This morning (the 25th) we ate a light breakfast and took a bus
out to the granite quarry where much of the pink statuary we
have seen and will see was cut. There was the largest obelisk
ever found - lying on its side, cracked and unfinished.
Sal was scolded for hopping onto the obelisk by a guard - did
he think Sal was going to break it some more? We rode down to
the Aswan High Dam -
quite a structure and a huge feat of engineering (but, hey,
it's a dam).
Best of all, we went by small boat over to Agilkia Island to
view the Ptolemeic Greco-Roman Temples of Philae. These structure
were built in honor of Isis around 4 BC. First we come to a
beautiful blend of Greek, Doric and Egyptian columns
(32 of them no two alike). There is a pylon (entry) to
the pavilion of Nectanebo I (built to look like a giant sistrum)
and decorated with reliefs
The entries and ceilings depicted the sacred birds associated
with Isis and the walls were carved in high relief.
Trajans Pavilion was
small but had ornate finials in the lotus design and a beautiful
view of the lake. There were small offering type temples scattered
around the site that really made it feel like it was an active
village in the past.
After lunch we set sail for Kom Ombo.
It was a wonderful trip, sailing along at a good clip, up on
the top deck, having afternoon tea while watching the countryside
and country lifestyle sliding by lazily. The shore is vibrantly
green and lush. There were fishermen, lotus gatherers, shepherds,
cattle and goats, small villages with women washing clothes
and bright laundry on the line, children playing.
Kom Ombo is where the Nubians resettled after the High Dam
was built - it is a pretty area with lots of sugar cane and
the air is heavy with the scent of burnt sugar. We arrived as
the sun was beginning its decent. Our first stop was to peek
into a small Hathor
chapel in which the mummified remains of crocodiles are kept.
Primarily, the site has two temples
one for Sobek
(the crocodile god of fertility and creator of the world) and
the other for Horus (the falcon headed solar war god). The interior
court has 13 columns that
are decorated with bas-relief. The entry
of the temples display the aten, snakes, and wings that represent
pharaoh's power, and the ceilings are painted with the sacred
vultures. The walls of the
temples are especially interesting because they depict many
surgical instruments and physicians. This was a place that people
traveled to for medical advice and treatment. The most fascinating
of these walls showed the entire conception and birthing process
and had descriptive writings about such things as forceps and
the birthing chair. This
is quite unusual because sex per se was written about in only
one papyrus - the subject was not for public discussion. A large
mammisi or birthing chamber is just outside the temples but
considered part of the complex.
An ankh shaped nilometer is still in excellent condition. It has become a breeding
ground for mosquitoes now that the water level in this part of the Nile has been greatly
lowered (High Dam impact). As the sun sank below the horizon leaving a deep cerulean blue
skyline, we lingered on the temple steps to watch the fervent activity of the small bazaar
We finished our day with a late dinner. All the staff dressed
in local costume for this Egyptian feast - looking back it was
the best dinner we had on the Nabila! Most of the passengers,
us included, were dressed in galibeas
or caftans. There were some very creative uses of veils. After
dinner, we adjourned to the lounge for some Egyptian style music,
party games, group photos, and enjoyed a cup of espresso.