10 Days in Egypt | Part 2
Day three took us to the southern sands of Egypt, on a flight from Cairo to Luxor.
We were immediately whisked away to the colossal Karnak Temple. And truthfully, it's more of a massive complex than just a simple temple.
It dates back to 2055 BC and was one of the most important religious sites in ancient Egypt. The Egyptian gods of Amun (god of sun and air), Mut (goddess of Mother Earth), and Khonsu (god of the moon, and sun to Mut) were worshipped here.
The sheer size of Karnak clearly displays just how important this site was. In addition to its religious significance, it also served as a treasury, an administrative center, and palace for the New Kingdom pharaohs.
As if this place could get anymore incredible, we were gifted a private lecture and tour by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. If you've ever seen an interview or documentary regarding Egypt, then you've likely seen him standing next to Dr. Hawass, who we'd all probably recognize.
He was so gracious, animated, and honestly hilarious. I never thought I'd hear him, of all people, yell "Shit!" in the middle of his lecture. He was such a badass.
We learned how the ancient Egyptians managed to build some of these impressive structures. You can see, in the picture below, the progression of a column from right to left - starting in rough blocks, and progressing to the smooth, refined, finished version.
Even the refined columns here were never finished, though, as they didn't have the paintings and hieroglyphs that the truly finished columns did.
And because this part of the complex was never finished, the ancient Egyptians also left clues as to how they built such high walls for their temples - with a mud brick wall.
They'd build the mud rick wall up, layer by layer, as they would construct the actual stone wall. Then, they would do their carvings and paintings starting at the top and work down, layer by layer, breaking down the mud brick wall as they went.
Later that evening, we got to see the Luxor Temple (different than Karnak) lit up at night.
I distinctly remember walking through this temple while the call to prayer of the Muslim faith was echoing throughout the city. The darkness mixed with the grandiosity of the lit structures and the ethereal, eerie sound of the prayer is a core memory I'll never forget.
Ahmed, our guide, also pointed out how much "graffiti" there is on ancient structures around Egypt from the 1800s. You can see some below from 1885.
The next morning we were up early to hit the desert heat in the famous Valley of the Kings. Dozens of tombs have been discovered here, including King Tutankhamen. But first... we had to cross the Nile River to get there ☺️
I found these models fascinating that showed the above-ground view of the tombs, and then the below-ground model of how deep these corridors descend beneath the sand and bedrock.
We explored different Ramses tombs (the most famous Ramses II had 198 children, I learned 🥴) in addition to some other tombs.
The amount of detail is just unfathomable.
And of course, King Tutankhamen's tomb and mummy. I somehow never realized his mummy was also kept here...
And right on the other side of the Valley of the Kings, but still attached to the mountain within in the complex, is the Temple of Hatsepshut.
She was known as the "King Queen" because although she was a women, she always wanted to be depicted as a male King to emphasize her power. So every statue or painting of her is represented as a male Pharaoh.
I'm always just like how did the ancient Egyptians create such perfect, straight, level lines and right angles. I can't wrap my mind around it.
For the next four days, we sailed down the Nile, waking up in a new city each morning. We continued to go further south down the country until we were just a handful of miles away from the Sudan border.
One smoggy, brisk morning, we were escorted to the Edfu Temple in horse and buggy. And perhaps not as wild as driving through Cairo... but it was still pretty wild!
And this is where I'll leave ya today. The final Egypt installment, part 3, will drop soon... 🤗