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WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF ANCIENT EGYPT, HERE YOU CAN FIND OUT ABOUT THE COUNTRY, THE PEOPLE, THE MOVIES

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HISTORY

 

Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world and the second-most populous on the African Continent. Nearly 100% of the country's 58 million

 

people live in Cairo and Alexandria; elsewhere on the banks of the Nile; in the Nile delta, which fans out north of Cairo; and along the Suez Canal. These regions are among the world's most densely populated, containing an average of over 1,540 person per square kilometer (3,820 per sq. mi.).

 

Small communities spread throughout the desert regions of Egypt are clustered around oases and historic trade and transportation routes. The government has tried with mixed success to encourage migration to newly irrigated land reclaimed from the desert. However, the proportion of the population living in rural areas has continued to decrease as people move

to the cities in search of employment and a higher standard of living. The Egyptians are a fairly homogeneous people of Hamitic origin. Mediterranean

and Arab influences appear in the north, and there is some mixing in the south with the Nubians of northern Sudan. Ethnic minorities include a small number of Bedouin Arab nomads in the eastern and western deserts and in the Sinai, as well as some 50,000-100,000 Nubians clustered along the Nile in upper Egypt.

 

The literacy rate is about 48% of the adult population. Education is free through university and compulsory from ages six through 12. About 87% of

children enter primary school; half drop out after their sixth year. There are 20,000 primary and secondary schools with some 10 million students, 12

major universities with about 500,000 students, and 67 teacher colleges.

 

Major universities include Cairo University (100,000 students), Alexandria University, and the 1,000-year-old Al- Azhar University, one of the

world's major centers of Islamic learning. Egypt's vast and rich literature constitutes an important cultural element in the life of the country and in the Arab world as a whole. Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with new styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahjfouz was the first Arab to win the Nobel prize for literature.

 

Egyptian books and films are available throughout the Middle East.

 

Egypt has endured as a unified state for more than 5,000 years, and archeological evidence indicates that a developed Egyptian society has existed for much longer. Egyptians take pride in their "pharaonic heritage" and in their descent from what they consider mankind's earliest civilization. The Arabic word for Egypt is Misr, which originally connoted "civilization" or "metropolis." Archeological findings show that primitive tribes lived along the Nile long before the dynastic history of the pharaohs began. By 6000 B.C., organized agriculture had appeared.

 

In about 3100 B.C., Egypt was united under a ruler known as Mena, or Menes, who inaugurated the 30 pharaonic dynasties into which Egypt's

ancient history is divided--the Old and the Middle Kingdoms and the New Empire. For the first time, the use and managements of vital resources of

the Nile River came under one authority.

 

The pyramids at Giza (near Cairo) were built in the fourth dynasty, showing the power of the pharaonic religion and state. The Great Pyramid, the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops), is the only surviving example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power, wealth, and territorial extent in the period called the New Empire (1567-1085 B.C.). Authority was again centralized, and a number of military campaigns brought Palestine, Syria, and northern Iraq under Egyptian control.

 

Persian, Greek, Roman, and Arab Conquerors

 

In 525 B.C., Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, led a Persian invasion  force that dethroned the last pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty. The country remained a Persian province until Alexander the Great. The Roman/Byzantine rule of Egypt lasted for nearly 700 years. Following a brief Persian reconquest, Egypt was invaded and conquered by Arab forces in 642. A

process of Arabization and Islamization ensued. Although a Coptic Christian minority remained--and remains today, constituting about 10% of

the population--the Arab language inexorably supplanted the indigenous Coptic tongue. Ancient Egyptian ways--passed from pharaonic times through

the Persian, Greek, and Roman periods and Egypt's Christian era--were gradually melded with or supplanted by Islamic customs. For the next 1,300

years, a succession of Turkish, Arabic, Mameluke, and Ottoman caliphs, beys, and sultans ruled the country.

 

European Influence

 

Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in Egypt in 1798. The three-year sojourn in Egypt (1798-1801) of his army and a retinue of French scientists opened Egypt to direct Western influence. Napoleon's adventure awakened Great Britain to the importance of Egypt as a vital link with India and the Far  East and launched 150 years of Anglo-French rivalry over the region. An

 

Anglo-Ottoman invasion force drove out the French in 1801, and, following a period of chaos, the Albanian Mohammed Ali obtain control of the country. Ali ruled until 1849, and his successors retained at least nominal control of Egypt until 1952. He imported European culture and technology, introduced state organization of Egypt's economic life, improved education, and fostered training in engineering and medicine. His authoritarian rule was also marked by a series of foreign military  adventures. Ali's successors granted to the French Promoter, Ferdinand de Lesseps, a concession for construction of the Suez Canal--begun in 1859 and opened 10 years later.

 

Their regimes were characterized by financial mismanagement and personal extravagance that reduced Egypt to bankruptcy. These developments led to rapid expansion of British and French financial oversight. This produced popular resentment, which, in 1879, led to revolt. In 1882, British expeditionary forces crushed this revolt, marking the beginning of British

occupation and the virtual inclusion of Egypt within the British Empire.

 

During the rule of three successive British High Commissioners between 1883 and 1914, the British agency was the real source of authority. It established special courts to enforce foreign laws for foreigners residing in the country. These privileges for foreigners generated increasing declared a formal protectorate over Egypt on December 18, 1914. This lasted until 1922, when, in deference to growing nationalism, the U.K. unilaterally declared Egyptian independence. British influence, however, continued to dominate Egypt's political life and fostered fiscal, administrative, and governmental reforms.

 

In the post-independence period, three political forces competed with one another: the Wafd, a broadly based nationalist political organization strongly opposed to British influence; King Fuad, whom the British had installed during the war; and the British themselves, who were determined  to maintain control over the canal. Although both the Wafd and the King wanted to achieve independence from the British, they competed for control of Egypt. Other political forces emerging in this period included the communist party (1925) and the Muslim Brotherhood (1928), which eventually became a potent political and religious force.

 

During World War II, British troops used Egypt as a base for Allied operations throughout the region. British troops were withdrawn to the  Suez Canal area in 1947, but nationalist, anti-British feelings continued to grow after the war. Violence broke out in early 1952 between Egyptians and British in the canal area, and anti-Western rioting in Cairo followed.

 

On July 22-23, 1952, a group of disaffected army officers led by Lt. Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew King Farouk, whom the military blamed for

Egypt's poor performance in the 1948 war with Israel. Following a brief experiment with civilian rule, they abrogated the 1923 constitution and declared Egypt a republic on June 19, 1953. Nasser evolved into a

  charismatic leader, not only of Egypt but of the Arab world. Nasser and his "free officer" movement enjoyed almost instant legitimacy as liberators who had ended 2,500 years of foreign rule. They were motivated by numerous grievances and goals but wanted especially to break the economic and political power of the land-owning elite, to remove all vestiges of British control, and to improve the lot of the people, especially the fellahin (peasants).

 

A secular nationalist, Nasser developed a foreign policy characterized by advocacy of pan-Arab socialism, leadership of the "nonaligned" of the "Third World," and close ties with the Soviet Union. He sharply opposed the Western-sponsored Baghdad Pact. When the United States held up military sales in reaction to Egyptian neutrality vis-a-vis Moscow, Nasser

concluded an arms deal with Czechoslovakia in September 1955. When the U.S. and the World Bank withdrew their offer to help finance the Aswan

 

High Dam in mid-1956, he nationalized the privately owned Suez Canal  Company. The crisis that followed, exacerbated by growing tensions with Israel over guerrilla attacks from Gaza and Israeli reprisals, resulted in the invasion of Egypt that October by France, Britain, and Israel.

 

While Egypt was defeated, the invasion forces were quickly withdrawn under heavy pressure from the U.S. The Suez war (or, as the Egyptians call it,

the Tripartite Aggression) accelerated Nasser's emergence as an Egyptian and Arab hero.

 

He soon after came to terms with Moscow for the financing of the Aswan High Dam--a step that enormously increased Soviet involvement in Egypt and

set Nasser's Government on a policy of close ties with the Soviet Union.

 

In 1958, pursuant to his policy of pan-Arabism, Nasser succeeded in uniting Egypt and Syria into the United Arab Republic. Although this union had failed by 1961, it was not officially dissolved until 1984. Nasser's

domestic policies were arbitrary, frequently oppressive, and yet generally popular. All opposition was stamped out, and opponents of the regime frequently were imprisoned without trial. Nasser's foreign and military policies, among other things, helped provoke the Israeli attack of June 1967 that virtually destroyed Egypt's armed forces along with those of Jordan and Syria. Israel also occupied the Sinai peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Nasser, nonetheless, was revered by the masses in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world until his death in 1970.

 

After Nasser's death, another of the original "free officers," Vice President Anwar el-Sadat, was elected President. In 1971, Sadat concluded a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union but, a year later, ordered Soviet advisers to leave. In 1973, he launched the October war with Israel, in which Egypt's armed forces achieved initial successes but were defeated in Israeli counterattacks. 

 

Camp David and the Peace Process

 

In a momentous change from the Nasser era, President Sadat shifted Egypt from a policy of confrontation with Israel to one of peaceful accommodation through negotiations. Following the Sinai Disengagement

 

Agreements of 1974 and 1975, Sadat created a fresh opening for progress by his dramatic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977. This led to President

Jimmy Carter's invitation to President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to join him in trilateral negotiations at Camp David. The outcome was the historic Camp David accords, signed by Egypt and Israel and witnessed by

the U.S. on September 17, 1978. The accords led to the March 26, 1979, signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, by which Egypt regained control

of the Sinai in May 1982. Throughout this period, U.S.-Egyptian relations steadily improved, but Sadat's willingness to break ranks by making peace

with Israel earned him the enmity of most other Arab states.

 

In domestic policy, Sadat introduced greater political freedom and a new economic policy, the most important aspect of which was the infitah or

"open door." This relaxed government controls over the economy and encouraged private investment. Sadat dismantled much of the policy apparatus and brought to trial a number of former government officials

accused of criminal excesses during the Nasser era.

 

Liberalization also included the reinstitution of due process and the legal banning of torture. Sadat tried to expand participation in the political process in the mid-1970s but later abandoned this effort. In the last years of his life, Egypt was racked by violence arising from discontent with Sadat's rule and sectarian tensions, and it experienced a renewed measure of repression.

 

On October 6, 1981, President Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists. Hosni Mubarak, Vice President since 1975 and air force commander during the October 1973 war, was elected President later that month. He was re-elected to a second term in October 1987 and to a third term in October 1993. Mubarak has maintained Egypt's commitment to the Camp David peace process, while at the same time re-establishing Egypt's position as an Arab leader. Egypt was readmitted to the Arab League in 1989. Egypt has also played a moderating role in such international fora as the UN and the Nonaligned Movement. Mubarak was elected chairman of the Organization of African Unity in 1989, and again at the OAU summit in Cairo in June 1993. Domestically, since 1991, Mubarak has undertaken an ambitious reform program to reduce the size of the public sector and expand the role of the private sector. There has also been a democratic opening and increased participation in the political process by opposition groups. The November 1990 National Assembly elections saw 61 members of the opposition win seats in the 454-seat assembly, despite a boycott by several opposition parties citing possible manipulation by Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP). The opposition parties have been weak and   divided and are not yet credible alternatives to the NDP.

 

Freedom of the press has increased greatly. While concern remains that economic problems could promote increasing dissatisfaction with the government, President Mubarak enjoys broad support. For several years, domestic political debate in Egypt has been concerned with the phenomenon of "Political Islam," a movement which seeks to establish a state and

society governed strictly by Islamic doctrine. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is legally proscribed but operates more or less openly. Egyptian law, however, prohibits the formation of religion-based

political parties. Members of the Brotherhood have been elected to the People's Assembly as independents and have been elected to local councils as candidates on the Socialist Labor Party ticket.

 

 

Egyptian populous divided into four cultural groups  consisting of Copts, Bedouins, Nubians and Egyptian peasants, or fallahin.

 

Upon closer examination, fallahins are presented basically as farmers living in villages. Perhaps this is a correct and traditional definition of the word fallahin, but it was immediately apparent that this division of cultural groups was out of touch with reality, and showed no feeling for Egypt's true flavor.

 

Egypt is actually a wonderful and delightful mixture of traditions, with a

socioeconomic structure which allows, more and more, a gradient of classes. But one must look, and feel with the heart in order to touch this essence of Egypt.

 

A considerable amount, if not majority, of Egypt's population now live in larger cities, mostly Cairo and Alexandria. In fact, these two cities dominate the vision of most foreigners. They are vitally important to Egypt's culture, but one should not neglect the many other moderately sized cities. And within these cities there is a virtual kaleidoscope of social stratas. There are doubtless the poor, the recent fallahins come to the city, and the lower echelons of what we will call the commercial or merchant class. They are evident, and plentiful. But these businessmen merge into the middle class, and then upper middle class. More than a few become wealthy.

 

The travel books seem to neglect this broad range of Egyptian business

men. Some come from families who probably have ancient ties with trading,

but others are those fallahins who have found what they came looking for

in the city. Perhaps the poorest of these merchants, those who sell produce or bean meals in the streets might answer to the term fallahin, but I doubt that most would fall within any of the traditional cultural groups. They have a million faces, and also as many professions and trades. They make gold jewelry and copper pots, rugs, they paint, build buildings and fine pottery. They sell groceries at the corner market. They trade in tractors and water pumps, they are butchers and bakers, taxi drivers, and secretaries. And these days many of these people are simply Egyptian, not Coptic, not Nubian, not Bedouin and certainly not the traditional Fallahin.

 

But what is equally missing from most travel guide descriptions of the

Egyptian culture is a real feeling for the beauty of these marvelous cities. Here, one will find teenagers at McDonalds or Pizza Inn and making the local drag in their small Fiats. There, one will see brightly li streets with multicolored lights strung from the buildings so as to celebrate a birthday or a wedding. One will find a continuous stream of blaring horns, as a population perpetually late for some meeting scrambles about the city. But one may admire this madness from an armchair next to his favorite coffee shop, where he may be overcome by a feeling of tranquillity. It is often a culture of the back streets of small neighborhoods, particularly at night, where the television has not dispatched social accord. The residents of these small neighborhoods within these monstrous cities know each other well, and look out for one another.

 

It is also a moral culture, which these authors admire whole heartedly. In

a city the size of Cairo, there is virtually no crime rate. Many westerners believe that this is due to stiff punishment, but the real reason is the population's loyalty to their religious faith. The virtual absence of drinking and drugs among the local population, prohibited by their Islamic law and enforced by their own piety, surely has much to do with this. When one ceases judging cultures purely from the standpoint of material wealth, and begins to see the humanistic success of the Egyptian culture, it is difficult for a person of any religious persuasion not to develop a deep respect for Islam. 

 

THE FALLAHIN

 

The rural peasants provided the pharaohs with both the manpower to build their majestic monuments and the food to support the workers. Even today, the fallahin wrest two or three crops from their tiny fields in a futile

attempt to feed Egypt's ever-expanding population. These farmers live in

small villages, often settled by their Pharaonic ancestors, scattered along the Nile.

 

Egyptian Villages

 

Most of the inhabitants live in mud-brick homes, their thick walls

insulating against the afternoon heat. Flat roofs, exposed to the northern evening breezes, serve as cool sleeping quarters as well as storage areas.

 

Villagers plaster the outer walls and often trim them in blue, a color they believe wards off the evil eye. As a man becomes richer, he can add a

second story to his house perhaps for his married son. Those villagers who have made the journey to Mecca paint the legend of their trip on the outer walls of their homes. Such hajj houses, along with the mosques, are the

most distinguished buildings in a village.

 

Some villagers build ornate pigeon coops close to their homes, using the

birds as food and their droppings to fertilize crops. Many houses still have dirt floors and lack electricity or running water; women with jars balanced on their heads make the trek to the community well, and children with donkeys haul the precious liquid in jerry cans. All this said, government sponsored building programs have also brought newer style residences and utilities to some villages, particularly those outside the Nile Valley in the Oases and the Red Sea coastal areas.

 

Family Life

 

Egyptians dote on their children, who as they grow up quickly, take on

adult duties. The younger ones start by herding sheep and goats. When the boys reach nine or 10, they begin learning how to farm the land that will

eventually be theirs. Young girls feed chickens, milk goats and water buffalo (gamoosa), make the dung patties used for fuel, and fetch water.

 

At an early age, they learn to carry loads on their heads; starting with lightweight items such as bread loaves, they graduate to laundry, and then to large clay water jars. Their work gives them a grace of carriage that

remains with them throughout their lives.

 

In Egyptian extended families, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins

all feel clan obligations, and these ties unite them in good times and bad. If an individual's crops fail, all relatives contribute from their own supplies. If an animal is fatally injured, the fallahin will slaughter it and each family within the clan will buy a portion, thus sharing the meat and contributing to the cost of replacing the animal. The clan elders arbitrate disagreements, even those between husbands and wives, and give opinions that range from farming techniques to religious obligations. 

 

Dress

 

Outside her home, a married woman traditionally wears a black outer dress over her brightly colored housedress and covers her hair with a long veil, which often sweeps the ground behind her. She wears her dowry of gold necklaces and silver bracelets and anklets, insurance against poverty if

her husband divorces her or she becomes widowed. Her husband dresses in a long robe (galabayya), cotton in summer and wool in winter. He often

covers his head with a scarf wound like a turban and in the winter adds a

wool jacket. The robes of both sexes cover the entire body, but their looseness allows a cooling circulation of air and serves as insulation.

 

Although the black garments of the women heat up slightly quicker than the paler galabayyas, both, contrary to popular belief, maintain about the

same temperature.

 

Food

 

At the end of the working day, rural Egyptians return to their villages, the fallahin leading his water buffalo or riding his donkey. A peaceful quiet settles over the mud-brick houses as families gather for their evening meal. Village women once spent much of their lives cooking, but today, they are equal partners in relationships and take a growing and active role in society. They bake their aysh (bread) in clay ovens of ancient pattern, making both an unleavened type and aysh shams (sun bread), which they set in the sun to rise. The main meal consist of rice, ful beans, and vegetables. For special occasions (if meat is available), they will fix fattah, a dish with layers of bread, rice, and meat seasoned  with vinegar and garlic and garnished with yogurt and nuts. The fallahin eat with bread rather than knives and forks, tearing the round loaf into finger-sized portions and dipping them into the serving dishes.

 

 

Feasts

 

On festival days, a village is anything but quiet. To celebrate the mulid

(saint's day) of the village, the entire population turns out; the children sample the carnival rides and the adults visit, watch horse races, and take part in the rituals. During weddings, the village women decorate the bride with designs of henna, and after the wedding, whole villages accompany the bride and groom to their new home. The village women work together to prepare the ornate meals that accompany these celebrations. Isolation is inconceivable in an Egyptian village.

 

 

BEDOUIN

 

Wandering throughout Egypt's deserts, Bedouin nomads continually search for fresh grazing for their camels and goats and water for their families. They don't wander aimlessly, but return annually to various locations in their territory where the land and water can sustain them for the season. Little in the desert escapes the Bedouin's eye. He knows where and when he can find water and whether it's just brackish or toxic; shrubs tell him when it last rained and how much. Signs left in the sand proclaim who has been there before him, when, the directions from which they came and departed, the size of their flocks, and perhaps even the ages of their camels. Bedouins navigate by the stars, familiar landmarks, and stone markers left on a previous trek. They travel light, leaving caches hanging in trees. Other travelers, if in need, are welcome to the food and water but are bound not to touch the remaining articles.

 

Clothes

 

The Bedouin dresses for the desert, his layered and flowing robes

absorbing the sun's hot rays while allowing cooling breezes to circulate. He winds a cloth around his head and neck to retard moisture loss that can  lead to heat stroke and to shield his face against the harsh, dry sand. Women wear black dresses and head covers embroidered in tiny cross-stitch designs: blue for unmarried women, red for married. They cover their faces with a veil highlighted in the same stitches and often decorated with shells and coins. 

 

Homes

 

Bedouin live in tents of goat and camel hair panels that the women have

woven on their narrow ground looms and stitched together. When the tribe moves, the Bedouin wife is in charge of dismantling the tent, packing it on the camels, and reassembling it a the new site. She can roll up the sides so that the cool breeze enters, or stake them down, making it secure in a sand storm. In case of divorce, the tent belongs to the woman, while the man takes his domestic animals and leaves.

 

 

Nomadic Life

 

The Bedouin band into small, tightly knit tribes, and their leaders, picked for their wisdom and judgment, retain their positions by finesse and largesse, for their proud Bedouin brethren would find direct commands insulting. To the Bedouin, hospitality is mandatory, and guests are elcomed to a tent for three days and three nights. The teapot or coffee pot is always on for either kinsman or stranger. In exchange, the host expects conversation, for the Bedouin thus keeps abreast of the news.

 

If water is far away, the men and boys make the trip with camels, bringing

it back in goatskins. They also go into the nearest town to exchange news

and barter, trading rugs, cheese, milk, goats, and camels for cloth, jewelry, rifles, flour, rice, tea, sugar, and coffee.

Modern inroads into the desert are changing the Bedouin's life. Over the

past, some rulers of Egypt have provided farm land to the Bedouin, and

encouraged their settlement. Many families have settled, building houses,

and the handmade tents are disappearing. Trucks bring water in 100-gallon

barrels and move goats to pasture. The Bedouin is investing in land and

businesses, and sending his sons to school in Cairo and Alexandria and the

nearby governorates, where more higher institutes and universities were

set up recently. Although he still keeps himself apart from the sedentary Egyptian, his ancient desert lifestyle is vanishing; the Toyota pickup is steadily replacing the camel.

 

THE NUBIANS

 

Dark-skinned Nubians inhabit the narrow valley south of Aswan. Although modern studies have been unable to establish the ancestry of the Nubian people or trace changes in the race through history, they carry

predominantly Caucasian genes and appear unrelated to other Africans. These people once farmed the narrow margins of the river, planting palm groves along its edge. Hoisting triangular lateen sails above their boats, they hauled rock, transported villagers, and fished the clear, cold Nile.

 

A distinct group for centuries, the Nubians (called Medjy) served the pharaohs as traders and elite military forces. (Middle Kingdom models show

them marching in precise rows bearing shields and bows or spears.) During

the Late Period, Nubians traveled north, invading Luxor to reestablish

 

lassical Pharaonic culture.

 

For centuries, the Nubians have taken great pride in their unique culture, refusing to intermarry, and in spite of centuries of inbreeding, the population shows little ill effect--weak traits must have been eliminated generations ago. In modern times, their pride has led to valiant attempts to maintain their village life even when nearly all of the men worked and lived hundreds of kilometers to the north. Today, transplanted from the lands inundated by the waters of Lake Nasser, these hard-working people re attempting to revive their culture in the face of economic and social pressures.

 

 

Village Life

 

Originally Nubian villages were closely knit, celebrating births and

marriages with village-wide festivals, rituals that always included the river. The newborn child was washed in its life-giving flow, and at circumcision his foreskin was tossed as offering into the river. A bride and groom bathed separately in the fertile waters on the eve of their marriage, then again at dawn, together. After a death, at the end of mourning, the women came to the waters to wash from their faces the mud and blue dye that had been their badge of sorrow, and offer henna and perfume to the spirits of the river. Although the Nubians converted first to Christianity and then to Islam, beliefs in the water angels persist, and the people continue to petition these spirits for favors and blessings.

 

 

Dislocations

 

he Nubian lifestyle suddenly changed when the British built the first

Aswan dam in 1902. Its rising forebay drowned their durra plants, choked their date palms, and swallowed their mosques and homes, forcing the people to rebuild their villages higher up the barren slopes. They attempted to cultivate the new banks of the river, but the sandy soil lacked fertile silt and production levels fell. Many of the men left their families to seek work in the towns, traveling as far as Cairo.

 

The dam was raised three times within 75 years, ultimately sending over

85% of the Nubian men north to find work. The women and children left

behind attempted to maintain the village customs, but with husbands and fathers returning only a couple of times a year, traditional rites and festivals were often abandoned. In smaller ways, too, their lifestyle continued to change: tin pots, aluminum pans, and plastic plates replaced woven baskets, for the date palms that had supplied the fronds were now under the lake. The flat roofs, once supported by palm trunks, gave way to vaulted domes, and even dates themselves, a staple of the Nubian diet, had to be imported. Although some villagers had earlier moved to Aswan, the High Dam forced a

final exodus of the Nubians. When 50,000 trekked north, they could at last claim fertile land. Although living in an alien culture, they were no longer solely dependent on wages sent from the cities; families could bring their men home again. Thanks to government programs, the Nubians who have now settled around Aswan and Kom Ombo face a more promising future.

 

Although many Nubian men still work in the cities, the demand for domestic

help (jobs Nubians frequently filled) has nearly vanished, and they now can be found running some of the small shops ubiquitous in Egypt, driving cabs, or sailing faluccas. Others have opted for an education, and Nubians with college degrees make up part of Egypt's educated elite.