Ruined Temples and Colorful Tombs

July 13, 2007

The Egypt Chronicles, Part 6

As the sun began to rise upon the town of Luxor, PC and I were awakened at 4:30 AM by the first call to prayer of the day at the local mosque. This loud call would be the first of five that day, and devout Muslims would flock to the mosque each time. However, PC and I rolled over and slept for a few more hours before waking up for our grand tour of the West side of the Nile across from Luxor.

The day before we had arranged a tour of the west bank through Magdi, our hotel owner, that would take us to the Colossi of Memnon, the Valley of Kings, Hatshepsut’s temple, and the Valley of Queens. Our tour fare covered our entry to all these sites, an English speaking guide, and taxi service.

We enjoyed a breakfast of bread and eggs with a Canadian named Ed (he had a great accent, eh) before venturing outside to meet our taxi. Expecting to find a standard, old, blue-and-white piece of work, a new, black Toyota Corolla with a sweet interior pulled up to take us across the Nile.

As we drove through fields upon fields, you would not have known that we were only a mile away from desert. After a few minutes of driving through this agricultural land, we arrived at the Colossi of Memnon, our first stop of the day. The Rough Guide says, “This gigantic pair of enthroned statues originally fronted the mortuary temple of Amenophis III, once the largest complex on the west bank.” The temple has since been destroyed, but nevertheless, these ginormous statues are impressive.

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Our most interesting stop of the day was certainly the Valley of Kings. Remember the pyramids? While they are magnificent, there were not the best idea the Egyptians ever had. Nothing tempts a grave robber more than a huge monument that screams, “Here I am; rob me.” But the Egyptians got smarter. This Valley of Kings was a secret burial place for many ancient pharaohs. This method protected but tombs a little better than the pyramids, but still only one tomb (King Tut’s) kept its treasure until the twentieth century.

We visited three tombs, and each was fascinating, colorful, and hot. The intricate designs give amazing insight into the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. Also, I had to force myself to imagine these tombs filled with treasure as they were before they were robbed. Let me tell you, grave robbing must have been a very lucrative profession. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the tombs.

In the valley next to these hidden tombs sits the temple of Hatshepsut, the only woman to ever reign as Pharaoh. In order to legitimize her position, she claimed divine parentage and was usually depicted in masculine form. Here we are imitating the statues of the temple.

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And this is PC, Abi, and Whit showing off at the top of the steps.

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The last stop on our guided tour was the Valley of Queens, which houses the tombs of high officials, royal children, and—you guessed it—queens. In one of the tombs we saw a mummified human fetus. After finishing here, we traveled back to across the Nile to Luxor. We ate an afternoon meal and showered at the hotel while catching up with another IBEX group that was now staying there before going to the train station with Magdi.

While we were waiting for our train to Aswan, I was able to chat with Magdi a little bit. Originally from India, he started his hotel in 1992. He has slowly expanded it ever since while also expanding his family (4 boys and 1 girl). From the couple days I was able to know him, I quickly could tell that his life was wrapped up in his hotel, his family, and his religion; he was a devout Muslim who went to the mosque five times a day. (Yes, that means that while PC and I were rolling over at 4:30 AM, he was at the mosque.) Here is our group with Magdi.

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We spent the rest of our third Egyptian day traveling and enjoying great conversation. When we arrived in Aswan, we quickly hailed a taxi to escape from the horde of hotel owners that hounded us as we got of the train. With the help of the Rough Guide, we found a hotel to our liking that even had a view of the Nile. After three days of intense travel, our day to sleep in had finally come.

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One Response to “Ruined Temples and Colorful Tombs”

  1. Roberta Blakey said

    Love hearing about your trip! Keep the story and great photos coming!

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