The Nile, Abdul told us, divided Luxor into the West and East Banks; the former was known as the Death Side which we would visit tomorrow. Luxor has been described as the world’s biggest open-air museum. There were just two temples on the East Bank which we would be seeing today.
Many people know that Luxor was once Thebes, but 'Thebes' was not what the ancient Egyptians called it. Ancient texts show that it was called t-apt, which means 'the shrine,' with the ancient Greeks calling it tea pie. The Arabs had problems with pronunciation and so it became Thebes to them. By the 10th century, Arab travelers thought the ruins were of grand buildings so they started to call it Al-Oksour, or 'site of the palaces' which slowly became Luxor.
The Quay of Amun was the dock where the large boats that carried the statues of the gods moored during festivals.
A ramp sloped down to the processional avenue of ram-headed sphinxes.
It was riveting seeing the grand parade of sphinxes. There had been 42 sphinxes but all had been covered by water.
This one was still very well preserved even though mud had once enveloped the entire area.
One of the Nubian kings added ten columns to the temple. Only one remained in the middle of the Court as a flood in 1887 was so strong it destroyed the others.
The Great Hypostyle Hall was one of the greatest religious monuments ever built and an unforgettable forest of 134 towering stone pillars. Their papyrus shape symbolized a swamp which was a common feature along the Nile.
Ancient Egyptians believed that papyrus plants surrounded the mound on which life was first created. Each summer when the Nile began to flood, this hall and its columns would fill with several feet of water. Originally, the columns had been brightly painted and roofed.
It was remarkable seeing the color preserved through the millennia.
The size and grandeur of the pillars and the endless decorations were overwhelming. I was glad that Abdul gave us time to just stare at the dizzying spectacle.
The symbol of the Tree of Life is preserved in every temple, Abdul assured us.
In 1903, 700 statues and 17,000 bronze items were discovered underground, Abdul explained.
In the offering wall, there would have been jewelry and vases. Queen Hatsheput’s face was sadly destroyed by her son, Tuthmosis III, as was her name and record of her achievements.
The scarab was not destroyed as that was a sign for good luck.
The Akhmenou was an independent temple on the eastern side of the temple built by Tutmosis III during the 23rd year of his reign. The nail-shaped column of Akhmenou was never repeated elsewhere, Abdul told us.
The bright yellow stars on the pale blue background were a scene we’d see time and time again in many tombs. We had first seen that design on the carpet being woven in Giza but neither of us knew then it would soon become a familiar sight.
The water for the king's purification area came from the Nile.
As we walked back to the entrance, we took time to see the columns in more detail.
As we left Karnak Temple, we could see the crowds of tourists just coming in. Abdul said we should feel like this had been a presidential visit as there had been so few people!
The main door of the mosque which was discovered in 1940: Everything we were looking at had been underground, Abdul explained. There had been four churches found under the mosque.
The Great Court of Ramses II was surrounded by a double row of columns with lotus bud designs at the top.
One of the Ramses II statues with the very small statue of his wife Nefetari:
Look at the leopard-style dress!
Steven with Abdul:
In the Colonnade Hall, we saw a statue of Ahmenhotep II, the grandfather of Tuthmosis II, and his wife. He is the only king shown with his wife at the same level.
There were two rows of seven columns per side as seven was the lucky number for Egyptians. The walls behind the columns were decorated during the reign of Tutankhamen.
Part of a depiction of The Last Supper indicating the Christians' strong influence on the area.
Some of the blocks in the former mosque's stable area had fallen down and were then put up feet first!
This whole area had been black from cooking fires until it was cleaned four years ago, Abdul said.
A cartouche, i.e. his name as written in hieroglyphics, of Alexander the Great dating from 330 BC:
The Sacred Road was paved with sandstone blocks, many of them used from earlier monuments, and bordered by hundreds of painted sandstone sphinxes bearing the king’s head with a lion’s body symbolizing his strength and kinship over all of nature, according to Abdul.