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Egypt has one of the most ancient civilizations of the world. Its history spans over five millennia.
The pharaohs ruled Egypt for about 3 000 years until it was conquered by the Greeks, then by the Romans. In 639 AD, it was conquered by Islams from Syria . In 1517 the Ottomans took over until Napoleon came to Egypt in 1798. Egypt remained under English and French domination until the 1950’s, until the revolution of 1952.
Traditions and Customs
As in their holy book the Quran, the Moslems of Egypt practice the Five Pillars of Faith and live by these rules:
1) they publicly declare their faith
2) they pray five times a day
3) they give alms(to the poor)
4) they fast during the holy month of Ramadan
5) they make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime
Architecture and Art
The most extraordinary buildings of course are the 3 Pyramids of Gizeh, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still surviving. The mosques where Muslims pray have very prominent features like the Minarets, high tower-like structures attached to the mosque and the dome that symbolizes the vault of heaven.
Traditionally, Islamic artists did not paint many living creatures but concentrated their efforts on calligraphy,copying verses from the Quran.
They also developed a decorative style called
“arabesque”,which are mainly floral and geometric patterns used to decorate mosques and other buildings.
Also popular are woodcarvings, textiles and ceramics decorated with stars and plants.
We must not forget that some of the first paintings were discovered in Egypt in a village called Fayoum. Pharaonic paintings on papyrus paper are also very popular.
Egyptian archaeological finds like the treasures of King Tut-Ankh-Amoun are also valuable pieces of Art.
Egypt can boast many famous writers. One of the most famous is Naguib Mahfouz who is internationally known and who is a Nobel Prize winner. He is a critic of Egyptian Society and has written over a dozen books, most of them have been adapted to the cinema. Taha Hussein who passed away in the 70’s was also very popular. He had been blind since the age of three.
Music, Cinema and Theatre
Arabic music is very popular today worldwide because of its entertaining rhythm. The most popular Arab singer has been a woman called Omm Kalsoum but many modern singers are now very famous. The “Oud”, a string instrument and the “tabla”, a percussion instrument are traditional instruments.
The cinema industry is the best in the Arab world and comedic theatre is extremely popular with rich and poor alike. Egyptians love to have a good laugh and are very expressive.
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Africa, Geography of Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, Western Asia, Naguib Mahfouz
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