Egypt: Day 5 (27 Oct 2007)

Volume 10, Issue 125; 20 Nov 2007; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Karnak Temple, The Valley of the Kings, and the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut.

You know all those movies you've seen where the hero goes to Egypt and winds up in that room filled with those enormous columns? That's the great hypostyle hall at Karnak.

Among the adjectives that can be used to describe Karnak (and I find I'm running out of adjectives) is “big”. Huge. Enormous.

It is filled with wondrous monuments.

The capitals on those columns, by the way, are lotus flowers. They appear sometimes closed, as in the hall, and sometimes open.

After Karnak, we travelled to the Valley of the Kings located, not surprisingly, under a pyramid shaped mountain.

There isn't a lot that can be photographed in the Valley. They are serious that photography is forbidden in the tombs. Not only did I see a couple of memory cards yanked by guards, in one tomb, I forgot to sling my camera over my back and had to show the guard a series of images to prove I hadn't taken a picture inside.

The tombs that are open vary and Hatem suggested three choice ones. We did two of them, but it was clear that the line was too long to get into the third in time. Instead, I wandered up one of the paths and did another (KV 47, Siptah).

Maybe the carvings in Siptah's tomb weren't as well preserved, and maybe the scenes weren't as famous or significant, but I had it all to myself. That's a fair trade in my book. One could easily spend days exploring tombs in the Valley. If one could stand the heat.

It was hot. October is autumn, so “hot” wasn't HOT, but still. In case you hadn't noticed, the sky in every photograph is blue from horizon to horizonExcept for the smog, especially around Ciaro, but noticably along the whole Nile river valley.. It rains for a few minutes every few years. The sun shines, without relief or remorse, all day, every day.

After the Valley, we moved on to the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut started as regent but eventually crowned herself Pharoah or king of Egypt.

Like the pyramids, it's difficult to capture the scale her temple.

Many of her statues and monuments, including her mortuary temple, were defaced and smashed by subsequent rules. The current temple is a marvel of modern reconstruction, but there are still an enormous number of broken pieces left to be identified and assembled.

After Hatshepsut, we stopped at an “alabaster jar” factory.

And then at the Colossi of Memnon before returning to the boat.

Lest you wonder just how big they are, check out the itty-bitty little person on the right hand side of the shot.

The very observant may have noticed that most of the photographs on this day are quite grainy. After boosting the ISO sensitivity way up for the preceding evening's photos, I neglected to set it back down again. My bad.

What a wonderful day.