(Day 3 Nile Cruise – after Luxor and Karnak Temples we headed west)
Land of the setting sun, land of the dead.
For 3,400 years, the Colossi of Memnon have guarded the way to the necropolis of Thebes (Valleys of the Kings and Queens). These faceless giants once stood before the entrance to Amenhotep’s mortuary temple. Unfortunately, multiple floods, earthquakes, and stone scavengers have done their damage and little remains, at least above ground.
Why are the colossi of Amenhotep III called the Colossi of Memnon? Well, after an earthquake in 27 BC, the statue on the right side in the above photo developed a crack. Evidently the cooling and heating, the expansion and contraction, the condensation and evaporation (they guess) caused a moaning, whistling sound when the morning sun heated the stone. The Greeks believed the sound to be Memnon (Hero of the Trojan war slain by Achilles) greeting his mother Eos (goddess of dawn). The statues were already tourist attractions back in Greek and Roman times and it was considered good luck to hear the whistling statue. Sadly the stone is now silent; Roman Emperor Septimius Severus had the statue repaired in 199 AD, and Memnon has not uttered a sound since.
“He who shall do her homage shall live; he who shall speak evil in blasphemy of her Majesty shall die.” – The inscription at Hatshepsut’s tomb
Hatshepsut’s terraced limestone Temple of Djeser-Djeseru or the sublime of sublimes the holiest of holies is architectural elegance.
After the death of her husband/half-brother Thutmose II, Hatshepsut (not yet 30) became regent; her husband’s only male heir Thutmose III (from a lesser wife) was too young to assume the throne. Hatshepsut had influential supporters and eventually phased from regent to Pharaoh. She built temples and monuments, focused on economic prosperity, authorized a very successful trading expedition to the west coast of Africa and gave Egypt a peaceful, flourishing 20 year rule. Hatshepsut was the first woman with full power as pharaoh and apparently she rocked at ruling.
Osirian statues of Hatshepsut – Per her request, most of her statues show her with the typical pharaoh beard. I guess she had to look tough.
Ra – sun god
The Valley of the Queens was next on our agenda.
This is the resting place of royal women, children, and high officials of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC). No picture taking is allowed inside the tombs.
Some houses sit over tombs; some actually have entrances into tombs. Despite the necropolis’ remote location, the tombs were targets from the beginning and guards and caretakers were often involved in the thieving.
Tram ride into the Valley of the Kings
Again no photo taking allowed. Not all the tombs were open to the public, but the ones we saw had extraordinary paintings; the colors still so vibrant.
King Tutankhamun’s Tomb
His mummy was inside (which my son thought was super cool). The tomb is not very elaborate compared to the others we’ve seen, actually it’s really small. The treasure hoard must have been packed in very tightly – not a comfortable space for afterlife living in my opinion. Still, with all of the history and legends surrounding Tut and his tomb it was exciting to visit.
This is our last night aboard the Nile Adventurer. They set the dessert on fire just after this pic 🙂
In the morning we’ll wake before dawn for our sunrise balloon ride.