>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.
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.
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…