Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trip Report: Edfu & Kom Ombo

If you are on a riverboat and wish to dock in Edfu, you must first pass through the Esna lock. Here only two boats are allowed through at a time and the amount of water differentiating between side A and side B seems pathetically small. In total, the lock takes thirty minutes to complete, and is a rare opportunity to look around at the same scenery and take some beautiful pictures. Shortly after Esna, one comes to Edfu.

Edfu reminded me of India, but with a few slight variations. Locals stuffed pitta bread loose in polystyrene bags, and falafel carts ambled by in the streets, the smell of fried fava bean lingering in the air. We were taken to the main temple of Horus via horse-drawn carriage.
I understood how a noblewoman must have felt long ago, and after five minutes in the open carriage I wondered if the wheels were actually round. Sadly, many of the horses seemed underfed, and when one of our tour group offered their horse an apple that she had taken from the boat, the carriage driver stuffed it in his pocket greedily instead of letting the poor beast partake in it. The horse-drawn carriage ride is definitely one of the main trades of the area. There is also a hospital specializing in equine health somewhere near by, and these kind people built a horse and buggy cart parking in the temple lot. Unfortunately many of the drivers chose to put themselves in the shade instead of their horses. Our driver seemed to take fine care of his horse - there were no ribs showing, and for that I was grateful. On

Edfu soars majestically above the hill as we approach in our carriage, and after being told to remember our carriage number, I walked towards it slowly, feeling the awe of an ancient people who worshipped Horus, the falcon god. Once again I was happy for the sand that covered portions of the carvings, protecting them from Christian vandals. Two granite statues of Horus flank the temple. It is here that Horus is said to have captured his Uncle Seth, the same uncle who had it in for poor Osiris and ripped him into pieces at least a couple times to the distress of Isis, his sister and lover.

Kom Ombo was covered in the afternoon, a temple half dedicated to Horus and half dedicated to Sotek, the crocodile god. Even though crocodiles are no longer on this side
the other hand, I learned on the return trip that the mare had recently given birth - a fact that the driver seemed very happy about.of the Aswan Dam, it is easy to imagine this place swarming with them and the ancient Egyptians having little choice but to pay them homage. Kom Ombo has a multi-layered history. A more recent construction, it was built by the Greeks, finished by the Romans, and then destroyed by Constantine and the Christians. Here they have one of the only full calendars of ancient Egypt. There were twelve months, with thirty days each - three ten-day weeks where the last day was a day of rest. The five days leftover at the end of the year were dedicated to the gods Isis, Osiris, Neftys, Seth, and Horus. Unfortunately this left a fraction of a day, so instead of worrying about it, every 1460 years, they tacked an extra year on. Think about how this would have been handled now where you were suddenly a year older. For those people who refuse to age gracefully, I could only laugh as I imagined the uproar.

Next up: Aswan Dam and Philae

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