Egypt: Western Desert

El Alamein

El Alamein War Cemetery and Military Museum

Al Alameen City

Matrouh Governate

Egypt

February 23, 2020

Fifteen years ago, a thought came to mind as I wandered through the rows of gravestones of British soldiers at the Htauk Kyant Second World War Memorial Cemetery that lies 25 kilometers north of Yangon in Myanmar:

Britain had the largest Jewish population in Western Europe. Surely many Jews fought in the British army. Surely some of them were casualties in the battles in Southeast Asia.  Are they buried here? 

Siwa Oasis Temples

Siwa

Matrouh Governate

Arab Republic of Egypt

February 19, 2020

In her book The Western Desert of Egypt Casandra Vivian writes “Siwa is different. It is not Egyptian, but North African.  Most Siwans are Berbers, a people who once roamed the North Africa coast from Tunisia to Morocco as early as 10,000 BCE.  The Berbers are the true Western Desert indigenous people.”

The Berbers had many visitors: Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Arabs, British, Germans, Italians … and Yours truly. 

I visited four of the ancient sites:

Siwa Oasis

Siwa

Matrouh Governorate

Arab Republic of Egypt

February 18, 2020

Welcome to Siwa!

The urban oasis of Siwa lies 750 km (466 mi) west of Cairo and only about 50 km (31 mi) east of the Libya border.  Consequently, the population of 33,000 is mostly ethnic Berber.

Siwa sits atop the aquifer that begins in Sudan and runs northward in an arc under the Western Desert.  South of Siwa, towards Luxor, several other oasis cities lie along the arc and benefit from the springs.

Siwa is blessed with fertile soil, abundant date palms, lakes, streams, irrigation works and scenic hills.