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Luxor: An Alabaster Factory

One of the classic souvenirs to bring back from Egypt is something made from alabaster. This is a soft rock that is carved by hand to produce all manner of shapes, from pots to statues, paperweights to lampstands.

There are many small alabaster factories (more like workshops) on the lower slopes of the hills in which the Valley of the Kings is located. Many have names in English that are designed to appeal to the tourist; one we liked was "Princess Diana for Alabaster".

Outside of the Alabaster factory near Luxor

We were given a fascinating demonstration of how the alabaster is worked, and then (inevitably) ushered into a shop packed full of things to buy. An interesting demonstration (illustrated below right) is how the check that it is genuine alabaster. The real stuff is translucent - there are plenty of fakes available throughout Egypt!

Part of the alabaster workshop Demonstration in the well-stocked shop  

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