easy way to transport the huge stones. So the pyramids could be seen as a sort of civil employment system to farmers that otherwise would’ve spent half the year out of work.
3. Uniforms matter. In order to protect tourists and citizens in Egypt, there are heavily armed soldiers and frequent security stops. However, some of the soldiers don’t have on uniforms. It’s incredibly unnerving to see a man with an assault rifle in street clothes.
4. The Nile truly is the lifeblood of Egypt. It cuts through the desert and Egyptian life, even today, couldn’t exist without it.
5. In Ancient Egypt, yearly taxes depended on the level of the Nile Flood, because the flood was indicative of the productiveness of the harvest. Most temples have a “Nile-o-meter” which indicated the flood level and thus taxes for the neighborhood.
6. Despite living and depending on the Nile, Egyptians are historically terrible sailors. The wind blows one way and the current flows the other so there isn't much need for expertise.
7. Because of the heavy pollution, one day spent in Cairo is the same as smoking one pack of cigarettes.
8. King Tut, arguably the most well-known Pharaoh, was not exceptionally great or rich. He's special because his tomb was the only one we’ve found that was not raided by tomb robbers. The magnificent treasures were uncovered almost completely intact.
9. Despite surviving ancient robbers, a few of King Tut's priceless treasures were stollen from the Egyptian Museum in the 2011 uprising. Good grief.
10. No one knows why The Great Sphinx is missing his nose. Many blame Napoleon's soldiers though this is highly unlikely. Napoleon was obsessed with Ancient Egypt and is responsible for cataloging and preserving many of the relics we enjoy today. Our favorite "Missing Nose" theory is that, for thousands of years, the Sphinx was buried up to his neck in sand. As people walked by, they would rub his nose for good luck.
Bonus Fact: The 2011 Egyptian Revolution and increased terrorism in the Middle East has taken a gigantic toll on Egypt’s tourism and economy. The revenue from ancient monuments has fallen a whopping 95% since 2011. One of the incomes saving tourism was resorts on the Red Sea. The recent plane crash in Sharm el Sheikh (a resort town that was considered one of the safest places in Egypt), will further devastate the Egyptian people and economy. We flew out of Sharm el Sehikh a few weeks before the crash and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the passengers. Our thoughts are also with the millions of innocent Egyptians who will face the repercussions of these extremists.
That's What We Learned in Cairo. Click Here to read What We Did.