Remembering Travels to Egypt

Author: Kiera Reilly, C’93

Penn Alumni Travel visited Egypt in January 2010. Given the Penn Museum’s strong collection in Egyptian antiquities, coupled with leading researchers and professors, we wanted to include Penn professors on our program. We were lucky to have the husband-wife team of Penn Egyptologists Jennifer Houser Wegner , Ph.D., C’91, and Joe Wegner, Ph.D., G’89, and their son Alexander join us. Joe is Associate Curator, Egyptian Section, Penn Museum and Associate Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Jen is Associate Curator, Egyptian Section, Penn Museum and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. They gave lectures during the trip and provided additional insight as we visited the ancient sites.

Our group had a wonderful time exploring the ancient antiquities of Egypt, and we were fortunate to also have a local alumna meet us in Karnak when we toured the temple there. She showed us some closed to the public areas and explained how they are trying to preserve and put the temple back together (large portions of it are just piles of rocks).

At the end of our trip, when we were back in Cairo, we met with Dr. Zahi Hawass, Ph.D., G’93, GR’87. Dr. Hawass at the time was the Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council on Antiquities.

When the revolution happened in Egypt earlier this year, our group was very concerned about our guide and her family. I remember during the trip when she was asked about politics and government she would tell us that no one really pays attention because “nothing will change.” Mubarak’s son was being groomed to take over for him and things would continue as they are. What a difference a year makes! As the news developed, we all sent her messages, worried about her and her family living in Cairo. Her first message to us sounded desperate and fearful about what was happening. Then a few weeks later when Mubarak had stepped down, her tone was much more jubilant and hopeful.

Hopefully, we will be able to return to Egypt one day and explore once again its many wonders, but this time with a democratic government.

Cairo Mosque – the group at a mosque in Cairo

Travelers in front of the tombs at Abu Simbel

At Karnak, legend has it that you walk around the scarab several times (I think 8) for good luck

The Karnak temple is only partially preserved. We were taken back to this section where everything is just in pieces. Archaeologists are trying to figure out how to put it back together.

Close to Karnak is Luxor temple – we finished our tour there at dusk.

The famous Pyramids at Giza, and also the Sphinx.

We were not allowed to take a group photo with our Penn banner in front of the pyramids, so we took individual shots.

At the end of our trip, fellow alumnus Zahi Hawass came to speak to our group and autograph one of his books.

Our group at the traditional galabia party (that’s the outfit we’re wearing) on our ship on the Nile.

The Karnak temple – this shot was taken mainly to capture the woman with a burqa walking by



Filed under Alumni Perspective, Kiera R., Penn Alumni Travel, Photos, Travel

4 responses to “Remembering Travels to Egypt

  1. Sounds like an incredible trip! I’d love to go to Egypt one day. For now I’m stuck on South America. Glad you enjoyed your experience, and thanks for sharing with all of us,

  2. Great story, well written. Egypt is the best!

  3. Chaz

    Love the Sphinx hat in front of the Sphinx…

  4. Thank you Nate and Victor for your kind words. Yes, it was an incredible trip. Hoping that things will resolve peacefully there soon.

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