Sinai Desert – Info and History

Sinai Desert

Sinai DesertI was inspired to make this video once I read, traveled and saw parts of it with my own eyes. I visited a small portion of the peninsula twice, many years ago. Since then it became etched in mind. I love deserts and mountains when combined, and Sinai is the best jewel containing both of these attributes.
While making this production I’ve used many different techniques and software. Also explored aerial views and flying effects (done with Photo to Movie). Some images were modified to look as if in HDR. Altogether, the people shots were the difference; in what is a striking setting.

You may see the video here: http://vimeo.com/7023511

Enjoy!
Leo Bar

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Some History

The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt. It lies between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, forming a land bridge between Africa and Southwest Asia. Its area is about 60,000 km².
The Sinai was inhabited by the Monitu and was called Mafkat or Country of Turquoise. From the time of the First dynasty or before, the Egyptians mined turquoise in Sinai at two locations, now called by their Arabic names Wadi Maghareh and Serabit el-Khadim. The mines were worked intermittently and on a seasonal basis for thousands of years. Modern attempts to exploit the deposits have been unprofitable. These may be the first known mines.

The Mamluks of Egypt controlled the Sinai from 1260 until 1518, when the Ottoman Sultan, Selim the Grim, destroyed them at the Battles of Marj Dabiq and al-Raydaniyya. From then until the early 20th century, Sinai, as part of the Pashalik of Egypt, was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. In 1906 it became part of British-controlled Egypt, when the Turkish government yielded to British pressure to hand over the peninsula. The border imposed by the British runs in an almost straight line from Rafah on the Mediterranean shore to Taba on the Gulf of Aqaba. This line has served as the eastern border of Sinai ever since, and is now the international border between Palestinian territories and Israel from one side and Egypt from the other.

St. Catherine’s Monastery is the oldest monastery in the world and the most popular tourist attraction on the peninsula. Located at the foot of Mount Moses, St. Catherine’s Monastery was the start of the city, it was constructed by order of the Emperor Justinian between 527 and 565. It is built around what is thought to be Moses’ Burning Bush, which has a chapel built atop it. It is a spectacular natural setting for priceless works of art, including Islamic mosaics, Greek and Russian icons, Western oil paintings, paintings on wax, fine sacerdotal ornaments, marbles, enamels, chalices, reliquaries, including one donated by Czar Alexander II in the 19th century, and another by Empress Catherine of Russia in the 17th century. But of perhaps even greater significance is that it is one of the largest and most important collection of illuminated manuscripts in the world (The Vatican has the largest).

The collection consists of some 4,500 volumes in Greek, Coptic, Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Slavic, Syriac, Georgian and other languages. St. Catherine’s has a rich history indeed. So rich that it is a sparkling example of an undiscovered jewel of travel. It has been called the oldest working Christian monastery and the smallest diocese in the world. The Chapel of the Burning Bush was originally ordered built by Empress Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great, but the monastery itself was actually built by Emperor Justinian to protect the monks in the region and to honor the site of the Burning Bush. St. Catherine, whose body was reportedly carried away by angels, was discovered five hundred years later at the top of the peak that now bears her name. Her relics are stored in a marble reliquary in the Basilica.

St. Catherine’s Chapel is also a formidable fortification, with granite walls measuring 8 to 35 meters tall, surrounded by gardens and cypresses. Prior to probably the twentieth century, the only entrance to St. Catherine’s was a small door 30 feet high, where provisions and people were lifted with a system of pulleys, and where food was often lowered to nomads. It has withstood numerous attacks over its fourteen-hundred years existence, thus protecting a rich store of art. Today, while it is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, its original, preserved state is unmatched. Though patronized during much of its history by the Russian Orthodox Church, it is now under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Church. Most of its monks are also of Greek origin, though their ranks include an international flavor.

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