10 February, 2015

Egypt, Day 8

Today started with a quick trip to see the unfinished obelisk of Hatshepsut.   Had it been finished, it would have been the largest known obelisk in Egypt.  Workmen carved the basic shape out of the walls of the quarry and then transported the rough monument to it’s final home where it was polished up and carved.  However, on this particular one, as the workmen got closer and closer to their goal, the stone suddenly cracked down the middle.  They did try to cut it into pieces to salvage something, but the flaw in the stone ran deep, so the whole thing was abandoned.

With our ship docked, we took a small boat out to the temple of Philae on an island in the middle of the Nile.  The temple was actually moved in the 80s as once the New Aswan dam was built, parts of the Nile flooded and several temples were left underwater.  This particular one was moved to a nearby island.

Here you can see the sandbar, which is all that remains of the temple’s original location.

This temple has a lot to do with the protection and growth of a young pharaoh.  In parallel to the story of Horus being protected by Hathor, this temple shows a young prince being taken care of in his first 7 days by 7 different wet nurses.  There are also scenes that show the main wet nurse being given life (in the form of an ankh) from the Nile so she can pass it on to the child.  Meanwhile, Horus in his falcon form watches over everyone.

This was a particularly nice look at Isis protecting Osiris.

We returned to the mainland by boat and loaded onto the bus for a quick drive over the old British Aswan dam and a stop at the New High Dam.  

The construction of the High Dam also created Lake Nasser, which at the time is the fourth largest manmade body of water in the world.  It’s also the keeper of many other antiquities as not everything could be moved to safety like the Temple of Philae or Abu Simbel.

After a very quick lunch, it was time to head to a Nubian village to see how some everyday people live their lives.   Riding in a small boat, we frequently got to see cemeteries as well as other local burial sites that are being restored along the way.   We also paused for a moment so that Jihan our tour guide could lecture as we brought two boats together and she stood in the space between them.  I’m starting to think there is nothing this woman can’t do!

The river is amazing and clear in this part, with startling rock formations and lush vegetation.

I particularly enjoyed this house slowly being swallowed by the desert.

Finally we arrived at the Nubian village.  After a small lesson in Arabic and Nubian, we were able to walk through the village and were invited into a local home.

A local home where the owners keep crocodiles as pets.  Not sure they’re quite cute and cuddly enough for my tastes.

As we headed back to the small boat, we were able to walk through a small market.  The display of spices captures me every time.

On our way back to the ship, the owners of our boat laid out some of the traditional hand made Nubian jewelry and keepsakes.  Yep, we had som

The last image I’ll leave you with is this Faluka.  Tomorrow, it will be our turn to ride in one!

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