This is the 2nd part of the Cairo, Nile Cruise series. After Cairo, we took a quick flight to Luxor (previously called Thebes). This is where we would find our boat and from here on, our transportation was a cruise along the Nile. In Luxor, we visited the Valley of the Kings, and 3 temples: Karnak, Luxor, and Queen Hatchepsut’s.
First, we visited Karnak Temple. Here, they found a partially built wall in the same fashion as the pyramids, and they believe it has the evidence that was previously missing for how the pyramids were build. From an engineering perspective, its fairly straight forward. The first layer of stones is moved into place. Second, a ramp is built to facilitate the moving of the second layer upon the first. This step is repeated until the desired height is achieved.
Karnak also has the Great Hypostyle Hall. This “hall” contains 134 columns representing papyrus. These columns are around 30m tall and 2-3m in diameter.
Last for the day, we visited Luxor Temple. It has line of sight to Queen Hatchepsut’s temple, across the river (its far enough away if you don’t know what you’re looking for, from either site, that you will miss it). We arrived shortly before sundown and got some nice pictures of columns, oblisks, and our guide gave an impromptu interview for a local TV channel. Coincidentally, venus and the moon were both visible shortly after sunset.
Valley of the Kings
The next day we visited the Valley of the Kings. This is where the Pharo’s were burried when they realized that pyramids were too easy of a target for grave robbers. A huge pyramid in the middle of the desert was very obvious, and it just wasn’t practical. At the end of the valley, there is a mountain that is somewhat shaped like a pyramid, so the Pharo could still be burried “under a pyramid” but in a fashion that was much more difficult to find. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the Valley of the Kings. There were some tombs that were in surprisingly good contidion for their age.
Queen Hatchepsut’s Temple
Queen Hatchepsut’s temple is a classic site. The temple was carved out of the side of the hill in a very dramatic scene.
In Kom Ombo, we got a peek at some traditional living, and saw Sobek’s (the crocodile god) temple.
The traditional housing was made with a kind of mud brick. The outside was quite unassuming. Once you went past the front gate, there were all manner of flowers, frequently, date palms, and the interiors were decorated with lots of red and gold.
Sobek’s temple is the only temple devoted to 2 gods (Sobek and Horus). This was because they were introducing a new god (Sobek) and the priests felt the process would go more smoothly if the people could simultaneously visit a god they were already familiar with. This is also the first documented illustration of birth (one of the hiroglyphs). Lastly, the priests had what they referred to as a nile-o-meter. A device which would show the height of the water coming down the river. The priests would use this to determine how much tax the farmers should pay. The more water in the river, the better the crops would do, and the more bountiful the harvest.