CMA Blog

Last update from Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

On to Aswan. We visited an ancient granite quarry dating from the New Kingdom. Ancient Egyptians would drive wooden stakes into the granite and then when the quarry flooded the stakes would swell and cause the granite to crack and enable them to begin to quarry the stone. Second photo shows evidence of the stakes.

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The treasure of the quarry is the unfinished obelisk. It would have been 134 feet tall if it had been completed but it cracked while they were quarrying it and so was abandoned. The scale is incredible — there is some surviving documentation indicating that the Egyptians could carve an obelisk in 7 months. Check out the second photo to see a surviving obelisk at a temple. Every Egyptian temple was suppose to have 2 obelisks. Once the Europeans discovered Ancient Egypt — beginning with Napoleon — obelisks were lusted after by all the European capitals. You still run into them today when you visit Paris, London, etc.

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An example of a chiseled out figure on an Egyptian temple. There is much we still don’t know about the ancient Egyptians and about which there is scholarly debate. There are still competing theories about exactly how the Egyptians successfully moved the huge obelisks from quarries to temple sites and how they erected them once they got them there. There also is discussion about the chiseled out figures you see in many temples. The chiseling out is very precise — not violent hacking and defacing.  They may have been removed by the ancient Egyptian priests themselves for different reasons, as opposed to later Christians who were offended by the pagan beliefs of the Egyptians as is often assumed by visitors.

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Another reminder of the long history of these places. A cross carved into an ancient Egyptian column at the Temple of Philae when it was later repurposed as a Christian church. It has really only been in the last 200+ years that the ancient Egyptian sites have been valued for themselves.Over the centuries many of the sites became buried under the sand, were used by other faiths or used as living spaces by later people. Even in tombs you will at times see soot covered ceilings the result of later people using the space. Check out next photo from the Temple at Lukor which was later used as a mosque — you can see the minaret. The arch is actually a doorway — so you can see how high the sand was in the 13th century.

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Another reminder of the long history of these places. A cross carved into an ancient Egyptian column at the Temple of Philae when it was later repurposed as a Christian church. It has really only been in the last 200+ years that the ancient Egyptian sites have been valued for themselves.Over the centuries many of the sites became buried under the sand, were used by other faiths or used as living spaces by later people. Even in tombs you will at times see soot covered ceilings the result of later people using the space. Check out next photo from the Temple at Lukor which was later used as a mosque — you can see the minaret. The arch is actually a doorway — so you can see how high the sand was in the 13th century.

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Temple Of Medinat Habu in Thebes.

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Great traces of color at the Temple of Amun at Karnak. Also another example of chiseling out a figure. This time we know why — the center figure being purified is the New Kingdom Queen Hatshepsut. She was a rare example of a female pharoah. She was depicted in certain imagery as a woman and for ritual purposes in other imagery as a man. After her death the priests had most of the images of her as a man (representing her as the incarnation of the god Horus) as here destroyed.

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Sailing on the Nile in a felucca.

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At the High Dam in Aswan. OK you can google great photos of this well known site that transformed Egypt’s relationship with the Nile. So I am sending one of my favorite signs from our travels.

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We had an extraordinary guide throughout the trip — his name was Mourad. He did his best to teach us the basics of Egyptian mythology and a bit about hieroglyphics. I’ll probably get it wrong but check out the next few shots with some explanations.

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This image of the pharoah is to the right of the last shot, which depicts a long prayer to Osiris. The star is the symbol that identifies the text to the left as a prayer.

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OK we all know the ankh as the symbol of eternal life. The triangle sign means — to give — so this reads top to bottem — to give eternal life to Ra. Let’s hope I got that right. The next photo — which unfortunately is a bit blurred — shows an earlier hieroglyph of the same symbol showing it’s origins. It originally included a human hand offering something in his hand . The hieroglyph was later abbreviated to just the triangular shape of the offering itself.

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Ancient Egyptian calendar — identifies day of the month at the right and the obligation due the temple on that day at the left.

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Detail of the calendar. The Egyptians divided the year into 4 seasons of 3 months each composed of 3 weeks of 10 days each. The 5 left over days were some times called the missing days and were accounted for and used as celebratory days to 5 specific gods. Here the sphere identifies the month, the n shape or upside down u represents the number 10 and each single stroke represents the number 1. So you see the 27th and the 28 th of the month in the first 2 registers

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OK very silly photo but nothing could be more true. I have never needed to drink this much water– you are never without your waterbottle. It’s late winter/ early spring on Egypt but they had heat wave while we were here. It was only 73 during the day and in the 50s at night. It was nearly 90 in Cairo today and when we were at the Valley of the Kings it was 91+.

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The desert but also an oasis when you’re next to the Nile. The Botanical Gardens on Kitchener’s Island

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Looking at the sky in the hypostyle hall at the Temple of Kom Ombo.

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Look closely early medical and surgical instruments depicted in a carving at the Temple of Kom Ombo.

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Same temple next to medical instruments, a depiction of a woman sitting on birthing chair.

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The temple at Edfu at night — a completely different experience than during the day.

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Favorite detail of the pharoah and one of the gods clasping hands — from Edfu.

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A sea of columns seen with a sea of people. The hypostyle hall at Karnak –the largest temple of the ancient world. This hypostyle hall with it’s 134 columns served as the coronation hall for the New Kingdom Pharoahs.

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Two CMA friends…. But will we make it into the Dispatch???

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Sunset. When we get back we’re going to have a photo sharing party among the 14 of us. This is great because I was horrible at all the people on the street shots…..so I can share some of those, not to mention shots of all riding those camels.

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A last day in Cairo at the Citadel in front of the Mohammed Ali Mosque. The same day that Columbus got 10 inches of snow.

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The CMA group –minus two who had to leave us early.

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Our excellent guide Mourad — sharing some last insights on Egypt — with members of our group listening.

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The tower at the Citadel housing the clock that King Louis-Phiippe of France gave the ruler of Egypt in  exchange for the ancient Egyptian obelisk that now stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

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The ornate ceiling dome of the Mosque of Mohammed Ali.

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It was a wonderful trip, but, despite all the snow, I’m happy to be back home.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Nannette Maciejunes, CMA Executive Director

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Posted in Notes from Nannette

One Response to Last update from Egypt

  1. Shari Veleba says:

    These reports have been wonderful! The photos are spectacular. Thank you.

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