The Egypt trip was successful by all measures. Several students told me that they were sad to leave Egypt after all the excitements. I saw the tears in their eyes at Cairo International Airport on our way back to the US. I will share some highlights from this amazing trip. We arrived in Cairo and our bags were carried for us to the bus. We met Adel, our wonderful tour director, and Elegant tours representative Mohamed Assawy, and went to Gowharet Alahram hotel (4 stars). We left to see the great pyramids (during the 4th Dynasty, 2700 B.C). One can see the excitement on the face of the students especially going inside to see the kings’ rooms of the Khufu and Khafre pyramids. We toured the amazing “intact” Solar boat which was built to be used by the Pharaoh after his death and was discovered by Kamal ElMallak in 1954. We also took lots of pictures of the sphinx (face of king Khafre).

After a great time in the pyramids area, we left to the Egyptian Museum. We saw the Papyrus plants and the lotus flowers in front of the museum. Inside the museum we lived and enjoyed various dynasties (from about 5000 B.C.), including the golden treasures of Tutankhamen (king Tut). We saw the mummy of King Ramses II and other mummies of kings, queens, and even their animals. At night, we took the overnight sleeper train to Luxor and our luggage were carried for us.

In Luxor, we started with the Temple of Karnak and the sacred lake (my students collected water samples from the lake). Karnak was another wonder for all of us. We visited the Landing stage and Ave of Ram-headed sphinxes, various pylons, Sanctuary of the Sacred barks, South Propyleia, Depositaries for offerings, Temple of Thutmosis III, Temple of Ranses II, Eastern Gate, Osiris Chapels, Temple of Ptah, Temple of Khonsu, Temple of Montu, Temple of Amon-Ra (so many amazing architectures and wonders), various Obelisks of Thutmosis III, Obelisk of Hatshepsut in pink granite (30 m high and about 200 tons mass), Gate of Ramses II, Botanical Room, Festival Hall of Thutmosis III, Sanctuary of the Middle Kingdom and many other great sites. After Karnak, we took our bus to another great highlight of the Egypt trip, “the Nile Jewel” cruise ship (5-stars). I was told in July that our cruise will be 3-stars, so this was a good surprise. Afterwards, we enjoyed the various sites of Luxor Temple (another wonder) that has Amenophis III, 32 huge columns, Scenes of Amenophis presented by Horus and Aten to Amon-Ra. We toured a delightful Luxor market. Students learned to bargain (better than Egyptians as I was told by several vendors).

In Luxor we all took a tour through the famous sites in Luxor by Horse Carriages, then enjoyed different local drinks in a local cafeteria. Cruising the Nile from Luxor to Aswan was another joy and adventure. During our cruise, we took a small boat (felucca) to the west bank of Luxor to visit the Valley of the Kings. There are more than 22 treasures and sites in the Valley of the kings. The most impressive site was the tomb of the young and famous king, Tutankhamen (king Tut). We saw his mummy in the tomb. Another wonder was the Temple of the great pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut (1505 B.C.). We were impressed with the two remaining roots of trees that were planted by Queen Hatshepsut. After her Temple we visited the Medinet Habu. There we enjoyed the wonder of Ramses III Temple and his palace. We also toured the Temple of Thutmosis I and the sanctuary of the three Thutmosis pharaohs. We went to the Nile Jewel and had a nice celebration party and the cruise crew were introduced to us. We watched on deck as the Nile Jewel passed through the Esna Lock (water level in Esna is 15 m higher than the Nile level in Cairo). We started a new day by visiting the only complete temple in Egypt, Edfu Temple which took about 130 years to build. It was constructed to worship the god Horus and was built for Thutmosis III by the great architect Imhotep. We were excited to see a lab with names of chemicals and recipes to make chemical and pharmaceutical mixtures to treat adults and infants.

Kom Ombo was visited on the following day. Part of this temple was the falcon god Haroeris (Horus the Elder) and a solar warrior god, Osiris (represented by the winged disk). Kom Ombo Temple was very crowded. There we saw the medical and surgical instruments that were used by the pharaohs (some still used nowadays in hospitals). We visited their clinic, the very accurate calendar (days, months, seasons, years). At night, there was a cocktail and a fun galabiah party. The cruise sailed to Aswan, the ancient Syene (886 Km from Cairo), then we took a flight to another great majestic wonder, Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel (the Jewel of the desert) was erected to glorify King Ramses II. It was one of the most beautiful and historical Temples in Egypt. The Temple was carved from the mountain (one piece). It was endangered by the waters of Lake Nasser, and therefore had to be relocated through an international effort coordinated by UNESCO. The most interesting fact inside the temple was the “the miracle of the sun”. The sun penetrates the entire length of the temple and shines twice a year on the face of Ramses II, on Feb. 22 (his birth date) and Oct. 22 (his ascension to the throne). There are lots of decorations and historical facts on the wall of the various rooms in Abu Simble such as the brightly colored engraved hieroglyphics that describe the military campaign against the Hittites, poems, different glories of the famous king, Ramses the second. We visited his beautiful Nubian wife’s temple (Nefertari).

We left the wonder Temple to visit the “High Dam” which was built by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1960 and this giant project was completed by Anwar Assadat in 1971. We visited the granite quarries and the famous “unfinished obelisk” which was never detached from the rock. It would have been 42 m height and 1,150 tons mass. We left the granite site and on our way to the Nile Jewel we saw the Philae Temple, which was also saved from inundation by the Aswan Dam. The following day we took a Nubian felucca and enjoyed listening and singing with the Nubians on the felucca. During this relaxing sailing in the Nile we saw the mausoleum of Aga Khan, Kitchener Island, the Island of trees, the Elephantine Island, different types of plants, animals and birds. The scenery was amazing and educational. Students collected water samples from the pure Nile water at this site. We toured the famous Saad Zaghlol street in Aswan and returned to the Nile Jewel for the night.

Another great highlight of the trip was the camel ride (the Nile river was on our right) to the Nubian Suhail village. Students loved and enjoyed their interaction with a Nubian family, holding crocodiles, drinking local drinks, visiting a Nubian school. Then we had fun climbing a Sand Dune (took about 40 min). The winners received free silver cartouches as awards from Adel, our tour director. We left the Nile Jewel and Aswan and took a flight to Cairo and spent the night in Gowharet Alahram Hotel.

Next morning we left to tour the Citadel, the famous Mohamed Ali (the founder of modern Egypt) Mosque, and the sites at the Citadel. The visit to Saqqara was another great experience. Famous sites in Saqqara are step pyramid (pyramid of King Zoser, 2667 B.C, 3rd Dynasty), the Mastaba of Ti, Mereruka (marvelous decorations of the daily activities such as hunting, fishing, animals, plants, celebrations, etc.), Mastaba of Ptah-Hotep and other wonder sites. South Saqqara, we saw the “Red Pyramid”, the pyramids of Snefru including the Red Pyramid and the bent pyramid. We toured the museum in Saqqara which has mummies of various kings, queens, and monks; tools; even their cheese is still there in the museum. After Saqqara we headed to the ancient capital of Menufer, called Memphis. We saw great sites in Memphis, such as the glorious architect Imhotep, the Alabaster Sphinx of Amenophis II (made from a single rock), Ptah and the colossus of Ramses II, with its amazing details and many cartouches that carry his name.

The following day we left our hotel to visit the religious complex in “Masr Alqadeemah” (Old Cairo). That was an excitement for all of us to visit The oldest Church in Egypt, the Crypt Church (Jesus, Mary and Joseph the Carpenter are believed to have stayed there to avoid the oppression of the Romans). We toured the Hanging Church which was built on top of the walls of the Roman fort. We observed the quddas (mass) there, toured Abraham Bin Izra Synagogue and finally, Amr Ibn Elas mosque (the oldest mosque in Africa). It was rewarding to see the followers of the three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) living in peace and harmony in the same area.

We left Cairo on a long bus trip (more than 8 h), crossing from Africa to Asia (Sinai). During the trip, we crossed the Suez Canal via Ahmad Hamdy Tunnel to Sinai. We stopped by Moses Spring (God’s gift to Moses after crossing the Red Sea), the Pharaoh’s Bath (mineral-hot spring). The hot spring was amazing. Students collected water samples from the Hot spring and the Red Sea. We reached the nice St. Catherine hotel and had dinner and rested in our rooms till 1:00 am and then left the hotel after hot tea and coffee at 1:30 am to Mount Moses (believed to be the place where Moses spoke to God). We hiked Mount Moses accompanied by a local Bedouin (Eid) so we do not get lost at night. We reached the summit of Mount Moses (took more than 2 h, more than 2200 m) and watched the most amazing sunrise. We met people from different parts of the world and celebrated the sunrise with them.

After getting down (wasn’t easy) we visited St. Catherine’s Monastery, the Chapel of the Burning Bush, the Burning Bush (sacred tree or Alaliqah Almuqaddasah), Basilica of the Transfiguration and the Well of Moses, which is still the drinking spring water in St. Catherine’s Monastery. After having breakfast in St. Catherine’s hotel and relaxing from the tough climbing of Mount Moses, we left the hotel in Sinai heading back to Cairo. During our trip back we saw Aaron and Salih graves. We also visited the Sinai Culture and Educational center. We arrived to Cairo at 8:00 pm, checked in Gowharet Alahram Hotel, had dinner and left the hotel at 1:30 am for Cairo Airport. We thanked Adel, our tour guide, for the great job he did. Many students were emotional but enjoyed the wonders of Egypt. As many students mentioned, this was a fantastic and great experience for Culver-Stockton students to visit and enjoy 5000 years of civilization. Mission accomplished! Thanks to our new Calendar!

In conclusion, I would like to thank Dr.Andy Walsh and Omaima Ebeid for their help and support before and during this trip. I also thank all the students for being on their best behavior during this trip. They were good ambassadors for Culver.

Dr. El-Bermawy

Carpet School


After visiting Saqqara we made a quick detour to see a carpet school. I was excited to visit one because I was very confused to what a carpet school was. I had seen them while driving from site to site. We walked in and I was already amazed. We saw several large pieces of equipment that two to five people were working at. A carpet school is a school that will help teach children and young adults how to make carpet, and the different types of material that you can make carpets form, and they pay them for the work that they do. It is a great way for them to make a little money, while learning a trade. While we were there visiting we got to see several carpets being made. A silk carpet was being made by two young women and they were incredibly fast with the knots. They did slow down a little so that we could see in slow motion what they were exactly doing. A few brave students sat with them and tried it out. I was not one of them. I wouldn’t want to mess it up. Each carpet follows a specific pattern. There was what looked to be a family working on another carpet. A little boy probably around the age of six was asking everyone to sit by him and have a shot at it. After one or two rows of knots were completed they took what looked like a chisel and hammer and made the knots very tight and very close together. Then they showed us that you must cut out the extra string, this helps it from not looking like a shag rug and you are able to see the images a lot better. This school also had a professional that does tapestries for them, now that is a hard working job. He usually took four months to complete on tapestry. It didn’t look like anything at the time, but once we went upstairs to see the completed pieces it looked amazing. The rugs ranged in prices from $5 to $25,000!! They were beautiful! It would definitely be worth the investment. This was a detour that well worth the hour and a half spent there.

Posted at 12:07 PM by Amanda Gibbs

Mt. Moses


Mount Moses was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was rough getting up at 1:30am knowing that I was about to climb a mountain. It was cold, dark and a little scary at times, but getting to the top made me feel as if I could do anything I wanted to in the world I wanted to. The trek up the camel path was not bad. It was a pretty steady incline, and was at times very difficult. It was wide enough to fit three or four people across, and wasn’t really on the edge of the mountain. So you were afraid of fall off a cliff. At times you must move aside to let the camels through that have visitors on them, or are just passing to find someone that may need one. Since we were on the camel trail, you had to be a little weary of where you stepped. I was one who tucked in the bottom of my sweatpants so that they were not covered in camel droppings. The camels could only take you so far though. You have to do those last 750 steps at your own will. I was not ready for this at all. I made it though. Some of the steps were a little shaky, beings they were put their by man. You had to be careful of the people that were in a hurry to get to the top, for what I am not sure. At the time that we had reached the top we were all sweating and not too cold. But we soon learned why lots of people were trying to rent blankets to us. It got cold, really really really cold. Cold enough that I couldn’t feel my toes or fingers. It was cold. I had never been so anxious for the sun to rise in my life. Before the rising of the sun, to help forget about how cold I was, I looked around at all the people. There were lots of people. People from all religious backgrounds, race, ethnicity, and whatever else. All were taking in the site from the top. There were people singing, I could only catch a few words, but I think it went something like the call of prayer heard five times daily. I could hear the word Allah. Which is God in Arabic? It was amazing to see all these people here in one place, for the same reason, God. Yes, many would say that it was just to watch the sunrise. But really that mountain has so much meaning to so many people all around the world. Then the sun started to peek out above the horizon. Everyone was so happy, snapping pictures, hoping for warmth. It was truly a beautiful site to see. Once everyone had gotten pictures there was a mad rush for the stairs. It was a slow process moving down. I was on the slow side because I couldn’t feel my toes, and with every step they ached tremendously. As we were heading down, you could start to feel the sun, but the wind it what hurt the most. It was nice to be able to see where I was walking, and what views I had missed on the way up. You could also so many people from different countries that had joined you on the mountain that morning. It was nice to reach the bottom and take a break for a minute before we visited St. Catherine’s Monastery.

Posted at 12:07 PM by Amanda Gibbs

King Thutmosis the IV and Siptah's tombs at The Valley of the Kings


On day four, we got to visit The Valley of the Kings. At The Valley of the Kings they have found over 62 different pharaohs tombs. Archeologists know there are more than this buried here too. One of the fascinating things with these tombs was that the king’s sarcophagus was usually just as large as or larger than the entrance doorway and they were all in two piece of granite, the main part of the sarcophagus and the lid that covered them. How they got the sarcophagus down to the burial tomb is a mystery. Another interesting thing we learned is how the scribes were able to see while they their carving and painting their hieroglyphics on to the walls. They would use silver plated mirrors and set them up all along the tomb so that the sunlight would reflect off of them onto the walls. I thought this was quite interesting because of all the work they would have had to do to get this light all the way down into these tombs. It is fascinating and mind blowing because the tombs were so far down into the ground and had one or two turns in them. They had these turns in them because there were two different kinds of tombs, there were the L shapes or the T shape structures. Howard Carter found many of these while he was searching for King Tut’s tomb. One of the tombs he came across while looking for King Tut’s tomb was King Thutmosis the IV’s. King Thutmosis the IV’s tomb was from the 18th dynasty and he ruled from1413 to 1405 B.C. His tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1903. This was the 43 temple found in The Valley of the Kings. It is famous for all the hieroglyphics in it. His sarcophagus was made out of red sandstone and it was decorated with figures of the protecting gods and goddesses on the sides. This tomb was an L shape and it was really steep and far down into the ground. The next temple we saw was Siptah’s tomb. It was from the 19th dynasty and he ruled from 1224 to 1214 B.C. His tomb was a T-shape structure. We came to the conclusion that the 19th dynasty workers learned that you do not have to make the tomb so steep or deep down into the ground because this tomb was not as far or as steep. Its passages were highly decorated with gods and goddess and had Siptah before them

Posted at 11:48 AM by Derek Harris

Layover in Frankfurt, Germany


On our way to Egypt we had a six hour lay-over in Frankfurt, Germany. Our supervisors decided that if some of us wanted to travel into town with Dr. Walsh and Omaima that we could go for an hour or a little bit longer. So about 12 of us took full advantage of this and we headed into Frankfurt by the subway train while the others caught up on their rest. While on the subway we had one funny experience that made everyone laugh. This guy got on the train with us at the station and Dr. Walsh started to ask him questions about what we should see in Frankfurt. Well, we told him that we were on our way to Cairo, Egypt and the guy did not understand why we were on the subway. He kept asking and asking why were we on the train and that if he was us, he would have stayed at the airport and taken a plain to Egypt not the subway. We all laughed and said we were just visiting for a couple of hours then flying out. Well, come to find out, the guy we were talking to was a little intoxicated. He kept asking us the same questions over and over and was telling us he was from Dallas, Texas and he had friends in Missouri, but the catch 22 was he asked where Missouri was. Towards the end of our ride he kept saying “I’m drunk, I’m married, and I’m happy”. This was really funny because he was standing in front of the door to get on the subway train and everyone else that did not know what was going on was getting mad at him for blocking the door. It was quite the experience to start our “out of the country experience”. The rest of Frankfurt was beautiful and I could not get over the architectural work on the buildings there. They would have whole humans or faces carved out of the pillars in great detail. Another thing was that some of their markets and stores were mostly underground. I thought that was pretty neat. After we had walked around for about an hour and half we decided we better head back to the airport. Well, this brought us to another adventure because we took the wrong train and had to find our way back to the main station and get on the right train. After a while we found the right one and made it safely back to the airport and made it through customs and security just fine. We even had time to get a short nap in and grab us some McDonalds at the airport. It really didn’t taste that much different than what an American McDonalds would taste like. We then flew out of Frankfurt, Germany around 1:45 p.m. and headed towards Cairo, Egypt, where our journey really starts to take off.

Posted at 11:34 AM by Derek Harris

Nubian School


One of the highlights of this trip to Egypt was visiting the Nubian Village near Aswan and visiting a school for 3 to 5 year old children. The school seemed very large for such a small age range. We only saw 4 or 5 classrooms and an outdoor playground, but the school seemed to wrap around the block. We went into one of the empty classrooms and a Nubian teacher came in to teach us. He taught us how to say the Nubian and Arabic alphabet and taught us the numbers. He taught us by pointing to the symbol on the blackboard, saying the sounds aloud, and then having us repeat it. After we had gone through it a couple of times, he would call someone to the front of the room, point to a symbol, and make them try to recall what he/she had learned. If the person did not remember, he would turn them around and pretend to hit them on their rear with his pointing stick while saying the word he/she had forgotton. It was hilarious and very entertaining. I specifically remember Anthony Jahr, Derek Harris, Corey Meyer, Dr. El-Bermawy, and Dr. Walsh being beaten for their forgetfulness. I was just relieved he had not called on me. After our learning experience, we visited a classroom full of kids. The children were so adorable and all wanted to take their picture with us. We took a lot of pictures and had a great time with the kids sitting on our laps, giving us hugs, and giving us high-fives. Even though we did not speak their language and were not able to communicate with them, they seemed to be thrilled that we were there. I especially enjoyed this experience because I love being around kids. In the future I plan on working with children everyday. I hope to be a pediatrician because I love children so much and want to help them in any way that I am able. I definitely have a weak spot in my heart for a child with a smile. They truly melted my heart, and it was hard to leave them. I wanted to take each one home with me! This was a truly wonderful experience for me.

Posted at 11:23 AM by Alexis Westerhausen

Royal Mummies Hall


One of the most fascinating experiences I had during my three week study abroad trip to Egypt was the visit to the Royal Mummies Hall in the Egyptian Museum the first day we were in Cairo. Although we had not adjusted to the eight-hour time difference and had visited the 3 Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the Cheops Boat Museum earlier that day, seeing over ten mummies in the Royal Mummies Hall was fascinating! The ancient science of mummification is mind-boggling! They started by pulling the brain out of the dead body with a hook and spoon through the nose and ears. Then, they sliced open the side of the body and took the organs out that were located in the abdomen. They always left the heart in the body because they thought it was the organ of most importance and did not believe the body could enter into the afterlife without the heart in tact. They wrapped certain organs in strips of bandage and resin to preserve them, and they were put in canopic jars to be used in the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians filled the body with incense and other material to prevent the body from collapsing. After this, a natural drying agent, natron, was spread over the entire body to help dry it out. It was left on the body for forty days to ensure that the maximum amount of liquids could be withdrawn. The body was watched by guards during this forty-day period to ensure that it was not bothered by any animals or any people. After forty days, the incense and material in the abdomen were removed and filled with fresh bandages of natron to continue the “drying-out” process. The body was then wrapped with bandages and resin to keep the shape of the body and help preserve it. Rectangular cases lined the Mummy Hall. In each case, a mummy and a personal humidity level monitor was located. I saw the mummies of many famous pharaohs and queens including Ramses II, Ramses III, Queen Hatshepsut, high priest Amun Pinumdjem II, Amenhotep I, Thutmos II, and Thutmos IV. (King Tut’s mummy is still located at the Valley of the Kings, his final resting place, which we saw later during our visit to Egypt.) I had expected to see the outline of a person covered in bandages, but to my surprise, many of the mummies’ faces and feet were out for all to see. Their bodies were covered in the strips of bandage but I could see their faces! It was an eerie feeling to see their hair, eyelashes, and even fingernails! What an impressive preservation method they must have used! Scientists had taken X-Ray photographs of each mummy to determine their age, state of health, and causes of death, which were displayed on the side of each mummy’s case. In one mummy’s cases was a small body wrapped in bandage, and my heart sank at the idea of an infant being mummified with its parent, but X-Ray technology had revealed that it was in fact the mummy of a baboon. The ancient Egyptians thought highly of baboons, but I was still shocked to see the mummy of a baboon. Unfortunately, I am not able to share any pictures with anyone of the mummies since photography was prohibited, but trust me, seeing an actual mummy is a spooky feeling, but I highly suggest it.

Posted at 11:22 AM by Alexis Westerhausen