This March 26th morning tour took us by horse cart through the town
of Edfu. It is very typical of small towns interesting
peeks through gates and doorways some school girls, a
mother with three small ones hanging laundry, the butcher shop,
the souk with lots of oranges, fresh vegetables tomatoes,
onions and garlic are prominent.
We entered the Horus
Temple through a side gate in the first court (the entry pylon
was closed for some reinforcement work). The site is well preserved,
mostly intact and showing good color because it had been buried
under sand. The temple was four floors high which leaves a lot
of wall space for reliefs and paintings. On either side of the
first hypostyle hall (Wide Libation Court) there are huge black
granite statues of Horus wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower
Egypt. We went in to the hall between
them and walked through the second hall and the central hall
to the sacrarium (where the image of the god was washed). The
reliefs still show good color in many areas and the walls were
richly inscribed. The rooms
surrounding the sacrarium open off of the "corridor of
mysteries" and showed a much more modest degree of decoration.
The "sun bark"
that was used to carry the gods statue was tucked away
in one of these.
The outside temple walls and the surrounding walls are also
decorated with hieroglyphs and reliefs.
A narrow hallway led us to some steps going in to an exquisite
naos or monolithic tabernacle dedicated to the goddess Nut.
Its perfect 12x12 foot ceiling held Nut
in the typical posture her back along one wall, her legs
along another, and her arms along the third. Between her hands
and feet and under her torso were hieroglyphs about her, the
land and sea. She wore a midnight blue skirt covered with gold
stars and had pale aqua green skin with sepia hair quite
a knockout. The cornices of the room were adorned with scarabs
that still retained their blue, red and gold hues. The image
was fascinating. Unfortunately, the room was too dark to take
a photo without using a flash and that is strictly forbidden.
Lunch was served as we sailed on to Esna. From where we docked, it was a short walk of
about 300 yards to view the Temple of Khnum
(built in the second century BC). This was the first site that we had to climb down about
30 feet below street level to see. Since Esnas market in cotton and general trade
had flourished (it was the last stop between Nubia and Luxor), it was continuously
inhabited. As houses around the temple fell apart, they were rebuilt on top of the rubble
in fact, when Napoleons soldiers discovered the temple, they could easily
inscribe their names at the top of the columns.
Khnum was a ram headed god who
made humans on his potters wheel (ergo the patron of potters).
The temple remains consist of 24 hypostyle columns (6x4) that
stand about 40 feet high, with composite tetralobe capitals
(no two alike). The capitals depicted dates, grapes, cotton
and other crops that were shipped through this area.
Also of note were the Roman influenced astrological signs on
the ceiling, and the names of Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius
added in hieroglyphs as well as some Coptic symbols. There is
a prominent panel of hieroglyphs that show the birth process
starting with the creation by Khnum of the Ka (spirit)
on the birthing chair. At the rear of the temple is a large
birthing stool and some stone benches.
The afternoon was spent sailing up the Nile we sat on
the top deck watching the countryside drift by and reading about
our next stop and all that is to be seen in Luxor. We had to
pass through the old (British) lock
that allows only one boat through at a time. It serves no real
purpose now because the High Dam changed the water level in
this area. Because a major road connects the two sides of the
Nile at this point, they only open it when there is a line up
of boats. Soon after, we came to the new
(Italian/Egyptian) lock that has much more modern technology.
It allows two large vessels to enter and then drops or raises
them a full 20 feet to continue up or down the Nile. Many of
the passengers came to the top deck to watch this process and
enjoyed tea, coffee and cookies in the late afternoon sun.