>Pharaonic Journeys day 5

>First things first: I owe my readers an apology, you guys have been waiting and coming back several times to check for an update and I havent put one… the truth is I got to go home recently for 3 weeks after 6 months and just went completely tech-less for that time.. didnt even check my mail!! So if youll all forgive me, heres the next installment, and for those that had unanswered comments on the last post, Ive replied on it, so feel free to check on them if you like.

After a good and satisfying first day run on my whirlwind tour of the treasures of ancient Egypt, the second day began with a mega bang!
Waking up early at the best of times is a serious pain in my ass, but for a good enough reason, I’m willing to wake up whenever needed. This was certainly put to the test when I had to rise at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am to undertake the next outing. So getting my shit together, I got up, got ready and strode zombie-like onto the bus that would carry me to my next destination(s) as our boat lazily flowed up-river to meet us at the end of the days line.
I was barely alive on the bus but surged into full wakefulness when we were crossing the river and had to stop to get a shot of the sunrise over the Nile. I’m so proud of this shot, taken half asleep and more then a little grumpy – you can see a breathtaking sunrise across the river and right under it you can see the boat I was travelling by just underneath as it glides along the waters surface. What can I say? It may not be the greatest shot or anything, but I’m a sucker for sunrises and sunsets…

Anyhow, we continued on as the sun began to climb higher and higher toward its zenith and then eventually stopped at the remnants of the Colossi of Memnon. These things have an amusing history behind them: These 2 massive statues stand across the river from the ancient city of Thebes in what was the Theban Necropolis and were originally meant to represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but after the Greeks and Romans came down into Egypt they were renamed. It seems that something about the location, material used and construction of the statues made for an interesting effect – every morning at sunrise, the statues used to produce a whistling kind of sound that was almost like singing and the foreigners were awed by this. They felt that they were of Memnon, a Trojan War hero killed by Achilles, who was the child of a Trojan and the goddess Eos (Greek) or Aurora (Roman) and had after his death been granted immortality by Zeus after seeing his mothers grief. She was the goddess of the dawn and the statues singing at the sunrise were as Memnon singing to his mother everyday.
Ok, moving on! After a few quick shots here and admiring more of the beautiful scenery around us, we rushed on to get to our next location as early as possible. Despite all the rushing and early rising, we barely made it in time to beat the crowds. This next location is one of the more fascinating because of its mythology – The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Women had a high status in ancient Egypt and legally enjoyed the right to own, inherit and will property. Though Cleopatra is the most well know of the (few and far between) female pharaohs, Hatshepsut was unquestionably the most powerful of them. She was first the pharaohs wife and after his death was originally supposed to have been simply a co-regent with her very young nephew Thutmose III, but ended up ruling for a period of about 22 years (though there is argument that it may well have been considerably longer!) Anyhow, she is recognised as a great ruler, re-establishing trade routes that had been lost and undertaking several construction projects – including the obelisks at the entrance to Karnak (see earlier post!) – and she also may have led several successful military campaigns early on in her reign.
Anyhow, this particular place we are now is known as the Deir el-Bahri, which was her mortuary temple (temples usually constructed in the vicinity of royal tombs). I managed to get in just a smidgen ahead of the thronging tourists and get a couple of really pretty shots of the temple in the early morning light – you can imagine why I wanted some without throngs of idiot tourists! There’s still a lot of restoration and such being carried on, so you cant see the whole thing, but it is still magnificent to behold and as this shot shows, it’s a killer view from the top! Hatshepsut assumed all of the regalia and symbols of the Pharaonic office in official representations – the Khat head cloth, topped with an uraeus, the traditional false beard, and shendyt kilt, all of which can be seen in her statues. For more info, google or wiki her out, but she had several tales about her including one that she was the child of the god Amun. That said, her amazing reign came to an end and Thutmose III took over and became a great warrior and such. The sad thing though is that at some point in his reign he started to try and erase any traces of her having been pharaoh from all historical records, possibly trying to relegate her to being simply a queen. Its not clear even today why exactly he did this and hers is one of the mummies that has yet not been recovered (that we know of). She is today one of the most fascinating figures in ancient Egyptian history.

Before moving ahead, this is a composite of pictures from the top of Hatshepsuts temple… I know Im not too good with photoshopping yet, but give me time and hopefully the rest will get better!Moving on to the last leg of this trip – the famed Valley of the Kings! The official name for the site in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, or more usually, Ta-sekhet-ma’at (the Great Field). Now I’m gonna talk only in bits about this cos well, otherwise its gonna get waaay too bloody long. The valley itself was constructed on the Nile’s west bank under a mountain, that is shaped like a giant pyramid (thus keeping with the pyramid concept), the point to note is why. Even back in the ancient days, there was much fear of grave robbers and most of ancient Egyptian history has been lost to robbers since that time itself. So the pharaohs moved to this isolated valley and built these hidden tombs with false chambers and secret rooms burrowed under these mountains. The sad thing about visiting the Valley I discovered is that they allow you to visit only 3 tombs per person and my biggest tragedy here was that I was not allowed to go into the 2 that I wanted to see most! (Seti I and Ramses the great)
So I picked others (Seti II, Merenptah & Ramses III) that looked most interesting from what I could see and went down, down, down into the earth and felt a change in the air and in fact the entire atmosphere around me. The art and relief’s on the wall were amazing, retaining their colour to this day almost perfectly in some spots. And there were a few areas where it was obvious that the work was unfinished. You can see the work in the stages in which it was undertaken and it brought back to me all the things I had read about this in detail. You see the ancient Egyptians took their craft really seriously, in fact there were guys who specialised in sketching the initial design, others in carving hands or faces or in painting trees or in smoothening and treatment for preservation. There was such a degree of specialisation and division of tasks, its small wonder that they produced such wonders! Now more irritatingly sad news: you’re not allowed to take picture inside the tombs… (Don’t tell anyone, but I quietly managed to sneak a couple of quick shots here and there and though most were not too good, a couple actually did alright and so I’m putting them here to give you what little glimpse I can.)
Now one thing that people don’t know is that King Tut’s tomb here was found purely by accident by an archeologist who fell into it. Tut himself was actually a mostly unimportant ruler in history who didn’t rule all that long anyway, but he is famous today because his tomb somehow remained hidden and was one of the only ones known to have not been plundered and was thus discovered with treasures and artefacts that would blow your mind (see old post).
After this long and exhausting day, all I wanted was to kick back with a drink and a smoke and relax until tomorrow. Making my way back to the boat, there was tea and biscuits waiting on the top deck! Now this amused me more then anything and in a strange way made me feel like I was back in time, sailing on a slow steamer down the Nile, after having seen many wonders having my spot of evening tea and crumpets as I pondered the world around me…
Oh yeah, I had to put up this pic of a vending machine I saw cos it made me laugh and I figured you guys would be as amused by it too. Cheers…
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18 Comments Add yours

  1. Renovatio says:

    >First off, you don’t need to apologize, we can see through it, we know you think we’re a bunch of schmucks.Other than that, You need a wider lens on that camera man, a 360 degree view at least. Try a video camera next time, and spin around in circles.Really though, you’ve got a good eye man, nice shots.

  2. requiem says:

    >Hey mate no apologies needed ! So you back now? How come they only allow you to visit two tombs? superstition? BTW have you been to the center of a pyramid? there’s supposed to be a mass concentration of energy at the center of a pyramid. Anyway. Glad to see you had fun. BTw I finally saw “The big Lebowski”. remembered the quote fro mthere.

  3. The Dude says:

    >renovatio:aw, cmon man… i dont think youre schmucks! just putz’s.. kidding! thanks, glad you like the pics, put lots this time and the next one will likely have more as i cant bloody pick!!ive got a wide lens camera, but its an old school pentax thats older n me, film and developings expensive and i take like a hundred plus shots easy on trips like this, so i only rarely take shots with that one.. will try to take some next trip! requiem:yeah, im back now.. my net still shits a brick (download speed is average 4 kbps) but im still persevering!no, the whole limiting how many tombs and such you can see is cos theres jsut so many people that its hard to keep control and this helps (you can see a part of the crowd in one of the valley of the kings shots) and the control on photos i understand cos most idiots dont know how and flashes and shit can damage the paint and the art. i was in the centre of a pyramid, if you read one of the earlier ones, i even lay in the pharaohs tomb! didnt feel much ‘energy’ as such, just a calm feeling of solitude and ease.. alright! another little lebowski urban achiever (or not) in the fold! welcome!cheers boys..

  4. Renovatio says:

    >I was joking. It’s hard to get 360 degree shots, you need a special rotating lens for that. and you haven’t visited my little slice of the blogsphere in a while.

  5. Anki says:

    >ok so here’s the deal… all my frequent flyer miles(wohoo i actually have those) are gonna get me somewhere n guess wat thanx to u it will b egypt (n Jordan) hopefully before this year endsn yipeeeeeeeeeee ur blog’s my lonely planet guide but just wondering… are there ny crocs in the Nile???(coz i have an unexplained fear of pregnant ladies n crocs)

  6. Anki says:

    >Oh n yeahee hee for the vending machine

  7. The Dude says:

    >renovatio:hey man, yeah i havent been by in a while, but that cos i have this connection in office that at the best of times is like some 3kbps, its mainly why it took so long to add this most recent post even after i got back from delhi.. will visit you asap, i have a lot of blogs to catch up on!anki:glad to be of assistance dear one, anything you want to know specifically, like hotel names or cruise lines or some such, im happy to help where i can, though your needs may be different from mine!nile crocs are a unique topic… they have a lot of history and are endangered, but yes there are some crocs in the nile though not nearly as many as you might imagine or as there used t be. i would say avoid going in the water if you can… glad you liked the pics ;)Cheers..

  8. utopia says:

    >that was some comment on my last post. strange how ppl have had experiences akin to mine. 🙂

  9. >Nice pics, you can write much better.I share your taste in books. Not all, but enough.

  10. serendipity says:

    >amazing journey it sounds like…I am so jealous of you right now because I am the most obsessed Egyptian history geek ever…and just fyi, since you came back from Egypt…Hatshepsut’s mummy has been found by Zahi Hawass and his team :)check it out – http://www.guardian.co.uk/egypt/story/0,,2112583,00.html

  11. The Dude says:

    >utopia:what can i say? its why i love blogging, you meet so many people – both vastly different and eerily alike.AQC:thanks. well, its good that we dont like all the same books… when people agree on everything life gets boring eh?serendipity:it was.. im a history buff and ancient egypt holds a special place in me.i did hear about the finding of hatshepsuts mummy, but ive also heard that theres still some doubt as to whether its actually her.

  12. mystic rose says:

    >the series continues.. :)this is so awesome! and what a way to end the day! floating down the Nile on a steamer, tea and crumpets! mmmm..and romantic too! 😛

  13. Evil Spock says:

    >God, that trip must’ve been a great trip. I’ve always wanted to visit Egypt.Btw, thanks for visiting my part of blogdom!

  14. The Dude says:

    >mystic rose:yeah.. like i said in the post, it was reminiscent of those old stories i used to read and even a little like agatha christies murder on the nile if you know what i mean.. i actually spent the brunt of my time on the boat on the top deck either ruminating or reading florence nightingales letters of her travels in egypt.evil spock:thanks for droppin in yourself, always good to see a new face. if you get the chance to go to egypt, take my word for it – its truly worth it!cheers…

  15. Shreya says:

    >the pics taken are so beautiful and your descriptions makes me want to go to egypt 😛

  16. Renovatio says:

    >You know what they say when it comes to ancient Egypt; Sticks and stones may be remnants of a lost age but peanut butter still sticks to the roof of your mouth.Update already man!

  17. The Dude says:

    >shreya:thanks, always good to be appreciated..renovatio:ah! so that explains why the americans dropped peanut butter on afghanistan… imagine trying to have a call to jihad with a mouthful of peanut butter!dont worry, im writing it out now, come monday morning thou shalt have a new installment to entertain thee with several more pictures!cheers..

  18. >I love your blog!may all the greatness of your hearts desires come true and they do…more bliss to you…here is a friends amazing and beautiful website! for you to enjoy too!www.theomegashift.com more bliss to you

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