, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 The Deserts of Egypt | Walking Through Egypt ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

May 27, 2012

The Deserts of Egypt | Walking Through Egypt

The Deserts of Egypt
A map of the world’s vegetation zones does not tell the whole story of Egypt’s geography. Sand-colored ‘desert’ covers the whole of North Africa and Egypt. Yet Egypt is verdant and fertile enough to feed its large population. How is this? The Nile Valley is not marked on such a map, but as one walks above the old flood plain of the Nile, the fertile land melts into near-desert and then the desert of the map. It is only continuous labor that keeps the land so verdant. Before the internal combustion engine and the paved road, the camel gave people access to the desert, though often with great discomfort and with danger. But though the desert was “dreary and solemn,” it fed the mind and spirit of the traveler in a way that the city seldom could.

Egyptian Desert
The Caravan to Mecca Starts, 1836
John Lloyd Stephens
It was worth my ride to see the departure of the caravan. It consisted of more than thirty thousand pilgrims, who had come from the shores of the Caspian, the extremities of Persia, and the confines of Africa; and having assembled, according to usage for hundreds of years, at Cairo as a central point, the whole mass was getting in motion for the pilgrimage of fifty days, through dreary sands, to the tomb of the Prophet.

Accustomed as I was to associate the idea of order and decorum with observance of all rites and duties of religion, I could not but feel surprised at the noise, tumult and confusion, the strifes and battles of these pilgrim travellers. If I had met them in the desert after their line of march was formed, it would have been an imposing spectacle, and comparatively easy to describe; but here, as far as the eye could reach, they were scattered over the sandy plain, thirty thousand people, with probably twenty thousand camels and dromedaries, men, women and children, beasts and baggage, all commingled in a confused mass that seemed hopelessly inextricable. Some had not yet struck their tents, some were making coffee, some smoking, some cooking, some eating, many shouting and cursing, others on their knees praying, and others, again, hurrying on to join the long moving stream that already extended several miles into the desert.


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