Best be prepared

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It’s July. Summer. Some of you may soon be heading off on holiday. I thought I could use this blog to pass along some solid advice on what to take along with you. It comes from Murray’s Hand-book for Travellers in Egypt, prepared by John Gardner Wilkinson and published in 1847. This was a period when baggage allowances on boats and other forms of transport were more generous than they are today. Under the heading ‘Things Useful for a Journey in Egypt’, Gardner Wilkinson lists all of those items that he considers more or less necessary for any traveller. Those marked with an A can be bought on arrival at Alexandria, those with a C can be left until Cairo:

* Jug and basin [A or C]
* Mats [one or two at A, others at C]
* Carpets [A or C]
* Common soap [A or C]
* Lamp [A or C]
* Kitchen-cloths
* Towels and table-cloths
* Sheets, horse-hair mattress, pillows, and pillow-cases
* Two or three blankets
* Iron bedstead to fold up

 

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To keep at bay at night biting insects, GW recommends an invention of Mr Levinge’s, which consists of a pair of sheets (a), about six feet long, sewn together at the bottom and the two sides, except where the piece (c) is attached to them, and by which you get in. To the upper end (d) is added a thin piece of muslin, serving as a mosquito net (b), which is drawn tight at the end by a tape or string, serving to suspend it to a nail (f).

* Gridiron
* 20 okas of potatoes [A or C]
* Tobacco [A or C]
* Pipes [C]
* Wire for cleaning pipes, put into a reed [C]
* Mouth-pieces and pipe-bowls [C]
* Salt and pepper [A or C]
* Oil and distilled vinegar
* Butter [C]
* Flour [C]
* Rice [C]
* Maccaroni [A or C]
* Coffee [C]
* Portable soup and meats
* English cheese
* Mishmish apricots [C]
* Ḵumredeen apricots [C]
* Tea
* Wine, brandy, etc. White wine is better in a hot climate than red
* Spermaceti candles
* Table with legs to fold up, and top to take off
* Foot tub (of tin or copper)
* Washing tub
* Flag (for boat on Nile)
* Small pulley and rope for flag
* Coffee-pot [A]
* Tea-kettle
* Plates, knives and forks, spoons, glasses, tea things, etc
* Copper saucepans, one to fit into the other [A]
* Copper pan for stewing [A]
* Baskets for holding these and other things [A]
* Candlesticks
* Water bottles [C]
* Almond paste for clarifying water [C]
* Some tools, nails, and string
* Small bellows
* Fez caps (tarabeesh) [A or C]
* Manásheh, fly-flap [A or C]
* A coop for fowls, with moveable drawer at the bottom, in order that it may be kept clean [A or C]
* White, or light-coloured boots or shoes, being cooler, and requiring no blacking
* Red Turkish slippers [C]
* Biscuits, or bread twice baked [C]
* Small tin cases for holding coffee, sugar, salt, pepper, etc [A]
* Ballási, or earthen jars for flour, rice and other things which rats might eat [C]
* Candles [C]
* Broom and a tin, for sweeping cabin [C]
* Gun, powder, and shot etc
* Ink, paper, pens etc
* Camp-stool and drawing table
* Umbrella lined with a dark colour for the sun
* Drawing paper, pencils, rubber and colours, in tin box of Winsor and Newton
* Telescope
* Thermometer, mountain barometer, if required
* Measuring-tape and foot-ruler
* For observations, a sextant and artificial horizon
* Curtains for boat, of common or other cotton stuff [A or C]
* A packing-needle or two, and some string, thin ropes, needles, thread, buttons etc, are useful
* An iron rat-trap for the boat

In the medicine chest, the most necessary things for a traveler, according to Gardner Wilkinson are scales and a liquid-measure, lancet, diachylon and blistering plaster, lint, salts, rhubarb, cream of tartar, ipecacuanha, sulphate of bark or quinine, James’s and Dover’s powders, calomel, laudanum or morphine, sugar of lead, sulphate of zinc, nitrate of silver, and sulphate of copper (these last four being of great use in ophthalmia), nitre, oil of peppermint, and other common medicines. All these, writes GK, are better brought from Europe.

In the absence of sound and light shows, GK suggests taking along plenty of reading material to fill the long evenings. He limits his list to only the most useful works, which are given as Herodotus; Champollion’s Phonetic System of Hieroglyphics, Letters, and Grammar; Pococke; Denon; Hamilton’s Ægyptiaca; Savary’s Letters; Clot Bey’s Aperçu Générale de l’Egypte; Gliddon on the Hieroglyphics; Mengin’s Egypte sous Mohammed Aly; Robinson’s Palestine and Mount Sinai; Lane’s Modern, and Wilkinson’s Ancient, Egyptians; Hoskins’s Ethiopia and Visit to the Great Oasis; Colonel Leake’s, Lapie’s, or Wilkinson’s Map of Egypt; Captain Smyth’s Alexandria; Wilkinson’s Survey of Thebes; Costa’s Delta; and Parke and Scoles’s Nubia; to which may be added Burckhardt, Laborde’s Petra, Ptolemy, Strabo, and Pliny. Now, don’t you feel just a little bit of a slacker packing only Paula Hawkin’s follow up to Girl on a Train?

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And just to show that the art of packing for every eventuality didn’t end with the 19th century, the picture above is of Marlene Dietrich and her luggage aboard the SS Normandie in 1936.

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