Thursday, 25 August 2011

... Egypt: Temple Trekking

I awoke this morning just after 5am to kingfishers singing & fish jumping whilst I lay on a Felucca moored on the bank of the Nile. Breakfast was a brisk & simple affair, the food nothing particularly spectacular but filled the void and washed down with a much needed cup of coffee albeit made with powdered milk. Starbucks this isn't.

There was actually not much sailing time left and this was sped up by the support boat which had a motor, the Felucca would be returning to Aswan. The boat finally docked at Kom Ombo and it was time to disembark upon which was the return to more modern means of transportation of the four-wheeled kind.

On a promontory overlooking the Nile lies a unique Egyptian temple. The Temple of Kom Ombo was not dedicated to just one god but two, the local crocodile god Sobek and Haroeris (Horus the Elder).

This is also seen with the layout of the temple: it is exactly split in half & replicated along the main axis with carvings of the two gods on either side and a double altar for them both at the centre of the forecourt.

Up until recently the small shrine to Hathor was used to store the mummified crocodiles in the clay coffins that had been dug up from a near-by sacred animal graveyard. The reliefs are pretty amazing to see, so intricately carved telling their stories. Little pockets of colour remain only to further enhance their beauty and you can't quite believe that you are looking at something thousands of years old.

Of particular interest is the piece depicting a collection of "surgical instruments" on the back wall of the northern corner of the temple. It is believed that they would have been used for surgery.

To the north, Edfu is where you will find the Temple of the falcon god Horus.

Interestingly the temple was completed by the famous Cleopatra's (Cleopatra VII) father and depicts the lives of the Greek Pharaohs through colossal reliefs.

Highlights of this temple include the huge granite statues of Horus as a falcon and the sanctuary of Horus containing a polished grate shrine. All of it however is fascinating to see.

The men that "guard" both temples are poised for action... To leap into your photo at just the wrong time because they believe that makes it "authentic" for you and then of course expect a baksheesh (tip) for their trouble. I have perfected the art of appearing blind, deaf & mute over the last week to avoid any misunderstandings that I not only wanted someone in my picture but their friend, their friend's friend, the neighbours donkey and some tat trinket made not in Egypt but China that they will then try to sell to me for some extortionate price.

Once I started to smell like chicken because I was cooking in the heat I realized I'd had my fill of temples for the day and it was time to head further north to Luxor in the comfort of air conditioning.

- Posted using BlogPress from Nic's iPad

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