Day 15: Edfu Yong Day!

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Morning came early to Mike and Bone, they rose with the Sun with the Crescent Moon still smiling down on the lazy. placid Nile River. Today was set as a fairly light day so after a leisurely breakfast at a later time than the day before, the well rested Boys followed Safwat and the rest of the Road Scholars out for a visit of the Kom Ombo temple!


A Glorious morning on the Nile!

The Boat put it and the Road Scholars took a short trip to the Temple. Once on the temple grounds, the first thing Safwat pointed out is that the Temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual double temple in the town of Kom Ombo in what is considered Upper Egypt. For Egypt, it is a relatively new temple, it was constructed during the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty, 180–47 BC. Some additions to it were later made during the Roman period. The building is unique because its 'double' design meant that there were courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods. The southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world with Hathor and Khonsu. Meanwhile, the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god, Horus the Elder, along "with Tasenetnofret (the Good Sister), and Panebtawy (Lord of the Two Lands)." The temple is atypical because everything is perfectly symmetrical along the main axis.


What A Croc! The Kom Ombo Temple

The texts and reliefs in the temple refer to cultic liturgies which were similar to those from that time period. The temple itself had a specific theology. The characters invoked the gods of Kom Ombo and their legend. Two themes were present in this temple: the universalist theme and the local theme. The two combine to form the theology of this temple. A temple was already built in the New Kingdom to honor these gods, however, this site gained in importance during the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Little remains of the New Kingdom temple. The existing temple was begun by Ptolemy VI Philometor (180–145 BC) at the beginning of his reign and added to by other Ptolemy's, most notably Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator (51–47 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyles. The scene on the inner face of the rear wall of the temple is of particular interest, and "probably represents a set of surgical instruments." Probably to repair crocodile-related injuries!


Hieroglyphics of Horus and Sobek!

Sadly, much of the original temple has been destroyed by the Nile, earthquakes, and later builders who used its stones for other projects. Some of the reliefs inside were defaced by Christian Coptics, who once used the temple as a church.

Shady Characters!

One of the cool things about the Egyptian hieroglyphics is that they are carved to take advantage of the light. As the Sun moves through the day it provides a natural shadow for each figure to show it set apart from the wall. Mike and Bone thought was very cool in the mid-day heat !


Following the Road Scholars out of Kom Obo

The current structures was restored by Jacques de Morgan in 1893.  Next Safwat took the Team to a museum underneath of Kom Ombo to visit a cold blooded killer (not Bone's ex-wives)! But the Crocodile Museum!


The cool (figuratively and literally) Crocodile Museum!

 No visit to Kom Ombo is complete without a visit to the impetus for the god Sobek, the Crocodile Museum! While Safwat mentioned the day before that the Aswan Dam removed most of the crocs on the Nile there are still a lot of them in there! Yes, there are crocodiles in Egypt. These freshwater Nile crocs can grow to be over 20 feet long! While Safwat is right that there are now far fewer crocodiles in Egypt than there were in the past and most of them live in the southern part of the Nile Valley. They do manage to kill around 200 Egyptians each year from croc attacks! The downstairs Crocodile Museum was a cool break from the roasting sun, and had artifacts that ensured no one in the Road Scholars had any interest in swimming in the Nile!

The fact is that the mighty crocodile has played an important role in Egyptian culture for thousands of years. In addition to being linked to the deity Sobek, it was a food source, and parts of the animal, like its fat, were used as medicine to treat body pains, stiffness and even balding! The ancient Egyptians in their insane reverence for the reptile, mummified over three hundred of the critters into crocodile mummies, which have been discovered in the vicinity, some of which are displayed in The Crocodile Museum.

After seeing more dead crocs that they ever wanted to, Safwat lead Mike, Bone and the sweaty Road Scholars back to the Bus to head to the ship for lunch and a 4 hour ride down the river to the Temple of Edfu.


Cruising & Boozing!

After a fairly nondescript lunch, our hapless heroes headed up to the top deck watch the Nile meander, enjoy the blazing African Sun, and  tipple a few cold one!


Ancient Egyptian Ruins along the Nebulous Nile!

The three hours were exactly what the Boys needed to recharge their batteries, lots of Vitamin D (Bone got a little burnt!), and Vitamin B (ice,, cold,, beer!). Between drinkin', snoozin', and ancient Egyptian ruins gave Mike and Bone a great afternoon view of the Egyptian landscape. The next trip to Edfu gave the Boys got to learn about the Egyptian culture! And not really in a good way!


Horsing around in Edfu!

A part of the Road Scholar schtick promised a horse ride to the Edfu Temple, and Safwat had worked out a deal with a local Edfu Tourist company to brought in about 10 teams of horses. Safwat paid the drivers to take the Road Scholars to and from the Edfu Temple. While it should have been simple, however the moment the trip started with the Half-Toothed, Yellow-Toothed Egyptian driver start demanding more money from Mike and Bone! First, he lied and told the Boys he had not been paid and was gonna stop in the middle of the city if they didn't pay up!!! Bone told him that Safwat had paid him and they did not owe him anything! Half tooth, yellow tooth then bitched it wasn't enough and they should pay more! 


Heading into downtown Edfu!

Despite all the grumbling, the Horse Carriage with our hapless heroes tramped on into a very dusty, dirty, downtown.


Downtown Edfu !?!

Going through Edfu gave Mike and Bone a good understanding of the extreme poverty and backwardness of the Egyptian population. Islam is very big in these backwater areas since like all religions, the promises of a better afterlife makes poor people flock to that hope!  Semi-paved and completely unpaved roads were the paths through open air shops with food exposed to all the elements, certainly not a 1st world Kroger's! After about a mile in, Mr. Surly, Half-Toothed, Yellow-Toothed dropped the boys off with, "if you do not pay me, I will not come back and leave you here!" Mike and Bone didn't say a word with a smile, and walked into the Edfu Temple complex to meet up with Safwat.


A Dam Map!?!

Safwat waited for all the grumbling Road Scholars, some of which had even more aggressive drivers who were clearly,,,,,, horsing around!


The Edfu Temple

Once the Road Scholars grumbling ended and gathered together, Safwat started his presentation on the Temple of Edfu which is located on the west bank of the Nile. The city was named after Mike and Bone’s old friend Horus, who the Ptolemic Greeks identified as Apollo. What is cool is that it is one of the best-preserved shrines in Egypt. The temple was built in the Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom between 237 and 57 BC. The inscriptions on its walls provide important information on language, myth and religion during the Hellenistic period in Egypt. In particular, the Temple's inscribed building texts "provide details both of its construction, and also preserve information about the mythical interpretation of this and all other temples as the Island of Creation." There are also "important scenes and inscriptions of the Sacred Drama which related the age-old conflict between Horus and Seth."

They are translated by the Edfu-Project. Door of the Pylon Edfu was one of several temples built during the Ptolemaic Kingdom, including the Dendera Temple complex, Esna, the Temple of Kom Ombo, and Philae. Its size reflects the relative prosperity of the time. The present temple, which was begun "on 23 August 237 BC, initially consisted of a pillared hall, two transverse halls, and a barque sanctuary surrounded by chapels." The building was started during the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes and completed in 57 BC under Ptolemy XII Auletes. It was built on the site of an earlier, smaller temple also dedicated to Horus, although the previous structure was oriented east–west rather than north–south as in the present site. A ruined pylon lies just to the east of the current temple; inscriptional evidence has been found indicating a building program under the New Kingdom rulers Ramses I, Seti I and Ramses II.


The Falcon Icon for Horus!


Burnt Offerings

The temple of Edfu fell into disuse as a religious monument following  Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I's persecution of pagans and edict banning non-Christian worship within the Roman Empire in 391 AD. As elsewhere, many of the temple's carved reliefs were razed by followers of the Christian faith which came to dominate Egypt. The blackened ceiling of the hypostyle hall, visible today in the picture above, is believed to be the result of arson intended to destroy religious imagery that was then considered pagan.


Heading to the Holy of Holies!


Alter Boys in the Altar Room

Safwat gave the Road Scholars time to wander around on their own. Being religious (not!) Mike and Bone headed to the mysterious and intriguing Holy of the Holies, where only Egyptian priest where allowed in its day!


Mike, in the Dark on the Religious Practices of the Ptolemy Egyptians!

Simply Amazing Carvings

It is crazy to think that each cell on a wall, told a story, and every story was  connected into a tale!


The Road Scholars reading the Walls!


Once More, the Romans!

Mike and Bone's old friend Hadrian had visited Edfu, and was a big fan. He commissioned a restoration project that had the Romans build their distinctive walls to protect the site. Even in Egypt, they were Roman around !


Huuuuge Carvings that can be seen for miles!

Mike and Bone walked out of Edfu and noticed how pronounced the huge hieroglyphics on the front walls in the evening light. However, now they had to deal with a re-occurring dumb-ass!


Being a Horse Asses, again!

As the Boys left Edfu on Mr. Surly, Half-Toothed, Yellow-Toothed horse carriage, they were serenaded by the sour sound of "you need to pay me more!" as they pranced through the dusty back streets of a setting sun that made the Boys think, "we really don't want to be here after dark!" 

It also incented the Boys on determining that the next day was gonna be their next day. They decided that spending an extra day to learn about Islamic Cairo was one day too long and set it up to make the next day, the last day of the trip. Take that Mr. Surly, Half-Toothed, Yellow-Toothed!


That evening Mike and Bone went up to the top of the deck to have a final few beers for the evening and hit it around 10:00 PM. The next day was Valley of the Kings and King Tut!!!