It is illegal to export anything over 100 years old without a license
Re: BUYING BEADS IN EGYPT -- Timbuk-2 Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
04/13/2017, 22:36:26

So, Venetian and other beads from the "trade bead" era of the early 20th c. may be found - although I have only bought them from Egypt via eBay. I found one small silver vintage pendant with dangles at one shop, but it was probably from Ethiopia.

There are many shops selling reproductions of old pieces, and the sellers try to give you the impression that they are "ancient" but they are clearly "nice souvenir quality" repros. They are all dirtied up, distressed, etc. which is sad, since many would look quite good if just sold as a nice fresh reproductions.

There are many hand-made items to be found, though - I'd recommend the beautiful wool rugs (can be shipped or stuffed into your luggage) and the alabaster sculptures, vases, etc. Gold and silver work is everywhere, too - but very expensive IMHO.

The beads, scarabs, etc that you will find are all inexpensive & new. The camel bone beads can be quite nice. I think a lot of the other "stuff" that you'll see is made from materials imported from China and India. Another nice souvenir is a cotton wall hanging, pillow case, or bag with hand-sewn applique work - which is mostly done by men.

I would avoid anyone who says they are selling ancient artifacts under the table. They may turn you in for a reward - you'll be searched at the airport on the way out and probably not suspect why. Then you'll be in a nice mess!

The main souks in Cairo and Luxor are of course filled with tourists, but without a guide you won't be able to find the places where the locals shop. I suggest you stay in Cairo for long enough to see the Giza pyramids, the brand new museum at Giza if it's open, the original Cairo museum, and the souk. If you are interested in the Old Kingdom, don't miss the Imhotep Museum and many excavations at Saqqara.

For New Kingdom, fly to Luxor for Valley of Kings, Luxor Temple and of course Karnak. If possible, also see Deir el Bahari. A longer side trip would be Abydos, which for me was the most important and inspiring site, with the fabulous temples of Seti I and Ramesses II.

The Amarna site in Middle Egypt is also fascinating but when I was there in 2008, a lot of special permissions were required. I don't know if many tours are allowed there at present. A long bus ride from Cairo.

I was in Alexandria for only one day, and badly jet-lagged, so the only thing of note that I enjoyed was a tour of the incredible and vast New Library of Alexandria.

Suggest you join a tour or make arrangements ahead of time. You can hire a driver and guide who will get you where you want to go. You would not want to drive yourself anyway - many drivers do not turn their lights on at night, and also do not obey lane markers on the highways. And be very careful when crossing wide city streets - best bet is to follow along with some locals who are crossing.

Learn a little Arabic first & Good luck!

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