Philadelphia’s Great Museums – and their Ancient Egypt Connections

Four amazing places to experience Ancient Egypt in Philadelphia

By Laura Ranieri

What do you think of when you think Philadelphia? Philly steak? Ben Franklin? Rocky climbing those steps? Sure – but I bet you didn’t know that Franklin was not just a founding father of America, but also founder of one of America’s very first museums in 1743: The American Philosophical Society which still exists. Bet you also didn’t know that Philadelphia is also a great destination for those interested in Ancient Near Eastern history – and Ancient Egypt! But it is! Oh – and those Rocky steps actually belong to the stunning Philadelphia Fine Arts Museum in the heart of the cultural district. Though Balboa was not likely to have been a culture vulture, those of you who are will especially love this city. Philly is a mecca for museum geeks. Continue reading Philadelphia’s Great Museums – and their Ancient Egypt Connections

The Safety of Egypt Travel Today

The Safety of Egypt Travel Today: A rambling answer to that age-old question: “Is Egypt safe?”

By Laura Ranieri, co-Director of Ancient Egypt Alive

Is it ok to travel to Egypt, in this age of terrorism? I suppose it would be foolish for me to say – yes you WILL be safe. Because who can guarantee safety anywhere in the world today? How about a ride on the St. Petersburg subway – or a stroll across Westminster bridge? What I can say is this: I have been to Egypt every year since 2010, without incident. I personally believe you will be as safe going to Egypt as you would be going to many cities in the United States and Europe today – including Paris, London, New York, LA, Chicago, Berlin, Munich, Brussels, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nice, etc! The alternative? To stay home and watch Netflix, I suppose. Even Florida – long considered a safe holiday haven for families – saw that horrific nightclub attack in recent years.

Unlike most European and North American cities, Egypt is very admirably on high alert – with high security everywhere. It should be reassuring to know that they are taking no chances with tourists, whose protection is considered their number one priority. The armed police are there to ensure your Egypt safety each step of the way, and that’s a good thing. You are WELL protected – as long as you do nothing silly – like decide to take a car out into the Sinai or push your way to the front of a political protest at Tahrir. The reality is, a majority of violent incidents in Egypt recently have specifically targeted the police and authorities. The large Coptic churches have also, sadly, been recent targets. Continue reading The Safety of Egypt Travel Today

Your Pharaoh’s Moustache

Celebrating Movember in the Old Kingdom


by Laura Ranieri

Ask most Egyptologists and they will attest to the ubiquitous appearance of small moustaches on some of the tomb reliefs and statuary of the Old Kingdom.  This personal “manly” style  is unique in the long march of Egyptian history – as if, from the 3rd through 6th Dynasty, many fashionable dudes in Egypt– from Kings to commoners,  were celebrating Movember!




Continue reading Your Pharaoh’s Moustache

The Gifted Qiftys: Workers at the Heart of Egyptian Archaeology

Farouk family at home in Coptos
Farouk family at home in Coptos August 2014

 They are chosen by Pharaoh – and have a century of excavation triumphs to proudly proclaim. They are the ones who still today find long-forgotten colossi under the sand – and untold treasures time forgot. Their dry weathered hands and keen eyes serve to piece together new chapters in the evolving story of the ancient Egyptians. They are the Qiftis, hailing from the area of Qift or ‘Coptos’ in Middle Egypt. It was Flinders Petrie who recognized their special excavation talents and first employed them more than 100 years ago. The ancestors of these first Qifty Reis’s still work in leading roles on the top archaeology projects across Egypt today – from European to American and Egyptian-run missions. Continue reading The Gifted Qiftys: Workers at the Heart of Egyptian Archaeology

Ir Hrw Nfr: Let’s Make Holiday …and Sow Seeds

Sowing Season: Peret
Sowing Season: Peret

By Laura Ranieri






Ir Hrw nfr! In ancient Egypt this meant – Make Holiday! It is indeed that time of year.

For the Egyptians, the onset of dark winter was also a time of light and rebirth. It was the beginning of the season when the Nile waters receded leaving a fertile layer of black silt ready to receive new seeds. Peret – the season of the emergence – lasted 120 days roughly equivalent to our winter. During this time they ploughed their fields and planted their crops. Everything for them was a circle – life, death, rebirth – and the three distinct seasons of their calendar year.

Continue reading Ir Hrw Nfr: Let’s Make Holiday …and Sow Seeds