A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Minya Hoping Tourists Return to Amarna

Minya Montage (Wikipedia)
Reuters has a piece, "Egypt Province Hopes Vote Will End its Isolation," about the Middle Egyptian city and Governorate of Minya. While I doubt that the Presidential election results will directly resuscitate tourism in Minya, a return to something like normal life in Egypt may well do so.

Though I suspect a lot of non-Egypt-hands have never heard of Minya, it is a major city and university town and has been a center of radical Islamist politics; during the violence between Al-Gamalsquo;a al-Islamiyya and the state in the 1990s it was a center of frequent clashes. As a region with a high Coptic population as well as a  hotbed of Islamism, sectarian conflicts have been frequent.

As the article notes, Minya used to be a stop for tourist cruises going up the Nile, and the base for visits to the ruins of Tell El Amarna, the ancient capital (Akhetaten)  of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten. Amarna is of course one of the key archaeological sites in Egypt,though less visited than Luxor, Aswan, and the Pyramids around Cairo.

Since Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti are rather famous for his religious innovations and her famous bust, and he is the predecessor and usually presumed to be the father of Tutankhamen, one of the few Pharaohs most tourists have heard of,Amarna should probably be a more frequented site than it was even before the troubles of the 1990s killed the limited tourist trade that existed.

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