AIA Tours: land

Egypt Revisited

Tour Dates: February 13-28, 2021 (16 days)

Tour Leader(s): Stephen Harvey ,

This tour has been cancelled for 2021 and is in the planning stages for an early 2022 departure. If you are interested in traveling to this region and would like to be contacted when a tour becomes available, please call 800-748-6262 or email aia@studytours.org.

You are invited to return to Egypt to experience this custom-designed itinerary. Travel and learn in the company of Egyptologist Stephen Harvey. On this 16-day tour, you are also joined by a local Egyptology guide and a professional tour manager.
Highlights are many and varied:

  • Gain inside access to the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, enter the burial chamber of the collapsed pyramid at Meidum, and visit two mud-brick pyramids (Illahun and Hawara) at the Fayoum Oasis.
  • Go behind-the-scenes at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara to see some of the new and remarkable excavations that are not open to the public, including (pending final confirmation) special access to the newly-discovered, 5th-dynasty Tomb of Wah Ti.
  • Explore the necropoli of Beni Hasan, known for its 39 rock-cut tombs with well-preserved paintings of dancing, acrobatics, juggling, fishing, hunting, and weaving; and Tuna el-Gebel, with huge catacombs for thousands of mummified ibises and baboons, and much more.
  • Visit Tell el-Amarna, which replaced Thebes (modern Luxor) as capital of Egypt under the heretic, 18th-dynasty pharaoh Akhenaton and was significant for its monotheism and distinctive artistic style.
  • Enjoy two in-depth visits to Abydos, where Stephen Harvey has worked for over 25 years, including visits to the spectacular Temple of Seti I, with its invaluable “Abydos King List” and chapels with exquisite reliefs; and special access to the subterranean Osireion (symbolic tomb of Osiris), centered around a burial chamber that was once surrounded by water. 
  • Discover two interesting and lesser-visited sites near Luxor: the Temple of Montu (the falcon-headed god of war) at El-Tod, and the tomb of Ankhtifi, a provincial governor and warlord, at El-Mo’alla.
  • See what is perhaps a different side of Cairo: have lunch at Al-Azhar Park, a glorious public space with splendid views of Islamic Cairo; and visit the 9th-century Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the city’s oldest mosque in its original form and its largest mosque in terms of area.
  • Enjoy luxurious and best available accommodations throughout, with two to four nights at each property.
  • Enhance your adventure with a pre-tour program in Egypt’s Siwa Oasis and Alexandria, and/or a post-tour program to Jordan, including Petra, Jerash, Madaba, and Wadi Rum.

This is a small group limited to just 12 spaces! Reserve your space today by calling 800-748-6262 or emailing aia@studytours.org.

Pricing Per Person

Main Tour Pricing (14 nights)
Double Occupancy 11-12 participants $10,495
Double Occupancy 9-10 participants $10,895
Single Supplement $2,795

with fewer than 9 participants, a small group surcharge may be added. Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability).

Pre Tour Extension – Siwa Oasis & Alexandria (6 nights)
11-12 participants $4,145
9-10 participants $4,345
6-8 participants $4,645
Single Supplement $1,295

Post Tour ExtensionJordan (5 nights)
11-12 participants $3,595
8-10 participants $4,095
6-7 participants $4,395
Single Supplement $.1095

with fewer than 6 participants, a small group surcharge may be added. Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability).

Ramesses II in Luxor Temple ©Mohammed Moussa

Boundary stela A, located on the approach to Tuna el-Gebel © Roland Unger

Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses III © Rhikal

Temple at El-Tod © Marc Ryckaert

Ramesseum, Luxor © Marc Ryckaert

Seti I Temple at Abydos © Olaf Tausch

Black Pyramid of Amenemhat_III © Tekisch

Red Pyramid © Olaf Tausch

Siwa Oracle Temple © Sara Nabih

Petra, Jordan © Brad Mering

Itinerary


Saturday, February 13, 2021: Fly to Cairo, Egypt
Sunday, February 14: Arrive in Cairo | Welcome dinner
Monday, February 15: Cairo: Egyptian Museum | PM at leisure
Tuesday, February 16: Bent & Red Pyramids | Saqqara excavations
Wednesday, February 17: Meidum | Fayoum (Faiyum) Oasis: Illahun & Hawara
Thursday, February 18: Fayoum Oasis: Kom Aushim, Tunis pottery village
Friday, February 19: Al Minya | Beni Hasan
Saturday, February 20: Tuna el-Gebel | Al Minya: Malawi Museum
Sunday, February 21: Tell el-Amarna | Abydos
Monday, February 22: Abydos: Shunet es-Zebib, Kom-el-Sultan, Temple of Seti I, Osireion
Tuesday, February 23: Abydos| Dendara| Luxor
Wednesday, February 24: Ramesseum | Medinet Habu
Thursday, February 25: El-Tod | El-Mo’alla
Friday, February 26: Luxor: At leisure |Fly to Cairo
Saturday, February 27: Cairo: Mosque of Ibn Tulun | Al-Azhar Park | Khan el-Khalili bazaar | Farewell dinner
Sunday, February 28: Fly Home or Fly to Amman, Jordan


Optional, Pre-Tour Siwa Oasis & Alexandria Extension (Feb 7-14, 2021 – 8 days)

Sunday, February 7, 2021:  Fly to Cairo, Egypt
Monday, February 8: Arrive in Cairo | Welcome dinner
Tuesday, February 9: El-Alamein War Meseum and cemeteries | Marsa Matuh
Wednesday, February 10: Siwa Oasis
Thursday, February 11: Siwa: Oracle of Amun, Gebel Al Mawta, Shali
Friday, February 12: Drive to Alexandria
Saturday, February 13: Alexandria: National Museum, Kom al-Dikka, Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Sunday, February 14: Alexandria | Cairo


Optional, Post-Tour Extension: Jordan (February 28-March 5, 2021 – 6 days)

Sunday, February 28, 2021: Cairo | Fly to Amman, Jordan | Jordan Archaeological Museum | Amman city tour | ACOR
Monday, March 1: Jerash | Ajloun Castle | Amman
Tuesday, March 2: Mt. Nebo | Madaba | Lunch at a local home | Um er-Rasas | Petra
Wednesday, March 3: Petra
Thursday & Friday, March 4 & 5: Wadi Rum | Amman | Fly Home

View Detailed Itinerary

Main Tour (16 days)

Saturday, February 13, 2021: Fly to Cairo, Egypt

Sunday, February 14: Arrive in Cairo | Private transfer to hotel in Giza | Welcome dinner
You will be met upon arrival at Cairo International Airport (CAI) and transferred to the historic Mena House, a palatial hotel set amid 40 acres of gardens, with magnificent views of the adjacent Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops). This evening we gather (including travelers from the optional, pre-tour extension) for a welcome reception and dinner with your three expert tour leaders: AIA lecturer/host, Egyptology guide, and Tour Manager. Overnight at the 5-star Marriott Mena House (Pyramid View rooms) for three nights. (R,D)

Monday, February 15: Cairo: Egyptian Museum,
PM at leisure
This morning we visit the historic Egyptian Museum (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities) to see treasures that most visitors missed during their previous visits. After lunch, the afternoon is at leisure to relax at the splendid Mena House. Before dinner this evening, we will gather for Stephen Harvey’s first lecture. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, February 16: Dahshur: Bent & Red Pyramids | Saqqara excavations
Drive to Dahshur, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur,” where we will learn firsthand about the transition from step-sided to smooth-sided pyramids. See 4th-dynasty Pharaoh Snefru’s Bent Pyramid, whose appearance is due to miscalculations on the structural weight and slope of the blocks. Learning from these mistakes, Snefru went on to build the shorter North (Red) Pyramid, which was the first completed true pyramid. We will have inside access to the Red Pyramid. At Dahshur, we can see from a distance both the remains of Amenemhet III’s pyramid, known as the ‘Black Pyramid’ due to the exposed dark color of its mudbrick core, as well as the remains of the pyramid of Senwosret III of the 12th dynasty, where the Metropolitan Museum of Art currently conducts excavation and restoration.

After lunch we enjoy a behind-the-scenes visit to the vast, ancient burial ground of Saqqara to see the some of the new excavations (not open to the public) dating to the Old and New Kingdoms. Pending final confirmation, we will also gain special access to the newly-discovered, 5th-dynasty Tomb of Wah Ti. The condition of this tomb is exceptional, especially for its age, and the two-story structure contains dozens of sculptures as well as scenes of daily life. Return to our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, February 17: Meidum | Fayoum (Faiyum) Oasis: Illahun & Hawara
This morning we drive south to visit 4th-dynasty Pharaoh Snefru’s collapsed pyramid at Meidum, which represents the transition between step pyramids and true pyramids. Its construction began as a stepped pyramid, but nearer completion the steps were filled in and it was cased with limestone. At some point in (probably) the New Kingdom, it began to collapse and today stands only its three-stepped core amid a pile of rubble from its exterior. We will enter its burial chamber through a corridor that descends 177 feet. Continue driving to the southern edge of the Fayoum Oasis, a region that was popular with Middle Kingdom pharaohs and high officials for hunting and fishing. Here we will visit the mud-brick Illahun pyramid built for 12th-dynasty Pharaoh Senwosret II, and the mud-brick Hawara pyramid built for 12th-dynasty Pharaoh Amenemhet III. Check-in to our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the 5-star Helnan Auberge Fayoum for two nights. (B,L,D)

Thursday, February 18: Fayoum Oasis: Kom Aushim, Tunis pottery village
This morning we drive to Kom Aushim (ancient Karanis), the site of a Greco-Roman town with two well-preserved temples, one of which (from the 1st century B.C.) was dedicated to two crocodile gods. Explore its recently-opened site museum and an open-air display of columns and statuary from Kiman Faris (Middle Kingdom Crocodilopolis). After lunch in the charming town of Tunis, on the edge of Lake Qaroun, we visit Tunis’s pottery-making village which comprises a number of workshops that create and display their handmade ceramics. Return to our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Friday, February 19: Al Minya | Beni Hasan
This morning we drive to Al Minya, about 150 miles south of Cairo, which offers a glimpse into the unhurried, traditional life along the Nile that has persisted for millennia. Arrive at our hotel, have lunch, and then drive to the east bank to visit the necropolis of Beni Hasan, known for its 39 rock-cut tombs of 11th– and 12th-dynasty officials. We will undertake an invigorating climb up broad, deep steps to explore some of the tombs in the limestone cliff face. Some of the tombs feature well-preserved paintings of dancing, acrobatics, juggling, fishing, hunting, and weaving. Return to our hotel in Al Minya, and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the 4-star Grand Aton Hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)

Saturday, February 20: Tuna el-Gebel | Al Minya: Malawi Museum
Drive south this morning to Tuna el-Gebel, a necropolis with tombs that date from the Late Period to the Ptolemaic era, as well as huge catacombs for thousands of mummified ibises and baboons, both of which were considered incarnations of Thoth, the god of writing and wisdom. One of its more fascinating tombs is that of Petosiris, which features lively scenes of daily life and ritual that combine Egyptian, Greek, and Persian artistic styles. The site also includes the ruins of a Christian basilica, and Roman waterworks with a 100-foot-deep well and a water wheel. Recent excavations by a joint Egyptian-German team have uncovered a series of tombs and a mud-brick structure from the Ptolemaic era with more than 50 rooms. Back in Al Minya we visit the Malawi Museum, whose exhibits of regional artifacts include some from the sites of Tuna el-Gebel and Tell el-Amarna (which we visit tomorrow). Return to our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Sunday, February 21: Tell el-Amarna | Abydos
Set out today for Abydos, stopping along the way to visit Tell el-Amarna, once called Akhetaton (“horizon of the sun”). The controversial pharaoh Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV) built the city on the Nile’s east bank in the late 18th dynasty, to replace Thebes (modern Luxor) as capital. He established Amarna as the first monotheistic community in ancient Egypt, worshipping the god Aton (the sun). The site today comprises temples, palaces, houses, and more than 25 tombs at the base of a cliff. We will visit some of the richly-decorated rock-cut tombs of the nobles which feature scenes of life in the ancient city, represented in the lively style of the Amarna period. Continue driving south to Abydos and check-in to our simple but conveniently-located hotel. Overnight at the House of Life Abydos hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)

Monday, February 22: Abydos: Shunet es-Zebib, Kom-el-Sultan, Temple of Seti I, Osireion
Abydos is one of the oldest and most important ancient cities in Egypt, and AIA lecturer Stephen Harvey has worked here for over 25 years.  We will take an in-depth look at this vast site today and tomorrow morning. Begin today with a visit to Shunet es-Zebib, one of the oldest standing massive brick structures in the world, the architecture of which points to some features of later structures, like the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara. Next explore Kom el-Sultan, another large, Early Dynastic Period mud-brick structure, which includes an early Temple of Osiris where excavations have revealed hundreds of stelae yielding information about the cult of Osiris. The only known statue of Khufu was found here, and recently a portal temple to Ramesses II was excavated. After lunch we will visit the spectacular Temple of Seti I, where was discovered the “Abydos King List”—the long, invaluable list of pharaohs of the principal dynasties (as recognized by Seti) that was inscribed on a wall. The temple also has seven chapels with exquisite reliefs. We will also be granted private access to the intriguing, subterranean Osireion (symbolic tomb of Osiris), accessible via a 420-foot-long passageway and centered around a burial chamber that was once surrounded by water. Return to our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, February 23: Abydos | Dendara | Luxor
Return to Abydos this morning to visit the Temple of Ramesses II, with the impressive reliefs of the Battle of Kadesh on its exterior walls and delicately preserved paint colors. After lunch we drive to Luxor, stopping en route at the Temple of Hathor at Dendara, which has recently been extensively restored, revealing its startlingly well-preserved painted astronomical ceiling and reliefs. Continue driving to Luxor, where we settle in at our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the 5-star Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor Hotel (Old Wing) for three nights. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, February 24: Ramesseum | Medinet Habu
This morning we drive across the Nile to the west bank to visit the Ramesseum, the funerary temple of Ramesses II (“The Great”). It is known for its 57-foot-tall seated statue of Ramesses II (of which huge fragments remain), the subject of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias.” It is also renowned for its reliefs, including those depicting the Battle of Kadesh, the Syrian wars, and the Festival of Min. Continue to the best-preserved temple of ancient Thebes: Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses III. It dates from the early 18th dynasty and, besides its impressive size and architectural features, it includes famous reliefs depicting the defeat of the Sea Peoples during Ramesses III’s reign. A Coptic church was later established in the second courtyard of the mortuary temple. Return to Luxor and gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Thursday, February 25: El-Tod | El-Mo’alla
A short drive along the east bank of the Nile brings us to a lesser-visited site, the Temple of Montu (the falcon-headed god of war) at El-Tod. Its surviving monuments date back to the New Kingdom and Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The main temple was begun by Ptolemy VIII and consists of a columned court and hall with various chambers, several with excellent reliefs, as well as a hidden treasury room above the chapel. The Tod Treasure, discovered in 1936 and today in the Louvre Museum in Paris, features a series of silver vessels, many in Aegean style, which demonstrate connections to the Bronze Age Minoan culture, as well as exotic items made of lapis lazuli. Another short drive south takes us to a desolate, windswept desert cliff along the Nile’s east bank with many ancient tombs. Here, at El-Mo’alla, the small, decorated tomb of Ankhtifi, a 9th-dynasty provincial governor and warlord, features an important autobiographical inscription as well as interesting scenes painted in a charming provincial style that reflect the collapse of central government. Return to Luxor and gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Friday, February 26: Luxor: At leisure | Fly to Cairo
After a morning lecture, and aside from lunch, the afternoon is at leisure for independent pursuits. You might enjoy the property and amenities of our historic hotel (there are lovely gardens and a swimming pool); visit Luxor Temple, adjacent to our hotel; or explore the nearby Luxor bazaar. Late this afternoon we transfer to Luxor’s airport in time for our short flight to Cairo. Upon arrival, we check-in to our luxurious and convenient airport hotel. Overnight at the 5-star Le Méridien Cairo Airport Hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)

Saturday, February 27: Cairo: Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Al-Azhar Park, Khan el-Khalili bazaar | Farewell dinner
This morning we visit the 9th-century Mosque of Ibn Tulun, which is both Cairo’s largest mosque in terms of area and oldest mosque in its original form. Enjoy lunch in Al-Azhar Park, created by the Aga Khan Foundation, a glorious public space with green areas, lakes, fountains, and views of Islamic Cairo. End the day at the Khan el-Khalili bazaar for some last-minute shopping. This evening we gather with our AIA lecturer, Egyptology guide, and Tour Manager for a cocktail reception and farewell dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Sunday, February 28: Fly home or Fly to Amman, Jordan
Check out this morning and enter the airport (our hotel has direct access to Terminal 3 via footbridge) to catch flights homeward OR to Amman, Jordan (for those on the post-tour extension). (B)

Pre-Tour Siwa Oasis & Alexandria (February 7-14, 2021 – 8 days)

Follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great between his namesake city of Alexandria, which he founded in 332 B.C., and the legendary Siwa Oasis, where he famously consulted the Oracle of Amun. You will set out from Cairo for an excursion to significant sites from WWII, and then go back in time as you travel from the beautiful, white sand beach of Marsa Matruh, where Alexander is said to have stopped en route to the Siwa Oasis, to the Oasis itself. Highlights include:
• Visits to Siwa Oasis’s Oracle of Amun temple ruins and to Gebel Al Mawta’s rock-cut tombs, with wall paintings from the 26th dynasty to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods
• Two nights’ accommodation at a unique and beautiful eco-lodge at the Siwa Oasis, built in the indigenous mud- and rock salt style, with the chance to float in the local lake that is as salty as the Dead Sea
• Two nights in cosmopolitan Alexandria, on the Mediterranean Sea coast, where we visit the historically-comprehensive Alexandria National Museum; the architecturally-stunning Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a modern interpretation of the famous ancient library; Kom al-Dikka, the ruins of the only Roman amphitheater in Egypt; and impressive tombs such as Kom el-Shuqafa, which display both Pharaonic and Roman elements.
• Enjoy fine accommodations and meals, plus travel and learn with your AIA lecturer/host Stephen Harvey (with 6 or more participants) and an excellent local guide.

Post-Tour Extension (February 28-March 5, 2021 – 6 days)

Jordan is home to great cultural wonders, warm and hospitable people, and stunning desert and mountain landscapes. On this itinerary you will explore superb ancient and early Christian sites, as well as the modern Arab city of Amman.
• Marvel at the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, which was carved into the rose-red desert sandstone more than 2,000 years ago and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Take a city tour of Amman, including its Citadel, old Roman city, and the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which provides a wonderful introduction to the country’s people and culture through all periods.
• Explore the impressive Roman ruins of Jerash, nestled in a green, fertile valley.
• Visit Madaba, which contains the most impressive work of art to survive from the mid-6th century: a mosaic map of the ancient Holy Land, the oldest one in existence.
• Drive through Wadi Rum Protected Area, a mixed cultural/natural UNESCO World Heritage site, whose spectacular, varied landscapes are dotted with petroglyphs and archaeological ruins.
• Enjoy fine accommodations and meals, including a home-hosted lunch and a traditional Bedouin lunch, plus travel and learn with archaeologist Barbara Porter (with 6 or more participants) and an excellent local guide, making this an exceptional opportunity to witness some of Jordan’s greatest highlights.


For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884).

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