Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pharoeic Treasures of Luxor, Egypt

At last the big day arrived when we left Tanzania for the country of Egypt. Most everyone was curious if we would be able to visit this recently troubled country but as usual, the reality was so much different from the hype. We found the people in Luxor to be calm, gentle and friendly. Our local guides said the revolution is contained within one and half square kilometers in Cairo. I am so glad we were able to make this stop.

I've been to Cairo and Giza many times but only once before to Luxor. Its archaeological treasures are from a later period in Pharoeic history and thus are more developed and ornate. I was blown away by the temples and frescoes here. I had to take pictures of the Valley of the Kings on my iPhone and I don't yet know how to transfer pictures from the phone to the computer. But the tombs there were marvelous and as soon as I can figure out how to get photos from there, I will share them here.

Heading north we eventually picked up the NIle River flowing through the Nubian Desert

Near the Sudan/Egypt border we saw the Nasser reservoir. This is a huge body of water and is reminiscent of our own Lake Powell. I would love to be down there checking out the shoreline.

Dropping into Luxor Airport it became obvious that this would be a desert scenery treat. These are sedimentary rocks that were greatly utilized by the ancient Egyptians for building materials

The next day, water taxi's came to the dock on the river right in front of out hotel. In ancient Egypt, people lived on the east bank where the sun rises. And they kept their tombs on the west bank where the sun sets. We were going to the west bank and the Valley of the Kings.

The boat I got on was named "Titanic Hmm??

Peaceful cruise up the Nile River near Luxor

Virtually no foreigners are visiting Egypt these days. Here is the parking lot for the renown Valley of the Kings and it is empty. When I was here last time (about 2002) it was filled with Spaniards, French, German, Italian, Russian and Australian tourists. We basically had it all to ourselves. (Note: I will figure out how to transfer images from my phone and when I do this posting will be updated with photos of the tombs).

The tomb of Queen Hatshepsut

The entrance to stunning Hebu Temple

An interior room with massive sandstone columns

Detail of a wall engraving. The number of these features in Habu Temple produced a sense of awe as we kept going into it.

Originally colored frescoes are abundant and here is a vulture depicted on a door jam. The image is about eight feet wide and stands about 15 feet above the viewer.

One happy traveler!

On the way back to the river bank, we made a quick stop at the Colossi of Memnon, built between 1391 and 1353 BC. They are being restored and we saw archaeologists using sonar to locate buried portions of the site.

Time for lunch so we set sail on a series of felucca's on the river. These are fantastic sailing vessels that maneuver the river easily.

We enjoyed lunch while under sail

Afterwards we paid a visit to the Temple of Karnak, easily the most impressive of all of Luxor's treasures (with the possible exception  of the Valley of the Kings).

Two rows of carved sphinx's lead to the inner part of the temple, built as a monument to a triad of Egyptian gods

Impressive columns are seen in the heart of the temple, which was covered while in use with huge sandstone slabs

A granite obelisk standing in Karnak. One was removed by the French in the 19th century and stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Egyptians hope one day it will return. Ancient Egyptians used multiple types of rock to build their civilization. This granite was quarried near Aswan to the south, then transported by boats during the Nile flood to Karnak.

Afternoon crowd at Karnak - likely from a river boat moving through town. This is still just a fraction of the visitation that Egypt normally receives.

Karnak is truly impressive

Our group was treated to an evening dinner in the Temople of Luxor at night after it was closed to the public

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