Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pompey's Pillar/Kom el Shoqafa Catacombs

On Saturday, a group of people from my program (accompanied by one of our professors, Mohammed, who is an incredibly nice person who, for no good reason, decided to take a bunch of lousy 'Merican students to some historical sites on what should have been his day off) went to go see Pompey's Pillar and the Kom el Shoqafa catacombs. We met up outside our school, and took the tram, which is an adventure in and of itself. Tickets are 25 piastres (roughly a nickel, in US dollars), stops aren't announced, and seating is a free for all. In short: good times.

Pompey's Pillar was erected in 297 AD, and was actually erected in honor of the emperor Diocletian, so I have no idea why we're pretending that it belongs to Pompey. It's on the site of Alexandria's acropolis, and in the same area you can visit some temple ruins, including a nilometer and a temple sanctuary, as well as corridors that may have served as extra storage space for the city's ancient library. I was a bit disgustingly cheerful about being there, and may have scared my fellow students and several Egyptians with my enthusiasm.

Next we went to the catacombs. The catacombs were built in the 2nd century AD, and were used as burial space from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD. The art and architecture are really interesting because they are a blend of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman styles. You actually walk down into the larger catacombs and are able to walk around, albeit on wooden planks that aren't nailed down or anchored in any fashioned, which is a bit sketchy. Again, my joy was so effusive as to be frightening.

In other news, I am still having an excellent time. I love my classes and the city in general. If you came to Shatby (the neighborhood I live in and that Alexandria University is in) and asked them where to find the pale girl who sweats an alarming amount, any university official, student, or dorm resident would probably be able to help you find me. I am going to Cairo this Saturday, so will hopefully post about that afterward.


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