John and Karen Clarke ’77 in Egypt

Karen Clarke '77, John Clarke '77, Lena Shirley '76 and husband.

Alumni couple travels to Egypt to continue their post-retirement adventures.

Egypt was the #1 destination on the bucket lists for Brockport alumni John Clarke (BS Earth Science, 1977) Karen (Benz) Clarke (BS Social Work, 1977), and Lena (Lee) Shirley (BS Nursing, 1976). The trio travelled together with Lena’s husband Paul, an RIT alumnus, on an exciting trip to Egypt, January 6-20, 2023.

They saw many archeological sites such as the pyramids and sphynx of Giza, the temples at Abu-Simbel, Karnak and Luxor, and the tombs in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. They also visited the Aswan Dam and observed items of geologic and hydrologic interest throughout the 2-week trip.

The trip was conducted by Smithsonian in cooperation with Odysseys Unlimited travel and included an Egyptian guide and a subject matter expert from Bucknell University. If they had only waited until the March 2023 excursion, the subject matter expert on the trip would have been Brockport’s own Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer of the Department of Anthropology!

The two couple’s friendship dates back to the 1970s when they attended Brockport and Karen and Lena were off-campus roommates. The four of them began travelling together on a trip to Spain in April 2022.

Lena Shirley, John Clarke, and Karen Clarke Here Lena, John, and Karen wear their Brockport hats while visiting the Great Pyramid of Giza. John is also wearing his University of Georgia National Championship shirt to celebrate their victory the night before. The 481-ft tall pyramid was constructed around 4,600 years ago for pharaoh Khufu and is the oldest of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The group was able to enter the pyramid and explore through narrow passageways the king’s chamber, comprised of granite from Aswan, about 540 miles upriver. 
John Clarke, Karen Clarke, Lena Shirley and husband Paul joins the group for a photo in front of the Great Sphynx which was created around 2500 BC for the pharaoh Khafre. The Sphinx is carved from the limestone bedrock of the area which also was used to construct the pyramids at Giza. 
Karen Clarke, Lena Shirley Karen (left) and Lena stand above the Aswan High Dam with the Nile River in background. The dam was constructed between 1960 and 1970 and is one of the world’s largest embankment dams, forming Lake Nasser, the largest manmade reservoir in the world. Filling the reservoir necessitated relocation of over 100,000 people and many archaeological sites were submerged while others were relocated.
Karen Clarke, John Clarke, Lena Shirley, husband The most prominent of these sites is Abu Simbel, located at the southern end of the reservoir. The relocation of the two temples at Abu Simbel is one of the engineering marvels of all time. The salvage operation during 1964-68 involved cutting the temples into large blocks (up to 30 tons, averaging 20 tons), and lifting and reassembling in a new location 65 meters higher and 200 meters back from the river.
Karen Clarke, Lena Shirley Tomb raiders Karen and Paul enter the Step Pyramid, built in the 27th century BC during the Third Dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser.
Lena Shirley, John Clarke, Karen Clarke, Shirley husband Inside the tomb of Rameses IX in the Valley of the Kings. The insides of tombs reveal the vibrant colors used to paint hieroglyphics and figures. These colors were protected from the elements for millennia and preserved for all to see.
Egypt, John Clarke Alabaster canopic jars used to store internal organs of King Tut.
Anubis, Egypt, John Clarke Statue of Tut’s hound Abuwtiyuw that was found in Tut’s tomb when it was opened in 1922. Most relics of Tut have been moved to the new Grand Egyptian Museum scheduled to open in spring 2023.

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