Valley of the Kings

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Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

At noon today Diana and I took a one hour flight to Luxor.  The flight was interesting because it flew very low at only 5,000 miles so it was a spectacular view of the Sahara Desert all the way.

This has ben a difficult day for me as I have been fighting a painful stomach virus that began yesterday.

At 4:15PM we were picked up from our hotel in Luxor to begin our touring.  By then I was in a ton of pain and the overwhelming heat of the desert mixed with the medicines I was taking was making me scarily dehydrated.

We started at the famous Karnak Temle, but unfortunaltely I only enjoyed a 20 minute tour before lying down and allowing Diana to continue for the next hour.

Karnak describes a vast conglomeration of ruined temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings.  This was the main place of worsjip in the ancient city of Thebes.

After Karnak we returned to the hotel as I could bear no more!

I still was not feeling great today but I did my best to see as much as I could.

We started with a 30 minute drive to the west bank to visit the Valley of the Kings.  This is where tombs were constructed for the Egyptian Kings.  The famous King Tut and Ramses II were buried here too.  Of all the tombs, only King Tut's tomb was found untouched.  Now all of the tombs are empty except for the decorations of the walls inside of the tombs.

Diana and I first visited the tomb of Ramses IV.   His name prior to assuming the crown was Amonhirkhopshef. He was the fifth son of Ramesses III and was appointed the crown prince by Year 22 of his father's reign when all four of his elder brothers predeceased him.

We later visited Ramses III.  He was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakht and Queen Tiy-merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BC. 

The last tomb we visited was Ramses I.  We were amazed at how much detail was still on the walls and marvelled at the drawings. 
Menpehtyre Ramesses I was the founding Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's 19th dynasty. The dates for his short reign are not completely known but the time-line of late 1292-1290 BC is frequently cited as well as 1295-1294 BC. While Ramesses I was the founder of the 19th Dynasty, in reality his brief reign marked the transition between the reign of Horemheb who had stabilised Egypt and the rule of the powerful Pharaohs of this dynasty, in particular Seti I and Ramesses II, who would bring Egypt up to new heights of imperial power.

The Egyptian belief that "To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again" is certainly carried out in the building of the tombs. The king's formal names and titles are inscribed in his tomb along with his images and statues. Beginning with the Eightteenth Dynastyand ending with the Twentieth, the kings abandoned the Memphis area and built their tombs in Thebes. Also abandoned were the pyramid style tombs. Most of the tombs were cut into the limestone following a similar pattern: three corridors, an antechamber and a sunken sarcophagus chamber. These catacombs were harder to rob and were more easily concealed. Construction usually lasted six years, beginning with the new reign.

Next we drove to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsuit.  She had ruled as the fifth ruler of the 18th Dynasty and was regarded as an excellent leader.  Her reign was a peaceful one and she had many buidings constructed.
Born in the 15th century BC, Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmose I and Aahmes, both of royal lineage, was the favorite of their three children. When her two brothers died, she was in the unique position to gain the throne upon the death of her father. To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented, and probably most definitely unheard of as well. When Tuthmose I passed away, his son by the commoner Moutnofrit, Tuthmose II, technically ascended the throne. For the few years of his reign, however, Hatshepsut seems to have held the reins. From markings on his mummy, archaeologists believe Tuthmose II had a skin disease, and he died after ruling only three or four years. Hatshepsut, his half sister and wife, had produced no offspring with him (her daughter Nefrure was most likely the daughter of her lover Senmut), although he had sired a son through the commoner Isis. This son, Tuthmose III, was in line for the throne, but due to his age Hatshepsut was allowed to reign as queen dowager.  Hatshepsut was not one to sit back and wait for her nephew to age enough to take her place. As a favorite daughter of a popular pharaoh, and as a charismatic and beautiful lady in her own right, she was able to command enough of a following to actually take control as pharaoh. She ruled for about 15 years, until her death in 1458 BC, and left behind more monuments and works of art than any Egyptian queen to come.

On the drive out we made a quick photo stop at the Two Colosi of Memnon.

To end the day we crossed back over the river and visited Luxor Temple.  Despite being such a remarkable Temple for the Egyptians I was amazed that it not only had Egyptian significance but also was once occupied by the Roman reign and even Alexander the Great of Greece built a temple within Luxor.

Built largely by Amenhotep III and Ramses II, it appears that the temple's purpose was for a suitable setting for the rituals of the festival. The festival itself was to reconcile the human aspect of the ruler with the divine office.

Our tour guide picked us up from the hotel at 8AM and we went again today to the Valley of the Kings.

Today our first stop was at the Habu Temple.  We were so impressed with the quality of detail as well as colors that still remainded at this temple after thousands of years.  This was the Temple of Ramesses III, an important New Kingdom period structure in the location of the same name on the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt. Aside from its size and architectural and artistic importance, the temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III.   He was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakht and Queen Tiy-merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BC. 

Our next stop was at the Valley of the Artists.  Yesterday we visited the tombs of the kings, but this was the location for the artists and scribes.  These were the people that decorated the inside of all the tombs.  Here we viewed the ruins of their homes and nearby ruins.  Diana and I were able to visit inside two tombs.  Both were much much smaller than the tombs of the kings, but the color decorations inside were still beautiful and well preserved. 

Next our guide took us to a stone factory to see how they manufacture pottery and statues from stone.

Then we drove back to next to the Luxor Temple.  From here Diana and I took a walk through a market.  Once again it was constant harrasment.  It was so funny to me at how the salespoeple walk right up to you, block you path for walking and tell you to come see their shop with "no hassle."  Regardless it was still fun to see all that was for sale. There were some interesting spice shops with all different colors of spices I could not recognize.

After our guide took us to another shop for jewlery.  Here I purchased a bracelet for myself and one for Bram that had our names written in Egyptian hieroglyphics.  We also visited a market in Luxor.

Around 2:30PM Diana and I walked around and stolled into the Isis Hotel.  Here we enjoyed a meal at a Lebanese restaurant.  Then we walked out to the pool area and relaxed outside in a shaded area on a sofa and enjoyed a smoke from the hooka.  It was a very relaxing afternoon.

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