Have you ever traveled to a faraway place? If you haven’t sailed to a tropical island or hiked through the jungles of the Amazon lately, try the next best thing. Reading lets you travel to distant places without ever leaving your living room! All you need is a good book or magazine to take you to amazing places around the world. I hope you’ve packed your suitcase. We’re headed on a round-trip journey to one of the most ancient countries on the planet!
Sizzling Sands, Lush Lands
Much of Egypt is made up of hot, sandy deserts that can reach temperatures as high as 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in the summer. People living in this climate often wear loose clothing that can shade them from the scorching sun. Egypt also contains lush green land near the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile River. The rich soil around these bodies of water produces many different crops, such as cotton, rice, beans, oranges, and tomatoes.
In certain parts of Egypt, if you stroll through the sandy desert you’ll see massive pyramids towering on the horizon. These pyramids are some of the remaining traces of ancient Egyptian civilizations that existed more than 5,000 years ago. The pyramids were mostly large tombs for pharaohs, the rulers of Egypt. Most of these tombs took decades to build—sometimes the entire reign of a pharaoh! The pyramids were often filled with items like gold, food, and water. The Egyptians believed that each pharaoh would need these things in the afterlife.
Another cool sight you don’t want to miss is the Great Sphinx of Giza. A sphinx is a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of an Egyptian pharaoh. The human head represents wisdom, and the lion’s body symbolizes strength.
This huge figure is the oldest and largest known statue in the world, standing about 65 feet high and 240 feet long (about 20 meters by 73 meters)!
Take a look at the photograph. Does the Sphinx look like it’s missing something? Some historians say the nose was pried off by vandals sometime in the Middle Ages.
A popular dish throughout Egypt and the Middle East is a tasty food called falafel (fah-LAH-full). It is made from crushed chickpeas or fava beans mixed together with different spices and then deep fried. Falafel patties or balls are usually placed inside pita bread and eaten with vegetables like cucumbers, turnips, and onions. Falafel is such a popular food that McDonald’s restaurants throughout Egypt offer “McFalafel” burgers!
Have you ever written in a secret language or code to a friend? The ancient Egyptians had a special written language made up of pictures and symbols called hieroglyphics (say it “high-row-GLIFF-icks”), which in Greek means “sacred writings.” These beautiful writings have been found carved on pyramid walls and written on special paper called parchment, made from animal skins. For thousands of years, no one could figure out what the symbols meant. But about 200 years ago, archeologists discovered a large stone on which were carved words written in hieroglyphics and two other languages: Greek and Egyptian Demotic. Because historians could read ancient Greek and Demotic, they were finally able to crack the code to hieroglyphics! This special stone became known as the Rosetta Stone.