Study-Tour 2000 (Israel, Egypt, Turkey)

I came across this image yesterday afternoon. It brought back some fond memories. It was shot in early March almost twenty years ago. The place was Giza, Egypt.

The faces are those of students and staff from the Cincinnati Christian University. These brave souls signed on for one of our most ambitious study-tours ever. Three countries in 14 days! Wowzer. But we filled every seat on the bus.

See anyone you recognize?

If you were a part of this trip, I’d love to hear from you. Care to share any photographs of your experience for other Bible Land Explorers? I can post them here. What memories does this image bring back for you?

Do tell. And show.

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These two young fellers were among the leaders of the trip pictured above. Funny, they haven’t changed a bit!

A few years have passed since 2000 but we are still up to old tricks. In March of 2019 we’ll be headed back to Israel/Palestine. This time we’ll have a student group from Johnson University in tow.

For a complete list of travel opportunities in 2019, see our schedule here. You may also contact me at for more details.

Spewing sphinx

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A sphinx spewing water is not the sort of thing that you see everyday. At the fontaine du Châtelet (or the "Fountain of the Palm") in downtown Paris, you can see four in one place. These jetting sphinxes are part of the base of a fountain designed not just for memory or beauty, but to provide drinking water to the public. Above them is a column topped by a golden Victory offering laurels. 

The structure was built between 1806 and 1808 on the right bank of the Seine. It is a commemorative display honoring Napoléon Bonaparte for his victories here and there, including his not-so-victorious Eastern Campaign (hence the sphinxes). 

Standing before the fountain, I am reminded of the famous statement of Napoléon issued on an Egyptian battlefield on July 21, 1798: "From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us."

That's quite the pep talk.

For more on the Battle of the Pyramids, see here.

Buen caminó!

Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Whacked by the great cane of pharaoh

Pictured here is Area A of Joppa's tell. This area produced one of the largest assemblages of Egyptian pottery found in the Heartland.  The gate structure here has been recreated and marked with the royal symbols of Ramesses II ("the Great").

The Arab Bridge over the Red Sea

Yesterday, in memory of D-Day, I posted a brief note on the Suez. See it here. Today we leap the Sinai peninsula to the eastern finger of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba.

As the slow ferry (there is a "fast" tourist one for sissies) leaves the port of Aqaba, Jordan, we catch an evening view to the stern where the Wadi Aravah (Great Rift Valley) slips beneath the waters of Red Sea. Four countries converge on this short stretch of beach: Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The line is called the "Arab Bridge" as locals are unable to pass the borders of Israel. This is the rusty bypass.

We mass on the steel deck because there is no air conditioning below. It is easily 100 degrees F in the sun. The premium seats are not seats at all but spaces where you can sit cross legged in the shade.

Our destination on this sweltering summer night of 1994 was the port of Nuweiba. Our ultimate goal: climbing the traditional Mt Sinai for the first time.


This sea-level canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez (Red Sea). When completed in the mid-19th century, it eliminated the need for ships to circumnavigate the continent of Africa. For sailors journeying from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans, it was a dream come true.

Today marks the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe. As I think about the course of events during WWII, I wander east.

As Churchill pronounced, "The Mediterranean was," in many ways, "England's First Battlefield" ("Memorandum on Sea-Power, 1939"*). Not surprisingly, defense of the Suez was a focal point of Britain's Mediterranean strategy. The struggle to control the water and the the struggle to hold Egypt were interlocked. Arabian oil was needed by all for the operation of a mechanized army; the Suez provided the means to that end. One can only muse over the course of the events of that war had Hitler been successful in the siege of Malta and the Battle of Alamein. The industrial resources that the Axis desperately needed would have been at their fingertips. D-Day, as we know it, may not have been possible. 

The width of the Suez "channel" and the English Channel are not comparable in size. But they are strategically related.

I shot this view to the Suez in the spring of 1996. 

*See L. R. Pratt's East of Malta, West of Suez (Cambridge, 1975): 174.