Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giants from the Past

These twin 60-foot statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III have guarded the Theban Necropolis across the Nile from Luxor since 1350 BCE. Called the Colossi of Memnon, these awe-inspiring figures were our first site-seeing treat when we reached Luxor.

Ashley poses at the base of one Colossus.

Birds perch on the motionless, timeless giants.

The Colossi of Memnon originally stood at the entrance to a mortuary temple for Amenhotep. Though once the biggest and most opulent temple in Egypt, there is almost nothing left of it now, due to degradation from the Nile floods and later rulers' common habits of dismantling previous temples and reusing the stones.

After the Colossi, we visited Medinet Habu, a mortuary temple for Ramesses III famed for its inscribed images of battles against the mysterious "sea peoples" in the 12th century BCE.

Misha in the courtyard of Habu, dwarfed by statues and pillars.

The courtyard.

The huge temple echoes with hieroglyphs that Ramesses was determined would not be forgotten. He purposely had his workers carve the symbols deeply into the walls, so that they would not easily be scratched out by successive rulers.

Habu temple, with the mountains behind.

Misha, Josh, and Growl in front of Habu.

Misha before a celebration of Ramesses' success in battle.

Appreciating some very deeply-carved hieroglyphs.

More hieroglyphs that have stood the test of time. Note that they are even deep enough for Growl the Bear to sit inside.

More scenes from the walls of Habu.

Some of the inner walls retain their color, like this image of the keys of life

and this beautifully engraved column.

The final part of our tour for the day was Hatshepsut's Temple. Hatshepsut was one of Egypt's most successful pharaohs and the longest reigning woman of ancient Egypt. Her masterpiece building project was her mortuary temple, built into the cliff face. An advanced, symmetrical structure, her temple predates the Parthenon by 1000 years. This site was of such importance that other rulers continued to build near her temple. Thus, this region later became the Valley of the Kings.

Her temple was once surrounded by beautiful gardens.

The columns up close.

Bud, walking up to Hatshepsut's temple.

Since we started touring insanely early in the morning to enjoy the coolest weather possible, we were finished by 10 a.m!


Bill said...

Amazing pictures! Nice that you toured early in the day, while it wasn't toooo hot. -mom

kate said...

So big and impressive. So much interesting history. Thanks for the blog.