The road to Fayoum

This colorful new cemetery lies out on the road to Fayoum (a city outside of Cairo and southwest of Giza). This place is a collection of mostly new and beautifully maintained family mausoleums in the middle of the desert. The City of the Dead has people living inside because it is convenient space in the middle of Cairo, but here this cemetery is in the middle of nowhere, so this place is peacefully empty. The only people there are workers or temporary visiting family members. In order to enter this place, Moussa made up a story that I was shopping for my Egyptian father’s mausoleum. I was not really aware of this and so I have to admit I was a bit confused when they kept naming prices for the different mausoleums that we passed! However it made sense that he did this because the cemetery is taboo and the people thought it was very strange that I would just want to stroll around the place taking photos- and even weirder that I traveled such a far distance to visit. However, this lie paid off because I got to go into the mausoleums and into a few crypts that had not yet been been used for burial.

DSC_0014Street signs in the cemetery directing to famous monuments. DSC_0016Building materials for new tombs to be built. DSC_0033This is the cheapest and most simple style of burial – also known as the Military style. It is 100,000 LE for 80 square feet. DSC_0031Inside the empty military style tomb. The entrance down into the crypt is on the left. DSC_0026Looking up from inside the tomb. This is not a position you see often! People usually go inside, but don’t come out. DSC_0039Many of the mausoleums are beautifully decorated in their construction with bricks. They use the building materials as part of the design so that it is functional and magnificent. There is even arabic lettering inside the walls written with placement of bricks. DSC_0040A garden maintained in front of the grave. There is even a patch of grass. This is very special and rare because they have to import the water to the area and this is expensive and a lot of work. DSC_0047An old crypt that is destroyed. You can see the black hole on the left is the entrance hall to the tomb, and the two cylindrical mounds on the right are the roofs of separate burial chambers for men and women.

 

And a pottery update: I am now learning the ancient Egyptian wheel! It is human powered by pushing this large wooden wheel with your feet (this required some strength and energy). The bottom wheel is connected a circular iron plate on top that spins as the hands shape the clay. The man below is an expert craftsman and actually blew my mind. I think I was more impressed by his skills than the when I visited the pyramids…

 

 

 

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