Egypt Gallery ~ Luxor
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You know you're in Luxor when...
May 6, 2002

There are probably only two places in the world that can give their streets names like Cleopatra and Ramsis II without drawing derisive laughs. One of them is Luxor. In the other, everyone is too busy with the one armed bandits and all-you-can-stuff-down-your-gullet buffets to notice the street signs anyway. With the temple complex at Karnak, the Temple of Luxor and all the tombs and structures on the west bank in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, the modern citizens of Luxor have inherited not only some of the greatest monuments of antiquity, but something akin to a money press. They simply sit back, watch the international teams of archaeologists discover, excavate and restore ancient wonders and collect money from the droves of tourists who then show up to take photos (and eat, buy postcards,stay in hotels, yadda yadda yadda...). Seems like a swank deal to me.

A Woman's Place
May 9, 2002 - Luxor Temple

The Pharaoh is the divine son of the Gods, ruler of all Egypt, conqueror of all enemies and destined for immortality in the Pantheon. His statues are very big. Queens were spawned from leprechauns and rarely reached knee high on a divine entity.
This hypothesis is clear from monuments and statues throughout Egypt. This example shows the legs of Ramsis II at Luxor temple offering refuge to his diminutive wife Nefertari. At least one tradition has passed down to the present day. Women have known a subservient role in Egypt for at least 6000 years.


Egypt's most precious resource
May 8, 2002 - Hatshepsut's Temple

The temple of Hatshepsut was the scene of the 1997 massacre of almost 70 tourists. No guidebook mentions it, no plaque here commemorates the dead. Not wanting to be a killjoy, I asked around discreetly but no-one wanted to talk about the incident.
Things seem to be relaxing a little nowadays but it is still clear (and a little unnerving) to see the signs that tourists are possibly in danger in Egypt. Everywhere police and soldiers idle about with machine guns ready to deflect fire. On the roads around Luxor no-one is allowed to plant sugar cane too close to the roads as it offers perfect cover for terrorists. Tourists are restricted to certain trains and buses and most hotels have metal detectors.
Still, no-one wants to talk about any of that. Every time we bring it up we are assured that Egypt is safe and encouraged to tell everyone we know this good news.
One of Egypt's biggest sources of revenue is tourism and Gulf Wars. Tourist massacres and middle east unrest are all very very bad for business.


Queen Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple
May 8, 2002

Queen Hatshepsut is my second favorite monarch of old after Akhenaten. After her husband the Pharaoh died, his son from one of his lesser wives was slated to take up the crook and flail. As he was only a stripling of a boy, Hatshepsut acted as his regent and promptly sent the kid off to become a monk. She donned the false beard and manly attire of the king and ruled Egypt for over 20 years. When she finally moved to her mortuary temple in the valley of the Kings (no valley of the Queens for this cross-dresser!) permanently, her stepson took the thrown and set about destroying all record of her. Dysfunctional families have a long and blue blooded tradition.


The case for shooting tourists
May 7, 2002 - Karnak

We would never ever condone the killing of innocent tourists. The culling of the herd to serve the greater good ... well, for that there may be a case to be made. The first candidate for removal from the gene pool in order to prevent the total idiot gene being passed on to the next generation is one R. Fogarty of Cork, Ireland. That someone would deface a 2000+ year old Egyptian temple painting leaves me aghast. That this fool would simultaneously reveal his name and origin (well, maybe not his origin for that must be some primordial ooze of egotistical stupidity, not the town of Cork) just leaves me speechless. Or almost, R. Fogarty (R, I presume, stands for radically unencumbered by a brain), for the betterment of mankind, you are hereby required to refrain from procreation.


Julie in the Papyrus Forest
May 7, 2002 - Karnak

The Temple of Amun in Karnak was an active place of worship for at least 1500 years. Today we admire the scope and sophistication of the structures here and chuckle at the pantheon of gods to whose honor it was built. One cannot help but wonder if 3000 years from now, tourists will walk amongst the ruins of St. Peter's chuckling at our god and wondering why we didn't build something more impressive. After all, we have a few thousand years more building experience than the ancient Egyptians.


Face time with the Pharaoh
May 9, 2002 - Luxor Temple

Julie with the ubiquitous Ramsis II

Amun's ruins in Karnak
May 7, 2002

Karnak was overall our favorite ruin in Egypt. The sheer scale and age of the place is humbling while the combination of preservation and reconstruction is enough to give the mind something to build an idea of what it was like. We visited shortly after noon when the combination of midday heat and tour group lunch schedule left the place deserted. The fact that no souvenir sellers and camel jockeys bothered us inside was the icing on the cake.


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