The Queen Nobody Wants to Meet

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Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Saturday, December 1, 2012

The queen nobody really wants to meet.

One of the trips we took was to the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. And what a lady she turned out to be! This is all according to the Egyptologist guide we had, and I have no reason to doubt him at all. So now I want to see if you to keep up with this.

Once upon a time (in a land far away, and a long long time ago) the Pharaoh of Egypt married. And in due course, he and his wife had a son, (a lovely little lad). And they lived happily for several years. The queen had a cousin.... a lady, and her relationship to the queen's son was that of an aunt.  In time (as with all fairy tales, stuff happens, and this is no exception), the queen became ill... all the best physicians of the land tried hard, but could not get her better. And everyone was sad. They became even sadder when she died leaving the grieving Pharaoh with his son. Everyone that is, except this lady Hatshepsut. What she did, was mosey on up to the palace and knocked on the door. To give comfort and succour to the grieving king you see. Well, he let her in and in the fullness of time (however long this might be) she became his lover, and finally married him. Now wasn’t that nice. Except the story doesn’t end here. This is just the beginning! So the relationship between the young boy and herself changed again.... she became his step mother. Now wasn’t that nice.

So the king ruled for the next few years and like his queen before him, became ill; (heard this somewhere before haven’t we?). And again all the best physicians in the land could not get him better. So finally, and sadly he too passed away leaving his new queen and his son who was still only a young lad of about eleven. Now in the land of Egypt, the rule was that the first son would inherit the crown. Women were still second class citizens and not allowed to rule! So Mum (who was a scheming, conniving lady put on her thinking cap and came up with an ingenious ... no miraculous wonderful idea!  Not wanting Egypt to be ruled by a youngster...
not least her stepson decided he would need as much help as he could get. After all, Egypt in those days was a very well off country with some great builders, mathematicians, doctors, and everything. And since her stepson (the rightful heir to the throne) was so young and unworldly, felt he might be incapable of ruling. And her idea was.... wait till you hear this one!  Yes, she actually married him! In a big ceremony for all to see as well. She then donned one of those little fake beards all monarchs had to have. And with glee took over the reins or should I spell it reigns both literally and figuratively. So the young lad who started off with an aunt... who became his step mother..... and was now his wife? Strange...  but true. So the happy couple ruled for many years. That was until the queen began to tire of him. So this indomitable
lady decided to divorce him! But that’s not the end of this story. No... she also decided in her infinite wisdom that he should not remain single, but should marry one of her daughters by another man, and had all the necessary arrangements put in place. The ceremonies duly took place. Both of them! The divorce.... and the marriage. So the young lad who started off with an aunt... who became his step mother..... then his wife suddenly had a new mother-in law. So it must come as no surprise that on the death of this woman Hapshetsup he methodically went about tearing off the heads of all her statues... smashing down all her temples.... and doing his very best to eradicate this woman from history. I personally think he must have been very very angry person to do all of this. Anyhow, this story does have a happy ending. He finally became ruler in his own right... returned the throne to males only again... had children... and ruled happily for a long long time. Now isn’t that nice. The one thing he totally forgot about though was the temple she built for herself beside the Valley of the Kings. And I hope you like the pictures of it, because this is exactly where we are.

Another fascinating temple we went to was the one in Karnak. There is simply only one word for it... colossal. I know the word comes from the Greeks, but this is really gargantuan. I don’t know how large an area it coves, but took two thousand years to complete. It has pillars full of hieroglyphics that are so huge in girth that it would take at least twenty men with their arms outstretched and holding on to each other to go round just one of these pillars. In fact, in one of the James Bond films they used this as a set. I can’t remember exactly which film, but they had the character 'Jaws’ running across the tops of these pillars. One of the most fascinating bits of
information actually carved into one of the walls were pictures of several men with lots of hieroglyphs all round them. The guide started reading about the picture of the man at the end of the line of carvings. "He was found in the reeds of the Nile... in a small boat... and the name he was given, translated from these hieroglyphs is Moses." I stood in awe.... looking at this carving.... inside a temple not nearly light enough to take a picture unfortunately. Staring up at a picture of someone whom I had read and learnt about at school; from the bible classes. It was all coming back... and with stuff to make it so real.

All too quickly the week passed, or should I say sailed by. Kitchener Island was planted with hundreds of trees by Lord Kitchener who had been sent out by the British Government to go to the rescue of General Gordon in Khartoum. He failed in his attempt, and as a tribute, planted all the trees. Then there were the vendors who arrive by boat and literally take their lives in their hands paddling right up to the large boats entering the lock at Edfu. Using make-shift planks as oars tied to the sides of their little rowing boats with thin rope. The boats laden with all sorts of
tourist tut. “Hello... Hello Mister,” they shout as they unfurl a towel spreading their arms as widely as they can while displaying their wares. Then...  quickly folding it up again...
stuff it into a plastic bag and literally hurl it up to the top deck (watch the video) where some unsuspecting passenger... Dyana in one case had to catch it, or get hit with it as it flew upwards. While all this is happening, our vessel is slowly, but steadily entering the lock. Which is literally just wide enough for it to fit in with very little space on either side. The vendors miraculously keeping out of harm’s way right at the front of the boat which towers right over them. If you don’t want the goods, you simply throw them back... hoping they don’t fall in to the water.

I think in the end you can get ‘templed out’. Especially with all the information coming right at you. A fascinating land. And one I am really please we went to see. I think the biggest question I have though, and ending on a serious note is:- how does an ancient civilisation, schooled in the arts of building fine monuments that have lasted thousands of years; with mathematicians
able to work out fantastic stuff; doctors with medicines; astronomers; the inventors of written language... and I can go on and on. My question is this.... this country seems to have stopped evolving and is still living in biblical times... and the question is why? What happened to stop this country in its development?

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Phyllis on

It must have been the locusts

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