After we had driven for a bit, we were told to hide in the far back curtained seat of the huge van before going through the police checkpoint so that Khalid could take the faster Western Desert Highway which is normally closed to tourists. The police say the road is not secure and therefore force people on the far slower Agricultural Road instead. Since Abydos was only 200 kms north of Luxor on the former road compared to 320 kms on the latter road, we could certainly understand why Khalid wanted us to try and escape detection in the rear seat.
It was certainly a novel experience hiding from the police for us! If the police had simply opened the doors, of course we would have been noticed right away. There would have been no consequence for us, only a stiff fine levied against Khalid.
Despite its name, the Western Desert Highway was an amazingly fertile area with lots of farming being done. Abdul mentioned that okra, oranges, grapes and tomatoes were grown here.
The people were making mud bricks that they would then burn to make them harder.
More local homes were being built because the village was expanding. There was still a lot of work to be done before anyone could move in though.
Lots of stretches of the Western Desert Highway were very desolate.
Entering the village of Abydos:
Animals live immediately next to the people’s homes, Abdul said, not in stables on farms outside the village.
Abdul pointed out the barley plants used for the walls and roofs of the homes.
The main temple at Abydos was for Ramses II and his father, Seti I, but there were three other temples too.
According to wikipedia, Osiris was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection and regeneration. Abdul told us that all temples in Egypt had parts of his body and that one of his hands was in Abydos. Considering the staggering number of temples there are in Egypt, I didn’t know how each one could have a piece of him though!
The Greeks and Romans also came to Abydos. He pointed out the limestone and sandstone baptismal font Christians used as we approached the entrance.
The temple contained two halls and seven sanctuaries, one for each god.
The original entrance was covered by sand. The Romans wanted to gain entrance and broke through.
Abdul mentioned that Christians added new inscriptions in the 5th century AD.
The god Osiris, his wife Isis and son Horus:
Giving the ankh or the key of life to the king:
The far more difficult exterior bas-reliefs:
Osiris shown sitting down:
There were seven rooms in the tomb as seven is considered the lucky number for Egypt. Each room had the same offerings, Abdul assured us.
The dome-shaped roofs with stars to help him on the journey to the afterlife.
A basket of fruit to also help the king on his journey:
There were seven sanctuaries here, not just the customary one, and niches in between each sanctuary.
The guard, holding a machine gun, had been wandering around the many chambers in the tomb. Abdul told the guard he should be outside the tomb as it was very upsetting to tourists seeing him inside. We hadn't said that but that was probably not far off the mark.
Seti I teaching Ramses II the names of the 76 kings that had come before. What a history lesson - sure glad I didn't have to remember the names!
In the main room dedicated to the god Osiris, the faces had been chiseled out by Christians who were against the Egyptian religion, Abdul stated.
We left the marvelous temple then to drive to a small restaurant for lunch. Despite the fact so many tourists come to Abydos, there was nothing we saw in the way of any tourist infrastructure at all in the area - absolutely no shops selling any souvenir items and nothing that would make anyone want to linger awhile.
Abdul had needed to order our lunch ahead of time so we wouldn't have to wait even though we were the only patrons except for the local tourist police officer who followed us in. Here Steven was showing Abdul what a 'bookmark' was on the computer.
The sign said 'Goodbye' as we left the town.
There were a large number of homes that had barley fences and roofs in the area around Abydos:
The columns and the entranceway were added by the Romans when they controlled Egypt.
After learning from Abdul that this was Bes, the god of fun, I was interested to read more about him. Bes was an ancient Egyptian dwarf god who was both a deity and a demonic fighter. He was a god of war yet he was also a patron of childbirth and the home. It was thought that he could scare off any evil spirits lurking around the birthing chamber by dancing, shouting and shaking his rattle!
Bes was associated with sexuality, humor, music and dancing. Although he began as a protector of the pharaoh, he became very popular with every day Egyptian people because he protected women and children above all others. Bes had no temples and there were no priests ordained in his name but he was often depicted on household items such as furniture, mirrors and cosmetic containers.
Abdul said this was the only temple where we could walk into the crypt underground. There were nine columns on each side of the temple. Each column represented ten days and included the Zodiac symbols.
The eye represented the god, Osiris.
The 14 figures represented the same number of pieces of Osiris in other temples.
On the ceiling were many Zodiac symbols: The scorpion was for Gemini which is my sign.
The scale was a sign for Libra.