An early start this morning, our guide has arranged a carriage ride to the temple at Edfu and there are hundreds of horse and open carriage rigs waiting at the riverside to take tourists to the temple.
The sun is low in the sky still and after a 15 minute ride through Edfu we ended up at the temple ticket office…
…along with a multitude of other tourists.
You just don’t realise how tall and large these temple complexes are until you see the people who are walking around. It’s impressive and they are a marvel of engineering from ancient times.
The temple was the centre of festivals dedicated to Horus & Hathor and as such is the largest temple dedicated to them. Hathor would sail from her temple at Dendera to be with Horus and in the temple you will see many references to this in the hieroglyphics and this model boat seen in one of the alcoves.
As you can guess everyone wants to photograph this and as it’s a chokepoint you have to grab a quick photograph and move on or else you will be jostled out of the way.
At this point in time I had had enough. The crowds were just too much and there was one dickhead guide who was using a green laser pointer which he accidentally flashed in my face. I couldn’t see for a second or two and he got the benefit of my wisdom on the use of laser pointers in confined spaces.
In 391 CE the Roman Emperor Theodosius published an edict banning all non Christian worship and subsequently the temple at Edfu fell into disuse.
In the temple and in many of the temples that we visited this trip, you can see that many of the carved reliefs were chiselled away, believed to have been done by followers of the of the Christian faith.
It didn’t just extend to the carvings, in the hypostyle hall look up and you will see evidence a blackened ceiling, eveidence of arson in an attempt to destroy pagan images.
But not all of the temples art and hieroglyphics were destroyed. For one there was just too much. Secondly, it is believed that early Christians adopted some of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, especially those relating to Isis nursing her son Horus. Why? Because it had a similarity to the story of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus.
There are also similarities between the story of the god Osiris and the christian resurrection of Jesus, so very often depictions of Osiris were also not touched.
With the temple no longer in use, over the centuries it became buried beneath desert sand and layers of Nile silt, to a depth of about 12 metres.
Eventually only the top of the temple was visible, local inhabitants had built homes over the buried temple grounds. In 1798 a French expedition identified the existence of the temple but it wasn’t until 1860 that Auguste Mariette, a French Egypologist began excavating Edfu temple.
Underneath the sand and silt they found that the Temple of Edfu was pretty well intact and was a great example of an ancient Egyptian temple. Because of the high state of preservation it has become one of the “must see” on a Nile riverboat cruise.
I mentioned earlier that I the crowds were too much so I had quick wander around the quieter parts of the temple complex. I found this room that had shadows from the gate and managed to convince a young lady to stand still long enough to let me take the photograph with her shadow. Probably my best one from Edfu.
All to soon it was time to leave the temple and get our carriage back to the riverside, where we would be embarking for Luxor. Outside the temple complex the carriages were all lined up., but because we had a personal guide our carriage was not there. he was outside the gates and here’s when it got a bit ridiculous.
The police would not let us leave the complex unless we were in a carriage and although our guide explained that our carriage was just the other side of the gate, he wasn’t having it. Eventually there was an extortionate shake of hands between the guide and the policeman and we were allowed through. You don’t see it pass but it does.
On the way back I tried to get some photographs from the carriage, Not easy when it moving up & down as well as side to side.
There were a few places open with locals having coffee or using the hookas.
As it was a bit of a cold morning many of the local people I saw were dressed like this, but I think this is normal anyway.
I have seen one bike like this with six people on it when I was in Cairo but didn’t have my camera with me.
Just a general scene, those little busses carry people all over, but they are deadly. Darting in and out of traffic, they live by the horn and their breaks.
Anyway, once we got back to the boat, it was still early morning, it was time to sail to Luxor where it was hoped we arrive by the early evening.
But there was one big obstacle to negotiate on the River Nile before we reached Luxor, the Esna Lock. Nile cruisers which ferry tourists from Aswan to Luxor have to negotiate the lock two at a time, so there can be a considerable delay whilst the cruisers wait their turn to proceed through the system. But more of that in another post.
If like me you are social isolating, stay indoors, stay safe – Mike