March 13 - Got up really early and went to the Cairo airport to fly to Luxor. Flying over Cairo I could not see anything because the air was so dirty. One of our tour guides from Real Egypt met us at the airport, Ahmed. Then we picked up another tour guide, Ayman, who was with us most of the time in Luxor. He was very knowledgeable and gave us a lot of information about the Gods, Kings, and history of Egypt. Luxor (Thebes) was the capital of Egypt during ancient times. In the old kingdom their were 36 dynasties between 3200 and 2700 BC. This was the age of the pyramids. Then the First Interim period which had a lot of social upheaval and anarchy was from about 2180 to 2130 BC. The Middle Kingdom started about 2060 BC which was renowned with the first pharaoh Amon-Emhat who established the cult of Amon, the sun god. Next was the Second Interim period which is obscure and full of uncertainties. The New Kingdom which dates from about 1580 BC signaled the triumph of Egyptians over the then known world. Egypt thrived under strong kings until 595 AD when it became part of Roman Eastern empire.
Arabs and Muslims changed the name of Thebes to Luxor meaning city of palaces. The West Bank of the Nile in Luxor was the city of the dead because that was where all the tombs are. East bank is the city of the living.
Our first stop was the Valley of the Nobles. Their was an excavation in progress so there were a lot of workers moving dirt. We went into two tombs.
Workers on the hill.
Sifting through the bags of dirt.
Inside one of the tombs
The second tomb - the most important thing was to build the tombs deep in the ground. The
ground is limestone, so it is easy to dig. There are 700 tombs on the West Bank: Valley of the Kings -63, Valley of the Queens - 70, Valley of the Novles - 400, tombs of the artisans and workers - 65. The difference between the nobles and the Kings is that the nobles portray their families in the tombs where the Kings honor their gods. These tombs are over 3000 years old and the colors are still magnificent.
Next stop was the funeral temple, Medinet Habu, of Ramses III, who ruled between 1194 - 1163 BC.
It must have been school field trip day. Lots of kids visiting the temple.
The goddess of Nekhbet depicted as a vulture, protects Upper Egypt and, symbolically the whole temple.
The first courtyard has Osirian pillars decorated with war scenes.
Ramses III and me.
The south gate is set between two pairs of towers with an imposing military appearance.
We went to the tombs of the artisans and workers in the village called Dier Elmadina. We could not take pictures in the two tombs we visited.
Excavation of workers homes.
Another worker tomb
This is a reminder that we are now in Africa where two cultures, African race from central Africa, and Mediterranean race with origins in Asia, joined. This is the restaurant on the Nile that we had our first lunch. Typical lunch in this part of the world: chicken schwerma, potatoes, fried eggplant, rice.
Our hotel was located on the Nile and this is a view from our bedroom balcony.
After unpacking we went for a carriage ride in downtown Luxor. We split up into two carriages and we had an older man and young boy driving the carriages.
We went into traffic, thru old town, new town, down the crowded bazaar streets and to the street of the Sphinx between Karnak and Luxor temples.
Down through the crowded shopping bazaar.
Bobbi and Lynn on the carriage ride.
Ellen and I
Luxor temple at night.
Finishing off the evening with a Luxor tradition - smoking the water pipe, Shisha. Ours was fruit flavored. Lynn, me, in back our driver, Ellen, and Bobbi.