Unexpected Egypt travel blog


So, I convinced Paul to go to the Nubian Museum and it was pretty amazing. i hadn't realized how vast and interesting Nubian history was, and how it intertwined with Egyptian history. There was also a fantastic photographic section dedicated to the area of Eqypt lost when the high dam was created. It documented all of the temples that were excavated (and moved) over the twenty prior to the dam being built. As well as Abu Simbel (which we spoke about in our last journal entry) there were several others that where moved to be saved from the rising waters, including a temple that Paul and I saw when we visited the Met in New York a few years ago!

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It was quite moving to see all of the land that has been lost to the dam - the Nubian people have basically lost their homeland for the sake of water security (which in a country as dry as Egypt is a not an insignificant thing). It was fascinating to see photos from the 1920's to the 1960's documenting most of the major achialogical sites in the area, and to think about what has been lost forever under the water.

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We travelled by boat the next day to see the Temples at Philae, which was also moved out of the way of the rising waters and wandered around the site. Philae was initially not moved, and you used to be able to take a boat out the the ruins, and paddle through the half submerged temples. Unesco donated money to save them, so they built a giant metal rim around the structure, drained all the water out and moved everything to an other island - amazing!!

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We then spent the next 2 days cruising up the nile towards Luxor. The boat was more luxurious than just about anywhere we have ever stayed (and certainly more luxurious than our house!). There was a lot of sitting about on the deck, and a lot of eating! The guy looking after our room (Gamal) was a bit of a character, and liked to leave our towels on the bed in elaborate shapes for us to find - including a snake, elephant, crocodile and culminating in him leaving a lifesized Paul - complete with some of Paul's clothes -a bit creepy, but pretty funny!!!

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As well as spending a few days relaxing, we visted the temples of Kom ombo and Edfu. This was the most intense tourist experience I have ever witnesses!!! There were a ridiculous number of people crowding around, but the temples were amazing none the less. We visited Kom Ombo at the end of the day, and the site was quite eerie by night. Kom Ombo is a temple that is basically split in half, with one half dedicated to Sobek the Crocodile god, and the other half to Haroesis or Horus the Elder. Edfu is the most complete temple structure in Egypt, it was found completely buried underneath the city and has remained mostly intact. It is decicated to Horus of Behdet. It documents the battle between Horus and Seth (the hippopotamus god) at the annual Festival of Victory.

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One of the other intestesting parts of the cruise was passing through the lock in the boat. After seeing the Temples at Edfu, our boat was racing to get to the lock, as there is a bit of a traffic jam waiting to get through. We got there early and didn't have to wait, but by the time we got throught there was a long, long line of ships waiting for their turn!

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We then cruised up to Luxor with enough time left in the day to visit Karnak temple. This was absolutely unbeleivable. As this area of Egypt has always been inhabited, Karnak was built, rebuilt and remodelled for over 2000 continuous years. Much of the temple complex, including the ceremonial road (complete with an avenue of lions that Ted would appreciate!) is still in the process of being excavated.

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Karnak is an incredible complex that includes sanctuaries, pylons, obelisks and avenues dedicated to the theban gods and the different Pharoahs that ruled from here. The size of the site alone is staggering - covering over 2 square kilometes, it is the largest religious building ever built. This was the most important place of worship in Egypt - knonw as Ipet-Sut meaning "the most esteemed of places" or Karnak which is arabic for "fortified settlement". We spent lots of time wandering about the ruins and marvelling at the shear scale of the place - I was worried that we would start getting "temple fatigue", but every place we visit is unique and fascinating.

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