A Travellerspoint blog

Egypt: Edfu:Birthing Chairs, Surgeries, and a Water Elevator

May 6, 2011

sunny 108 °F

Tony never fails to surprise me . . . on the itinerary today is something called the Esna Lock and I say “what the heck is a lock”? Tony says matter-of-factly that it is like a “water elevator” and I start laughing out loud thinking he’s pulling my leg.... I guess we’ll see how that works out later. After checking out the schedule we hopped off the ship at 8am to walk over to the Kom Ombo Temple. It was a little bit of dodgeball again as we walked through the rows of vendors along the way to the temple, luckily it’s only a 5 minute walk from the boat! To our dismay there was no guide waiting for us so we thought we might have to interpret the hieroglyphics by ourselves!? Luckily we joined a group of English speakers with a guide and knew we would have to have a word with Khaled later. . .

The Kom Ombo Temple is gorgeous and rightfully so since it took 400 years to build. It is perched on top of a hill just West of the Nile and is a part of the Greek Roman period in the history of Egypt. Many of the blocks of stone were connected with wooden dovetail joints made of cedar—some of the cedar still remains today which we think is pretty insane. Ruby was super impressed when she learned that it was sort of an ancient hospital. The high priests of the time were experts in internal anatomy after having done lot of mummifications (they surgically removed the important internal organs). There are carvings of things like birthing chairs (which reminded Ruby of Kira), ancient surgical instruments (which reminded Ruby of Wikki) including sponges, curettes, a scale, forceps, catheters etc . . . . as well as a carving of an ancient prescription. . try carrying that to the pharmacy! It was interesting to find out that the ancient Egyptians also practiced circumcision for hygiene regions—not religious ones.

We learned that the ancient Egyptian calendar was based on the three seasons (flood, agriculture and harvest season), they had 10 days in a week and originally 360 days in a year. There’s a panel showing numbers and we had a chance to learn how to read the numbers (surprisingly Tony’s much better at interpreting hieroglyphics than Ruby is!). Maybe he should move to Egypt! LOL. We both loved the original colorful murals remaining on the ceiling depicting vultures which were symbolic of fresh air and protection from evil . . . thinking about painting those above our doorway in Brooklyn :)

We walked back to the boat and relaxed on the deck in the shade until we made a call to Khaled. He apologized and made sure we’d have a guide at the next temple a few hours up the Nile at Edfu. Ekrami our guide was wonderful and filled us in on all the details. It’s a long story but this temple was dedicated to the falcon god Horus ,son of Isis and Osiris (lord of the underworld). Horus killed his evil uncle Set as revenge for cutting up his dad Osiris into 14 pieces. The town is called Edfu similar to “Edbu” which means revenge. It also comes from the Greek-Roman period of Egyptian history. It is striking and may very well be the best-preserved temple in Egypt because it wasn’t discovered until 1869 hidden under a town and a layer of sand up to the ceilings! The structure is amazing and the interior was shaped like a pyramid with the widest point being the entrance leading to the narrowest part of the temple which was the holiest chamber. When the Christians found it, they defaced the faces and hands of the Egyptian gods but luckily they didn’t bother looking too deep under the sand and there are several layers where the original carvings remain untouched.

You can see lots of decorated columns in this temple—the tops are decorated with papyrus, lotus flowers, a combination of the two, or palm trees. This temple is unique since most temples in Egypt will only have one or the other. Back on the ship we happily went to our air-conditioned cabin to read and relax until we would come across the Esna Lock. As it turns out, a lock is literally what Tony said, a “water elevator” that lowers or raises the boat to the water level of the body of water it is about to enter (in our case, lower). Ruby indulged in an awesome facial and massage on the ship for the equivalent of $8. Afterwards we had yummy mousaka (eggplant and tomato dish) with baklava for dessert. It was our last night on the cruise so the crew celebrated with a Galabiya; everyone (except us) wore traditional Egyptian clothing for the party!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 14:40 Archived in Egypt

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