Temple of Hatshepsut

The burial temple of Hatshepsut is one of the most dramatic monuments of ancient Egypt. The queen’s architect, Senmut, designed the temple with rows of evenly spaced columns that follow the vertical patterns of the cliff backdrop making the temple a beautiful reflection of its natural surroundings.

Leading up to the temple was a tree lined avenue of sphinxes. There are also a series of walkways connecting a number of terraces built into the temple. The lowest terraces were restored in 1906 to protect the famous reliefs or wall paintings depicting scenes of the temple being built and the birth of the Pharaoh. Although gone today, the front of the upper terrace contained a long line of large statues of the queen that looked out over the valley. When the temple was first built, the walls behind these statues were decorated with bright wall paintings.


Temple of Hatshepsut

Osiris pillar

From the temple of Hatshepsut

Sanctuary of Hathor

Inside Hatshepsut Temple

Hatshepsut between Re-Horakhty and Amun-Re
 
 

Queen Hatshepsut, to whom the temple was dedicated, was one of the first recorded female rulers of ancient Egypt. On her coronation, she wore a complete Pharaoh’s ritual costume including the false beard. We know this from the many wall paintings and statues that depict her as a male; few remaining statues or pictures that show her as a female have survived. 

How the great queen Hatshepsut died remains a mystery. Many historians believe that she was killed because she was a woman. After her death in 1452 BCE, Hatshepsut’s name was erased from her monuments and some were destroyed altogether. Still Hatshepsut accomplished what no woman had before her; she successfully ruled the most powerful civilization in the world for over twenty years.

Temple of Edfu

    Edfu (Behdet) A site 72 miles south of Thebes, on the Nile, Edfu was the capital of the second nome of Upper Egypt and the HORUS cultic site from early times. The city was called “the Exaltation of Horus” in some eras. Tombs dating  to  the  Sixth  Dynasty  (2323–2150  B.C.E.)  and erected  by  the  local  Nomarchs were  discovered  in  the city’s necropolis, as well as a step pyramid dating to the Third  Dynasty  (2649–2575  B.C.E.).  Mastabas and  reliefs were  also  discovered  there.  In  the  Ptolemaic  Period (304–30  B.C.E.)  a  great  temple  was  erected  on  the  site. The city was always considered militarily strategic for the defense of the nation and was fortified against assaults by the Nubians (the modern Sudanese). During the Second Intermediate Period (1640–1550 B.C.E.) when the Asiatics (Hyksos) ruled  the  northern  Delta  territories,  Edfu  was fortified by the Theban dynasties.

Access to the Temple of Edfu 


The Major entrance of Edfu Temple


    Horus, husband to the cow goddess Hathor, was one of the primary gods to the Egyptians.  He is depicted with the head of a hawk, sometimes on the body of a human, sometimes on the body of a hawk.

    Temple of Horus at Edfu built in 200 BC under the Greek Ptolemaic kings, this is one of the youngest – and the best preserved – of the Egyptian temples. Sekhmet, the lioness goddess, is very loving and, when needed, equally vicious.

    Bedouini Judy and Ruth wrap themselves in ancient-style scarves to ward off the cold morning winds.
Inside the Temple of Edfu 

Engraving on the walls of Edfu Temple

Cobra relief on the walls of Temple of Edfu

Scarab relief on the walls of Temple of Edfu

Statue of Horus

Mammisi of Ptolemy VIII Euergete

Temple of Kom Ombo

    Kom Ombo A site south of EDFU on the Nile that served as the cultic center for the deities HORUS the Elder and SOBEK, Kom Ombo was also a major center of Egyptian  TRADE with  the  Red  Sea  and  Nubian  (modern Sudanese)  cultures.  Eighteenth  Dynasty  (1550–1307B.C.E.) structures made Kom Ombo important, but there were also settlements from the Paleolithic Period in the area.


Temple of Sobek and Horus at Kom Ombo
From
Bunson (M. R.), Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt, New York, 2002.


Temple of Kom Ombo 


Papyrus shaped columns at Kom Ombo temple 


The gate to access to the sanctuary of Sobek


Column details at Kom Ombo 


Relief stone outside the temple


Nilometer outside the temple


    The temple of Haroeris (HORUS) and SOBEK was a double structure, with identical sections, the northern one for Haroeris and the southern one for Sobek. There was also a shrine to HATHOR on the site. The complex was dedicated as well to KHONS (1). Tasenetnofret, an obscure goddess called “the Good Sister,” and Pnebtawy, called“the Lord of the Two Lands,” were honored as well at Kom Ombo.

    A double entrance is in the southwest, leading to a courtyard. Two HYPOSTYLE HALLS, offering halls, twin sanctuaries, magazines, vestibules, wells, and birth houses, called MAMMISI, compose the elements of the temple. The main temple is Ptolemaic in its  present  form, with a gate fashioned by PTOLEMY XII Auletes (r. 80–58, 55–51 B.C.E.). Niches and crypts were also included, and mummies  of  CROCODILES were  found,  wearing  golden earrings,  manicures,  and  gilded  nails.  A  NILOMETER was installed at Kom Ombo, and CALENDARS and portraits of the Ptolemys adorned the walls.

Karnak

   The temples at Karnak are the largest ancient complex in Egypt. Begun in 1970 BC by Sesostris I, construction continued through the reign of Ramses III in 1166 BC. Each Pharaoh of those 800 years wanted to leave something of himself here – a new temple, chapel, or carvings of himself superimposed over older carvings.

   The Great Hypostyle Hall, comprised of the huge columns seen to the right, is one of the greatest achievements of Ancient Egypt, considered as difficult to achieve as the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Karnak Temples

Gate of Karnak

statues of Ram at Karnak

Pillars of the Great Hypostyle Hall

The Sacred Lake

 From karnak temple
 
 
 

Abu Simbel Sun Festival

For most of the year, the inner sanctum of the main temple at Abu Simbel is shrouded in darkness. On two specific days, traditionally the anniversary of the birthday and coronation of pharaoh Ramses II, a shaft of sunlight pierces the gloom, illuminating statues of gods and the king in the temple’s inner sanctum.

Temple of Abu Simbel

On February 22, a day celebrating the king’s birthday and again on October 22, a day celebrating his coronation, sunlight illuminates seated statues of the sun gods Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, as well as a statue of king Ramses II. The statues sit in the company of the Theban god of darkness, Ptah (who remains in the shadows all year).

Abu Simbel Sun Festival

The sun illuminating Abu Simbel is considered to be one of the oldest Egyptian Sun Festivals, it dates back to the pharaonic era and has endured more than 3,200 years of Egyptian history. It draws thousands of tourists to Abu Simbel to watch this ancient tribute to a pharaoh whose name is still known up and down the Nile Valley and the world over for his military exploits and monumental building projects. Nowadays, it became a touristic attraction due to the high dam and the moving of the temple.

During the spectacle, people stand in two rows to let the sun rays reach the statues in the shrine.

The Unfinished Obelisk, in Aswan

The Unfinished Obelisk is a huge obelisk yet to be finished. If finished, it would have measured around 41 m and would have weighed nearly 117 tons. Its importance lies in the fact that it carries inscriptions that explain the methods the ancient Egyptians used in cutting and sculpting obelisks.




The Unfinished Obelisk, in Aswan

Egypt Nile Cruises

The pharaohs sometimes visited their Nile-side temples by royal barge, and boat traffic along the river remains the most  dramatic way to reach the monuments. Since 1869,  when Thomas Cook and Son launched  their Upper Egypt excursions, steamships were popular with those who wished to travel in style, and see the sites at a comfortable pace. While some of today’s cruise ships are nearly as well-appointed as the royal barge, there are packages to suit every budget, offering itineraries of varying lengths.




Egypt Nile Cruises


Several jewellike monuments are located on the banks of the river between Luxor and Aswan, including the Temple of Khnum at Esna, the Temple of falcon-headed Horus at Edfu, and the  temple of the  crocodile  god Sobek at Kom Ombo. All may be visited by car from Luxor, as well as by cruise ship to Aswan, south of Luxor, whose attractions  also merit an extended stay.

Note:

From Aswan you may embark on a (3 to 4) night Lake Nasser cruise to Abu Simbel, visiting the monuments of Nubia along the way.