Good ol' Edfu

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Sunday, February 12, 2006

After another fine vegetarian lunch, Captain Ganga had dropped us on the riverbank a'ways down river, giving us the opportunity to check out the Greek-built Temple of Horus at Edfu for a couple of hours before heading onwards and upwards to Luxor.

Seeing as though we didn't actually stay overnight I wouldn't normally write an entry especially for it, but because it took more than 200 years to complete and that the monster of a building is still in very good condition, I reckon it deserves a special mention.

Nile cruisers usually stop here, but more often than not visitors to Egypt will skip Edfu temple between Aswan and Luxor which is a bit of a shame really - I suspect many of the ruins we're going to see are not in as mint condition as this...

If I didn't mention it was large I will now - it must be a good 100 metres across and a cubit or 60 (errr, 2-300 metres) deep. It has dozens of rooms, alcoves and niches and every square centimetre is covered with oversized carvings of the various gods that were the fashion of the time. The external walls are particularly impressive - dozens of man-sized figures sitting, offering, rapping and moon-walking this way and that, complementing the huge god-figures adorning the main entry walls. Excellent!

Horus is the falcon-headed son of god Osiris so naturally he features pretty prominently. Not only are the guard statues king-sized but they are generally complete. This seems to be pretty unusual in a country where most statues in more prominent locations have either succumbed to age or been carted off by European collectors in the 19th century. Maybe it was fortunate for Edfu that it was off the tourist trail back then and now...

The internal carvings are very similar to Kom Ombo, but better preserved and presented. I still find the ice cream sundaes Cleo seems to be bandying about to be very amusing and these repeat in the various rooms as you cruise about. Don't worry, I'll stop using them soon as these motifs are everywhere for hundreds of centuries of Egyptian religious design.

There's a couple of unusual features the are also worth a mention. Towards the back of the temple (hope you appreciate my highly technical explanations) is an intact granite throne (direct from the quarries of Aswan no doubt), and beyond that is a room containing what looks to be a royal palanquin. Either Egyptian royalty of the time were tiny little people or this one was designed for a child because we couldn't work out how you could fit anyone taller than a metre in height into it. Still, as the Pyramids show they were pretty good with measurements so we probably shouldn't worry too much about it.

In the end though the main thing that surprised me was the scale. Massive columns supporting the stone roof above, expansive courtyards and sizable rooms off in every direction you cared to look. It was my first real taste of an intact ancient temple more than 2,000 years old and I was suitably impressed. I hope that those to follow live up to this benchmark.

To get to Luxor we had to join a highway convoy designed to reduce the threat of fundamentalist attack which in itself was an interesting experience. Checkpoints regularly marred our way and a sugar truck broke down in a construction zone causing no end of chaos, but we made it in the end and still smiling. Egypt is treating Mystery and myself well and the sign above sums that up nicely. Hope you're enjoying this stage of the trip too.

Next entry -> more ancient 'roons in Luxor

Words from the Wise #51

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
Albert Einstein (compliments of Nathan H)
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technotrekker on

Re: Granite Throne
Hey dad,

When you put it like that it does look a little like an ancient Tardis!

The best time to travel in Egypt is probably spring or autumn - winter is a little chilly on the water sailing) or in the desert, and summer is pretty unbearable apparently (40-47C every day, in the shade!).

Speak soon,

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