Ancient sitesFrom Voloubilis in Morocco to Persepolis in Iran,the region's archaeology and architecturedemonstrate the historical and cultural influenceswhich have come and gone through the millenniaacross the region. Egypt has perhaps the richestcollection of ancient monuments, spreadthroughout the country and with plenty still to be discovered. The Pyramids of Giza are withoutdoubt one of the most recognisable structures inthe world, and exploring the Nile Valley will bringyou to one of the largest religious buildings in theregion, the Temple of Karnak. Archaeological sitesin Lebanon and Syria originate from a medley ofdifferent periods of antiquity, with places such asByblos claiming a history of over eight millennia. In Tunisia, evidence of the Carthaginians wasalmost entirely swept from the map with only tiny vestiges of their civilisation still visible today,at Kerkouane and the Punic Ports.The cradle of civilisationWhat strikes most visitors to this area is just howancient the sites and monuments littered acrossthe region are. The Pyramids of Giza, for instance,were more ancient to Jesus than Jesus is to usnow. As far back as the fifth millennium BC, theSumerians were developing sophisticated socialstructures and around 1400 BC, the Phoenicianscreated the first alphabet in their original lands inthe Levant. The Great Pyramid in Egypt wascompleted around 2600 BC and Ancient Egyptianculture flourished for thousands of years beforebeing absorbed into the Classical World. TheGreeks and the Romans in their turn dominatedthe region, leaving behind their trademarkcolonnaded streets, temples and theatres. Againstthis backdrop, the Jewish and Christian faithscame into being, followed in the 7th century ADby Islam, spreading outwards from the Arabianpeninsula with the Arab Conquest. The countriesof the region are thus home to some of the mostimportant religious monuments in the world,including the earliest temples, churches, mosquesand the tombs of the prophets.Local culture and etiquetteA degree of cultural sensitivity is required whenvisiting the countries in this brochure. Religion isan important aspect of life for most of the peopleyou will meet - Islam is the predominant faith,but Christianity and Judaism are also present,along with small sects such as the Druze in Syriaand Lebanon. The level of conservatism variesfrom country to country, and some have hadgreater exposure to European visitors thanothers, so the degree of moderation you need to display does vary. Our specialists will adviseyou on this. However, there are some general rules that youshould always respect. Women should not weartight or revealing clothing, and it is alwaysadvisable to keep the shoulders and upper armscovered, as well as wearing shorts or skirts anddresses that reach at least to the knee. Menshould always wear a shirt or t-shirt; in someplaces shorts are acceptable, in others trousersare a better option. Where it is possible to visit a religious building, such as a mosque or a church, always cover the shoulders, arms and legs.In mosques you will normally also be required totake off your shoes and women may be requiredto cover their heads. Ramadan, the month offasting in Islam, is a time when things slow down a bit during the day and opening hours arecurtailed, although it is perfectly possible to travelin some countries at this time.4Byzantine mosaic, LebanonCarpets in Kairouan, TunisiaNasir al Mulk Mosque, IranExperience North Africaand the Middle EastWith Arabic spoken across most of the region it is easy to think of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East as being homogeneous and indistinct. This is farfrom the case though, and each has its own unique customs, traditions, and history to bediscovered and experienced.Local ladies, Egypt
Guiding and excursionsYour guides will bring the history of the ancientworld alive and provide a modern context to theplaces that you visit. In some countries they willaccompany you throughout your trip and at other times local guides will be provided forspecific sites or cities. In countries such as Jordan and Oman, werecommend travelling with a driver only or self-driving. On Nile cruises, the excursions arealways in small groups of around 15 people.Guides in Egypt all have to study for a wide-ranging degree in order to gain employment. They are consequently very wellinformed about all periods of Egyptian historyincluding the legends of Ancient Egypt andaspects of Coptic and Islamic traditions.01993 838 400 ?Introduction5Roman historyWith the exception of Oman and Iran,every country in this brochure hasexperienced the tramp of legionaryboots and the rule of toga-cladgovernors. The Roman narrative, fromthe early days of the Republic to thecollapse of the Empire, can be tracedthrough the basilicas, monumentalarches, forums and theatres which arestill standing. From Voloubilis in Moroccoright through to Palmyra in Syria, theRoman Empire's influence can be feltand seen across much of the region.Hiking and walking toursThe mountains of Morocco and the naturereserves of Jordan are established destinations forhiking. Options range from day walks in the HighAtlas and Dana Nature Reserve through toascents of Morocco's Jebel Toubkal and five dayhikes into Petra. In the cities you may wish tofollow one of our walking tours, which aredesigned to show the usual highlights anddestinations in a new light. They are not especiallyarduous and will typically take two to four hours,combining historic sights with glimpses ofmodern-day life.Roman city of Jerash, JordanCamel driver, Saqqara, EgyptSpices for sale, MoroccoDesert experiencesThe image of camping out in the lee of majesticsand dunes under a brilliant night sky is apowerful draw. Picking the right destination andaccommodation for this experience is essential.We have sought out small, intimate desert camps,notably in the Sahara in Morocco, Wadi Rum inJordan and the Wahiba Sands in Oman, all ofwhich have a good range of facilities.