Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Archaeology Travel Guide Egypt

From Alexander the Great to the Romans, from Napoleon and his scientific expeditions to Thomas Cook and his Nile Cruises, Egypt has been firing our imagination for centuries if not millennia. Whether it is the Pharaonic Abu Simbel in the south or the Ptolemaic Library of Alexandria in the north, the Red Sea coral reefs in the east or the oases amongst mammoth dunes of the White desert in the west, the possibilities for adventure are endless.

Reasons to Visit Egypt

Egypt. Cairo - Giza. General view of pyramids

Pharaonic Egypt,

Ibn Tulum mosque, Cairo, Egypt

Historic Mosques,

View at Hanging Coptic Church (El Muallaqa)in old Cairo, Egypt.

Coptic Churches,

Nile Cruise Sunset
… and Cruising the Nile.

Interesting Things to Know About Egypt

Officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, the modern nation state dates back to 22 February 1922, when the country gained independence from the British Empire. Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Great, part of the Roman Empire, occupied by various Arab caliphates, and also a province of the Ottoman Empire.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, notable structures from classical antiquity. The Great Pyramid, built in the 26th century BC as a tomb for pharaoh Khufu, is the only seven wonder to remain largely intact. At a height of just over 146 m, it was the tallest structure made by humans for over 3,800 years. 

The Battle of Kadesh, fought between the New Kingdom of Egypt under Ramses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II, is widely thought to be the earliest recorded battle in history. Generally accepted to have taken place in 1274 BC, at the modern Lebanon-Syria border, the discovery of Kadesh inscriptions, including the Egyptian-Hittite peace treaty, it is also thought to be the best documented battle in ancient times. The battle ended in a stalemate, but Ramses claimed victory, and depicted it as such in the temple of Abu Simbel.

The Nile River has historically been thought to be the longest river in the world. Now research suggests the Amazon River is slightly longer. The river has two major tributaries, the Blue Nile and the White Nile, that meet at Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. At the end of the 19th century the Aswan Low Dam was built at the first cataract of the Nile. Construction on a second, nearby dam began in 1960 – the Aswan High Dam. This created Lake Nasser, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. The Nile River played a key role in the development of ancient Egypt. A number of ancient temples were flooded by the dams, some of which have been recovered, including Philae and Abu Simbel, which are still on Egyptian soil. The temples of  Debod (Madrid), Dendur (New York) and Taffeh (Leiden) were gifted to those nations that assisted the Egyptians with the rescue of Au Simbel.

There is a lot more to Egypt that the spectacular remains of its ancient civilisations. The Red Sea is a popular tourist destination, and best known for diving and snorkelling. The Ras Muhammad National Park, not far from the resort of Sharm El Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsular, is protected against fishing and other commercial activities. Egypt also has a thriving film industry that dates back to the 1930s, with well known actors and directors, including Omar Sharif and Youssef Chahine.

Egypt Travel Tips

Etiquette & Ethics When Visiting Egypt
Visiting Egypt During Ramadan

Find Places to Visit in Egypt

Inspiration and Itineraries

Five Popular Attractions in Egypt

Pyramids Giza Necropolis

Giza Necropolis

The entrance gate of Military Museum of Saladin Citadel neighbors with the tall carved minaret of Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque, Cairo, Egypt.

Cairo Citadel

Valley Of The Kings Dawn

Valley of the Kings

Egyptian Museum Cairo

Egyptian Museum

The colssal statues of Ramses II at the Great Temple of Ramses at Abu Simbel against a brilliant blue sky.

Abu Simbel

Explore Egypt more deeply

Historic Cities in Egypt

What to See in Egypt

Deir el-Medina

On the West Bank of the Nile River at Luxor is the site of an ancient workmen’s village. It was here that workmen who were responsible for the construction o the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th Dynasties of the New Kingdom. These workmen knew the settlement as Set Maat, or the Place of Truth. In the Christian era the Temple of Hathor was converted into a Christian monastery. Hence the name Deir el-Medina, which means Monastery of the City in Arabic. The site was thoroughly excavated in the early 20th century, and as a result we have a one of the best documented records of community life from the ancient world. Besides the remains of the village, there are also the very well preserved painted tombs of the overseers of the artisans.

Giza Necropolis - Pyramids & Sphinx

Perhaps one of the most well known archaeological sites in the world. The site is a funerary complex for three ancient Egyptian kings. The site consists of three Pyramid Complexes, of kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. The Great Pyramid was built for King Khufu, while the Great Sphinx of Giza was part of the Pyramid Complex of King Khafre. Of King Menkaure’s Pyramid complex, three smaller pyramids thought to have been for his wives have also survived. Visitors can take a quick, two or three hour guided tour of the highlights or spend a full day exploring the various aspects of the ancient necropolis.

Graeco-Roman Museum

Having closed to the public in 2005, the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria re-opened on 13 October 2023. Established in 1892, the museum has been in its present neoclassical building since 1895. At first there were 11 galleries. The most recent gallery, the 25th, was added in 1984. Now one of the finest museums of its period, collections focus on the Greco-Roman (also known as the Ptolemaic) era of the 3rd century BC in Egypt. Highlights include a black granite sculpture of Apis, the sacred bull of the Egyptians, numerous mummies, sarcophagus, tapestries, and many other other objects of daily life that offer a view of ancient Greeks and Romans in contact with ancient Egypt.

Karnak Temple

A vast temple complex built in the ancient city of Thebes, modern-day Luxor, from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC to the Ptolemaic period. At the heart of the complex is the Temple of Amun-Ra – thought to be the largest religious building ever – where the god lived on earth. Over the centuries some 30 pharaohs contributed to the building programme. Although it declined in influence when Memphis became the capital, Ptolemaic rulers and Coptic Christians made their own additions and alterations.

Luxor Temple

On the east bank of the Nile, at the southern end of the Avenue of Sphinxes, Luxor Temple – the site of Amun-Re’s birth and the place of cosmic creation – was the focus of the annual Opet Festival. The temple is largely the work of Ramses II and Amenhotep III, with additions/alterations by others including Tutankhamun and Alexander the Great. The Roman Emperor Diocletian fortified the complex with a wall of mud bricks. During the medieval period churches were built, as well as the Mosque of Abu El-Hagg.

Memphis

Although there is little to see today, Memphis was a capital of ancient Egypt. It was here in 332 BC that Alexander the Great was crowned Pharaoh. The city lost its economic power to Alexandria and its religious significance when in the late 3rd century AD Christianity was made the sole religion of the Roman Empire. At the southern edge of modern-day Mit Rahineh is an open air museum, with finds from the area. These include a red granite statue of Ramses II and the colossus of Ramses, one of a pair with the other now in the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Temple of Ammon - Bahariya Oasis

Between 1938 and 1945 archaeologists working at the Bahariya Oasis excavated a religious complex comprising a two roomed chapel built with sandstone surrounded by more rooms that were built using mud bricks, all surrounded by a mud brick wall. Inscriptions and the meagre relief images in the chapel tell us the temple was dedicated to Ammon, by Alexander the Great. And, that the temple was in use until Roman times. Ptolemy reports that Alexander stopped here after on his return to Memphis from Siwa.

Temple of Ammon at Siwa Oasis

For ancient Egyptians, Siwa Oasis was home to the oracle of Ammon. The oasis is today a popular tourist destination in the western Egyptian desert.  After founding the city of Alexandria, and before his invasion of Persia, Alexander the Great visited the oracle. The oracle confirmed Alexander as a legitimate pharaoh. Unlike many other ancient temples in Egypt, the Temple of Ammon is not that well preserved, visitors come for the oasis experience.