Friday, January 05, 2007

Egypt - Day 10 - Edfu, Komombo, Philae, High Dam and Aswan

Edfu
Up at 6, picked up at 6.
30 and on the road to Aswan at 7 am. First stop a coffee break then Edfu. Ptolemaic Edfu is as intact a temple as you’ll find in Egypt. Ptolemy VI’s cartouche is everywhere as are some empty cartouches, supposedly to show that the Ptolomies weren’t of real Egyptian stock – seems unlikely. Crossing the bridge over the Nile and through the town you pass the birth house and see the great pylon.

This temple is devoted to
Horus. Its hypostyle hall and temple sanctuary are remarkable. Even the granite block that contained the statue from the god is intact. Mohammed, the guide, was good for a story, although hyperbole would creep in if he was asked questions beyond his standard talks. He explained the Osiris/Seth myth with Isis and her son Horus, that the Royal lineage was down the female line (Isis), explaining why fathers would marry daughters.

His claim that there we
re maybe 30% Christians in Egypt was way off and his 3:1 ratio of girls to boys in the population was incredible. The Nilometer on the right and the Nut room are well worth visiting. All a bit of a rush as the convoy only gave us an hour or so at the site.




Kom Ombo

Stopped at Kom Ombo – dedicated to Sobek - a double temple with Nileometer, interesting reliefs of medical instruments and lots of scrape marks, where women have come to create powdered charms to get well or pregnant. This is still common as Shahhat's mother drank from the sacred pool of Medinet Habu to get pregnant.




High Dam
Off again at breakneck speed to Aswan where we travelled straight through to the British Dam, then High Dam, with its x17 pyramids of granite a mile wide holding back a 500 kilometre Lake Nasser. This was completed in 1971 and has saved
Egypt from flooding and drought, but at a price. They now need fertiliser to grow their crops (produced at the dam) and there is ecological damage. We could see Philae and Karach on the lake. Then we retraced our steps to the boat pier and on to Philae.

Philae
The
Philae myth, that a poor man fell in love with a rich woman, who was locked away on the island only t b followed their by him as he stepped across on the backs of crocodiles, was interesting, but the temple complex is stunning. Two colonnades, one unfinished act as a funnel towards the sacred granite rock and the pylon with Isis big and bold.

Inside are some fine reliefs and lots of graffiti. There’s Trajan’s kiosk, Diocletian’s gate with its steps down to the lake and Hadrian’s Gate. Quiet and idyllic setting.

Back to Aswan and a meal in a local restaurant,. The food was Ok but the interesting sight was a Nubian woman with hennaed hands and a beautiful round face framed in a habib. After dinner we drove up to the Basma Hotel, settled in then went to the Nubian Museum.

Nubian Museum
Great
Museum
in a spacious building tracing the successive Nubian civilisations with their temples. They never really stood a chance against their stronger northern neighbours and adopted most of the Pharonic culture. But this part of Egypt is different – darker, hotter, poorer.

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