Oxford, England and Egypt Cruise travel blog

Temple of Hetshepsut

Hetshepsut - since she was a woman, she wore a tie-on beard...

Entry into the Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

Inside the tomb of Ramses III

Inside tomb of Ramses II

Entry to Valley of the Queens

Statues of Memnon

Valley of the Queens

Alabaster Factory

Each day we see more and better fascinating sites!! Today’s visit was to the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor and what a difference in the landscape. There is one irrigation canal and sugar cane, bananas & dates are grown for a short distance from it & then the land turns to sand and limestone. Miles and Miles of sand & limestone!! We made 4 stops today and they were all jaw-dropping.

First was the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. Built for the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Hatshepsut (who was a woman), it is located on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings. This mortuary temple is dedicated to Amun and is considered one of the "incomparable” monuments of ancient Egypt.

There are three layered terraces reaching 97 ft tall. Each story has a double colonnade of square piers, with the exception of the northwest corner of the central terrace. These terraces are connected by long ramps which were once surrounded by gardens with foreign plants including frankincense and myrrh trees.

The Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw is responsible for the study and restoration of the three levels of the temple. As of early 1995, the first two levels were almost complete, and the top level was still under reconstruction.

Next was the Valley of the Kings where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of Ancient Egypt). We got to go in three different tombs where the preservation of the hieroglyphics, colors and figures is unbelievable. We went to Ramses IV, Ramses III and Ramses IX. For an extra charge you could go through Tutankhamen's but the guide said there was nothing much left inside.

The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes (modern Luxor) and consists of two valleys, East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs are situated) and West Valley.

With the 2005 discovery of a new chamber and the 2008 discovery of two further tomb entrances, the valley is known to contain 63 tombs with one tomb having over 120 chambers). It was the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, as well as a number of privileged nobles. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues as to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the pharaohs.

In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun (with its rumors of the curse of the pharaohs) and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.

Next was a stop at an Alabaster factory where they still do all the products by hand. We saw how it was started from a hole in the ground, hollowed out, filed and decorated from the family members that still worked at the art.

One last stop at the Valley of the Queens where the wives of pharaohs were buried in ancient times. It was known then as Ta-Set-Neferu, meaning "the place of beauty". The reason for choosing the Valley of the Queens as a burial site is not known. The close proximity to the workers' village and the Valley of the Kings may have been a factor. Another consideration could have been the existence of a sacred grotto dedicated to Hathor at the entrance of the Valley.

We went into one of the Royal Family tomb’s. He was only a young child so the actual room where the sarcophagus was located was quite small. At some later point in ancient times, before the tomb was discovered, the body of a fetus was placed in it and only the bones remain.

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