, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 El Mamura at Alexandria Egypt ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

March 24, 2012

El Mamura at Alexandria Egypt

Just two miles east of El Mamura lies Abu Qir, the scene of a famous battle. On August 1, 1798, Admiral Nelson of the British fleet, defeated Napoleon’s navy after a major sea-battle. This established British naval supremacy. One of the islands along the coast is named Nelson Island in commemoration of the battle and its commander. It was while Napoleon’s engineers were stationed forty miles east of Alexandria at Rosetta that they discovered the famous Rosetta Stone in 1799. Today Abu Qir is a tiny fishing village with a fine beach and numerous restaurants which serve delicious and really fresh fish. The village children will come and sell just-caught sea urchins to the guests in the restaurant. In front of their customers the children dexterously open the shells of the sea urchins which are as prickly as hedgehogs. This seafood tastes wonderful and is quite cheap.

Abu Qir Egypt
Back in the center of Alexandria is the Greco-Roman Museum. This is where I became entranced by the exhibits of beautiful Roman glass. Some of this glass had been hurried so long before being discovered that it had turned a silver color and now emits a strange iridescent light. Relics of Roman glass have been found in Lebanon and Syria as well as in Alexandria.

I lost my heart to one piece in particular. I found it in an antique shop next to the St. George Hotel in Beirut, but someone purchased it before I was able to do so. After tracking it for a number of years, I finally heard that it was located in an antique shop in of all places my hometown of Tokyo. Upon my return to Japan, I rushed to the shop only to find that once again the piece had eluded me; it had been purchased just a few months before during a department store exhibition. I still feel that my heart belongs to this particular object rather like an unrequited love and as a result I have lost interest in all other pieces of glass.

The increased traffic of military and merchant vessels in the harbor has created a noticeable increase in the amount of pollution in the waters off Alexandria. It is said that the waters of the harbor were once so clear that at it was possible to see the remains of the Pharos Lighthouse and its island on the seabed. This may be a folktale, but certainly today the harbor is very polluted. The really good swimming beaches are further west.

I once rented a house for the summer at the lovely health resort of Sidi Abdel Rahman. Few people visit this area and it was possible to lie awake at night hearing only the gentle lapping of the waves. The sea, a cobalt blue, washed up on silver-white beach. The area appeared to be untainted by pollution. However, after swimming or walking along the breakwater, I would be surprised to find little black smudges of oil, obviously discharged from ships, on the soles of my feet.

Halfway between this area and Alexandria is the famous battlefield of El Alamein, the scene of fierce fighting in the autumn of 1942 between General Montgomefy’s British troops and the soldiers of the Axis powers under General Rommel. The Axis powers lost this battle, and casualties on both sides amounted to 30,000. The struggle between these two forces is embodied in the present-day name of the place, the Arabic for “The Two Flags.” Under cloudless blue skies and amid the dusty yellow of the desert stretch the carefully tended cemeteries of the British, the Germans and the Italians. The El Alamein War Museum is also here with helmets, pistols, machine guns, flags, maps and the other materiel of the war. Old tanks stand in front of the museum.

A young Egyptian soldier named Wagidi, who showed me around, told me that land mines were still being found in the desert. “A few months ago,” he said, “someone stepped on one and was blown up and killed.” He went on to tell me that he had only been in the army a year but that he loathed war and wanted to study to become an agricultural engineer.

One of the exhibits I found most interesting. It was a scene reconstructed with life-sized dolls and depicted villagers of the area selling information to Rommel. According to Wagidi, a villager named Ali Heida, who was living in the Siwa Oasis was simultaneously selling information to Rommel and Montgomery. Ali Heida is still alive and occasionally shows up in El Alamein, bewailing his present fate and saying that he really made “quite a killing in the old days.”

During the Fourth Middle East War, tank battles more fierce than those in El Alamein took place on the Sinai Peninsula, between Israeli and Egyptian troops. Now, a little on the far side of El Alamein, an oil-drilling platform overlooks the cemeteries of the dead of the last world war. General Montgomery, the victor of El Alamein, received a dukedom from the British crown which carried the formal title of Lord Montgomery of Alamein. But the victor, too, has gone, dying peacefully at the end of a full life on March 24, 1976, at the age of eighty-eight.

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