Here are photos from two visits to Egypt – one in 1996 and one in 1999. In one trip, we did a cruise of the River Nile from Cairo in the North to Aswan in the South. In the second trip, we cruised Lake Nasser which is to the South of Aswan and the Aswan Dam. These photos were shot on film and scanned in, then tweaked in Adobe Lightroom.
First, the infamous Abu Simbel on the bank of Lake Nasser. I think the cruise ship docked next to Abu Simbel and the people standing in front of the temple shows the scale of it quite well – it is absolutely massive. Even more impressively, they were made 1300 years BC. And even more amazing than that, this is not the original location of the temple. The entire temple was moved in 1968 to avoid flooding from the Aswan Dam. The actual temple location would be beneath the water in the photo below. The is also an interesting solar phenomenon with Abu Simbel where on two days of the year (Feb 21st and Oct 21st) the sun can shine in through the entrance to the temple and illuminate statues in the back of the temple. These two dates lie exactly 61 days before and 61 days after the Winter Solstice and all statues are lit by the sun apart from Ptah, the god of the underworld.
View of Aswan from Lake Nasser
View of Lake Nasser from the Aswan Dam
The Colossi of Memnon. These are two enormous stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III were built 3400 years ago to guard the entrance to his memorial temple. Unfortunately, the statues are heavily damaged and the temple itself has been long destroyed by flooding and earthquakes. However, 3400 years later, they are still here.
Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple (Djeser Djeseru) opposite Luxor, part of the Deir-el-bahari complex. This temple is over 4000 years old and the steep ramp in front of the temple would once have been covered with gardens.
The Edfu Temple of Horus, outside the city of Edfu, near Aswan. This is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. Many other temples were deliberately defaced by christians where the faces were chiseled from statues and stone carvings were purposefully damaged.
The pryamids at Giza, outside of Cairo. What was amazing to me was how close the pyramids are to the City itself. I can only imagine that in 2012 the city has grown further and become even closer to the pryamids. The pyramids themselves are amazing, and absolutely enormous but of course they are surrounded by merchants selling tourist junk, camel rides and guided tours.
Next are some view from along the River Nile. Here you can see normal people living and working along the banks of the river. We saw children playing and women washing clothes in the Nile, as well as farming, houses and animals. What also surprised me is how fertile and green the land is. I know that the Egyptians call the Nile the lifeblood of the country, and this is definitely right. Most cities, towns and villages are concentrated along the length of the Nile, as well as most historical tombs, temples and monuments.
Next up, Kassir Ibrim (Fort of Ibrim) South of Aswan on Lake Nasser. The fort stands on an island most of the time, unless water levels in Lake Nasser fall low enough to connect it to the shore. Before the Aswan Dam, the fort would have sat on a hill 70m above the rest of the Nile, hence its use as a strategic fort.
Temple of Kom Ombo. The temple was built around 250 years BC, and much has been destroyed by flooding and earthquakes, but some parts are still well preserved. In the photo below, you can still see some colour in the hieroglyphic inscriptions. The temple has duplicate halls and sanctuaries for two different gods – Horus and Sobek. Sobek is the Ancient Egyptian god of fertility and has the head of a crocodile. Ombo is an area close to sandbanks were crocodiles would frequently be found basking, and in the temple itself there were 300 mummified crocodiles inside when it was discovered.
Temple of Kom Ombo as viewed from the Nile. The temple is perfectly symmetrical along the central axis, split between Horus and Sobek.
Temple of Kom Ombo. And of course everywhere you go there are lots of things for sale!
Temple of Isis on the island of Philae in Lake Nasser. The island is very small but very significant in Ancient Egyptian history. Philae was the burial site of Osiris (the Ancient Egyptian god of afterlife) and so only priests were allowed to be on the island. It was also reported that no birds flew over the island and no fish would approach the shores. In more recent history, an ancient obelisk was found on the island in the 1820’s and brought back to England. It is still here today in the National Trust property Kingston Lacy in Dorset.
The Great Pyramid at Giza. As you can see, the scale of the pryamid is enormous, with each stone block being around 5ft high. They are also extremely accurately positioned with almost no gaps between the stones.
The Great Sphynx of Egypt. The Sphynx is a mythical creature with the body of a cat with the head of a human, and this one was built an amazing 4500 years ago making it the oldest and also the largest monumental sculpture on the earth.
Wadi-es-Sebua or Valley of the Lions in Nubia.