Egypt’s new avenue of the Sphinxes open in spectacular ceremony

From The Verge

Egypt opens the most ancient section of one of the wonders of the ancient world in a spectacular ceremony on Sunday: the Avenue of the Sphinxes.

Crowds will line the ancient streets between the Valley of the Kings and the great temple of King Ramesses II to see the new three-kilometre pathway, where a four-storey fortress will be restored, dating back to 30 BCE.

The drive is made up of 14 monuments, with new steps and bridges and its own little museum with artefacts, all that have survived the expulsions of Alexander the Great, Roman, Greek and Mamluk dynasties and British/French monarchs.

Many Egyptians have waited years for the new stretch of the popular tourist attraction to be opened, after renovation work began several years ago.

The original sequence of archaeological remains was destroyed and archeologists couldn’t get to the Egyptians whose names disappeared from the site before the damage took place. But the fully restored section will go on display after the ceremony on Sunday.

Image copyright MEBANE ENWRIGHT Image caption Ramesses II built the Valley of the Kings

Image copyright MEBANE ENWRIGHT Image caption The road leads to the Museum of the Desert

The ceremony will feature traditional mourning music as well as pyrotechnics, following a strict schedule on what was once known as the “world highway” where grand cities were founded.

At 10am (0600 GMT) an ancient Egyptian drummer and an ancient Egyptian drummerbird will be the first to follow the cult of Osiris, to the head of the Sun God, Pharoah.

Then there will be the presentation of the oldest and most sacred dynasties of the period including Ancient Ptolemaic, Ancient Pharaohs and the Hypocrites.

The king of Egypt will then present the Avenue and the plaque to be placed at the beginning of the road.

Then, at 11.12am, the current Pharaoh will throw a handful of sand in an “honoured farewell” into the newly opened Avenue.

At 12.30pm the sun will be finally cast onto the summit of the structure where Ramesses II declared his reign, and a priestess of Artemis, the goddess of the sun, will light the flame.

Once the whole thing is over, the pyrotechnics will stop.

In parallel to the preparations of the new Avenue, a new $600m (£435m) museum is being constructed to display the vast collection of artefacts taken from the Valley of the Kings, although work has been slow because of the security worries over the president’s visit.

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