Photo Of The Day: Egyptian Sphinx

Thanksgiving is a holiday that embraces traditions. It only seemed appropriate then to close out this long holiday weekend with an image of that most-iconic of Egyptian historical landmarks: the Sphinx. This image was taken by Flickr user robert vaccaro. I like the shot’s side-profile perspective and the nice contrast of sandy rock with clean, blue sky. It’s a simple yet classic image that’s well framed and eye-catching.

Taken any great photos on your trip to Egypt? Or maybe just during your visit to Cairo, Illinois? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user robert vaccaro]

The Top Seven Places to See Egyptian Wonders in 2011 (Outside of Egypt)

Although the revolution in Egypt ended rather peacefully with the resignation of Hosni Mubarak on February 11, it may be a while before the country appeals to international travelers again.

With its rich heritage and ancient treasures, Egypt tops the list of many travelers’ bucket lists. But if you’re shelving your Egypt travel plans for another time, here are some other destinations where you can explore Egypt without worrying you’ll have to make a sudden exodus.

Egypt Attraction: King Tut
Where to See It: St. Paul, Minnesota, Houston, Texas, and Melbourne, Australia

The blockbuster King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit left New York City in January, but portions of it will be on display at three other locations in 2011. Beginning February 18, The Science Museum of Minnesota will be host to Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, which will feature more than 100 artifacts associated with the Boy King and other ancient rulers. The exhibit will also travel to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, running from October 16 to April 15, 2012. Lest Americans be the only beneficiaries of the traveling Tut show, the Melbourne Museum will put on a show of pharaonic treasures beginning April 8, 2011.

Egypt Attraction: Cleopatra
Where to See It: Cincinnati, Ohio

After King Tut, Cleopatra has the best name recognition among Egyptian royalty. Beginning February 18, 2011, items associated with Queen Cleopatra will be exhibited in the “Queen City” at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Artifacts such as the Colossus King and Queen statues from Heracleion will be on display, as well as busts, small sphinxes, papyrus, pottery, coins, and more. There are plans for Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt to travel to other North American cities after the Cincinnati show ends on September 5, but those cities have yet to be announced.

Egypt Attraction: Egyptian Museums
Where to See It: London; Runners-Up: New York City and Paris

A number of museums throughout the world have small to sizeable Egyptian collections. However, the most impressive store of Egyptian artifacts can be found at The British Museum. The British Museum houses the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt, including the Rosetta Stone, the Tomb Chapel of Nebamun (which dates from the 14th century BC), and an entire gallery of mummies’ coffins. Through March 6, the British Museum is also showcasing a special exhibit on the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Coming in at a very close tie for second are New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Musee du Louvre in Paris. Highlights from these two museums include the imposing Temple of Dendur, which occupies one of 40 Egyptian galleries in the Met, and the Chapel of the Tomb of Akhethotep in the Louvre.

Egypt changes stance: King Tut’s tomb will stay open (for now)

The famous tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt will remain open for the time being, the chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass announced.

While earlier this week he stated that it and two other tombs in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor would close by the end of the year, now he’s saying that they’ll close at some undetermined time in the future.

Egypt plans to build a Valley of the Replicas to show off exact duplicates of King Tut’s tomb and those of Seti I and Queen Nefertari. These and other tombs are suffering damage due to the large numbers of people passing through. The extra humidity from their breath is causing mold to grow and is damaging the ancient paintings that adorn the walls. The number of visitors to Tutankhamun’s tomb has already been limited to 1,000 a day, down from a peak of 6,000 a day.

Once the Valley of the Replicas is open, and there’s no set date for that yet, King Tut’s tomb will close to everyone except those paying an extra fee that will probably run into the thousands of dollars. The pharaoh’s mummy will remain in its tomb.

[Photo courtesy user Kounosu via Wikimedia Commons]

Met returns Tutankhamun artifacts to Egypt

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is returning 19 artifacts from King Tutankhamun’s tomb to Egypt. This is another success in Egypt’s ongoing battle to bring home its heritage. Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass is spearheading the drive and says he’s repatriated more than 5,000 artifacts. These include a fragment of Egyptian sculpture the Met discovered last year had actually been stolen, and other items from collections all over Europe and North America.

According to the Met’s press release, the artifacts made their way into the museum’s collection in the years following the tomb’s discovery by Howard Carter in 1922. Carter and the Egyptian authorities had agreed that all of his finds were Egyptian property, and the objects should never have been allowed to be sold or bequeathed to the Met. After Carter’s death, his own home was found to be decorated with loot from the tomb. Most of the Met’s artifacts are fragments that were used as scientific samples, but the collection includes a bronze dog and a sphinx bracelet.

The objects will join the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at Discovery Times Square Exposition before going on display at the Met for six months. After that, they’ll finally join King Tut’s other treasures in Cairo, like the scarab bracelet in the above photo.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Free King Tut passes in San Francisco

On Feb. 21 and 22, the de Young Museum is giving away free passes to the King Tut exhibit in San Francisco.

Tickets to “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” are normally pretty pricey. For a family of two adults and two kids between the ages of 6 and 17, you’re looking at shelling out $98 on admission passes alone if you visit on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday (kids under 5 are free).

Details: Tickets will only be handed out on site on either of those days. Sponsored by Target, the giveaway is limited to four tickets per adult. Tickets will be time-stamped in batches of 30-minute windows, though you can linger as long as you’d like once you’re in. The box office opens at 8:30 a.m. each day with the first entry at 9 a.m. and the last entry at 4 p.m.

While you’re waiting for your timed entry, there will be plenty of free entertainment: fortune tellers, belly dancers, tarot card readers, and even a DJ spinning contemporary Egyptian music. Kids can also learn how to “engrave” hieroglyphics into copper foil. If the complimentary tickets run out, the rest of the permanent collections at the de Young will be free that weekend.

Tip: Strollers, diaper bags, and backpacks must be checked before entering the special exhibition galleries.

The exhibit, which opened in June 2009 at the de Young, closes on March 28.

If you haven’t seen the exhibit, here are some highlights, courtesy of FAMSF.