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Week 8: 23–28 February

The last week of the Cairo Semester promised to be a week of “lasts”. It started with our “last” site visit and site presentation at Dahshur. The speaker of the day was Dean Adair, who gave us some information about the Bent and Red Pyramids both built by Snefru (Fig. 1). But the real adventure came when we entered the Bent Pyramid. Having only recently been opened for tourists, most of us had not yet been inside. After many stairs going down, followed by stairs going up, a short passage to crawl through, and finally a wooden scaffold (Fig. 2) we were greeted by the bats in Snefru's burial chamber. We took a short break to admire this incredible architectural structure and then left the pyramid the same way we got in.

Fig. 1: Our group at the satellite pyramid of the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur
Fig. 2: Inside the Bent Pyramid

A few head-bumps later, we saw daylight again and had a beautiful view over all the pyramids in the vicinity of Dahshur. We walked down the causeway of the pyramid towards the so-called valley temple, where the German mission had just started its work. (Fig. 3)

Fig. 3: Heading towards the 'Valley Temple'

Next stop was the Red Pyramid (Fig. 4). Why this pharaoh needed all these pyramids might be forever unknown, but it meant that we could enter yet another pyramid. However it seemed that our group was a lot smaller now. In the afternoon we got a taste of Egyptian hospitality when Sara invited us all for a lovely meal at her family’s home. As expected, the quantity of the food was overwhelming and delicious beyond imagination.

Fig. 4: Dean presenting at the Red Pyramid

On Monday the curse of the pharaoh had struck in the form of sore legs from climbing in and out of Snefru’s pyramids. Luckily we had two days of sitting and working on our final papers, although climbing the stairs in the library of the DAI seemed a rather difficult task for most students.

The “last” visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo took place on Wednesday, when it was time to present our work on the objects we chose to research in this museum (Fig. 5). It was a difficult goodbye, but fortunately we were about to invest a lot more time in our objects when finishing our paper the next two days.

Fig. 5: Final presentations at the Egyptian Museum

The “last” lecture of this semester at NVIC happened on Thursday evening, and it was clearly a success. Mennat-Allah El Dorry had triggered people’s interest with her enjoyable talk about the history of food in Egypt, and the room was filled well over capacity. A smooth transfer was made from the lecture room to the rooftop of NVIC, for our goodbye party with more food than we could eat. With this, the most painful “last” occurred: the “last” goodbye of this amazing group. That wrapped up the Cairo Semester for 2020. Students flew home the next few days, one by one, back to their families after seeing the “last” glances of the beautiful concrete jungle: Cairo, the place we called our home for the past two months. If you ask me, international friendships for life are formed here in Egypt and we will always have a reason to go to the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, Greece but most of all, to Egypt!

Lieve Verledens

Drawing by Eleonore Nicolai in her kashkul
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