Egypt has fascinated Europe since it was "discovered" at the end of the 18th century by French savants traveling with Napoleon Bonaparte on his short-lived and ill-fated adventure along the Nile. Long acquaintance, however, has led to surprisingly little understanding on either side. For many, Egypt remains a country of Pharaohs and pyramids, a romantic haze jolted by the occasional explosion. This may well be true, but the pyramids are not always where you expect them to be, and the Pharaohs are not all buried under the shifting sands of the West Bank.

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