"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca you must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences."
- Constantine Peter Cavafy "Ithaca"
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©2008 Ruth Kozak

ARCHIVES: MIDDLE EAST



PETRA by HORSE, MULE and DONKEY - Jordan
by Elizabeth von Pier

It is early morning and the sun is casting shadows on the monumental canyon walls leading into the “rose city” of Petra in the Kingdom of Jordan. Petra is more than 2,000 years old and has some magnificent and amazingly well-preserved buildings that were hand-carved by the Nabataean people, an Arab tribe who ruled this area for hundreds of years starting as early as the sixth century B.C.


WALKING AROUND HALF THE WORLD: Isfahan, Iran
by Neil Middleton

Ever since I'd first seen pictures of Isfahan's magnificent mosques of blue and gold, I felt it was one of those places that I just had to go to, a goal in itself with no need for explanation and reasoning. There are many places in Iran that call to the historically minded, or to the curious.


TRAVELS THROUGH THE WEST BANK – HEBRON AND JERICHO: Israel/Palestine
by Troy Herrick

A clash of cultures greets any visitor to the Holy Land. Those who are intent on renewing their faith at the various Biblical sites will undoubtedly be influenced by the political tensions and religious fervor of both Israelis and Palestinians. But there are many other sites of religious and archeological significance that should not be overlooked including Hebron and Jericho.


JESUS’ HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The North Shore Of The Sea Of Galilee - by Troy Herrick

Present day visitors to Sea of Galilee will discover “traditional” locations for some of Jesus’ miracles. Early Christian pilgrims selected these sites with little more than faith. Unfortunately no archeology is available from Jesus’ time to confirm the locations that were selected.


A FASCINATING VISIT TO THE CITY ON THE NILE
Cairo, Egypt - by W. Ruth Kozak

Cairo is the largest city in the Middle East. Of course there are areas of the city that look run-down. There are other more affluent suburbs of the city. Cairo’s modern ‘downtown’ is on the east bank of the Nile. It was built under the influence of French architects and there are many beautiful mosques as well as Coptic sights to see there.


JESUS’ HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The North Shore Of The Sea Of Galilee - by Troy Herrick

Present day visitors to Sea of Galilee will discover “traditional” locations for some of Jesus’ miracles. Early Christian pilgrims selected these sites with little more than faith. Unfortunately no archeology is available from Jesus’ time to confirm the locations that were selected.


SEARCHING FOR CROCODILES ON THE NILE RIVER
Egypt - by W. Ruth Kozak

Along with a small group of other travelers I board a cruise ship at Aswan, Egypt to sail down the Nile on an adventure that will take me to visit various archaeological sites. For me this journey is like a dream come true. Here I am on the deck of a cruise ship, sailing down the mighty Nile River.

THE NUBIAN BOATMEN OF THE NILE RIVER
Egypt - by W. Ruth Kozak

We’re on our way to board a boat that will take us to visit the island temple of Philae. Hanan, the Egyptologist explains, “These dark-skinned people are Nubians. They live in settlements along the river.” She tells us that because of the lack of tourists due to recent political unrest, these souvenir hawkers and boatmen are struggling to make a living.

THE MUHAMMAD ALI MOSQUE
Cairo, Egypt - by Mark Greene

As I rode in the back of a van through the crazed highways of Cairo, Egypt in complete wonderment at the abandonment of all traffic laws, the first thing I truly noticed was the Citadel and the twin minarets of the Muhammad Ali Mosque that loomed over the city and the Nile River to the west. It is an edifice that confronts you even from miles away.

A VISIT TO JESUS’ HOMETOWN
Nazareth, Israel - by Troy Herrick

Present-day Nazareth looks nothing like when it’s most famous son, Jesus, lived here. Fortunately you will not have to stretch your imagination too much if you divide your Nazareth daytrip into two parts. Start with a visit to Nazareth Village, a reconstructed 1st Century AD village where actors are dressed in period costume, and experience life as it was almost 2000 years ago.

EXPLORING OMAN’S COLORFUL HISTORY IN MUSCAT
by Inka Piegsa-quischotte

When preparing for my recent five day trip to Oman, I was surprised to read on several informative websites that ‘there is not much to see and do in Muscat itself’. This being the capital of Oman and knowing something about the country’s colorful history, I seriously doubted the validity of this statement and, sure enough, I am able prove it wrong.

A LIVING HISTORICAL MONUMENT
Acre, Israel - by Shelly Lachish

Acre’s historical and archaeological intrigue lies in the fact that the forts, mosques, churches, synagogues and labyrinthine alleyways of the Old City that date back 350 years to the Arab and Ottoman periods, conceal below them an exceptionally intact 800 year-old Crusader city that has only recently been discovered.

BENJAMIN DISRAELI AND COSMOPOLITAN JERUSALEM
Israel - by Talisker Donahue

Benjamin Disraeli visited Jerusalem in 1831, at the age of twenty six, hoping to find inspiration for his novel Alroy. The weather was glorious and Disraeli dined “every day on the roof of [his] house by moonlight” after playing at the intrepid nineteenth century tourist and respectable British pilgrim.

PLAYING IN PETRA
Jordan - by Becky Garrison

When I came upon the Indiana Jones gift and coffee shops and the Titanic Coffee Shop situated at the entrance to Petra, I got the giggles. Looks like some folks might want to make a buck out of Jordan's #1 tourist attraction. After passing by a slew of guide trying to "assist" the tourists, I set off on a sandy path. Soon we passed what would be the first of many tombs to come.

JERUSALEM
THE LAST DAYS OF JESUS
Israel - by Troy Herrick

Almost two thousand years ago, the world was changed forever by the death and resurrection of Jesus. With the spread of Christianity, countless pilgrims have visited Jerusalem over the ages to renew their faith at the holy sites associated with his last days.

SKYSCRAPERS, SOUQS & SANDSCAPES
Qatar - by Irene Butler

Since tales of Aladdin swept my imagination away on a magic carpet in grade school, my desire to journey through the Arabian Peninsula has not waned. Sixty years later I am to realize this dream. My husband Rick and I arrive in Qatar, the small country that jets into the Arabian Sea like a thumb off Saudi Arabia's border, to discover how this culture steeped in tradition has melded with modernity.

THE AMAZING MAZE OF SIDON’S MEDINA
Lebanon

Saida, or Sidon is of course very, very old, about 4000 years to be precise. One of the most important Phoenician city states Sidon has a long history of art, craft and trade. The skills of her craftsmen were even praised by Homer.

A VISIT TO THE SITE OF THE FIRST CHRISTMAS
Israel, Bethlehem

Set on the edge of a hill in the little town of Bethlehem, the gray stone Basilica of the Nativity is built over a cave housing the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. Divided between the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Churches, the layout of the present structure is as complex as the relationships between the three Christian sects.

THE JUDEAN DESERT GIVES UP SOME OF ITS SECRETS
Qumran And Masada, Israel

Straddling the shore of the Dead Sea, Highway 90 takes you through some of the most breathtaking desert scenery in the Middle East. En route, you also pass the unobtrusive sites of Qumran and Masada whose presence are only betrayed by signs denoting the park entrances.

KNOCKING AT HEAVEN’S DOORS:Qatar, Doha
Visiting Doha, in Qatar which claims to have taken over from Dubai as the stop-over destination choice between the northern and southern hemispheres, one discovers the Middle East just needs some seriously good PR - and the oil Sheiks are trying their hardest to achieve just that.

FEELING OLD IN BYBLOS
Lebanon

How far back in history can you actually go in your imagination? The moment you set foot in Byblos your fantasy needs to switch into overdrive. You are about to explore the oldest continually inhabited city in the world with confirmed remains dating back at least 5000 years.

A KING'S COMPASS
Egypt

I am at the temple of the Oracle of Amon, fabled throughout the ancient world. Alexander the Great stood here, so for once I'm in good company. This is where he came to seek legitimacy for his rule over Egypt. The Oracle confirmed his divinity, although exactly what was said to him he took to his grave eight years later. He did well to get here, to Siwa Oasis in Egypt's Western Desert. Others had disappeared in the attempt.

A MUSEUM FOR BEDOUIN CULTURE
Kibbutz Lahav, Israel

I always wanted to visit the Joe Alon Center - the Museum of Bedouin Culture near Kibbutz Lahav, northeastern Negev Desert (Israel). My wife and I named a date in the middle of the week, avoiding the the Shabbath (Sunday) drivers and off we went. It was a long drive to the center through an area rich in archaeology and scenic beauty with Bedouin encampments along the way.

EGYPT
Walking With The Dead

For the ancient Egyptians, the West Bank at Thebes (modern-day Luxor) was their realm of the dead, an august “City of the Dead”, no less. It was a sacred domain where the transition from this l

EXPLORING HISTORIC DAMASCUS - THE UMAYYAD MOSQUE
Damascus, Syria
Many relics of the past hide in Damascus’s streets. Turn a corner here and you come across the ancient walls from which St Paul escaped from the Romans. Around another bend, you encounter an ancient Christian church or a roman column. In its time the city, one of the oldest in the world, has been a hub of trade, a Roman military base and a centre of Islam.

ONCE IN THE HOLY LAND
Jerusalem, Israel

The Land of Israel, the Holy Land in entirely fascinating; the sacred land is the place where sublime aspirations and ideas have fructified. Here was achieved the summit of belief. To appreciate the Land of the Bible, you must first see. To understand this land, you must remember that the land speaks to us of the events and occurrences down through the centuries.

TEL AVIV TURNS 100
Israel

Fireworks lit up the sky and a melody echoed across the stage as some of Israel’s top performers prepared for one of Tel Aviv’s grandest nights. Cheered on by over 100,000 enthusiastic fans, Rabin Square was filled with exuberant spectators ready to partake in the celebrations of Tel Aviv's 100th Anniversary.

RUINS AND REAL LIFE
Jericho, Israel

"Do you want to drive or do you want to walk?" Saed asks, stopping the car. We have arrived at the bottom of a small mountain on the outskirts of Jericho, in Israel’s West Bank. Believed to be the oldest city in the world, Jericho is also the lowest, at 244 meters below sea level.

WALKING WHERE JESUS WALKED
Israel

Pilgrimages to the Holy land by Christian pilgrims of all races and denominations are a blessing of faith. The pious pilgrim walks in the footsteps of the prophets and disciples but above all visits the town and villages where Jesus lived and preached.

ISTANBUL, A CITY OF SURPRISES
Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul straddles the Bosphorous, the strip of water that divides Europe and Asia. It's a city with a mixed heritage – Roman, Greek, and Turkish – and whatever happens to Turkey's claims to membership of the European Union, Istanbul will remain an ambiguous city, with a foot in both continents.

THE PATH OF FAITH IN TURKEY
Istanbul,Turkey

Turkey has a magnificent past, which is displayed throughout the land – graceful aqueducts build by the Romans, caravansaries dating back to Seljuk Empire of the 11th century, archaeological sites such as Troy, Pergamum, Ephesus, Miletas, Perga, etc. The hinterland shows glimpses of other ancient civilizations – the Hittites, the Khatti, the Phyrygians, the Lydians.... and the signs of faith.

PEARL IN THE RIVER NILE - Temples of Philae
Aswan, Egypt

We were tired after arriving in Aswan early in the morning on the overnight train from Cairo, however It was a beautiful day, and we didn’t want to waste it so we headed off to see the Temples of Philae, which lie just south of the city on an island in the river Nile.

ALJOUN CASTLE - AN ARAB-ISLAMIC TREASURE
Jordan

While many visitors come to Jordan to see the Graeco-Roman ruins at Jerash, or the pre-Roman ruins at Petra, there are many remains there from mediaeval times, too. Some are in ruins, but some are in use even today.

THE SURREAL LIFE
Saudi Arabia

As I saw the police approach the taxi I was riding in with my handsome male companion on that lonely desert highway, my heart started to pound. Images of my passport with a deportation stamp “PROSITUTION” flashed thru my mind.

PYRAMID POWER
Egypt

It sometimes amazes visitors that the pyramid-building phase of Egyptian history only lasted for a relatively short time, from about 2700 to 1800 BCE, mostly during what was known as the Old Kingdom. Another surprising fact is that there are more than 100 pyramids documented in the country but only about four or five are significant tourist destinations.