Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 7 Egypt - Luxor

Last day on the Nile Cruise.  We visited two more temples, the ones near Luxor,  These were the most fantastic of all.

The first place was at Karnnak Temple, also called temple of temples because at these temple grounds were several temples, built and added to by 30 different pharaohs over the years.

These are our two guides.  We had the girl for the our bus, red bus, and the yellow bus had the guy.

 The roads leading to the temple area were lined with sphinx's.  This one ran for many miles all the way from the temple area at Karmak to the temple at Luxor.  These had the body of a lion and head of a ram.  Ram is symbol of the idolatrous god Amun.  Karmak is the largest ancient religious site in the world and was the center of their worship at its time.  During its height over 80,000 slaves worked here serving the pharaohs and their guests and worshipers.

 These temple areas were built by the Ptolemic Era pharaohs.

 Massive columns all crowded with carvings and filling the area so succeeding pharaohs could write about their lives and great accomplishments.

 The obelisk here is 97 feet tall and weighs 323 tons. There use to be 3 obelisk standing, but one was for the woman Pharaoh and her son destroyed it when she died.  He was upset because he should have been the Pharaoh instead of her, so after she died he tried to destroy anything that was built for her.  She was the one who convinced the high priest to say she was a descendant of  a God (who spent one night with her) so she could be the Pharaoh.

 This is at Luxor which inspired the attractions at Las Vegas.  We saw Holy of Holies in each temple where only the pharaoh and high priests could go.  We also saw a tree of life carving where the pharaoh had his name engraved on a leaf.  Also carvings of judgement.  If your heart weighed less than a feather you were okay and were given an Ankh which was the key to eternal life.  If your heart weighed too much because of misdeeds then a hideous idolatrous godlike dog would eat your heart and you were condemned.

 This one family came up to Jacquelyn as ask if they could take her picture with their baby.  We took a picture also.

We took a plane from Luxor to an Egyptian resort town of Taba on the Red Sea.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Day 6 Egypt - Valley of Kings

We went to the Valley of the Gods today which had a lot of tombs built into the cliffs.  We went in the tombs of three Pharaohs - Ramses III, Ramses IX, and Tawsrt.

 They built tombs into the cliffs rather than pyramids so thieves wouldn't steal everything.  Then they hid the entrances to the tombs.

This is what the entrances look like now for tourists.

 Inside the walls were all ornately decorated and they were filled with things the pharaoh would need in the next life.

 Going down the boat on a river after death to the next world.  They had to pass by all the idolatrous gods.

 One of the tunnels to a burial chamber.

 Some covered in gold.

Pharaoh on an embalming table with the idolatrous god Anubis who ruled the underworld and decided if you got eternal life or not.

After this temple we went to an Alabaster Museum where we watched how they made the Alabaster items like bowls and vases.  It was very interesting and real Alabaster items are kind if transparent where the light can shine through them.
Then we went to the Habu Temple, which was very large. This is the idolatrous god Bastet.  There was one female pharaoh.  The were supposed to be men but she convinced the high priests to tell the people she was the actual daughter of Ra the sun god and thus she could rule.  After she died her brother who was supposed to have been pharaoh earlier had all her statues and drawing defaced and removed.

 Giant carvings on the temple walls.

 Inside the Habu Temple, which had two Holy of Holies, one for the pharoah and one for his wife.

 Lots of massive carvings.

 They added columns just so they would have more space to put carvings.

You might be able to see some of the color on these.  Below are two colossal statues.

After lunch back on the ship we went for a walk on our own by the place where the ship was docked.  We caught a horse and carriage ride into the town of Luxor and the driver and his wife from Holland showed us around.  She had been living there for three years now and told us all about life in Egypt of today.  We got back to the ship for a buffet dinner followed by a program.  There was a Twirling dervish and then a belly dancer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 5 Egypt - Nile River

Today we were up at 6:00am (which was early when we ended last night at midnight) ate a great buffet breakfast, and were on our way by 7:00.  The day was spent cruising up the Nile River and visiting three Egyptian Temples.

 Here are some gigantic carvings.  When you see an animal head that is an idolatrous god of the Egyptians.  Human faces are the pharaohs and their wives petitioning the idolatrous gods for their approval for the afterlife.  This is a pharaoh's wife and the idolatrous god Horus.

 We took a small boat ride out to an island where the first temple was located.  This structure had been moved there when a dam was built that flooded the original location.  We were way down at the south part of Egypt near Aswan.

 This is Philae's Temple in Aswan.  The roman's built temples in Egypt in the same style as the Egyptians.

 They did use some Roman columns.

 This was our Egyptian tour guide.  She spoke good English and was very knowledgeable.  We were the red group.  You can see how big the temple structures were and the carvings.  The originally were all in bright colors but that had all faded away.

 A close up of some of the carvings which covered every inch of surface and were brightly colored.

 Another picture of the main temple.

 The middle of the day was spent in cruising up the Nile and enjoying the sunny weather and beautiful scenery.

 Elder John Madsen gave a talk on the ship and explained a lot of what we were seeing.  He also taught the history of Abraham and Joseph coming down to Egypt and their influence.  Then Moses being raised in Egypt and leading Israel on the Exodus to the promised land.  It's amazing how much of the Egyptian temple carvings and their beliefs had some similarities to our beliefs and temples of today.  They would get from their gods this key to eternal life and a staff for immortality.   They also had a Holy of Holies in each of their temples.

 More cruising along the Nile.  It was so peaceful.

 Next we went to tour the Kom Ombo Temple.  Now after the lecture we knew what to look for in their symbology.

 Temple grounds at Kom Ombo.

 In this carving and the first one in this post you can see the pharaoh petitioning the idolatrous god for favors in the next life.  The god Horus had the key for eternal life in one hand and and the staff for immortality in the other.  On his head was the hats symbolizing upper and lower Egypt.

 In a small museum we saw mummified crocodiles in honor of the idolatrous god Sobek.  They thought the spirits of the gods could inhabit the idol statues and carvings and so they could be heard by the idolatrous gods when they prayed and worshiped the carvings and statues.

Last stop was the temple at Edfu which we went to at night.  We were taken there by horse drawn carriages.  They had a light show there.  Lots to see.  After dinner we had an Egyptian type party with games on the ship.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day 4 Egypt - Giza

Day four was spent at Giza on the other side of the Nile from Cairo.  They put their cities on the east side where the sun rises and their burial areas on the west side where the sun sets.

 We had our picture taken on camels.  You can see two pyramids of Giza in the background.

 Jacquelyn's turn.  You can see three pyramids in the background, which were built for a father, son, and grandson, who where all pharaohs or kings in turn.

 These are the largest and only perfect pyramids.  The first one is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the other two were copies.  They belonged to Pharaoh Menkaure, Pharaoh Khafre, and Pharaoh Khufu.

 A close up of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the biggest.  Notice how small Jacquelyn looks on the pyramid sandstone blocks.  The facing was taken off (except at the top) by Arabs, but originally it was perfectly smooth with highly polished highly reflective white sandstone.  It's 756 feet long on each side, 450 feet high, and is composed of 2.3 million blocks of stone each averaging 2.5 tons.  No side is more than 8 inches different in length and it's perfectly oriented to the points of the compass.  It's still today the most massive building on earth.  It took 20 years to build with a force of 100,000 oppressed slaves.

 Here is the entrance going down into the tomb.  It led to a tunnel that you had to crouch to go down at about a 30 degree angle down.  At the bottom was one of the burial chambers, which was empty except for a stone sarcophagus.  Inside the pyramid are all kinds of hidden passageways and chambers to confuse thieves.

 We also went to the Cairo museum and saw many artifacts, including the ones from King Tut's tomb.  Then we visited the Great Sphinx.  There was a large rock that the pharaoh wanted removed but his builders suggested building a sphinx instead to protect the pyramids.  It's being restored.

After the Sphinx we went to a papyrus factory and I got an authentic papyrus copy of the facsimiles Joseph Smith had  in the Pearl of Great Price.  We had a fun day seeing these great wonders of the ancient world.

    That evening we flew to Aswan and took a bus to the cruise ship Opera.  We had a great buffet dinner from 9:30- 10:40.  (all the hotel meals were buffets and excellent also)  Next we had a show by Nubian musicians and dancers with audience participation. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day 1-3 Egypt - Cairo, Sakkara, and Memphis

We are back from our trip to Egypt, Israel, and Jordan.  We were part of a Fun For Less tour group but we got to Cairo a day early from the rest of the tour group.  Day 1 and 2 were spent in travel (actually took 2 days) from Seattle to Chicago to Amman to Cairo.

 We arranged for a private tour of some additional sites for Day 3.  First we went out to Sakkara to see some old tombs and pyramids.  The first stop was the Imhotep Museum.  He was the subject of the Mummy movies but was actually a very smart and popular person.  He was second to the Pharaoh and was the one that came up with the idea of pyramids and several other public work projects.

 This was a small and very old tomb that we got to go into, the tomb of Pharoh Zoser whom Imhotep built the first pyramid for.

 Here we are in the burial chamber.

 The first pyramid was a step pyramid and was for King Zoser and the Egyptians are in the middle of restoring it.

Pyramid next to some tomb buildings.  You can get a feel for how massive the pyramids are.

 We also toured one of the ceremonial temple grounds around the pyramid.  Here are some Egyptians.

The third stop was in Memphis were we saw a temple area and statues of Rames II.

 A large colossus statue of Ramses II that had fallen down.  It's 36 feet tall and weighs 83 tons.

 The artificial beard that they wore was for wisdom and knowledge and separate hats representing  upper and lower Egypt.  The cartouche on his arm is how they always wrote the pharaoh's names with an oval circle around the name.

 A smaller Rames II statue still standing.

 Cairo has about 19+ million people and the buildings were not completely finished by our standards.  They didn't put facing on the structures or sometimes no glass in the windows.  There was often re-bar on top for future floors for their son's families to add onto when they married.  Families like to live in the same building if possible.  We were told they had less taxes if the building wasn't finished, but  we also heard that they just thought it was too expensive to finish the outside and they would rather put the money into a nice inside.They like to own and not rent their apartments.

A cigarette shop with a strange name.

The streets are very crowded and the cars don't pay any attention to lanes.  There was a lot of honking and the cars almost touched each other. There are no crossing areas so people just walk right across right through the traffic (and don't even stop) weaving through moving cars. We even gave it a try and we didn't get hit.

 We stayed at really nice hotels all through the trip. This first hotel was the newest and best in Cairo and connected to a new Mall also.  We bought a Swharma sandwich about 10 inches long for just about $3.00 US and a great ice cream bar for about $2 in the mall.  It was about 5 stories tall and had a lot of American stores in it also.

 In the hotel was an outdoor swimming pool and an indoor hydro-pool pictured here.

Fountains in the lobby.  We had a fun first day after such a long two days travel to get there.