Our very early trip across the Nile:
Early morning commuters off to work on the East Bank:
Early morning shot from the ferry of Luxor Temple that we had visited our first day in Luxor:
Kathy: I am pretty sure these were ReMax balloons.
Holding on for dear life:
It was easy to understand why the road was named the Agricultural Road when we kept passing so many verdant fields and banana plantations.
After an hour or so, it was great driving next to the Nile for a good stretch.
Abdul said we were coming up on El Kab, the oldest city in Egypt at 7,000 years old.
The city was surrounded by walls and had caves in the hills, according to Abdul.
Abdul stated that of all the temple remains in Egypt, the Temple of Edfu is the most completely preserved. To reach the Temple, we had to pass a lot of horse and buggies carrying passengers from the cruise ships who had docked on the nearby Nile.
The entrance to the Temple was certainly impressive as the facade was 20 meters high.
As we got closer to the Temple's original wall, we could see huge battle scenes depicted, just like we had seen at the Habu Temple.
One of the columns actually did portray the ribbon-cutting ceremony that Abdul had told us about!
The 42 differnt provinces of Egypt were listed on this wall.
Each province was represented by a differnt flower:
One fascinating carving was the depiction of the battle between Horus and his arch enemy, Seth, showing Seth in the form of a hippo, a symbol of evil.
One of the largest Tree of Life scenes we'd seen:
I was standing where the ancient Egyptian royal families had stood to watch festivals in the open courtyard.
Back on the Agricultural Road, driving further south, here was one of the 'signs' indicating a speedbump! Other times we saw a garbage can as the marker.
We saw many of these same beautifully flowering bushes along the highway as we drove toward the Temple of Kom Ombo next. I believe Abdul said these were hibiscus flowers and which are often used to treat high blood pressure. Lotus flower oil is used for the hands and cumin for stomach ailments, Abdul added.
The city of Kom Ombo, a garrison town under every dynasty of Egypt as well as Pharaonic, Macedonian and Roman control located 50 kms north of Aswan, was celebrated for the magnificence of its temples.
Kom Ombo, constructed during the 2nd century BC, is the only double temple in Egypt as it was dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god, and Horus, the falcon-headed god. There were two temples in one with each side having its own gateways and chapels.
Abdul explained that people dismantled the blocks to build the city.
The columns on both sides of the imposing entranceway were destroyed as was the sanctuary. There was just a little color that was still visible. Mi, the god of justice, held a sword to divide the temple into two. Kom Ombo was known as the Mountain of Gold as 'Kom' meant mountain and 'Ombo' was the word for gold.
A Roman cartouche for Cleopatra II's husband, Ptolemy VI:
We quickly toured the Crocodile Museum at the temple.
Before visiting the obelisk, it was great to relax for a few minutes at a restaurant on the outskirts of Aswan.
We had never seen so many different types of pasta in one dish before. I found it too highly spiced but Steven ate a good chunk of it.
Aswan is very famous for the granite quarries, and the most visited one is the so-called The Unfinished Obelisk Quarry on the east bank of Aswan.
Possibly intended by Queen Hatsheput as a companion to the Lateran Obelisk, originally at Karnak and now in Rome, it would have measured 120 feet and weighed over 1,150 tons when complete. If the project had been completed, it would be the tallest obelisk in the world. The tallest one now at 33 meters tall, is in Italy and was made by Pharaoh Tuthmosis III.
Quarrymen apparently abandoned the obelisk when fractures appeared in its sides. It still lies where a crack was discovered as it was being hewn from the rock.
The bottom side of the obelisk was still attached to the bedrock. The unfinished obelisk offered unusual insights into ancient Egyptian stone-working techniques. There were marks from workers' tools still clearly visible as well as ochre-colored lines marking where they were working.
This perspective gives a good sense of how gigantic the obelisk was.
It was awfully hot clambering over the rocks so we were so glad we hadn't come in the blistering heat of summer. Seeing the unfinished one still in the ground was worth the visit. To think that the obelisk and other impressive monuments were all quarried with hand tools in the hot Egyptian sun was astounding.
Before the dams were built, the Nile flooded every year during late summer, when water flowed down the valley from its East African drainage basin. These floods brought high water and natural nutrients and minerals that annually enriched the fertile soil along the floodplain and delta; this had made the Nile valley ideal for farming since ancient times.
Because floods vary, in high-water years the whole crop might be wiped out, while in low-water years, widespread drought and famine occasionally occurred. With the reservoir storage provided by the Aswan dams, the floods could be lessened and the water stored for later release. Power from the dam extends all the way to Cairo, Abdul said.
This was just a smidge of man-made Lake Nasser where the water flows south up to the Mediterranean. Part of the 500 mile-long lake is in Sudan. Abdul pointed out how the black line indicated the water level was three meters lower compared to normal in the lake.
The total number of stones used in the construction of the dam was 17 times the number of blocks used to build the Great Pyramid in Giza!
Steven and I are so glad we insisted on seeing the Aswan High Dam on this really long day trip from Luxor. Because of its magnitude, the dam has to be considered one of the world's top engineering feats. If you ever want to realize how small you really are, this was the place to be!
Abdul and we were the only passengers in a boat heading over to Philae Temple. Philae, which means ‘the end’ in Greek, defined the southernmost limit of Egypt. The temple, begun by Ptolemy II and completed by the Roman emperors, was dedicated to the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.
Isis was a very important figure in the ancient world. She was known as ‘Mother of God’ and was represented with a throne on her head. During the Roman period, her cult spread throughout Greece and the Roman empire. There was even a temple dedicated to her in London.
I loved seeing the rocks' reflection in the late afternoon sun.
The temple at Philae was nearly lost under water when the High Aswan Dam was built in the 1960s. Fortunately the temple was rescued by a joint operation between the Egyptian government and UNESCO.
In an engineering feat to rival the ancients, the whole island was surrounded with a dam and the inside pumped dry. Then every stone block of the temple complex was labeled and removed, later to be assembled, like a giant jigsaw puzzle, on the higher ground of Agilka Island. The whole project took ten years but it saved one of Egypt’s most beautiful temples from certain destruction.
Abdul told us that Cleopatra's Needle, which had stood here, was stolen by an Italian in 1816 and is now in London.
Can you even imagine dismantling this humongous building and then putting it back together again? I don't know what word or phrase to use that I have not already used so many times to describe the wonder I had when viewing the temple. At least there were no feet put back upside down unlike one of the temples in Luxor!
So much of the facade was sadly destroyed.
We could read that Napoleon had visited Philae Temple and left his mark on the wall.
There was Latin 'graffiti' on the wall between the two figures. You can see it clearly in the second picture.