The Karnak Temple
The Temple of Karnak is the largest Temple in the World! The complex contains a group of Temples such as the Great Temple of Amon Ra, The Temple of Khonso, The Ipt Temple, The Temple of Ptah, the Temple of Montho and the Temple of the God Osiris. A 20m high, mud brick enclosure wall, surrounded all of these buildings. This great Temple of Amon Ra was known during the Middle Kingdom period as Ipt-Swt, which means the Selected Spot. It was also called Pr-Imn, which means the House of Amon. The name Al-Karnak in Arabic was derived from Karnak, which means fortified village, probably because the Arabs found many Temples and buildings in the area when they entered it for first time. On your way towards the entrance you will find a ramheaded avenue of Sphinxes, which was built to protect the Temple. There are 20 rams on each side, extending from the small harbour to the 1st Pylon, which was built during the time of King Nektanebo I (30th Dynasty). As you cross this pylon, it takes you into an Open court, whose dimensions are100m long by 80m wide, built during the 22nd Dynasty, and containing rows of bud papyrus columns. In the middle of the 1st Open court, there is a huge column, which is 21m high and has a bud papyrus capital. This part is known as the kiosk of Taharqa who ruled during the 25th Dynasty. This is the only column left from a colonnade that once had 10 columns. On the left side of this Court there are 3 chapels, which were built by King Seti II for the “Triad of Thebes”. On the right side is the Temple of Ramses III. This Temple consists of a small pylon, an open court and Hypostyle hall, leading to the sanctuary. Horemheb built the 2nd Pylon during the 18th Dynasty, though it is now badly damaged. Ramses I, the founder of the 19th Dynasty, later completed it. Passing the 2nd Pylon, we enter the Great Hypostyle Hall, which measures 103m in length and 52m in width. It contains 134 papyrus columns; each column is about 22m in height and 3.5m in diameter. Amenhotep III built it and Ramses I, Seti I, and Ramses II decorated it, while King Seti I erected the other 122 columns in 14 rows. The ceiling in the centre is higher than the laterals, and it allows light into this spot, which was the processional avenue of the Triad during the festival of the Opet. The scenes of the Hypostyle Hall represent King Seti I, in front of different deities, making offerings, while the southern wall is decorated with scenes of Ramses II, making offerings to the different deities or worshipping the Triad of Thebes. The Hypostyle Hall leads to The 3rd Pylon, which was built by Amenhotep III. It is remarkable that stones from previous periods were found incrusted in that Pylon, for example, the marble alabaster of Amenhotep I! Crossing the 3rd Pylon, you come to an open, rectangular court, which is known as the Court of Tuthmosis I. In this court, Tuthmosis I erected 2 obelisks, as most probably this area was the main entrance of the Temple during his reign. Unfortunately, only one obelisk has survived: 19m high and around 310 tons in weight. From the Court of Tuthmosis, we reach the 4th Pylon, which Tuthmosis I also built; beyond this is a rectangular colonnade, which he built as well. When Hatshepsut ascended to the throne she built 2 obelisks in that colonnade, the left one is still in its original position: 29.5m in height, 322 tons in weight and made of red granite! After the death of Queen Hatshepsut, King Tuthmoses III built a high, long wall around these 2 obelisks to hide them. The 5th Pylon, yet again built by Tuthmosis I, is damaged and on both sides of the
entrance,Tuthmosis III built two small rooms. We are now at the 6th Pylon, which was built by Tuthmosis III. Beyond this pylon Tuthmosis III built his famous hall, which is known as the Ancestral Room. The original Sanctuary was built by Tuthmosis III, but Philip Arrhidaeus, the half brother of Alexander the Great, later rebuilt it.
The sanctuary was built of granite, and it was dedicated to the sacred boat of Amon Ra. Behind the sanctuary you will see a court, dating back to the time of the Middle Kingdom. It is a wideopen courtyard that is badly damaged now. Most probably this spot was the site of an old Temple, dating back to the time of the Middle Kingdom: the origin of the Karnak Temple. At the end of the Middle Kingdom Courtyard, there is another Hall known as the Akh-Mnw, or the Festival Hall of Tuthmosis III. The hall in the north of the area is called The Botanical Room. This is because the walls were decorated with scenes of plants, animals and birds, which were brought from Syria, to Egypt, by the King. Now we shall go back through the temple until we reach the Court of Tuthmosis 1 again (between the 4th and 3rd Pylons). Turning left, we enter a courtyard, which is in front of the 7th Pylon. In 1902, the French Egyptologist Georges Legrain (1865–1917) discovered a very precious collection of statues hidden in the ground of this court, which is now known as the Court of the Cashet. The 7th Pylon, which is badly damaged, was built by Tuthmosis III. Crossing the 7th Pylon to the court beyond, you will see 2 statues of Ramses II and Tuthmosis III. The 8th Pylon was built by Hatshepsut, decorated by Tuthmosis III, and restored by Seti I. The scenes on the façade of the Pylon represent Hatshepsut with different deities, and a religious scene featuring Tuthmosis III. On the left side of the Court, between the 9th and 10th Pylons, are the remains of the Heb-Sed Shrine, which was built by Amenhotep II and decorated by Seti I. The 9th Pylon, which was built by Horemheb, is badly damaged. A large number of bricks were found inside, which were being used as filling. They belonged to the Aton Temple, which was built by Amenhotep VI (Akhenaten) in the 18th Dynasty and destroyed by later Kings who wanted to eliminate all traces of the “heretic” King. Finally we reach the 10th Pylon, damaged as well, and again built by King Horemheb. In front of this Pylon there are the remains of an avenue of Sphinxes, built by Horemheb, and extending to the gate of Ptolemy II in front of Mut Temple. Before leaving the Temple of Amon Ra at Karnak you should visit the Sacred Lake, which goes back to the time of Tuthmosis III. It measures 80m in length and 40m in width. Near the Sacred Lake there is a scarab, which is considered the biggest scarab left from Ancient Egypt, dating from the reign of Amenhotep III. The Ancient Egyptians called the scarab, Khebry, and it was the symbol of the Sun God. The word itself means to create; it was thought to bring to the sun in the early morning.
While you are in Luxor, why don’t you attend the marvelous Sound and Light show at the Temple of Karnak? Listed below you will find the Sound and Light show schedule. Show Day / time Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Fees First show 8:00 PM French German English German English 75 EGP Second show 9:15PM English English French Japanese English English French 75 EGP third show 10:30 Italian Italian Spanish English French French 75 EGP Arabic 75 EGP French Fourth show 11.45
Luxor Temple, or The Temple of Luxor, is among the most beautiful Temples in Egypt. It was known in the New Kingdom period as Ipt-Rsyt, which means the southern shrine. This was to differentiate between this Temple and Karnak Temple, which was the northern house of Amon Ra. Amenhotep III built Luxor Temple. The architect and overseer of the works of construction was the genius Amenhotep, son of Habu. The Temple run close and parallel to the river Nile from north to south. It was constructed on the site of a small Temple of Amon, built by kings of the 12th dynasty. At the time of Amenhotep III the Temple was only 190m in length and 55m in width. Basically, Luxor Temple was consecrated to Amon Ra in his fertility aspect. Ramses II, with the help of his architect Pak-in Khonso, added the front part and completed the Temple. He also added the present large forecourt, and a Pylon at the (northern) front of the Temple. Kings Merenpetah, Seti I, Ramses III, Ramses IV and Ramses VI built many more small additions. Alexander the Great rebuilt the Sanctuary. During the Christian era, the inner section was converted to a church. The Muslims built a Mosque in the 10th century, which is known as the Mosque of Abou El-Hagag. King Nektanebo built the Sphinx Avenue in front of the Temple that leads to the entrance. In front of the Great Pylon of Ramses II, there once were 2 obelisks. Only one of them remains standing! The other was transported, in 1819, to La Place de le Concorde in Paris, as a gift to King Philip Louis of France by Mohamed Ali (who ruled Egypt 1805-1850 A.D), after he was given a French clock,
which has never worked properly - even to this day! There were 6 standing statues in front of the Pylon, only one of them, on the western side, is still in place. Flanking the gate of the first pylon, which is 24m high, there are two seated colossi representing King Ramses II, seated on his throne, with all the royal features. Both towers of this pylon were once decorated with relief’s depicting the Battle of Kadesh, fought between the armies of Egypt and the Hittites, in present day Syria. The 1st open court has double rows of 32 papyrus bud columns. To the right side of the open court there is an old triple shrine made by Queen Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III, dedicated to the sacred boats of the “Triad of Thebes”. To the left is the Mosque of Abou El-Hagag. The open court of Ramses II leads to the Colonnade, which was built by Amenhotep III, and decorated by Tutankhamen and later, Horemheb; Seti I, Ramses II, and Seti II all recorded their names there. It consists of two pairs of large open papyrus columns, which are arranged to make a long processional avenue. The walls of this colonnade are decorated by scenes of the Opt Festival, special ceremonies for the visit of the “Triad of Karnak” to the Temple of Luxor. This feast lasted for about 24 days, including the return to the Karnak Temple. The colonnade leads to the Court of Amenhotep III (52m in length and 46m in width). It has a double row of clustered round papyrus bud columns on three sides. The Court of Amenhotep III leads to the Hypostyle Hall, which consists of 32 columns arranged in 4 columns and 8 columns each. To the left of the Hypostyle Hall stands a Roman altar, bearing Latin inscriptions, dedicated to Emperor Augustus. On the walls of the Hypostyle Hall, there are some reliefs representing Amenhotep III hunting and killing a gazelle in front of Amon Ra, and other scenes representing the King in front of various deities. On the rear of The Hypostyle Hall, and on both sides of the central doorway, There are 2 long chapels. The one to the east is dedicated to Mut and the One to the west dedicated to Khonso. The Hypostyle opens south to the 1st Antechamber, which originally had 8 columns, but they were removed when the antechamber was converted into a Christian Church.
The Birth Room situated to the east, is a side room with 3 columns. Most of the scenes, depicting the divine birth of King Amen-hotep III, are in very poor condition. After the Birth Room there is another 3 columned chamber, also with badly damaged relief’s, and then the Sanctuary of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great, who removed the 4 original columns and built a chapel, open to the north and to the south, rebuilt this sanctuary, which once had a golden plated statue of Amon Ra. Fortunately he did not remove the relief’s on the walls. From the shrine of Alexander the Great, we enter a 2nd antechamber, which has 4 papyrus bud columns. After passing the 2nd antechamber, there are 2 offering rooms, in poor
condition, with their scenes also badly damaged. The original sanctuary is a small chamber with 4 clustered papyrus columns. The walls of this room are decorated with scenes depicting Amenhotep III dancing before the God Amon Ra. The outside walls of the Temple, on the west side, are covered with scenes and inscriptions, again representing the battle of Kadesh. This was the work of Ramses II to commemorate his “victory” over the Hittites.
The Temple of Edfu Edfu
Edfu is located 60Km to the north of Aswan. It was the 2nd Nome of Upper Egypt and the centre of the cult of a triad of Gods, which consisted of Horus of Behdet, Hathor, and their son, Hor-SamaTawy. In the old Greek documents, Edfu was known as “Apollopolis Magna” because the Greeks identified Horus with their God Apollo. Edfu was a flourishing city in Ancient Times. Today, the most important monument in the city of Edfu is the Temple of Horus, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful and preserved Temples in Egypt. The origins of the Temple probably date back to the Second Intermediate Period, but the actual Temple only dates back to Ptolemaic times. The work of construction began during the reign of Ptolemy III (about 237 BC) and was finished during the reign of Ptolemy IV. Some other additions were made by other Ptolemaic Kings, and Roman Emperor Augustus. The construction of this Temple and its additions, inscriptions, and relief’s took about 180 years! Edfu Temple consists of traditional elements of Egyptian Temples of the New Kingdom, together with a few Greek elements, such as the Mamisi, which is situated to the west of the main entrance of the Temple (Mamisi means “house of the divine birth”). It consists of an entrance, a court and chapel. The walls of the mamisi are decorated with scenes showing the story of the divine birth of Horus the child, in the presence of the Goddess Hathor, the God Khenoum and other deities who were concerned with pregnancy and birth. The Temple has a Pylon that is considered the highest among surviving Temples in Egypt today. It is 37m high and is decorated with battle scenes, representing King Ptolemy VIII smiting his enemies before the God Horus. Next there is an open courtyard that contains columns with floral capitals on three sides. This open court was open to the public and was known as the court of the offerings, being the place where people could give their offering to the statue of the God. The Hypostyle Hall is rectangular and 12 columns support its roof. On both sides of the entrance to this hall stands a statue of Horus of Behdet, in the shape of a falcon. This hall is also known as the outer Hypostyle Hall. An entrance beyond the 1st Hypostyle Hall accesses the Inner Hypostyle Hall. 12 columns to the right support its roof, and on the left there are 2 rooms; one was used as a library that once contained a large number of manuscripts. The other was used as a storeroom or magazine for the utensils and the tools of the Temple.
There are 2 consecutive vestibules; the outer one called the “hall of the offerings”, where the walls are decorated with various scenes representing the different deities and offering scenes of the different Ptolemaic Kings. The inner vestibule was called the “rest house of the Gods”. At the end of the Temple is the sanctuary, which includes a niche of grey granite where a statue of the God is supposed to be placed. In front of the dais is a pedestal for the resting of the divine boat. The sanctuary is surrounded, on the outside, by 12 rooms, where many religious scenes were depicted on their walls. Some of these rooms were used as storerooms, while the others were dedicated for different religious purposes. One of the most remarkable elements of the Temple is the existence of a Nilometer, as well as a chapel, which was dedicated to the Goddess Nut. On various walls of the Temple, there are many battle scenes, as well as the famous scene of the ritual of the Temple foundation. The northern wall of the court shows the divine marriage of Hathor and Horus of Behdet, which was celebrated twice every year; once at the Dendera Temple and the second time at the Edfu Temple. The Journey of Hathor, from Dendera to Edfu and the vice versa, can also be seen on this wall. Another scene, on the inside of the outer corridor of the western side of the Temple, depicts the legend of the conflict between Horus and Seth, the victory of Horus over his uncle, and his coronation to rule the world.
The Temple of Kom Ombo
The Temple of Kom Ombo stands on the east bank of the Nile, right next to the river, about 4Km from the town. It was dedicated to two Gods, Horus and Sobek The Temple was mainly dedicated to the God Sobek, the crocodile God, together with his wife, in another form of the Goddess Hathor. The Temple is of Greco-Roman structure, dating back to the year 119 BC, when Ptolemy VI, who started the construction, built it out of limestone. Neos Dionysus finished most of the building, while the Emperor Augustus added the final touches. The left side of the Temple was dedicated to the God Horus the elder, God of victory; Horus was known as the good doctor here! The Temple became famous for its healing power, becoming a major pilgrimage site. A healing cult was developed and the Temple became a sanctuary for many patients who were seeking help, and treatment, by the priests; they would fast for a night in the Temple precinct.
You can enter the Temple from the eastern side, where there is an ancient gate built by Ptolemy XII (Neos Dionysus), who was the father of Cleopatra VII (yes, the famous one!) To your right, after crossing the gate, you will find a small room that was built and dedicated to the Goddess Hathor. Nowadays it is used to display mummified crocodiles, which were found in the vicinity of the Temple. The first pylon of the Temple is now destroyed and only stones from the foundation, and part of the wall remain. The court here was the construction of Tiberius.
As you enter from the main forecourt, you will find that entrance is divided into two gateways, each one leads to the half of the Temple dedicated to one of the two deities The rear wall leads to the second hypostyle hall, which in turn leads to twin entrances. It has 15 columns, five of them incorporated in the front wall. This section shows Ptolemy VII holding hymnal texts before the Nile Gods. After that you will find three entrance vestibules, each one being smaller, and higher, than the last! The outer vestibule shows the Goddess Sheshat measuring the layout of the Temple, and the King laying the foundation. The middle chamber was dedicated to the offering and admittance was only allowed to the priests. To your right you will find long lists of calendars, telling about the various festivals dedicated to various Gods in the Temple The inner vestibule has two doors leading to the 2 separate sanctuaries of Horus and Sobek. On the inner side, of the back wall of the Temple, is a very remarkable scene! It shows the first illustration of medical and surgery tools, which are being presented to a seated God. Here you will find depictions of: scalpels, suction caps, bone saws, and dental tools; 2000 year old depictions! In the northwest side of the Temple, there is a huge well with a staircase, which was connected with the worship of the crocodile and was also used as a Nilo-meter. You still can see water there!
Valley Of The Kings The Valley of the Kings was the royal cemetery for 62 Pharaohs, and is located on the west bank at Luxor. The only entrance to this place was a
long narrow winding path. This was a secret place, where sentries were placed at the entrance of the Valley, as well as along the top of the hills, in the hopes of discouraging tomb robbers, who had in the past plundered all royal tombs, including the treasures of the Pyramids! Some thefts were probably carefully planned, but others were spur of the moment, as when an earlier tomb was accidentally discovered while cutting a new one and workmen took advantage of the opportunity. This may have happened when KV 46 was found during the cutting of KV 4 or KV 3 nearby. The tombs in the Valley range from a simple pit (e.g. KV 54), to a tomb with over 121 chambers and corridors (KV 5)
John Gardiner Wilkinson first established the present numbering system, in 1827, as part of his preparation of a map of Thebes. Wilkinson painted the numbers 1 through 21 at the entrances of the tombs that were then visible. The numbers were assigned geographically, from the entrance to the Valley southward. Since Wilkinson's day, tomb numbers have been assigned in chronological order of discovery, KV 62 (Tutankhamen) being the most recent. Wilkinson's is not the only system of tomb designation that has been used in the Valley though. Several explorers assigned numbers, letters or descriptive labels to the tombs, as the accompanying chart indicates, but Wilkinson's is the only system that is still in use. There are two main wings to the Valley of the Kings, west and east! You will find that eastern side has the majority of the tombs, the western part having very few, but including the tombs of Amenhotep III and Ay. A list of the KV's discovered (so far!) KV 01 Ramses VII KV 02 Ramses IV KV 33 Cache of Tuthmosis III KV 34 Tuthmosis III
KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV KV
03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
Cache of Ramses III Ramses XI Sons of Ramses II Ramses IX Ramses II Merenptah Ramses V / VI Amenmeses Ramses III Unknown Bay Tausert / Setnakht Seti II Ramses I Seti I Ramses X Mentuherkhepshef Hatshepsut Two Queens Amenhetep III Ay Unknown Akhenaten (?) Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
KV 35 KV 36 KV 37 KV 38 KV 39 KV 40 KV 41 KV 42 KV 43 KV 44 KV 45 KV 46 KV 47 KV 48 KV 49 KV 50 KV 51 KV 52 KV 53 KV 54 KV 55 Other KV 56 KV 57 KV 58 KV 59 KV 60 KV 61 KV 62 KV 63
Amenhetep II Maiherperi Cache of Tuthmosis III Tuthmosis I Unknown Unknown Unknown Hatshepsut-Meryetre Tuthmosis IV Anen (?) Userhet Yuya and Thuya Siptah Amenemopet Maya (?) Animals Animals Animals Unknown Cache of Tutankhamen Tiye, Akhenaten or Unknown Horemheb Cache of Ay Unknown Two Women (Setri In?) Unknown Tutankhamen New Tomb - Unknown
The earliest known tomb of the New Kingdom within the Valley of the Kings, is that of Tuthmoses I, who started to use the valley as a royal burial site. It is located in a desolate part of the valley, which is supposed to add greater protection as it was small enough to be closely guarded. The good quality of the stones gave the ancient Egyptians the chance to cut many tombs close to each other. Most of the tombs were found already plundered! A few, like the tomb of Tutankhamen (KV 62) or that of Yuya and Thuyu (KV 46), contained thousands of precious artifacts. Some tombs have been accessible since antiquity, as Greek and Latin graffiti will attest. Some were used as dwellings, or as churches during the GrecoRoman and Byzantine Periods. Most of them have been discovered in the past two hundred years.
Some tombs, like KV 5, had been "lost," and their locations only recently rediscovered. The very well known Egyptologist, Kent Weeks, who is still working in the valley, on many projects,
among them the Theban mapping project, Kent weeks (Shown above with me in the picture on the topright ) spent more than 6 years exploring and trying to uncover the secrets of this massive tomb. KV5 is the largest tomb ever found in the valley! Reexcavated in 1995, it contains at least 121 chambers and corridors! Mr. Weeks believes that it was built for the children of Ramses II. On your way to the inner side of the valley,You can see KV5’s entrance location (currently closed to the public) Since 1922, and Howard Carter’s discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen (KV 62), there had been no new tombs discovered in the valley until, on February 9, 2006, the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt announced the discovery of a new tomb. Designated the number KV63, it was discovered by a joint effort between the University of Memphis (USA) and the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. This is one of the smaller tombs that have been found, consisting of a vertical shaft with an adjacent chamber at the bottom. Some artefacts have been found, but as this is an ongoing project, the details are still to be released
Presently, there are several archaeological projects currently at work in the Valley of the Kings.
To visit the Valley of the Kings you should be aware of the following:
Your entrance ticket to the valley costs (80 EGP ) (The ticket office is located at the outer entrance to the valley, at the end of the car park after the visitors centre This ticket should give you access to three tombs only of your choice. Cameras and Video cameras are not allowed into the valley at all! You will have to check-in your camera at the entrance. Lecturing into the tombs is not allowed. Your Egyptologist tourist guide will have to give your tombs inof from the outside and may also recommend which tombs to visit. If you wish to go inside the tomb of King Tutankhamen (KV62), you will need to buy separate ticket (100 EGP) While on visit to these tombs Please don't touch the wall.
Our advice for the best tombs to visit now:
• • • • • • • •
Tomb of Ramses IX (KV 6); both have very fine relief’s and very elegant ceilings, with the scenes of the Goddess Nut, Goddess of the sky (Closed for refurbishment) Tomb of Mernpatah (KV 8); the largest in the valley ( Closed, at the present) (Closed) Tomb of Ramses VI (KV 9); ( Open for a fee 50 EGP) (Open Now) Tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35); where the best representation of the “Book of the Dead” can be seen ( Closed, Now ) Tomb of Thutmose (KV 34); it has full details of the “Book of the Dead”, and represents the standard form for 18th Dynasty royal tombs ( Closed) Tomb of Ramses VII (KV1); (Open Now) Tomb of Ramses I (KV16); (Open Now) My Favourite Tombs:
Tomb of Amonhotep II (KV35) (open) It is considered as one of the best-completed tombs in the valley. The tomb is full of religious scenes depicting full chapter so the Egyptian book of the dead. Victor Loret discovered the tomb when he was antiquities director in 1897; it was the only tomb beside the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamen where we found the mummy of king intact in its sarcophagus. Back in 1897 We have discovered into the tomb, a cache of another 11 mummies of kings and queens together with many funerary objects. Upon the discovery of these mummies, many were taken to the Egyptian museum and three unknown mummies where left behind together with many funerary objects. Unfortunately later some of these pieces have disappeared or perhaps stolen! Among these pieces where a 3500 years old boat made of cedar wood and it was 4 M long! No one knows what happen to it!
Tomb of Seti I (KV 17) (Closed) It is considered the longest tomb in the valley as it extends to more than 120 M inside the solid rock. The tomb was discovered by Giovanni Belzoni n 1817. It has a complete record of the book of the dead and characterized by it is bas-relief on the walls and the amazing painting of high quality especially at the burial chamber. The tomb consists of seven corridors and ten champers all painted and decorated with the Litany of Ra (Book of the Dead, Im-dwat, Book of Gates Opening of the Mouth ritual, astronomical scenes) There we found many Tomb equipment including, writing equipment and Vessels etc. Into the burial chamber a magnificent sarcophagus made of the finest alabaster was found, it was later transferred by Giovanni Belzoni to the U.K and was sold to the Sir John Sonne at the sum of 2000 English pounds. Today you can still see it in Sir John Sonne museum in London.
Valley Of The Queens (Biban Al-Harim) The Valley of the Queens is an isolated cemetery, at the southern part of the vast necropolis of Thebes, on the west bank of Luxor. It contains about 70 tombs, mainly belonging to Queens, Princesses, Princes and Nobles, who lived during the XIX and XX Dynasties. In general, these tombs are smaller than the ones of the Kings. The plans of these tombs usually consist of a small antechamber, a long narrow corridor with several side chambers, and at the end the burial chamber.
One of the most important tombs in the valley is the one that belongs to the famous Queen Nefertari, the principal consort of King Ramses II. This beautiful tomb was in a bad condition because of the salt crystals seeping through its poor quality limestone. It was restored and reopened for visitors, though nowadays it is closed to the general public because of the high CO2 levels, and water in breath particles, which were damaging the beautiful artwork. Her tomb consists of a stairway leading
down to a hall, where on the walls, there are representations of the Queen with different Gods and Goddesses. This hall leads to an inner side chamber decorated with religious scenes such as Queen Nefertari burning incense, and giving offerings to the Gods Osiris and Atum. A corridor then leads to the burial chamber, whose walls are decorated with scenes of the “Book of the Gates”.
Also located in the valley, are the tombs of three of the sons of King Ramses III, who were also buried there. Tomb 55 is considered to be one of the most important tombs amongst them. It was dedicated to Prince Amon-khopshef, a son of King Ramses III who had died at an early age. Among the most beautiful scenes in this tomb, are on the walls of the 1st chamber. It is a scene representing the Prince, with his father, with the King making offerings to various deities. The large hall is decorated with some scenes of the “Book of the Gates”. Tomb 44 belongs to Prince Khaemwaset, who was another son of Ramses III. It consists of 2 long corridors, with 2 side chambers, and a square burial chamber. The walls of this tomb are decorated with various painted scenes, some of them representing the Prince with different deities, and with his father in front of the deities of the after world.
The Temple of Deir El-Bahri
The Temple of Deir El-Bahri is one of the most characteristic temples in the whole of Egypt, due to its design and decorations. It was built of limestone, not sandstone like most of the other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period. It is thought that Senimut, the genius architect who built this Temple, was inspired in his design by the plan of the neighboring mortuary Temple of the 12th Dynasty King, NebHept-Re. The Temple was built for the great Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty), to commemorate her achievements and to serve as a funerary Temple for her, as well as a sanctuary of the God, Amon Ra.
In the 7th century AD, it was named after a Coptic monastery in the area, known as the “Northern monastery”. Today it is known as the Temple of Deir El-Bahri, which means in Arabic, the “Temple of the Northern monastery”. There is a theory suggesting that the Temple, in the Early Christian Period, was used as a Coptic monastery. This unique Temple reflects clear ideas about the serious conflict between Hatshepsut, and her nephew and son in law, Tuthmosis III, since many of her statues were destroyed, and the followers of Tuthmosis III damaged most of her Cartouches, after the mysterious death of the queen. The Temple consists of three imposing terraces. The two lower ones would have once been full of trees. On the southern end of the 1st colonnade there are some scenes, among them the famous scene of the transportation of Hatshepsut’s two obelisks.
On the north side of the colonnade there is a scene that represents the Queen offering four calves to Amon Ra. The 2nd terrace is now accessed by a ramp; originally it would have had stairs. The famous Punt relief is engraved on the southern side of the 2nd colonnade. The journey to Punt (now called Somalia) was the first pictorial documentation of a trade expedition recorded, and discovered, in ancient Egypt; until now. The scenes depict in great detail, the maritime expedition that Queen Hatshepsut sent, via the Red Sea, to Punt, just before the 9th year of her reign (1482 B.C) This famous expedition was headed by her high official, Pa-nahsy, and lasted for 3 years. His mission was to exchange Egyptian merchandise for the products of Punt, especially gold, incense and tropical trees.
To the south there is the shrine of the Goddess Hathor. The court that leads to this chapel has columns, where Hathor, who is shown with a woman’s face and cow’s ears, is carrying a sistrum (a musical tool); on the walls she is depicted as a cow. In this part of the Temple, King Tuthmosis III erased the Queen’s names. On the northern side of the 2nd colonnade, there is a scene depicting the divine birth of Hatshepsut. The Queen claimed that she was the divine daughter of Amon Ra to legitimise her rule. Beyond the colonnade to the North are the chapel of Anubis, God of mummification and the keeper of the necropolis. The 3rd terrace is also accessed by a ramp! It consists of two rows of columns, the front ones taking the Osirid form (a mummy form); unfortunately Tuthmosis III damaged them. The columns at the rear, sadly, have all been destroyed; also by Tuthmosis III! The colonnade, which leads to the sanctuary of the Temple, has also been severely damaged. This sanctuary consists of two small chapels. In the Ptolemaic period, a third chapel was added to the sanctuary which was also decorated with various scenes, the most remarkable being the ones representing Amenhotep, son of Habo (18th Dynasty) who, like Imhotep from the 3rd Dynasty, was another genius architect from Ancient Egypt.
Temple of Esna
Esna is about 485 miles (776Km) south of Cairo and lies on the west bank of the Nile. It was the ancient city of Senat, called Latopolis by the Greeks. The “city of the fish” where the Nile perch was worshipped. Today it is very famous for its river barrage and as a result, it is a stop over for most of the cruise boats. The Temple of Esna, which was buried beneath its own debris for many centuries, is located in the centre of the town, close to the River Nile and only a short walk from your boat, through the local market. To reach the Temple you have to descend a flight of steps, but be careful!
They are very steep! The admission fee is LE 20.
The Temple is dedicated to the ram headed God Khnum, the God of creation. Tuthmosis III laid the foundations of the Temple in the 18th Dynasty, but Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors, from 40-250 A.D, completed it, and their names are recorded all over the Temple walls. The remains of the Temple contain a hall of columns, with 24 pillars, beautifully decorated with lotus and palm capitals. The walls are covered with 4 rows of relief’s, showing Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors dressed in Pharaoh costumes, sacrificing to the God of the Temple. On both sides of the Temple entrance there are chambers that were used by the priests and keepers of the Temple as storerooms. Flanking the entrance to each room, you will notice the Emperor Trajan, carried in a litter by six Priests, with jackal and hawk masks of the Gods.
The most interesting scenes in this Temple are the ones you will find on the roof, which is decorated with astronomical representations. On the left side of the gateway of the Temple you can see the sky Goddess Nut, the Dog Star, Orion’s belt, and Alpha Draconis (or the Dragon Star). On the western wall of the façade of the Temple you can see the God Horus, God of victory, and the God Khnum, dragging a net full of fish from the Nile, as well as relief’s of birds. Significantly at the foot of this representation is the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded, completed by the Roman Emperor Dios in 250 A.D.
The Unfinished Obelisk
The Unfinished Obelisk lies, in its original location, in a granite quarry in Aswan. It is 42m in length and was most probably abandoned when some cracks appeared in the rock, during its construction. Had this obelisk been completed, it would have been the heaviest obelisk ever cut in Ancient Egypt, weighing nearly 1100 tons! It is believed that it was constructed and abandoned during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty). During the earliest ages, the Ancient Egyptians knew the so-called “ Pn-pn”, which was a pyramidal stone with a pointed top and according to their beliefs the “Pn-pn” symbolized the primeval hill from which the world first appeared. Then, in the course of time, this Pn-pn evolved to be an obelisk usually made of granite with a pyramidal shape on top. During the 5th Dynasty, the obelisk began to play an important role inside the temples of Ra; the obelisk being a sacred symbol of the cult of the sun. They were erected on a great base in an open court, and then as the suns rays fell on its pyramidal top, the bright light filled the Temple, giving the people a symbol of the power of the sun. One of the most important obelisks, which still stand in pride in the district of El Mataraya, was erected in front of the entrance of the vanished temple of Re at Heliopolis. King Senwosret I, to commemorate the ceremony of the “Heb-sed”, dedicated it to the temple. In the New Kingdom, especially at the time of the 18th and 19th Dynasties, the Kings used to erect obelisks in front of the different temples for religious and political reasons.
The Temple of Philae
Philae Island was a rocky island in the middle of the River Nile, south of Aswan. It was called in Hieroglyphic “Apo” which means Ivory. It was also known by the Greek “Elephantine”, most probably because it was an important centre of trade, especially for ivory.
The Ancient Egyptians built a beautiful and magnificent Temple on this island for the Goddess Isis, but the Temple became submerged after the first Aswan dam was built in 1906, and it was not until the seventies that many nations attempted to save the Temple. All these countries, together with UNESCO, selected a suitable place, but they had to wait until the completion of the High Dam, in 1971, which would stabilize the level of the water around their chosen island. The new island was called Egilica (also called Agilika), and it was completely reshaped to imitate Philae Island as closely as possible.
Firstly, a cofferdam was built around the Temple and the water was drained. Next, the Temple was dismantled and transferred, stone by stone, from the submerged Philea Island to the redesigned Egilica Island. Each and every stone had to be numbered, and then replaced, in the same position, in the new location. It was a massive, and very complicated, project taking over 9 years to be accomplished.
The Temples of Abu Simbel
The Temples of Abu Simbel are amongst the most interesting Pharaonic Temples. Located close to the southern border with the Sudan, it is 280 km south of Aswan and consists of two, rock-cut Temples, which both date back to the reign of King Ramses II (1290-1223 BC). Unfortunately these unique Temples suffered from the raising water of Lake Nasser while the High Dam was being built. Other countries, with the help of UNESCO, assisted Egypt to help save them. The two Temples were cut in to many pieces, and then they were reconstructed again on a site 65m higher than the original location, and 200m back inland, to escape the rising water level. This great rescue operation began in June 1964 and finished in September 1968. The first Temple was built by King Ramses II and is dedicated to the God Re-Hor-Akhty, Amon, Ptah, and King Ramses II as a deified King. Its façade is 35m long and 30m high. The façade has four seated colossi of the King; each one is 20m tall and represents the King seated on his throne wearing the double crown, accompanied by 3 small figures of his wives, daughters and sons flanking his legs. Above the entrance stands the figure of ReHor-Akhty, while near to the summit of the façade there are number of baboons. Inside the Temple there is a hall, supported by Osirid shaped pillars which were cut into the rock, with walls that are decorated by battle and offering scenes. There are some side rooms leading from the hall, which are also decorated with various scenes. At the far end of the Temple is the sanctuary, which contains four statues; Re-Hor-Akhty, Amon-Re, Ptah and the deified Ramses II.
The Temple of Nefertari
The Temple of Queen Nefertari is located 120m from the Temple of Ramses II and was also built by Ramses II, dedicated to the Goddess Hathor and to his wife Queen Nefertari. Queen Nefertari was the principal, and the most beloved, wife of King Ramses II. It is also a rock-cut Temple with a façade of about 28m long and 12m high, which contains 6 standing colossi, each one being about 11m in height. Four of them represent Ramses II and the other two represent Queen Nefertari, each is accompanied by two smaller figures of their children.
The entrance leads to a square hall, which is supported by 6 Hathor-headed pillars decorated with scenes depicting the King and the Queen making offerings to different deities.
At the end of the hall there is a doorway leading to a transverse vestibule decorated with scenes of King Ramses II making offering to Re-HorAkhty, while the Queen is presenting flowers to Khenum, Sat-tet and Anket. The Transverse Hall leads to the Sanctuary, which contains a niche in the rear wall with a statue of Goddess Hathor, as a cow, protecting Ramses II.