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Kom Ombo, Egypt

Friday, December 11, 2009

Today, proved somewhat dismal in Glasgow, Scotland. There was persistent fog which closed the airport for sometime. I did manage to get out for a short while, to obtain images for my separate ancestry themed blog but, other than that little escapade, there were no real opportunities to obtain photographs of architecture or much else.

This evening, therefore, I am going to dip in, again, to the portfolio of images accumulated during my recent Egypt tour which had a strong influence on ancient and modern architecture which in turn is represented in certain parts of Glasgow, particularly in work by Greek Thomson, e.g.the Egyptian Halls in Union Street.

This evening, I am going to focus on Kom Ombo, the ancient city of Pa-Sabek, where the crocodile god was worshipped in pre-dynastic times. Location is between Edfu and Aswan.

Kom Ombo in fact comprises two temples, on the right is a temple dedicated to the god Sebak, the god of fertility, whilst the temple on the right is dedicated to Haroeris, the solar god of war.

The temple was rebuilt by the Ptolemies around AD300 on an earlier site dating from Tutmose III. The edifice is located close the edge of the Nile.

During the period of our visit the light faded quite rapidly

Carved pillar from the hypostyle hall.

These inscription show early medical/surgery tools.

Two images of the temple taken as the light fades.

The site also features a sophisticated system for predicting the rise of the Nile at flood time.


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Abu Simbel, Egypt

Monday, December 07, 2009

Today, I had planned to visit and photograph some more Greek Thomson architecture sites in preparation for a new web page on the subject. However, I was stymied in my endeavours on two accounts: (a) very poor weather and light conditions and (b) continuing very slow recovery from a harsh cold/flu which leaves me in the 'walking wounded' category.

This evening, I have decided to dip in again to my recent visit to some of the famous archaeological sites of Egypt, at least the images of blue skies and sunshine should help to lift spirits during a dark Glaswegian winter!

Memories of Abu Simbel will linger with me for a long time, not least because the visit entailed a 2.30am start and a long coach drive through the desert to reach the site just after dawn broke. Like many equivalent sites in Egypt I felt I was just part of a mass tourism production line with quality of information and the overall visitor experience somewhat mediocre. Compared to this the quality of information etc., at a typical Historic Scotland site is on a different (higher) level, but that said the climates are not comparable and Egypt is not Scotland.

Despite concerns with quality of the visit experience and very early start, I am very glad that I went because I can at least now physically connect with this world-famous site and research more information at my leisure.

Some key information on Abu Simbel:

  • Theoretically dedicated to Amon-Ra, Harmakis and Ptah but in reality constructed for the glory of Ramses the Great (Ramses II)
  • Built about 2000 years ago and then relocated to current site during 1965-9 to avoid being swamped by the rising waters of the Nile due to the construction of the Aswan Dam.
  • The torso of one of the statues is missing due to an earthquake.
  • The facade consists of four colossal statues (20m high) of the Pharaoh, Ramses.
  • Inside the body of rock is a temple comprising a number of rooms including a sanctuary with various statues including those of Harmakis, Ramses II, Nefertari and others. Photography is not allowed inside.
  • Not to be overlooked is the 'small' temple or Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Nefertari. This can be seen in the right section of image no 1 below.



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Edfu, Egypt

Saturday, December 05, 2009

This evening, I have dragged my self away from my sick bed to post some images and reflections of my recent visit sites of ancient Egypt.

Focus this evening is Edfu, which is the best preserved temple in the whole of Egypt.

This temple was constructed under Nectanebus II (360 BC) on top of an older temple dating from the time of Tutmose III.

The temple's dimensions are:

  • 137 m long
  • 79 m wide
  • Pylon 36m high.
  • The entrance is guarded by two, black granite statues depicting Horus in form of a falcon (see image no 3 below).
Note Greek influenced columns below.

The great entrance pylon to the temple.

God, Horus in form of a falcon.

This video clip shows exterior wall decorations to the left of the entrance.



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Karnak, Egypt

Thursday, December 03, 2009

This evening, I am catching up on my portfolio of images, etc., following return from trip to Egypt and it's stunning archaeology and architecture.

Karnak is a few kilometres from modern Luxor (formerly Thebes). This ancient and extensive complex, extending to about forty two hectares, is full of impressive architecture, monuments, and temples. Includes in the site is (a) the temple dedicated to Amon (b) sanctuary on Montu, god of war and (c) sanctuary of the goddess, Mut who was Amon's wife and represented as a vulture.

This first image shows the colossal statue of Pinedjem, albeit from an unusual angle.

Hieroglyphics incorporating cartouche.

Tour group in shadow of obelisk.

Here is the actual obelisk, of Tutmose I

Statues of two pharaohs
View with hypostyle hall in the background.This hall measures about 102 m long and 53m wide within which area stand no less than 134 columns 23m high.

It is reported that, during the 19th dynasty, more than 81,000 persons were involved in the construction of the Temple of Amon. The hypostyle hall contains columns sponsored by no less than four different pharaohs.

Carving of a gigantic scarab (dung beetle).

Sphinxes of Ramses II in the Ethiopian Courtyard.

Details of the hypostyle hall.

Ram-headed sphinx, one of two columns at entrance to the first pylon at the Temple of Karnak

Another aspects of the hypostyle hall.

One side of the avenue of ram-headed sphinxes.

This video clip shows the sacred lake with the hypostyle hall in the background. The lake is some 120m long. This is where then priests carried out nocturnal rituals.



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Temple of Luxor, Egypt

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

This evening, I am collating images and memories of recent visit to Luxor, Egypt. This was the Thebes of ancient Egypt, a city renowned for its wealth but sacked in 672BC and subsequently destroyed completely around 2000 years ago.

Key facts relating to the Temple of Luxor:

  • Known locally as Amon's Southern Harem.
  • Started by Amon-Ofis III, enlarged by Tutmose III and finished by Ramses II.
  • Linked to the nearby Temple of Karnak by a long avenue of sphinxes with human heads.
  • The great pylon at the entrance was built by Ramses II and is 65m wide.
  • In front of the entrance is one obelisk (25m high) which dates from the time of Ramses II. Its twin can be found in Paris, France to where it was removed in 1833.
  • The two massive statues at the entrance represent the Pharaoh.
  • Insider the entrance is the courtyard of Ramses II then a 25m long colonnade leads to the courtyard of Amon-Ofis III.
Entrance showing the two colossi.

Remains of interior paintings dating from Roman times, apparently representing Roman senators.

Part of the avenue of sphinxes

Remaining obelisk of Ramses II

Video clip of interior.



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Tour of Luxor Streets, Egypt.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This evening, I have decided to tell the story of an unofficial 'tour', on foot, around the back streets of Luxor, Egypt last night together with my wife. We were staying on a Nile cruise ship moored at Luxor and decided to go for an evening stroll. However, we were immediately 'befriended' by a local who purported to be a member of the ship's crew and spoke reasonable English. So, with some trepidation, we were escorted into the back streets, away from the 21st century and the usual tourist traps into a medieval world of unsealed roads, donkeys, local traders, horse drawn vehicles, worshippers at the mosque and local ladies out shopping. This was the real world and slightly scary because we were totally in the hands of a local gentleman who we had never met before. However, we never felt under threat or any way intimidated

We were escorted to a spice trader (see image no 5 below) principally because my wife wanted some sort of essence of coconut. After a considerable amount of haggling and discussions we came away with a substance for which we probably paid well over the odds and didn't really want, just like an everyday trip to a British supermarket!!

Thankfully, our guide was honourable and escorted us through the maze of back streets back to the boat in the course of which there was a loud bang which proved to be nothing more sinister than a street lamp exploding.

In ancient times Luxor was known as Thebes, capital of the Egyptian kingdom and known for its fabulous wealth. Since sacking of the city in 672 BC the city never recovered its former standing.

As an avid student of prehistory, I was very impressed by the various ancient temples and other historic sites encountered on the Nile cruise. However, memories of this impromptu walking tour of the real world of modern day Luxor will stay with me for a long time. Bear in mind the images below were taken at night. Apparently the shops stay open until around midnight. Fascinating atmosphere.

I am not sure what substance this gentleman is smoking, but it makes him quite happy.

Street trader (literally) selling fish.

Local lady with an efficient way of carrying her shopping. No doubt also good for the deportment.

Street scene with donkey and children at play. We noticed that children we encountered seemed quite happy although living in some degree of poverty (by our standards).

Spice stall selling a wide range of exotic smelling substances.

Another street scene with horse drawn carriage.

Trader specialising in pots, pans and baskets.

In course of the next few days I will be posting more images of our Egypt experience.


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