Yesterday afternoon, we visited the Karnak complex, considered to be among the world’s largest ancient temple complexes. Inside, we saw the Temple of Amun, who was the god at that time.
Today on the way to the Valley of the Kings we drove by farm after farm. If you have up to five acres, Ahmed said you can do pretty well for your family. All work is done by hand and donkey. Seeing people cutting hay by hand and loading it on a wagon later to be pulled by their donkey, was to imagine the early pioneers. Not a tractor in sight! Ahmed told us that the animals live in the houses because they are so important to the farm. Some of the donkeys in town were in such bad shape, I had to wonder. Of course, so many of the people are in bad shape themselves. I must say the donkeys on the farms looked much better. In town, some donkeys pull their carts and owners, minus a bridle, and look fat and happy. Other donkeys look near death. He also told us that due to the time people now waste watching TV, people are getting lazy and don’t work as hard as they once did. So what is new??
After our visit to the Valley of the Kings we returned to our boat by ferry. Getting out of the ferry was sporting, and I felt like I was back in the Antarctica, except unlike Antarctica, I wasn’t going to step into the Nile. I was able to jump onto the steps from the ferry with Tom’s help. Go me! We learned about a creature that lives in the Nile that gets into your body through the skin and eats your liver. You don’t realize this is happening until only 25% of your liver remains. Then of course it is too late. I’m not touching the river water if I can help it. We have seventeen people in our group and three have already been ill.
In the afternoon, we came to the Esna Lock, the only Lock we will go through. While the ships wait their turn to pass through the lock, the ship is besieged by vendors yelling, “Hey, lady!” They are in small row boats and throw the goods in plastic bags up to the third deck. If you can agree on a price, you throw the money back down in another plastic bag. It was a new experience. Here the vendors in the street shove things in your face and say, “One dollar,” of course what they are showing you is never one dollar. I probably would have bought things if it wasn’t so difficult.
Karnak was constructed over the reigning period of approximately 30 pharaohs. The most famous was Ramses II, who during the 19th Dynasty 1279-1213 BC, had 80,000 people work on this temple. Since it took so long to build a statue, he had the names erased on all of the existing statues and put his own name. He also had all of his hieroglyphics dug deeper into the stones so that the pharaohs who followed could not erase his name. Talk about the “me” generation. Next, onto the Temple of Luxor which was built by Amenhotep III and Ramses II.
Keep in mind that the first pyramid was built in 2650 B.C. and the Great Pyramid of Giza is dated at 2589 B.C. In the Valley of the Kings we entered three tombs plus the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun or our spelling Tutankhamen. Inside his tomb, which is very small, we saw his actual mummy. He was very small. His face was perfectly preserved. The body was poorly preserved so covered with a sheet. You can however, see his feet. We saw the tombs of Ramses III, 1184-1153 BC; Ramses IV 1153-1147; and Ramses IX 1126-1108. This was the only finished tomb, complete with the sarcophagus. The tomb of Ramses IV had Greek and Coptic graffiti markings on the walls but there are still vividly colored scenes. In the burial camber, the goddess Nut (pronounced noot) stretches across the ceiling. It is said that she swallows the sun god each evening and then gives birth each morning to the sun, which once again crosses the sky. We also visited the temple of Hatshepsut, 18th Dynasty 1473-1458. Her name in pronounced, Hat ship suit. This is a breathtaking partly rock-hewn sight at Deir al-Bahri. She named herself pharaoh and also said she was a god.