Egypt to reopen ancient Avenue of Sphinxes in glitzy Luxor ceremony

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Cairo – As the americans have their eyes completely blown away thanksgiving day parade After two years of Covid absence, Egypt, some 6,000 miles away, is set to revive a very different cultural tradition that has not been seen for several thousand years.

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The country is set to open the 3,000-year-old avenue of the Sphinx to the public on Thursday in an elaborate ceremony in the southern city of Luxor after decades of excavation efforts.

The ancient walkway, about two miles long and about 250 feet wide, was once named the “Path of God”. It connects the temple of Luxor to the temple of Karnak, over the Nile in the north.

Sphinx in Luxor Temple, Egypt. Mosab Elshamy / AP File

A spectacular parade is expected to begin after 12:30 pm Will proceed along the length of the path, with more than 600 ram-headed statues on either side and the traditional sphinx, statues with the body of a lion and the head of a human.

This extravagant march is expected to include pharaonic costume, a symphony orchestra, lighting effects, professional dancers, boats on the Nile, horse-drawn carriages and more.

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi is expected to take part in the city-wide spectacle.

The road lay buried under sand for centuries until the first eight Sphinx statues were discovered in front of the Luxor Temple by Egyptian archaeologist Zakaria Ghinim in 1949.

Excavations and efforts to restore the site continued over the next seven decades and were interrupted several times by political upheavals, such as the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that overthrew the country. Hosni Mubarak, the autocratic ruler for a long time and led many years of civil unrest.

Luxor tour guide, Ahmed Hammam, told Granthshala News: “Tonight I will witness one of the greatest events I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Hammam, 47, said seeing the restoration of the Avenue of the Sphinx after years of effort was “like a dream.”

Hammam said, “Today will be the day we will talk about for a hundred years to come.” “I hope everyone enjoys it. Not only here in my hometown, but all over Egypt, and all over the world.”

The road is believed to have been built to celebrate the annual Opet Festival in the ancient city of Thebes, now known as Luxor. The festival promoted fertility and included a procession carrying an idol of ceremonial deities from the Karnak Temple to the Luxor Temple.

Ali Abu Dashish stands with the Rama’s-headed Sphinx in Luxor. Courtesy Ali Abu Dashi

“The Opet festival will be held, as it was in the time of the pharaohs,” Ali Abu Dashish, an Egyptian archaeologist and member of the Archaeological Association, said ahead of Thursday’s event.

Dashish said the event should send a message from Egypt to the world that, “We preserve and restore antiquities.” He added: “I expect it to be a shining party on a global scale.”

Thursday’s festivities are part of an ongoing push to promote archeological discoveries as Egypt tries to revive its flagged tourism industry.

Part of that effort includes organizing spectacular public events such as the one set on Thursday.

In April, Cairo took out an elaborate procession in the capital called the Golden Parade to move 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies to a new museum.

Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass calls Luxor site “largest uncovered” [air] Museum, the world’s largest archeological site” that traces the history of Egypt from 2,000 BC – known as Dynasty XI – to Roman times.

Haus worked on the restoration of the Avenue of the Sphinx from 2005–2011, when work was halted by a rebellion. He said Thursday’s festival sends an important message to the world that “Egypt is safe and we invite everyone to come back to Egypt.”

El-Sisi, 63, led the military coup in 2013 of Egypt’s first democratically elected president and was re-elected to a second, four-year term in 2018.

He has sought to restore stability to the major US ally and has worked hard to bring back tourist dollars to the country, whose economy has been further hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Critics say he has strangled opponents, activists and the independent media in doing so.

Charlene Gubash reported from Cairo and Petra Cahill from London.

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