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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE KINGS



After our visit to Kom Ombo and Edfu, we sailed down the Nile to Luxor where we would spend the morning touring the famous Valley of the Kings.


The landscape of Egypt is astonishing with its buff-coloured rolling dunes, wide stretches of sandy wilderness, and cutting through this the wide, beautiful Nile River.  All along the river’s banks is lush greenery: palm and date groves, sugar cane, fields of agriculture. At the shore cattle and goats graze among the swampy marshes and egrets perch in the tall papyrus and reeds. 
 


 
The Valley of the Kings is on the west bank of the Nile across from Thebes (Luxor) in the heart of the Theban Necropolis. It consists of two valleys, the east, where the majority of the royal tombs are situated, and the West. The Valley was used for burials from about 1539 BC to 1075 BC. It contains around 60 tombs starting with Thutmose I and ending with Ramses X or XI. This is the wadi (valley) where archaeologists discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen. It is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, now named a World Heritage Site.
 
site attendant
We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the tombs. We visited three tombs: Ramses IV, Ramses II and Ramses IX. All were filled with beautiful hieroglyphics still with their original colours, describing details of each toe, mainly to do with the Book of the Dead. We were able to see the outer part of the tomb of Tutankhamun, discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. Later we would see all the priceless tomb finds in the Cairo Museum. (Since our visit I saw some photos of the reconstructions that are being done inside the tomb so when it is open for viewing again you’ll be able to get a clear idea of just what it was like when King Tut was buried there.)
Marko takes photos outside the tombs
 
 


 The Egyptologist told us there are many tombs still undiscovered in those hills.
 
 
 

Beside the Valley of the Kings is the Valley of the Queens where the wives of the Pharaohs and their children were buried. It was known as Ta-Set-Neferu meaning “The place of the Children of the Pharaohs. 

 The Temple of Hatshepsut
 
 
One of the most spectacular sights that will stay forever in my memory in the Valley of the Kings is the amazing, well preserved Temple of Hatshepsut. This is considered to be the finest building of antiquity in Egypt. The temple is set in a great amphitheatre surrounded by high dunes and rock formations that form an amphitheatre behind it.


Back in the 1970 ‘s I had read a book by author Pauline Gedge. “Child of the Morning”  was the story of the child who became first a queen and then a pharaoh, Hatshepsut. Perhaps it was that book that captivated my interest in ancient Egypt. But how did I know then that one day I’d be standing right in front of this fabulous monument left in her memory.


As I approached the temple down the sphinx-lined avenue and up the monumental ramp leading to the three wide terraces, I was almost speechless and overcome with emotion. To think that here I was, entering Hatshepsut’s sacred precinct. It was almost surreal, and definitely a moment in time that will never be forgotten!
 
The terraces of the temple are flanked with porticos and rows of Doric columns. There are rows of statues, some with faint traces of ochre indicating that at one time they were painted. There are fascinating carved reliefs on the second terrace that depict a maritime expedition to the land of Punt (Sudan) and show the exotic gifts: ivory, ebony, wild cats and incense that the Queen of Punt had sent back to Egypt. The temple was designed  by the queen’s steward and architect, Senenmut. It took eight years to build, a fitting tribute to the woman who ruled Egypt as pharaoh for nearly half a century (1501-1452 BC)  Hatshepsut called it “The Splendor of Splendors”. It is still considered one of the most striking architectural works on earth.
 
 
Heiroglyphics

We visited the tomb of one of the Egyptian princes who was the son of Ramses III. Inside were beautiful paintings and a tiny fetus in a glass case.

After this memorable morning we headed back to the cruise ship for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit Luxor and the Temple of Karnak.

 

5 comments:

Renuka said...

A very charming and fascinating place! I just wish the images were a little bigger.

Marcia Taams said...

Egypt is a beautiful country with a great history. Glad you put this information and thank you for the pictures. They are superb.

Wynn Bexton said...

Thanks Marcia. Lots more to come.

Manish Kumar said...
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Ramya k said...

Nice Post.Thanks for sharing this inyour blog