Today we visited the Temple of Horus at Edfu, which was constructed between 237 BC and 57 BC by Alexander the Great when the Greeks captured Egypt. He believed to get the people behind him, he had to support their religion, so no temples to the Greek god Zeus were constructed. Alexander the Great was well liked by the Egyptian people. The city of Edfu stands beside the Nile almost exactly half-way between Luxor and Aswan. It was important sacred site to the Egyptians because according to the ancient myth, this was where the falcon god, Horus, fought a fierce battle with his evil uncle Set or Seth (Set became our word, Satin).
The story of Osiris, Isis, Set and Horus is one of the ancient Egyptian myths. The story has it that Osiris was a king who taught the Egyptians how to live, worship and grow corn. Everyone loved him. He was murdered by his jealous brother Set, who cut up his body into fourteen pieces, scattering it over Egypt. To pass to the afterlife, your body must be whole - the reason for mummification. Osiris’s beloved wife Isis and her sister Nephthys found thirteen of the pieces. Ahmed, our guide, had us guess which piece was missing. He said it was the most important part, so we guessed heart, brain, hands, etc. “No,” he said. If we were Egyptians, he would tell us it was the obelisk or maybe because we were American, he could call it the cucumber. Anyway, we got which part. Isis using magic made Osiris the missing part out of mud. Since we were standing around ancient mud bricks, it was a very graphic picture. She put all 14 pieces back together, including the mud part, as the first mummy. Then, Isis used her magic to revive him and at the same time conceive a son, Horus, who would avenge his father, Osiris went down to the underworld to be the lord and judge of the dead. Set, the devil, was turned into a hippo. The hieroglyphics that tell the story show Horus as a huge figure, and Set, the hippo, as small figure. Good versus evil. The same idea as St. George slaying the dragon, only St. George is on a horse and Horus is on a boat slaying Set.
Earlier, Isis magically cured Horus’s left eye after Set cut it up into six pieces. These pieces cut up are the Egyptian symbols for fractions. His eye together looks like the Rx used today in prescriptions from the doctor. Even the doctors in our group did not know the origin of the Rx symbol. The Egyptians gave us many things we do not give them credit for.
This temple was almost completely buried under sand and silt for nearly two thousand years and is the largest and best preserved temple in Egypt. During the times of the Romans, the Christians, who were escaping persecution, lived in the exposed part of the temple for over 200 years. There was a lot of soot on the ceilings. A scientist has come up with a way to remove the soot and leave the colored hieroglyphics. The Egyptians painted with egg white, gum and coloring from plants. The paint was then covered with bees wax. Amazing how much of this color has lasted thousands of years.
Sailing down the Nile is very interesting. No doubt where the river overflows it banks. The land is green, green. Right behind the line of trees, the desert looms in the distance. If you only look at the green, you might think you were in Florida, with the palm trees, that is until you see the animals grazing along the banks of the river. The stark contrast of the desert directly behind the green convinces one, this is not Florida. Today the flooding is controlled by the Aswan dam. We see the temple of Kom Ombo this afternoon.
The main means of transportation in Egypt, except for Cairo, is the donkey - no cars.
When on tour, sunscreen is of course a common topic. Some people were saying they had 15 SPF and certainly that was good. One of the doctors in our group is a dermatologist. We asked her what she wears. 100 SPF was the answer. Interesting!