Egypt looks to ancient finds to bring tourists back

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In Egypt, workers dig and remove sand to create new opening in busy neighborhood archaeological site outside Cairo. They are at the foot of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, probably the oldest in the world. pyramid. This new excavation found many other artifacts.

As the world slowly recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, Egypt has been trying for months to persuade visitors to come to its archaeological sites and museums. Officials hope the new find will attract visitors – and their money.

But like other countries, Egypt continues to fight the coronavirus. It is struggling to get its population vaccinated. In early May, the government announced that one million people had been vaccinated, although the number is currently higher.

Meanwhile, officials continued to let the world know about their new findings.

In November, archaeologists announced the discovery of at least 100 coffins dating from the late Pharaonic period and the Greco-Ptolemaic era. They also found 40 gold-covered statues believed to have been buried 2,500 years ago. A month earlier, they discovered 57 additional coffins at the same location, the Saqqara necropolis which includes the Step Pyramid.

“Saqqara is a treasure,” Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany told The Associated Press. He estimated that only 1% of the treasures hidden there have been found.

In April, Zahi Hawass, the best-known Egyptian archaeologist, announced the discovery of a 3,000-year-old lost city in southern Luxor. It has the remains of houses, tools and other artifacts that date to Amenhotep III of the 18e dynasty. He reigned from 1390 to 1353 BC. It was the golden age of Egypt.

This discovery was followed by a televised parade celebrating the move of the 22 mummies in their new home: the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. It is a large new building just south of the capital.

The city of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea is popular with visitors and is now home to a new archaeological museum. Cairo International Airport is also home to a new museum. Officials said they plan to open the new Grand Egyptian Museum next to the Pyramids of Giza by January. Prices for entering archaeological sites have been lowered, as have the cost of visas to enter the country.

In 2019, foreign visitors brought the country an estimated $ 13 billion, as 13.1 million people came to visit its museums and archaeological sites.

But in 2020, only 3.5 million foreign visitors came, Minister el-Anany said. He added that the number of visitors had increased in the first months of 2021, but gave no exact figure.

“Egypt is a perfect country destination for post-COVID, ”el-Anany said, adding that most places to visit are“ open air ”.

It is not clear, however, whether Egypt has the virus under control.

It has recorded more than 15,000 deaths and still records more than a thousand new cases every day. The numbers are considered by many to be much higher. Officials have arrested doctors and others who question the government’s actions or numbers.

Egypt closed its borders completely until the summer of 2020, but then welcomed visitors again. They were first allowed to visit the cities of the Red Sea. Now, they can go to the heart of the country: Cairo and the Nile Valley which is home to most of its famous archaeological sites. Visitors still need a COVID-19 test result to enter the country.

Amanda, a 39-year-old Austrian, returned to Egypt in May. It was his second visit in four years.

“Once they opened, I came,” she said. “It was my dream to see the Pyramids again.”

I am Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learn English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.

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Words in this story

archeology – not. the study of past human life and activities by examining the bones, tools, etc., of ancient peoples

pyramid – not. a large structure with a three- or four-sided base and sides that meet at a point at the top

artifact – not. an object (such as a tool or weapon) that has been made by people in the past

coffin – not. a box in which a corpse is buried

dynasty – not. a series of leaders from the same family

Mummy – not. a corpse covered in cloth, especially from ancient Egypt

destination – not. the place where someone or something goes

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