Hello – Welcome to WDEOD, a site full of Doris’ photographs!
Its purpose is to share the shots she took in her 50+ years of travel. I’m trying to do a post a film – so one tour may have many posts.
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مصر 1962 - نقاش مصور. يرجى استخدام زر جوجل للترجمة لتغيير اللغة العربية.
misr 1962 - niqash musawr. yrja aistikhdam zar jawjal liltarjmat litaghyir allughat alearabiati.
Again I’ll act as projectionist for when pictures match the text.
Egyptian adventure April 1962
Our next visit was to Cairo, and the journey there took us most of the following day. Flying at an altitude of 5000 to 6000 feet, we looked…
… Down on the Tripolitanian oasis, the little villages of stone houses and the desert, desert and more desert. Those who expected to see nothing but orange sand were wrong. For from the air, we could see ranges of hills even mountains, and these contours made the scene just like a relief map. Dark brown shading down to sand, then during the heat of the midday, soon this changed to a blinding light fawn. We descended at Benghazi for refueling and here we ate our lunch, which had been provided at Tripoli in luncheon boxes. Cold ham, chicken, eggs and fruit. There was so much, that we left a goodly share hoping this will be eaten by some hungry Arab. But when we offered it to the men around, none of them seemed to be interested. I hoped that when we had departed they would find people more unfortunate than themselves to whom they could give the food. [note – Doris said in the Libya blog that it was Ramadan at that time, so this is not surprising]
Not far from Benghazi lies the Greco Roman city of Cyrene, but although I peered through the windows searching for a sight of this ruin, I…
… looked in vain. Two of my companions, Geoff and Mrs. Thompson, Tommy, had been on a similar Wings tour to Egypt which had included Abu Simbel, but had visited Cyrene instead. The area, reaching to the Egyptian borders, which we were crossing took its name from the ancient city and is called Cyrenaica. Geoff and Tommy told me that this city even surpassed Leptis magna. Named after the Greek goddess of fertility, Cyrene, the city was one of the most important of Greek possessions.
We arrived at Cairo in the late afternoon, and I, like my companions was looking forward to a drive into town and a first glimpses of the Egyptian Capital. As we made our way to the customs, I was surprised to see many antique reliefs of the ancient Pharaohs exhibited around the walls and showcases showing smaller exhibits. I thought they must be copies, but no, a closer examination showed these were indeed the genuine articles.
A man wearing a cap with the name Vaigas on the peak, called for the wings group to follow…
… him, and we were marshaled through the customs without delay. It looked as if our hopes of seeing Cairo in daylight were materializing, but we had not accounted for the officialdom of the customs officers at the aerodrome. The plane before ours had come from Israel and everyone on this plane was being thoroughly examined. We were told that much contraband had been found on some of the people. Be that as it may, it was a good hour before our cases were attended to and passed without comment.
Like all aerodromes, Cairo’s was some 20 miles out of town and dusk fell long before we were anywhere near the city’s environs. Somewhere on route we must have passed close to the ancient city Heliopolis i.e. city of the sun this was a centre of learning and it is from here that the so called Cleopatra’s needle originated. The needle was an obelisk raised in honor of the sun god Thutmosis III, some 1500 years before Cleopatra’s time.
The Nile Hilton was our home for the next few days, and here we enjoyed the luxury of a first…
… class hotel. The interior decor was influenced by the ancient Egyptians and the many large table lamps were made of the alabaster so loved by the Pharaohs. Passing large indoor pools and fountains we entered the dining room which overlooked the Nile. Here, under subdued lighting, with waiters dressed in costumes of harem eunuchs, we leisurely dying. If of service was slow, it was of no consequence, for we were relaxed and absorbed into an eastern atmosphere of luxury and ease.
Our evening stroll was confined to the hotel foyer but there was plenty to interest ourselves, without going further. A dress shop with exotic gowns, a jewelers, a boutique which included colourful printed cotton bearing Egyptian motifs, and exquisite brocades from Damascus. The two souvenir shops were also an attraction. Their wares ranged from large chased brass trays, copper coffee jugs, blue glass coffee sets, wooden plaques inlaid with mother of pearl and ivory, heavy copper and silver jewelry and semi-precious stones, turquoise, alexandrite, copper topaz copper, indeed the interior…
… was rather like Aladdin’s Cave. For those with a literary frame of mind, the bookshops supplied newspapers in all languages, paperbacks of James Bond, Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria quartet and guides from the inexpensive ones to large volumes with beautiful plates.
That night as I close my eyes, I felt again the vibration of the plane, I heard the throb of the engines and experienced the sensation of movement. The long hours in the close, confines of the Dakota had taken told, and I really did not know whether I was coming, going or indeed had arrived.
The next morning, we are in no doubt. Arising early, went out on to the balcony of our rooms and watch the sunrise over the city. Our view was of Liberty Square the centre of many ministerial buildings, with its spacious lawns. Then our eyes went beyond, past the neon signs advertising the world’s airlines, past the varying minarets to the citadel, rising on a hill hazy in the dawn light. We decided to have breakfast on our balcony, and Evelyn called the room service and ordered our meal. A large Nubian waiter wearing a turban brought a tray which…
… Was decorated with a carnation in a cardboard flower holder shaped as a pyramid.
That morning we set out to see something of the town. Our coach crossed Liberty Square, they continued along the river bank where the De luxe hotels Semiramis and Shepherds were situated. We heard a commotion coming from near the river and saw a group of women heavily draped and veiled in black. It was their shrill wailing which are attracted our attention and were informed by our guide, that a body had been taken from the Nile, and these were the professional wailing women, mourning the dead.
I should mention here, that we were extremely fortunate to have a Professor of Egyptology to guide us through our stay in Cairo. Our first visits were in the nature of an Islamic Town, and we were taking in turn to the Ibn Tulen, Sultan Hassan and Mohamed Ali mosques. The Ibn Tulen was by far the oldest, built ninth century AD not so long after the prophet’s death. It’s heavily crenated walls were more in keeping with the fortress, indeed this type of architecture was introduced to the west by the…
… Crusaders, and it is seen in Europe mainly on a medieval castles. The minaret of this mosque was wide and thick at the base with a spiral outer stairway leading to its upper balcony. The interior was dark and appear to be mainly used today as a
Shrine to the saint whose tomb was housed within.
Our first glimpse of the Sultan Hassan courtyard, brought a host of cameras up to eye level. Framed through a graceful arch was an octagonal fountain surmounted by a dome, which is decorated with a band of cream Kufic writing on the chocolate brown background. This colouring was repeated on each of the octagonal panels. The structure, built of sandstone, was enhanced by the sunshine which fell obliquely across the dome throwing it into sharp relief against the grey arched walls of the courtyard. Beyond, a graceful minaret rose high in the blue sky.
Before we entered the mosque, canvas over shoes were placed on our feet. This was to protect the floors and carpets from being soiled by the dirt and grime of the streets, and subsequently, the believers who will prostrate themselves …
… During their prayers.
Through the giant latticed windows we had an excellent view of the most famous mosque, the Mohammed Ali. Situated on the citadel, the 12th century stronghold which in turn had been built on the slopes of the Mokattam Hill, the mosque with its two slender minarets is Cairo’s main landmark. Born in Turkey, Mohammed Ali rose from the ranks to become one of Egypt’s greatest rulers, although his reign was marred by the massacre of the Mamelukes. These were mercenary soldiers, who over the years, had gained power and by the early 19th century, conducted a reign of terror. Mohamed Ali, invited them all to a feast, and when they were befuddled with over eating and drinking, commanded his soldiers to kill them. Because of the cruelty of the Mamelukes, this bloodbath was condoned by a the Arab world and Mohammed Ali greeted as a hero.
The spacious courtyard of this mosque, which is also called the alabaster mosque, had been planted with small trees, and it fountain, unlike those in the older mosques was uncovered. Instead for a stone Lions stood on guard,…
… Reminding me of the Lion Court Alhambra. The fountain it is an essential part of any mosque.
Before a worshipper enters the mosque, he washes his face hands and feet although today he may place the canvas shoes over his normal foot garb. The colonnade, which spanned the width of the mosque, was roofed with small cupolas. Behind, with its two tall pencil like minarets sentineled at each corner, rose the main building, its great austere appearance, softened by the rising swelling domes of the roof. The general aspect is one of great elegance.
We entered, shod in canvas over shoes and saw a huge expanse of richly coloured carpets. Overhead, the concave interiors of the domes, shone in a kaleidoscope of colours in geometric an arabesque designs. Whilst the pink marbled alabaster walls brought the floor and ceiling together in harmony. 1000 cerebral lamps hung in circles from above. The one note of discord to me, was the minbar which had been presented by the late King Fuad, Farouk’s father. It’s green and gold decorations does not fit into the general scheme. The older minbar built of the same alabaster as the walls,…
Stands at the back of the mosque, near the main prayer niche. The minbar has a flight of stairs, and issues like the pulpit, the sheikh leading the prayers stands on top of the topmost step but one, that is reserved for Mahomet.
Leaving the mosque, we looked from the citadel to and across the city of Cairo. It was an interesting view of the capital of the Middle East. The host of minarets, some almost baroque and rococo with heavy decorations, some with delicate lace like carving and the elegant tall minarets of the Mohammed Ali, brought back the memory of the city of London with its steeple walls and towers piercing the skyline, before the large office blocks rose to hide them from view. Both were built for the same purpose, to call the believers and worshippers to prayer. Today alas, both mueggins and campanologists are replaced with loudspeakers and recordings.
We next made our way to the Al Aghar Mosque. Founded in 969 AD this is the oldest and largest university in the Muslim world. Once its curriculum was confined to theology, Muslim law and Arabic…
… Languages, but today he had spread to all modern branches of education. Nevertheless, religion and political subjects are given most prominent.
This mosque is one of the most beautiful of the 600 Muslim buildings in Cairo, and in its spacious courtyard, we saw a large number of students, some wearing G [???] And others dressed in western garb, from an ageing as they earnestly read their textbooks and silently mouthed the Koran.
I was struck by the general beauty of the boys and mentioned this to others in our party and found that this had been noted by many of them. … In a mosque, we were shown the stone pillar, which listen says flew through the air to Cairo from Mecca. It is common belief among the peasants, that the pillar has healing properties and for centuries past the sick have made a continuous pilgrimage to lick the holy column. An indentation of some 3 to 4 inches is a silent witness to the faith and devotion of 1000 years.
One shudders to think of the sickness and disease that was probably passed on, and the hopes that Allah was…
… Merciful. Today and narrow iron grill prevents anyone touching the pillar, and crowds are believers pressed close. Looking at the faces, I know I have seen them before, in the procession at Lourdes, in the cave at Palermo where the saint was eater appears around the relics in any Catholic church. No matter what my personal views are, I always feel humbled and an intruder in the presence of such a simple devotion.
Our last visit to the morning was to Mouski, or market. As soon as we alighted from our coach, we would that besieged by street traders pressing their wares upon us. The professor led us down the street of goldsmiths, to the copper bizarre where smiths hammered bowls and engraved metal trays with intricate designs. We entered a small factory where a number of small boys were fitting together the mosaic pieces of ivory, mother of pearl and wood which we used to decorate plaques and jewel boxes. As we walked through the doorway, and the interior seemed dark, but no doubt this was an illusion after the brilliance of the noonday sun.
After a brief introduction to the souks, we returned to…
… The coach and was soon speeding away for a lunch at the Mena hotel at Giza.
As I walked by the rose beds in the hotel garden, the giant pyramid of Cheops dominated the view and seemed to tower overhead. Two camels led by [dragomen] and be bearing tourists, passed by, quickly overtaken by a car, and as I watched their progress, I realised that the pyramids were further away than I had originally thought.
We made our way to the monuments, one or two on horseback, a few walking and the rest by camel. A most uncomfortable means of transport, made more so by the drovers, who persistently whinge and asked for baksheesh. When this was not forthcoming, they led the animals over uneven ground in order to make the journey more difficult. We had been told not to tip the men until we reached our destination, as they would increase their demands when any payment made.
Most of the camels were owned by a sheikh and the men were in his employment. Tourist police patrolled the Sphinx area where we alighted, and their presence put paid to the bad behaviour of the Drago men. My own observations led me to believe this attitude was only adopted by those who were employed by the sheikh.
Another dragon men, with a well fed camel obliged me by posing for photographs. He…
… was most polite, and grateful for the small remuneration I gave him. He introduced his mount as ‘Jack Hulbert’, and when I asked him to squat and by the head of the camel he said ” do you want him to kiss me?” At this Jack bent his head and nuzzled his master. There was certainly great affection between the two.
I read joined the party who were gathered near the Sphinx. Janet had told me that the Sphinx had seemed very small to her, but this illusion could be contributed to two factors. Dwarfed by the second pyramid Chephren’s and with its excavated base many feet below the level of the surrounding sands, it is difficult to believe that this monument is 190 feet in length and 80 feet in height. The face which once bore a strong handsome features of Chephren, has been disfigured bypassed Muslims who in their efforts to destroy the human likeness, used the head for rifle practice. Nevertheless, the enigmatic smile still remains to taunt the visitor. Between the outstretched paws stood at the so called Temple of the Sphinx, which is really the funeral temple of Chephren. Inside the temple, we admired the precision of the large blocks of stone which forms the fabric of the…
… Buildings and then took a brief survey of the many mastabas which had been the last resting places of the Pharaohs family and nobles.
The original splendour of the Giza necropolis is at first difficult to imagine when one sees the destruction caused by centuries of stone robbers. Shortly after the interment of the Pharaohs mummified body, there were treasure seekers who continued to enter the tomb and in later times the fabric itself was stolen for building. Indeed in 1356, sultan has San use part of the casing of the great pyramid in the building of the mosque bearing his name which we’ve had visited that morning.
The two larger pyramids, Cheop’s reaching at the height of 481 foot and Chephren’s that of 472 were cased in gleaming white limestone. The 215 foot high pyramid of Mycermus seems diminutive besides these two giants, but his household casing of red granite and the three smaller pyramids of his wives no doubt compensated for its size.
With the exception of the peak of the Chephren tomb, the outer casings have long ago disappeared, as also the causeways leading to the Portico Temples…
… Where religious activities and the mummification took place. For centuries people have appalled the waste of may be used on these monuments, but most present day Egyptologist us believe that as the work had to be performed during the three months of blood, the Pharaoh employed and fed the labourers who were thus provided for during the lean months.
Herodotus gives account of the food and money spent to acquire this for the workers. In his day, these inscriptions was seen carved on the causeway.
Most of our party entered the Cheop’s pyramid by the great Mamm hole, named after the caliph who quarried through the masonry. Inside we followed a passage which led upwards and to one or two false passages and always. There was little room but an accompanying shelf was built on which the body and coffin could be dragged up to the large stone sarcophagus housed in the high vaulted King Chamber. A torch was shone upwards, but the ceiling seemed far away. In this room, built nearly 5000 years ago, one was suddenly aware that six million…
… Tons of stone was used in the construction, and only the skill of supreme craftsmen long dead prevented this mass from collapsing on us. The stench of bats who had dwelt in the two became overpowering, and I was glad to begin the long way back. Outside, in the open air, I marveled at the precision of the blocks of stone, which were as straight as square as any present day masonry. Unfortunately, this is not obvious from the exterior and from here it is the size which is overwhelming, especially when told that if the stones were divided into blocks of what square and place the line they with reach 2/3 length of the equator. A statement made by Professor Baikie.
Pondering about this wonder of the world, I made my way to the Rest House, once the royal palace of Mena where I refreshed myself with lemon tea, before making a tour of the palace which still contained furnishings from a Farouk’s reign. Whilst I had employed myself with the investigations into both Pyramids and Palace, two ladies of the party had climbed the pyramids, a feat of some dimension of some of the stones of 4 feet high.
The following morning we were taken to the Cairo museum to see the most wonderful collection of antiquities, some dating back 6000 years.
It’s dynasty seemed to be represented by some particle of sculpture. The slate palette of Narmes 3100 BC, he who had unified the Upper and Lower Kingdoms and founded the first dynasty, was in mint condition.
The fourth dynasty shows excellent examples of sculpture in these medium. The diorite statue of Chephren portrays the man of great strength, as indeed does the wooden statue of Kaaper who is known as the village sheikh, so called by Nariette’s workers on account of its likeness to the headmen of the village. Although bearing splits in the word, this figure is a fine portrait and brings to life the personality of a noble, dead for nearly 5000 years.
Limestone was used for the third medium, and two fine examples are the scribe and the group Rahotep and his wife. Several varieties of stone we used to make the inlaid I’s, and these were so natural that when the Rahotep’s tomb was opened the workmen fled…
… Saying the spirit of the Prince lived on. Other statues of nodes are the giant 18th the dynasty images of Anenophio III and his wife Queen Tyi, and a strange elongated portraits of Aklenate, the heretic, who founded the worship of Atan.
One of the most delightful to exhibits was the polychrome fresco called the “, Geese of Meidium” also dating from the fourth dynasty (2500 BC). For species, including pin tales had been identified, and the colours of these were as fresh as if they had been painted the day before.
Of course all this pales into insignificance when one enters the Tutankhamun rooms. Not only the richness and colour of these exhibits excites one senses, but the romance of the discovery of the more or less undisturbed tomb. The young King, who was probably no more than 10 years of age when he came to the throne, followed the turbulent reign of his father in law or Akhenaten. His Blue name Tutankhamen was changed to two Tutankhamun when the priests of A Mamm persuaded him to leave Tel El Amarna and returned to Thebes and the old religion. Whether the funeral furnishings of greater Pharaohs were even more fabulous, or whether the riches…
… Were an inducement to encourage the young monarch back to the Amon fold is often speculated
, but which Airport was the case, the richness of the tomb is a breathtaking sight.
The two ebony sentinel’s, made in a likeness of the King and clothed in gold helmets and loincloths guarded the treasure rooms, as they guarded the tomb for over 3000 years. Showcases hold beautiful vases and lamps made an alabaster, silver and gold; walking sticks and riding crops with ebony and ivory handles carved in the likeness of the Asiatic animals. Although the fall beauty of the processional fan had faded, much of the ostrich feathers still remained clasped in a gold mounting. I ask to see the trumpet as I had heard a recording of it sound which had been made for the BBC in 1939, and was surprised to see a metal horn little bigger than a cornet. One case contained three gold images of the King about 18 inches high, wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt and carrying hunting spears.
Dominating this room, were the three large shrines which had fitted one inside the other, to hold the…
… Sarcophagus. Each shrine, made of wood and covered in gold, all beautifully chased with designs of flowers, birds and the goddess of love, who spread her wings to enfold and protect the god who rested within. A smaller shrine which had held the alabaster viscera jars had four statues of goddesses 18 inches high, with outstretched arms and turned heads, which seemed to look approvingly at us, the intruders. Before passing through to the main treasure room, I must mention the inlaid chest and the throne. The first, and exquisite example of inlaid is said to be made of [???] Pieces and shows the Pharaoh riding his chariot whilst out hunting. The wooden throne is covered with gold and shows the young Tutankhamun seated, with his wife standing before him dressed in silver. Blue [?] inlaid semi-precious stones to the richness.
But when we entered the smaller room, we stopped amazed. Here was an even more spectacular sight. On either side of the room were two coffins. One richly coated with a thick layer of gold, encrusted with lapis lazuli and [?] And other precious stones and the other one, of solid gold. The protective wings…
… Enfolded both coffins.
In the centre of the room, above a showcase of necklets, bracelets, rings, amulets and tiny gold finger shields was the solid gold mask which had covered the mummified face. The serene useful features are the same as those on the coffin, and like the effigy on the second coffin, the plaited beard, linen head cloth were inlaid with lapis lazuli line, and the breastplate covered in comelia another bright stones. Before the mask, like the royal insignia of office, the crooks to guide, and the flail to chastise. These had been shown on all the coffins, crossed over the breast of the Pharaoh.
We left the museum, all gazed at the fantastic sites. Without the Tutankhamun exhibits this was an amazing exhibition, and the young King’s belonging showing not only richness but wonderful craftsmanship had made us quite speechless.
Some of the party returns that afternoon to wander through the rooms at leisure. They also went to the mummy room and their gazed on the…
… Actual countenance is of Thutmosis and Rameses II, now darkened with age.
I joined Mr. and Mrs. Croson and paid a visit to the Cairo zoo, with the intention of seeing the animals and birds which the ancient Egyptians had deified, the crocodile, hippo, jackal and Ibis. Janet had also decided to visit the zoological gardens and we met near the Lions enclosure. All the animals were well fed and resting out of the sun. The hippos were near the railings as we approached and we soon learned why. The keeper offered Janet some turnips which she dropped into their gaping mouths. Many beautiful trees grew in the park and we spent a very pleasant restful afternoon trying to identify them. By an ornamental lake, with refreshed ourselves with cold drinks, and watched a family of fluffy ducklings. Nearby cerise bougainvillea leaned over the water in a cascade of colours, some of its blossoms having fallen were carried on the slight ripples.
In the tall trees by the exit of flock of a graceful white birds were gathered around some large nests. We wondered if these could be Ibis, but we were told that they were a egrets. Kites were also in residence.
The next morning we were on our way to Memphis and Sakara when we were stopped by a large crowd. A short while before our arrival, a child had been injured in a road accident, and many of the people waving arms and protesting violently against motorists.
Another car had been stopped by the irate mob, and the professor, who recognised the inmates of the vehicle, left the coach and remonstrated with the crowd, who calmed by his authority and approach, allowed the car to pass on its way, unmolested.
I took the opportunity of surveying these peasant folk. Most of the women were unveiled in black, but the young girls had simple cotton dresses. The men wore either he Europeans suits with open necked shirts, or long striped gowns. One young man carried an Archimedes screw. A little further along the road, we stopped to watch and wonder in action. A narrow channel of water ran beside the roadway, and a boy he was turning the handle of the screw and so forcing the water to rise along the spiral and thus empty into a smaller canal for irrigation purposes.
This method is quite effective, and widely used in Egypt, although the noria, working a chain of buckets is also a popular system, especially in the south.
The it from your line there was little at Memphis to remind us of the great city founded by Memas which he says to have contained over 700,000 inhabitants, and over a period of 3000 years of attained capital status on several occasions. Now we sore A grove of palm trees and a few dwelling places and still lying in a prominent position, the great figure of Rameses II.
When the great Ozymandias fell, I do not know, but for centuries he’ll A, with the god Rama to smile and him by day, khunmgu at night, the Santa blow over him, the palm trees to ban him, but during the last few years he has lain under a large shelter. Surely, the only statue to have a building constructed around it. Stairways leading up to a gallery, from which one can walk right round and view the 60 foot giant from all angles.
Nearby were two steles with hieroglyphs which included the ankh, or key of life. These beautiful alabaster stones were in perfect condition and I wondered just how…
… Long ago they had been carved and what inscription they bore. The alabaster sphinx which bears the head of Hatshepsut, the great 18th dynasty queen has not worn as well. Perhaps being mounted on a high base, it has been more vulnerable to the desert sands.
As we wandered around, or two [fallalins] with oxen and camels, silently passed through the grove, with barely a glance. But two women colorfully guard, there headdresses decked with gold coins, hastened out to be photographed in exchange for a piastre. A curly headed lad, with a delightful smile, shimmied up a palm tree, with the speed of a monkey. I thought this was no mean feat, as his nightgown apparel did not seem to be the ideal garments for the climbing.
Our next visit was to the Serapeum, the underground tomb of the Apis or sacred bull. Said to be the incarnation of Osiris, the ball was black with a white triangular mark on his forehead. At the end of its 25 years of life, it was drowned in the sacred fountain, embalmed and then entombed in gigantic sarcophagus. The Serapeum, is a type of catacomb, extending quite 0…
… A distance underground, with some 40 rooms leading off, each with their own Apis. Again I thought of all the exertion and labour used to build this enormous useless necropolis, and yet was a useless? The priests would feed and clothe the workers and no doubt the people were better occupied, then idling around during undulations, perhaps flirting with other men’s wives or quarrelling.
Our last main stock for the morning was at a Sakara. We walked through the partly reconstructed temper of Zoser by the earliest known stone pillars. These ripped columns were modeled on the reed columns which had supported the roofs and walls of the reed houses. This type of house is still popular in the marsh area of Arab el Shatt in Iraq. Bundles of reeds are tied together, others inserted in the top of the bundle a until the required height is reached, and then the individual reeds are splayed out and plaited in a variety of designs. Reed mats are woven, and then attached to the pillars. Some of these buildings reach great dimensions, and are extraordinarily strong and beautiful. But to return to the Egyptian delta, I do not think the reed homes have survived here. With extensive cultivation a strong reads have vanished, but no doubt…
… In ancient days, they were plentiful.
Or wall at the adjacent to the temple had three slender attached pillars, their capitals in the form of the Lotus flower open and shut. Not any of the columns built during the following three millennia could be compared to this dainty trio.
The stepped pyramid, the first of some 70 to 80 pyramids was built in 2770 BC to house the immortal remains of King Djoser. Until the last few years, this was believed to be the first stone building. The vizier Imhotep was the architect. He began to build the tomb in the style of a stone mastabas, but, encouraged by early results he altered his plans several times and at last arrived at a satisfying design, a pyramid in five steps. The day we visited Sakara, the steps were not so well defined. Recent storms had blown banks of sand on one side of the two, the brilliant sun shone on the mass of sand and sandstone turning the scene into a world of honeycomb.
At the foot of the pyramid was the second funeral temple. Here, on a full store, we saw the figure of dzosei running with the stride of an athlete. This ritual dates back…
… To a time when the priest King was chosen for his superiority and strength and, every once in awhile had to prove himself. In some tests. If he failed, the time had come for him to die, and a more suitable person to take his place. It is believed that this practice in Egypt had ceased before the first dynasty, and the carving, symbolic. Statues of Dozier showed that he was well past his prime, when he died. One such statue stands near the temple, its eyes now empty holes, where once precious stones had shone.
Even more interesting than the great pyramid, are the Tombs of the nobles. We visited the tomb of Ti. Stone steps led down into an underground sepulatre. This consisted of two rooms of fairly the large dimensions, the inner one having columns to help support the roof. The walls were covered in pictures, showing the daily life of the people who lived over 4500 years ago. There were scenes of farmers, sewing and plowing reaping. Stockmen with geese, calves and cows. A cow was being bled, whether for sacrifice for medicine I am not sure. One scene showed a calf been carried away on the shoulders of one of the laborers, whilst its mother gazed after it, with a large tear trickling from her eye. These were scenes from the life of Ti. And he had been painted in his tomb, to remind himself of the life outside. In a small compartment which was bricked up with only an opening one foot…
… Square, was the plaster statue of Ti. This was an identity precaution to enable the Ba (soul) who may have been absent from the tomb for some time, and to return to its rightful body. The name of the deceased was also engraved on the statue to facilitate recognition in case the Ba had forgotten the features. There was proof that life beyond the grave was not confined to the Pharaohs. The masonry was cut to perfection, the cornerstones of the doorways were beautifully keyed, and we came away with the impression that this tomb them would still remain after another 4000 years.
At the edge of the desert we paused to take photographs. The extent of the Nile’s summer flooding was clearly defined by the sharp contrast of golden sand and green vegetation.
That afternoon, Janet in I set off to explore a little of Cairo. Being a great city of some four million inhabitants, our observations could only be slight. We walked along the broad road leading to the commercial centre. Few people were around as it was siesta time, but earlier in the day, we had seen trams pass this way, filled to capacity, those who are unable to squeeze inside, just hung on. Near the Edwardian opera house, was the hotel continental where the air crew were staying. Their expenses did not allow for luxury accommodation like the Hilton, but Janet told me this second class…
… Hotel was clean and comfortable. We found the Mouski and the streets of goldsmiths, but had difficulty in finding the copper bazaar. We were looking at some cheap necklets of small stones, when we were approached by a man. He said he was not a guide, but in Egyptian who was on holiday from his job with Lufthansa in Frankfurt. Jenny asked in the way to the copper market, and he insisted on taking us leading us into a shop where he was well known. We wish to buy copper coffee pots and a large variety was brought out for of perusal. A guide whispered that he would get a 20 per cent discount for us, and if we paid with English money we would get a very favourable exchange. This we did, and obtained a purchases are half the price required a other shops. Whilst we had been looking at the way is, tiny blue glass cups of mint tea was served to us. I found this most refreshing. Such a delightful way to shop.
The young man escorted us through the market, and suggested that he should it take us to a nightclub that night. Janet said that she had already made arrangements with a friend, the agreed to accompany him on an excursion to a large camel market, if I was willing to go. The prospects of seeing…
… More of the life of the people, was too much and I consented although I was not very sure of this young man. Travel writer sneer at the tourist still only see the obvious places and never mix with the inhabitants of the country, but if anything had happened to us, no doubt all would agree “we were no good, and should have known better than to trust a stranger”.
As it happens, Janet had a hectic night with her friend, and select and failed to keep the appointment with me and I decided to “go it alone”.
Before returning to my hotel, I’ve visited a nearby shop to perch ace a silver spoon. Was waiting to be served, one of the shop’s personnel took my hand, and studied my ring.
” you are very lucky”, he said “you carry your own star with you, in your star sapphire. While you wear that you will not die. Americans are always asking for them.”
He showed me a beautiful ring. The stone, a deep is your blue, reflected back the light in the form of a star. It was flawless. As I tried it on, he told me the price was £400!
I had a similar incident in Beirut the following year and this is made me feel a little suspicious. Not that one can believe that the wearing of a particular stone can have any effect…
… On fate, but it is comforting to carry a talisman, so long as it is never lost!
That’s night, a large number of the party went to the Sahara camp, a nightclub which was held in a large tent in the desert. One of the ladies was most disgusted with the entertainment and when Frances Persglove asked her why she had come, she replied ” Janet said it was ballet dancing”.
“Oh no!” Said Frances ” Janet said belly dancing”
Evelyn and I had decided not to go, but instead visited the nightclub in the Nile Hilton. Here, we also sore belly dancing. The midriffs of the dancers, are covered, since the Decree passed by Colonel Nasser banned any dancing showing the naked stomach. The dancer was attractive and her lissome body contorted and writhed to the beat of provocative eastern music, but there were few variations and after a while we left the club to gaze out over the Nile. We were on the top story of a high building. The stars seemed close as they hung in the deep dark velvet sky. Below us the lights of the Kasr El Nil bridge reflected in the dark waters winked, and neon lights flashed. We were suspended between two worlds.
We had one more day to explore the sights of Cairo, and our coach took us across the kasr el L bridge to Gezina island. To the left we could see that all radio tower piercing the sky. of the people had taken the lift to the top and had coffee in the revolving restaurant, but the view had not been good due to the heat haze. The island is a very fashionable part of the town and has several good hotels, although the best, Shepherds, Hilton etc. Are situated on the opposite bank. Two royal palaces, our race course, the botanical and zoological gardens are also situated here and near the river is an old nilometer, a contraption used to measure the depths of the floods. Today a simple measure is painted on the stone bank.
We continued on our way through wide avenues lined with jacandar trees
Which were a haze of delicate Hyacinth blue. We were told that the next month other trees would blossom in brilliant red. The houses were modern and grand. I had been prepared to see much squalor and in the neighbourhood of the old quarter, many of the houses were crumbling or dejected.
But modern Cairo had many tall skyscrapers, wide boulevards and lovely…
… Districts. Unfortunately there are strong contrast, although much has been done to elevate the poverty since the overthrow of the monarchy.
We visited the Coptic museum, which being sited on the Roman ruins, also exhibited many relics of that period. Piles of masonry, capitals and figures were casually placed in the a palm shaded courtyard overlooking the this was a very fine harem window. Fretwork of wood screened the window from the gaze of any man, whilst the ladies could peep out unobserved on the world outside. It reminded me of the lace curtains which provided alike protection to the Victorian ladies.
At the Ben Ezra synagogue we were shown parchment scrolls which are kept in tubular metal containers. These are extremely old. We were all very surprised to learn that there is a large Jewish community in Cairo and that the synagogue is still a place of worship.
From here we went to the Coptic church of Al Mo Allaga. The gateway of this church, surmounted by a cross, is very Easton, having little stalactites ornamentations. After the brilliant sun outside, the interior of the church was very dark.
The light from hanging chandeliers reflected the gilt background of the icon above the woods screen throwing the figure of Our Lord, saints and angels into relief. Around the icon, which stretched across the width of the eastern aisle, was a frame bearing the words in the Coptic language. The screen below, was the most interesting part of the fabric. Fashioned in the same style as screens in the Greek orthodox church with doors and windows, completely shutting off the eastern end of the church, the whole was heavily inlaid with mother of pearl which covered it in the geometric designs. The wood had darkened with age, thus accentuating the effect. Doors leading to anti chambers were also decorated in this way.
Through one of these we passed then, descended stairs to the crypt. Here we saw a little chapel with an altar, behind which was a small niche in the wall. The priest told us that the Holy Family had stayed here after their flight into Egypt, and that the niche had been the resting place of the baby. The first church was built on this site in the early fourth century to mark the refuge.
Returning to our coach, we were soon surrounded by children asking for baksheesh, and peddlers with their wares. Leather camels, decorated with silk tassels…
… Were a popular item, the doctor’s wife bought so many for young friends, that we began to think she was cornering the market. Some of the people were quickly exasperated with the hawkers, but Mr. Debruslais thoroughly enjoyed himself. Refusing to be ruffled, when asked to buy some stamps, he quoted an absurdly low figure, and only brought this up a fraction. At last, in desperation the peddler sold in the collection of stamps but what we all thought must be a loss. Until our coach moved on, the hawker remained looking with great respect on the little man who had won the bargain.
Our stay in Cairo had been very interesting, but also strenuous so I decided to spend the last afternoon in the botanical gardens where I hoped to recharge my mental facility in a world of cool serenity. With so many things to see and learn, one is afraid of getting cultural in digestion and I felt that a breakaway from historical facts and figures would enable me to retain the knowledge I had gained. Most certainly, I wished to return to Cairo, if only to wander again, through the Tutankhamun treasure rooms.
As so often happens, plans went awry. I could not make…
… The taxi driver understand that I wished to visit the botanical gardens and found myself once again outside the gates of the zoological gardens. It was in a pleasant neighbourhood on Gazira so I dismissed the taxi and wandered slowly along, shelter from the hot afternoon sun, by tall trees. Any misapprehension I might have felt, was soon forgotten when I arrived at the bank of the Nile and sore in the distance the blue roof of the Nile Hilton, Shepherds and Semiramis too. The river was very wide here and thus afforded an excellent view of the tree lined corniche with its expensive hotels and apartments.
With the exception of a few students, who were reading as they slowly prom and a did, I seem to have the Gezilar the bank to myself. One extremely handsome young man greeted me in perfect English when I returned his smile. He accompanied me to the first bridge, telling me about his studies to be a doctor and asking me about my visit to his country.
I found most of the educated people very courteous and anxious to be of assistance. Earlier in the week another man, had hastened to ” rescue” me from the…
… Traffic and escorted me across the road, saying “I cannot allow a charming visitor to Cairo, to be run over”.
Once on the bridge, I was amazed at the intensity of the heat. Gone was a sanctuary of the sheltering trees. The brightness of the concrete parapet and roadway of the bridge reflected back the light, and ahead the mosque, whose twin minarets pierce the ultramarine sky with pencils of iridescent whiteness. In spite of good sun glasses, the dazzling light was an assault to the eyes, and having crossed the river, I was glad to seek again the shade of overhead foliage. Along the Corniche, little family groups had now gathered, children mostly in European clothes but mothers still heavily garbed in black gowns with hoods which hid their features.
A bread vendor passed by, bearing on his head a large tray laden with rich gold and circles of bread. They looked and smelt very appetising.
A little before sunset, I’d joined other members of the party and we boarded a felucca, the graceful sailing boat of the Nile. It was very pleasant to relax in the cool breezes of the evening and watch the lights of Cairo gradually come to life.
We sailed to the end of Gazira Island, to the…
… Fountain playing in the middle of the river. We had wondered if mosquitoes would be prevalent, but with pride pleasantly surprised to find them conspicuous by their absence. Through the dusk, the strings of lights on the Kasr El bridge and their reflections in the water danced and made a carnival affect.
The next morning we left the Nile Hilton and travelled along the wide highway towards the aerodrome. On route we passed the railway station and saw in the forecourt a large statue of Rameses II. The professor evoked a large laugh when he said Rameses II little thought one day he would be the station master of Cairo.
On the platforms behind the giant figure, we could see crowds of people, mostly in the eastern close, and we were told that they awaited the train to take them to Mecca. It fez the hardened ambition to of every Muslim to visit Mecca and lead once in his life, Medicare the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed.
We said goodbye to the professor, and were on our way flying southward to Luxor. As we came in to land, we could see the narrow strip of vegetation which bordered one bank of the Nile, whilst on the other side the desert came right down to the water’s edge. It seemed incredible that the vast acres of…
… Sand had not engulfed the tiny remnant of green.
The Winter Palace Hotel was of Victorian vintage, built to accommodate wealthy travelers “doing the grand tour”. At the top of a grand stair way, were two small boys wearing white gowns and red fez, who flicked the sand and dust from our shoes with long handled feather dusters, before we entered the foyer. Inside, the heavy furniture and drapes recalled even more vividly the lost glories of former days.
Our bedroom had windows on two sides, each giving a view of the Nile and main road where I could see a few people gathered around a snake charmer. Mosquito nets hung from the ceiling completely engulfing the bed and tucked into the iron frame which was embellished with large brass knobs although the design was old fashioned, we found the mattresses very comfortable.
Sightseeing was not conducted during the early hours of the afternoon as the temperature was a little below 100 F and we had A little time for a gentle stroll to view the few shops. These catered for tourists, alabaster be one of the local specialties. I managed to buy a large straw hat, for which I was to be most grateful during the next few days.
A guide led us to the Palace of Aimeny about 300 yards from the hotel. Ahmed, was a dark skinned…
… Gentleman whose dazzling white robes and fez increased his already tall stature to even greater dimensions.
The temple, began by Amenhotep III had been added to by his successors Tutankhamun Harinhab an Rameses II. In later days Alexander the Great, the Romans, Christians and Muslims or added their own contribution.
From one we could see the elegant columns of Rome, dwarfed by the Pylon and colossal columns of the Pharaohs, whilst beyond rose the minaret of a whitewashed 16th century mosque.
The entrance proper was through a pylon built by Rameses II. An avenue of sphinx had once lined the road from here to the temple at Karnak a distance of 2 miles where a pair of obelisks had once graced the forecourt of these entrance today only one remains the other is now in the Palace de la Concorde Paris but two seated effigies of the Pharaoh still guard the entrance. As we entered, we could see high above our heads, holes which had been made by the peasant folk when they adapted the buildings to make dwelling places for their families. This illustrated the fact, that the level of the ground had reached about 20 feet higher than today. Much work had been done to excavate the site. The rise had been caused not only by an…
… Accumulation of refugees, but mainly from the precious alluvial soil brought by the annual floods.
We came to a courtyard bordered by Lotus bud columns, and a giant statues of the Pharaohs who had attributed to the buildings. Of course Rameses II was the most prominent. Our guide pointed out that charming figure of Rameses favourite wife on one of these statues. Carved in the red granite at the back of his lower leg, she stands with one hand resting affectionately on his calf.
Her carving also appears on the throne of the two colossal seated effigies which stand before the avenue of fourteen enormous columns whose capitals splayed out in the likeness of palm trees. Continuing along the processional way we came to the oldest part of the Temple of Amon, the courtyard with its surrounding colonnade of papyrus columns. As I clambered up on a high wall to survey this attractive quadrangle, I’d tried to picture the grassed area people with courtiers soldiers and nobility who would gather are here to watch the religious procession headed by the Pharaoh, then a high priests, the priestesses shaking the sistrum, soldiers and attendants carrying the tall processional fans. Such a procession we saw a portrayed on the walls of one of the inner chambers.
But at the retinue would stop a short at the courtyard. Only the Pharaoh, as the High Priest, and other high orders of the temple could be able to go on until the Holy of Holies was reached, there to perform the religious rites. At times animals would be sacrificed, by some of the carving showed long horned cattle in the procession.
We entered the inner sanctuary and noted that it was not only the Romans who had renovated this part of the temple, but the early Christians had also adopted this for their church.
The sun was beginning to set, and violet shadows quickly spread over the sky as we left the site to return to the hotel.
Next morning we awoke early. How could remain in bed, knowing that the mystic east lay outside our windows. Evelyn and I resolved to return to the Temple of Amon and at 7.00 we made our own entrance. The only other person about was a long downed individual who wished to be engaged as our guide. Despite our attempts to shake him off, he proceeded to follow us around and point out the things we had already seen. Nevertheless, we found him useful as a figure for some of our photographs, and he also showed…
… Us some positions from where we could get interesting angles.
We spent a very rewarding hour, having time to study some of the carvings we had hurried over the previous evening. Before we left, a guide wanted to show me a kite, a bird, not unlike all hawk. It had been captured and was kept in a small box. I was so sorry to see it sad confinement and I asked the guide to release him but to no avail. I thought I would pay for its release, but wondered how long it would stay free in its present state or if it was likely to recover. Another thing, I did not want to start a new idea for obtaining money from tourists by capturing birds and holding them to ransom.
Leaving the ruins, we climbed the steps to the mosque, but when we saw it contained men at worship, we retreated.
Growing in a border by the temple site were typical English flowers, marigolds, hollyhocks, antirhithiems and pentsemons. We paused to admire them, of serving the contrast of delicate blooms against a stone pillars.
A passerby seeing our interest, picked a bunch of flowers and presented them to me. ” English?” He asked, and when I confirmed this, went to say ” me, friend of the English. I worked with the English Army”.
I made some friendly remark
” Have you no piastre for friend?”
” Well”, I replied, ” I find I have so many friends in Egypt that I had not enough piastre for all”.
He thought this was very amusing, and bid me goodbye, going off chortling.
We returned to the Winter Palace for a leisurely breakfast after which we were borne away in open horse drawn carriages to Karnak a distance of 2 miles.
We passed the royal palace, now being converted into A Modern hotel, a few villas and the low windowless abodes of the peasants. Outside one of these was a heap of clay jars and pitchers some three or 4 feet high. The containers of water and grain were the same as those pictured in the tomb of Ti, unchanged after 4500 years.
At Karnak we alighted and walked between an avenue of ram headed sphinx to the entrance of the great temple. Covering an area of 68 Kasr, the complex religious site was begun when Amunenshet I built the Temple of Amon at the beginning of the 12th dynasty. Successive Pharaohs had added their own contributions 0…
And even Akhenaten had built a temple to Aton, but this had been destroyed by the Amon priests after his death right down to the Ptolamies.
Inside the temple area were more ram headed sphinx. These had once lined the processional way from the Holy Lake to the banks of the Nile where religious rites were performed. A closer study showed each had an effigy of their creator Anenophis III carved under their chins, but all were defaced. The priests of a modern had become very powerful, and probably corrupt, in any case they earned the dislike and distrust of Amonephis IV. He denounced the religion of Amon Ra, and worshipped the one god Aton, changing his name to [?]. It was he who was responsible for destroying the effigies of his father, in his attempt to expunge all references to Amon. But the priesthood proved too strong, he left Thebes and founded a new capital on the site now known as Tel El Amerma. Unfortunately he became so immersed in the “one god”, that he overlooked affairs of state, both abroad and at home, during his short reign of 12 years and part of the Asiatic empire was lost. This gave the Amon priests the opportunity to win the people back, and Akhenaton0k, was branded a criminal. Whether he died a peaceful all violent death, we do not know but there is much evidence of the cultural upheaval during his reign. Statues and art showed the Pharaoh and his family with elongated for heads, heavy…
… Thighs and pot bellies, so pronounced that it is believed he suffered from some disease. Hitherto and subsequent to the heretics reign, all carvings etc., had portrayed the King in the best possible light. Two busts of his wife, Neff third the two are in existence and these show her to have been one of the most beautiful women of all times (one in Berlin’s museum).
But to return to the site. We climbed the great pylon, and gazed past the sphinx to the white washed mosques and houses nestling beneath the palms on the near bank of the Nile. Across the rises, we could see the range of mountains which accommodated the Tombs of the dead Pharaohs.
When we descended, we saw that the interior of the gateway had never been completed, as part of the earthen ramp still remained. Earth ramps took the place of today’s cranes. As the structure rose, the ramp was highered to enable the masons delay their stones. Then, sculptors and painters proceeded to decorate the face of the building, and the ramp was removed piece by piece as the work was completed. Ahmed explained this in detail and then showed us the diorite figure of Seknet the lioness.
We entered temple after temple each of them having frescoes carved in relief on their walls. In the earlier ones, we saw pictures of the gods at their duties, Anubis…
Receiving the mummified dead, Thoth, the Ibis headed, god of learning keeping account of the mortals deeds on the leaves of the tree of life, Horus accepting the of the essence of the Pharaoh. In the temple erected by Harunbab we saw a series of frescoes in which he claimed that the god Orisis visited his mother at night and he was the fruit of that union. This was the claim he made when he usurped the throne.
Later engravings showed the Pharaohs hunting, or at battle. One pylon has a very fine scene of Rameses II riding in his chariot, with a pet lion galloping beside him. These were cut deeper into the stonework discourage later monarchs from obliterating the names, and adopting the works as their own. One of the finest reliefs is that of Cleopatra.
But it is the hypostyle hall which takes away the breath with its centre columns 69 feet high and avenues of smaller columns 42 feet high on each side. Inscriptions which traced the history of the temple, give praise to the gods and record the royal stories of its various builders, cover the surface. Enormous slabs of stone had provided the roof, the different heights had allowed light to penetrate into the dim forest of stone below. When we looked upwards…
0… We could see the underneath parts of the capital’s painted to represent palm fronds red blue green and gold could still be seen on the blocks of stone connecting one pillar to another. It was here that I first saw the royal bee insignia, which Napoleon adopted.
Beyond this hall, we saw the tallest obelisk in Egypt, which had been placed here about 1485 BC by Queen Hatshepsut. This are reached some 97 feet and was known as the Light of Egypt. A daughter of Thutmoses 1 and wife of Thutmoses II, her brother, she sees the throne after the death of the latter, masquerading as a man. To substantiate her position, she also married her nephew, the boy she had supplanted, but held the reins of government firmly in her own hands. When Thutmoses III succeeded her, he set about despoiling all her monuments, but by the priests of Amon for bade him to touch the Light. In pique he built a high wall in an endeavour to hide it from sight, and built another to replace it. Unfortunately for him, the second did not reach the dimensions of Hatshepsut’s obelisk.
It was here that I suddenly felt very sick and…
… giddy. We had spent a long morning in fierce heat and brilliant sunshine after looking up at these marvels and suddenly I knew I would have to find some shade. With nerry a glance I passed the sacred lake and made my way to a small building which Ahmed had indicated would be the next place for survey. He complimented me on being the first to arrive, little did he know that it was imperative that I found a quiet shady spot. Fortunately, our visit was now at an end, and we made our way back to the carriages.
Back at the hotel I found I had fallen a victim to gypo tummy. Whether it was the heat, food or as I believe our iced drinks, or not, it meant that the optional excursion to Denderan being made that afternoon, would for me have to be canceled. By now, quite half of the party has had attacks of this, and only a few hardy folk survived the town unscathed. And so, having only a lemon tea and toast for lunch I retired to bed. Even this was not without incident.
Whilst bathing my face, I noticed a large insect which I thrust into the wastepaper basket and deposited outside. Once under the mosquito nets, I decided I should…
… Have my travelling clock near and brought the is also under the net. Something, about the size of the rejected insect fell out of the case on to my bed and in a panic I’d jumped up, frantically searching for my spectacles. When these were on my nose, I soon saw what it was that had so frightened me. It was an old fashioned watch key, which I had brought with me, as the winding key was missing from the clock.
About 4.00 the sound of chanting pervaded the room and brought me from my fitful slumbers. A new hotel was to be built on the site next to the Winter Palace, and I could see small gangs of workers clearing the ground in preparation. One member of each group propelled an enormous shovel in front of him, whilst his two companions called on a rope and fastened to the same implement and heaved to the rhythm of the chanting.
When a contingent from Dendeia returned, we boarded o and enjoyed an evening sail watching the sunset over Western Thebes. The fierce heat of the day he had subsided and I found the warm balmy breezes refreshing.
To visit the valley of Kings we sailed across the Nile in a felucca, and on the western side boarded a coach. The distant hills where necropolis was situated grew nearer and in the foothills we stopped to observe the twin statues known as the Colossi of Mennon. This name had been given to them by the early Greeks who attributed any large erection to their legendary King Agamemnon and has remained. Built in the likeness of Amenoplus III, the statues had originally flanked the entrance to that Pharaohs funeral temple, but an earthquake had long since laid down this structure and with the centuries, all remains had vanished. The same earthquake badly damage the colossi creating cracks, and other defects, which aided by the evening change of temperature produced moans sighs from one of the statues. This manifestation brought many Pilgrims who regarded the effigy as an oracle until one Roman emperor Septimus Severus in gratitude repaired the statue since when it is remained silent.
Under the tall cliffs at the Deir el Bahri for the elegant temple of Queen Hapshepants rises in three long terraces, but it still appears diminished by the natural backcloth of stone. Nevertheless, the symmetry of its pylons, columns and colonnades makes it one of the most pleasing and…
Attractive structures in Egypt. A few likenesses of the queen remain, but most of them were obliterated by her successor and her Cartouche, replaced by that of Thutmoses III.
I saw little of this site, as a return of the sickness prevented me from exploring the area and whilst the party proceeded to survey first this temple and then the Tombs of Tutankhamen and Rameses IV I was forced to shelter at the rest house. The valley is an awesome place. The heat of the sun burns down from a vivid blue sky and the bright sandstone reflects back the heat with an intensity which seems to rebounded back and forth. Not a blade of grass nor even a withered bush can be seen and not a note of any bird heard. No wonder the ancient Egyptians thought this was at the end of the world.
My companions arrived at the rest house for refreshment, and Frances Pursglove gave me three pro plus tablets saying there would act like a strong cup of coffee. I think I would have tried anything at that moment. To realise an ambition which began in my schooldays to visit the Valley of Kings, and then to be thwarted by sickness from seeing some of the Tombs, was…
Fortunately the pills had the desired effect, and I manage to recover sufficiently to join the party when they continued their explorations. The nobles Tombs we visited with those of Rameses and his wife and [Na]. These were very similar. Each consisted of two chambers, the first to hold funeral furniture, the inner one to contain the precious mummies, and around the walls were painted scenes of everyday life taken from the owner’s world. I would dearly love to see Rekhimine’s tomb. As vizier of Thutmoses III, he had supervised the building of his master’s tomb and manufacture of its furnishings and had instructed his own undertaker to paint cameos from this office. One of the most delightful pictures showing great humour, is of the stonemasons casting the high royal sarcophagus. Whilst many were busily engaged, one worker had climbed to the top of the coffin and was fast asleep. Another, no doubt seeing at the vizier approaching was trying to wake him. But to return to our own nobles. These did not seem to hold any high office as their Tombs were garnished with many scenes of hunting, fishing, farming and feasting. The figures of the owner and his wife what always larger than their guests. Bountiful tables bearing fruits, meat and winds were laid, young servant attended the guests, girl musicians played strange but elegant instruments whilst a scantily…
Clad female performed and acrobatic dance worthy of today. The hunting scenes are of great interest to the naturalist, for many of the birds have been identified with birds seen today. A type of a boomerang was used to catch the birds, and the small son of the house had a miniature one with which he tried to copy his father. In one of the Tombs, we saw that the family pet cat had accompanied the party, and was also catching birds. There was no lighting in the chambers as this would cut soon cause the colours to fade, but an attendant reflected the sunlight in with a large sheet of metal. The royal tomb which I saw, was that of Sati 1. A long sloping entrance led us through several large doorways all bearing the spread wings of the Goddess Of Mercy. After going a considerable distance into the rock, we came to a series of large rooms with square columns carved from the living rock. The paintings here had none of the gaiety and frivolity of the nobles. We were now in the presence of the gods. Solemn scenes of religious rites were pictured on the walls. Anubis busy mummifying the body of the pharaoh Seti offering gifts to Ptah, Osiris receiving the King into the hereafter whilst hands and arms offered up Hymn Of The Dead. These and many other scenes filled every available space on walls and columns one over…
All, a dark blue ceiling with golden stars completed this underground world.
Before we left the necropolis, I took a brief look at the exterior of Tutankhamen tomb. It was situated very close to the later Rameses VI’S Tomb and was one reason for the young pharaohs’ remains escaped the attention of the robbers. Tutankhamen died at a very early age and there is no doubt that the small two used for him, had originally been intended for another, probably his vizier, Aye. Robbers had broken into the outer chambers shortly after his burial, but they had been disturbed. This is known, as fresh seals were placed over the unbroken seals of the inner chamber, but those on the outer room, were new. Also, the funeral furniture was in greater disarray. A century or two later, when knowledge of the whereabouts of Tutankhamun and two had dimmed, the builders of the vast sepulcher of Rameses VI completely covered and concealed all trace of it. With the rocket excavated, from the of the new sepulcher. Treasure seekers and archaeology is searching for royal Tombs bypass this mound never suspecting it secret, until Carter who had almost sieved the valley, made a last attempt and was overwhelmingly rewarded with a find of an almost undisturbed two.
The only other discovery to come near to this in importance was the finding of a cache of royal mummies near Dair el Bahri in 1881. A search was began when Egyptian officials became alarmed to learn that a number of valuable items of antiquity were leaving the country and after great investigation they found a catacomb containing many mummies, including Rameses II, his wife Nefertari, Seti 1 and Thutmoses III. Apparently the priests had been greatly worried by the consistent robbing of the royal Tombs and they had removed many of the pharaohs to a place a little distance away from the main burial area.
Their ruse were successful and it was not until the 19th century ad that a fellalin had stumbled upon the secret cache. This had been a very profitable fined for him, tourist of those days were rich and a good price was paid for the souvenirs, but fortunately most of the mummies and many valuable accessories was saved and today he helped to make the Cairo museum the most exciting museum in the world.
It took 300 Arabs, all potential thieves, six days to transfer the precious finds from the cache to Luxor from whence it was taken by steamboat to Cairo. A very…
Anxious and trying time for the representative of the Service Of Antiquities Emile Brugsch, who could only trust his assistant. When the museum boat left Luxor, the banks of the river were crowded with frantic fellers as far as qufta. The women’s tour their hair and wailed and Mennon fired rifles as they followed the progress of the steamboat. So, no doubt in the days of yore, their ancestors had followed the funeral boats of these mighty Kings.
We stopped at Medmet Habu to see the Rameses III temple and I was immediately surrounded by a mob of dirty children all calling shrilly for baksheesh. One the little girl with dark unkempt hair clutched a small an unwilling kid in her arms. She would have made a delightful picture if one could have extricated her from the rest of her pushing, yelling friends. No doubt she had learned from experience that photographers would single her out if she carried the small goat. They had appeared like magic tumbling out of the copse of palm trees and shrubs, which almost concealed the clay dwelling places. The green vegetation, quite lush came as a surprise after the wilderness of sand and rock.
In the courtyard of the temple, we saw four large headless statues of the pharaoh in the guise of Osiris
His crossed arms carrying the flail and crook. Feeling that we were leaving a place of execution, we left V [?] And visited a covered chamber. Here, were…
Many pictures of the gods and goddesses. I wondered why these had been spared the indignity of execution. Had the fanatics are held them in superstition? What a blessing! I thought the sylph like figures of the goddesses Isis Hathor quite charming. These frescoes still bore many of the colours which had once decorated the entire entrance. Most of the notables of the other world were present. Falcon headed Horus, son of Osiris, Anubis, Thoth, black faced Ptah, King of the underworld, all busily attending to their normal tasks. And suddenly I saw them in a different light. Here was the patron saint of the Dr., The money fire, scribe, and undertaker. Isis and hath or stood for love, motherly and-or in adversity. Human faces a much alike, why not emblems to identify the saints easily. Today we have orders of the Buffalo and Water Rats. Were the Egyptians very different? Rameses three reigned some hundred years after his better known namesake and an noted that although the style remained the same, the pylon had become smaller and the columns more slender. These capitals burst forth into the shape of A [?] Flower with eight sepalled opened calyx. The underparts of these, also the spread wings surmounting the gateway were painted in shades of green and blue. The quality of the pigments had to be good to survive 3000 years of continuous sunshine!
The original itinerary which arranged the visit to Abu Simbel to be made in a day’s excursion from Aswan had been amended by Captain Todd. He had noted this had been a strain on the previous party who had undertaken this journey three weeks earlier. Now the temperatures were even higher and two alleviates two much discomfort, it was arranged that we should fly direct to the Sudanese border town Wadi Haifa and visit the Temples from there.
As we flew southwards, all signs of vegetation vanished and the scene was one of a putty coloured world. Darker shadow showed the con tours of hills and valleys, but the valleys seem to be filling up with sand. It was a strange and unreal land that past below us.
Before coming into land, Captain Bantan took the plane to the bend of the river and flew over the Temples at a low height, and then after a brief but exciting glimpse of the famous edifice, we descended on to the airfield.
Our hotel, the Nile, was situated on the bank of the river, opposite the site of Buhen where a British contingent of archaeologists were excavating a temple built by Thutmoses II and Hapshepants. Captain Todd insisted that we should rest after lunch until 4.00. The temperature here was about 125 and most of us was only glad to conform with his decision.
I decided to spend the rest of the day he relaxing in order to get the strength to visit Abu Simbel
on the morrow.
It was 3.00 AM when we were called and after a light breakfast we settled ourselves in cars,. A pleasant drive, at first through villages where all the inhabitants were sound asleep and then as the sky gradually lightened to deeper midnight blue, we could just make out the silhouettes of the palm trees clustering above the small houses. By the time dawn had broken, we had left the rough dirt tracks and by plowing and bumping across sand. Our fleet of cars numbered nine and held four passengers in each of the first eight. The ninth car contained two mechanics and brought up the rear. We soon learned the reason for the latter. Every now and again one of the castle get bogged down in the sand. Then boards were placed in front of the wheels and the additional mechanics would help push the car is out.
A journey across the desert was estimated to take 2 hours, but mishaps extended this by at least an hour. By the time we had reached the Sudanese border post, the sun had risen. As we waited for two cars we made a little survey of opposition. The isolated post was in an elevated position overlooking the Nile and we could see a few trees and scrubs growing by the water’s edge. Nowhere else was there any vegetation to relief…
The vast waste of sand. The dark skinned soldiers were very smart in their khaki uniforms. I have noticed that the troops who have once served the British, retain the same high reputation for smartness. The border control was due to leave and with many snorts and grunting protests the casuals were awakened and then the small patrol departed.
At last her own rearguard caught up with us, and we continued, now back in Egypt, to the small village on the opposite bank to the Temples. These were still a little distance away, and the boats that took us across the wide river, was slow and inefficient. A sail was used, but the main means of propulsion was rowing using slender tree trunks. These were rounded! As we were going against a strong current it took us 3/4 hour.
Two Nubian ladies who were staying at the Nile hotel were accompanying our party. They were schoolteachers from Khartoum. We were horrified to see one of them produce a cup and drink some of the Nile water. Small burns of coffee and lemonade were provided for us and I think the majority of our own party had each bought three bottles of mineral water along.
The two Temples were built on a bend in the river and wonder therefore at a slight angle. Between the two was a great drifts of sand. This had once half covered the front of the larger temple and had…
… Also half-filled its interior. It was the Swiss explorer Burckhardt, he who had rediscovered Petra, who was travelling in new beer in 1812 had heard of a temple. His Arabian guide to had taken him to the smaller temple built in honor of queen Nefertari. Whilst struggling to return via the river of sand he sought one of the large heads which adorn the facade of Rameses II temple, and upon further investigation found Abu Simbel.
We tied up by the smaller temple, and made our way over to the place where three large figures of Rameses gaze over the Nile, to watch for the first rays of dawn. 1/4 head lady in the sand at the feet of its body. It really is an impressive sight to see these seated figures, which were cut from the living rock of the high cliffs. Standing at the side of each throne was the small figure of the pharaohs favourite queen Nefertari, whilst the statue of his elder son and stood between his legs. Higher than the pharaoh, and in the central position was the striding statue of Re-Horakhti, the god of the rising sun, wearing a halo of sunlight around his hawk like head. Above all was A frieze of baboons. These are the animals, who in life are said to be the first awake and greets the sun. As we crossed the dark interior we tried to identify the individuals in the bas reliefs of…
… Prisoners that flanked the entrance. The hooked nose, long haired Hyksos, the bearded Hittites, fizzled hair Nubian, all kneeling with their arms bonded behind. Above, two and I’ll gods, bound the floral emblems, papyrus and Lotus together, and the Cartouche of Rameses II surmounted all.
Inside, we saw the eight thirty foot figures of Osiris wearing the features of the Rameses. These stood by pillars which divided the first chamber into three sections. Unfortunately we did not have the place to ourselves. Scientists and technologists was studying the rock and structure to aid their decision as to the best plan to adopt the saving the Temples from a watery grave. Draftsmen were busily making detailed graphs of all of the wall engravings, and high on the scaffold by one of the great Osiris’ head, an Italian artisan and was modeling one of the figures.
I spoke to one of the scientists, a Swede, and was astonished to find that although he has spent some time here, he knew little about the history of the place. Indeed, he had no interest beyond the problem of the engineering feats to raise or remove the temple. Since 1955 teams of Egyptologist and engineers from all over the world had surveyed the area, taking records of every inch of the buildings and suggesting methods of salvage, ranging from building a larger down around…
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Abu Simbel, to jacking the whole temple up until it was out of the height of the expected flood waters. Many other sites were being excavated and freestanding buildings were being carefully marked, dismantled, awaiting the time that when they would be re erected on the edge of the great new lake. Kalabsha, Buhen, Seif Hussein and Wadi es Sebua to name a few., But it was Abu Simbel, a temple cut some 200 feet into the cliff, with dimensions measuring are 108 foot in height, and 124 feet in length, which was prove proving to be the greatest challenge. One interesting fact was, that the authorities had adopted the goddess Maat, the deity of precision and equilibrium as the emblem.
Left to our own devices, we studied the enormous carved pictures. Many showed the story of the Battle of Kadesh (1285 BC), in which Rameses II had shown personal courage and saved his army from defeat by the Hittites. In one scene, he is portrayed with their reins of his plumed horses, tied around his waist, giving him freedom to use his bow and arrows, whilst standing up in his chariot. The figures of the enemy warriors show of freedom of art and elegance of form not permitted in the usual religious and historical accounts. The latter, over a period of 3000 years (with the exception of the 12 years hieratic reign) pictured the gods, King and priests with squared…
… Bodies and profile features. From the large hall, I Pass through a vestibule and small corridor and then explored the innermost chamber. In it was here that the fall engineering feat of the ancient builders made the greatest impact. Every day, in Nubia, the rays of the sun rising over the eastern bank of the Nile would strike first the dawn chorus of baboons, Horakhti, then the living god, Rameses, before spreading over the rest of the world. But twice in the year in February and October the cool morning rays penetrated into the Holy Of Holies lighted up three of the deities who resided within, Amon, Rameses II and Ra Horakhti but the fourth Ptah King of the underworld remained eternally in the shadows. The February occasion is said to coincide with the rebirth of the pharaoh. At this ceremony, the priest King was reendowed with gifts of strength and wisdom from a monograph, and was thus enabled to continue his reign. We could identify it with the official birthday.
In the courtyard of the great temple lies the marriage stele of Rameses and the Hittites princess. Since the reign of a Seti I, the two nations had been at war, the Hittites constantly pushing southwards into the Egyptian empire, The Battle of Kadesh on the Orontes arrested the invaders, but the following 20 years of war proved indecisive and at last a treaty was drawn up in Babylonian and Egyptian, cuneiform and hieroglyphics.
Many gifts of gold, silver, slaves, horses and livestock was sent to the pharaoh and to bind the treaty more firmly the eldest daughter of the Hittites…
… King was sent as a bride. Rameses was delighted with his young wife, and from that time the old enemies lived in peace. This story has been substantiated by clay and papyrus documents found more recently at Tel Amarna.
I don’t know if the princess was Nefertari. Rameses two had many wives, who bore him sons and daughters, but only Nefertari was Queen. The statues of her standing at the knee of a husband in the great temple, and the more predominant statues and carvings in the little temple dedicated to her name, show her as a beautiful slender girl. Six mighty figures, arrested in their stride, appear on the frontage of the small temple, flanking the portal. The two figures of Nefertari standing between figures of Rameses two. The temple is in honour of Isis and Hathor, whose carved heads surmount the pillars and adorn the sistrums. No warlike scenes are shown here. Instead King and queen greet the goddesses and give offerings of papyrus flowers. Probably the most charming bas relief in Egypt, is the coronation scene of the queen, wearing a high feathered crown and receiving the protection and blessing of the two goddesses.
It was hot. Although only 9.30 AM the heat of the day he was beginning to tell and I returned to one of the boats to rest a while, and refreshed myself with a cool drink before further exploration. I was not alone, and before…
… Long most of the party had returned and it was decided that we should begin the journey back. As our boat left the bank, we looked back to the Temples whose fate was still undecided. Little bell tents erected under the tamarisk trees, the generators for electricity and the steamboat which housed the many technicians came into view and then quickly faded from sight as our boats, now called in the swift current, returned to the village where we had embarked earlier that morning.
When we reached our cars, we found a late breakfast had been prepared, tea or coffee, hard boiled eggs and cold sausages. Owing to the tummy trouble I had eaten nothing during the past two days except a slice or two of toast, so I partook a little to eat, and lots to drink. Our return drive was quite an ordeal. The blazing heat and jolting cars made me fear a return of the recent sickness. The Sudanese made us as comfortable as they could at their tiny border post, and after a brief stop we were once again on our way.
It was like travelling in an oven, and whether the windows were open or closed it was equally difficult to breathe. I solved the problem as well as I could, by winding the window down a little way and fixing my straw hat in the opening. In this way the air was filtered through. I’d also kept one of my bottles of mineral water and use the contents to continually moisten my lips and mouth,…
I was surprised to note is that most of my companions had drunk all their supplies. After the strain of the early morning drive, I had realized that the return journey in the four heat of the midday would be an ordeal, and had reserved a bottle of liquid refreshment. There were no roads, not even the track for our drivers to follow. They drove at speed, seeking hillocks of rock and gravel where possible as there was less likelihood of being bogged down in the sand. But even with these precautions there were many stops to extract one or other of the cars from the sand. The desert was not all sand. We passed high ridges of rocks of a deep and rich tawny colour, as was the sand in this area. One of the cars broke down near a village, and the occupants were given shelter in the house of one of the peasants. It may have been a humble abode, but the welcome was warm and friendly.
Back at the hotel, I decided against having lunch or retired to my room for arrest, a bath, change and another rest. Lunch had finished when I entered the dining room, but the waiter brought me a refreshing pot of tea with lemons when he learnt had not eaten.
Two vendors had erected stalls in the hotel vestibule. Among the items for sale were word and ivory carvings, drums covered with skins and crocodile bags. Suddenly one of the salesman gave an excited shouts ” Mr. Tommy, Mr. Tommy!”
It was our second pilot who was being so enthusiastically acclaimed. His black face wreathed in smiles, the little man grasped the officers hand and pumped it up and down. Apparently both had been working for the RAF at Khartoum some 10 years ago. Because of his greatest delight the stall owner cut all prices for the ‘Friends of Mr. Tommy’.
Take off was scheduled for 3.00 and a pilot told us to get into the plane quickly, to sit anywhere so that he could get off the ground as quickly as possible. The recorded temperature on the tarmac was 135°the communicating door between cabin and flight deck was left open in order that the maximum amount of air could circulate. Seated just inside from the control room, I heard Tommy say “I have never known it so difficult to get the tail up”.
An hour later we landed at Aswan. And here we ran into trouble. Officials at first refused us entry. Coming from Sudan, they required to see health certificates against yellow fever. These had not been necessary if we had kept to the original daily excursions, but having extended hours daily by a few hours (as the medical officer was not present) no one would accept the responsibility of letting us through without the certificate. For 2 hours we remained on the tarmac, further frustrated by the fact that we could not buy refreshments, as we had…
… Not been allowed to take any Egyptian money out of the country and of course now had none in our possession. The little drink seller had pity on us and gave us tea and lemonade for which we reimbursed him when he left two days later.
At last Captain Todd, although us into the awaiting coach, defied the airport officials and had has conveyed to the Hotel Cataract. Here we waited in comfort until the medical officer appeared and sanctioned our reentry into the country.
That’s night after the evening meal, we sat on the terrace built high on the rocky bank of the Nile near the first cataract. The brilliant stars seemed to hang low in the black velvety sky and from the rocks below us came the incessant chorus of shrill cicadas punctuated with the hoarse croak of the bull frogs. Not a musical sound, but to me more exciting than a Philharmonic orchestra. When we reentered the hotel we heard a strange chattering noise an upon looking up, saw blue geckos darting across the terracotta ceilings in their search for insects.
Our bedrooms were on the ground floor, and it was fortunate that Evelyn and I carefully closed the windows to keep the mosquitoes out. It was a larger pest than the mosquito that invaded one room. The maxim that honesty is the best policy does not apply when…
… One is hungry.
There is no need to speculate about the weather in Southern Egypt. Brilliant days follow one after the other in a perpetual world of sun shine. We were told no rain had fallen in Luxor for five years. No wonder the ancients worshipped the Nile and marveled at the goodness of Ra who allowed rain to fall on countries who had no Nile.
The following morning was no exception. The high pitched voices of the peasantry working some distance down the river brought us from our beds. The scene from our window across the river was very attractive in the early morning light. Bushes of white and pink oleanders grew near in the garden. Tamarisk bent towards the water as if to seek further moisture, and nestling in a fold of hills on the opposite bank was the Begum Khan’s winter villa glistening white in the sun. Later that day, we saw the mausoleum of the Aga Khan, who had decreed that Aswan should be his last resting place. As head of the Ismailia religion, he chose a Muslim country outside the territory of his own sect to prevent any feelings of jealousy.
That’s morning we visited the ancient stone quarry and saw the high 103 foot obelisk which Thutmoses III had cut in order to outshine Hatshepsut’s Light of Egypt. But schemes of pharaohs like a lesser mortals often go awry and the great granite monument cracked. Many of the party mounted the giant, and from this…
… Aspect the stone appeared to continue on, like an elevated highway. We could not imagine how many men would be required to convey this mass down to the river from whence it will be taken to the proposed site.
Our next visit was to the older dam, the one built by the British in 1902. No one was allowed to take photographs of this or the site of the new dam which was being prepared under the supervision of Russian officials. Away in the distance we could just make out the roof of the temple of Philae, the lower portions of which was submerged in the Nile waters. Only in the months of July to October when the dam gates are opened, to release the flood waters, can the temple site be seen in its entirety. The buildings are comparatively new, replacing others which dated back to Thutmosis III (1504-1450 BC),Amenhotep II (1415-1425 BC) and also it is believed as far back as Sesostris III (1887-1850 BC). The older structure on the island is the kiosk built by Nectanebo in the fourth century BC. The Ptolemies who followed him added their tributes, as did the Roman emperor’s Augustus Trajan and Hadrian.
The religious honours were originally shared equally between Osiris and his sister wife but grandly under the Hellenic and Roman eras the Isis cult gained prominence, and even became the official religion of…
Rome. The mother goddess held a supreme position in most eastern countries. The earth goddess of the Cretans, Ishtar of Babylon, Astarte of the Phoenician, Diana of if Ephesus and Isis. Interwoven with the lives of these deities are the stories of the gods who must die in order that life can continue. From Adonis ‘s blood came the fertility of the soil, Osiris had to die in order that Horus be born as an incarnation and life hereafter offered to mortals.
Annually for the last 60 years Philae has drowned in the floods only to be resurrected for a few months, but surprisingly little damage has been done to its fabric. Although the colours have been erased from its surface, the same waters have cleansed the stone of destructive salts. But if the submerging became a daily occurrence, as would happen if as precautions were taken to protect the site, when the new dam is fully operative, the damage to both structure and fabric will be beyond repair within a few months.
Few tourists have visited Philae since the building of the old dam, as the undulation period coincides with the hotter time of the year and most have to content themselves with the glimpse of the top of the pylons. If the proposed Netherlands plan is adopted, one day we may see the isles still in their original setting residing in a low lying artificial lake protected by dykes from the larger lake created by the new high dam.
Having a little spare time before lunch, Evelyn and I walked to the nearby shopping centre. As the heat of the noonday he was around 112°, the gentle stroll was quite a feat. I had found little photographic material during our morning drive and in consequence decided not to burden myself with the camera. What a mistake. A dozen pictures of local interest appeared before my eyes.
A goat herdsman with his undisciplined charges wandered through a palm grove. Water Buffalo stood among the rocks in the shallows of the river seeking cool comfort from the waters. Women in drab black gowns squatted by the Nile washing the family’s linen. Even the tourist shop was photogenic with its kaleidoscope of colourful goods. Seated in the doorway of one of the local shops was a young man in European dress, smoking a bubble pipe. He noticed that I was quite fatigued by the heat and offered me a seat. Seeing my interest in his pipe, he explained how it was used and said he would have had been pleased to have posed for me if I’d have had my camera.
Later that afternoon, fully prepared for photographic stops, we departed from our hotel on an excursion to Kitchener’s Island. The felucca landed us by a pathway bordered with oleanders and when we had ascended this we came out to a small clearing where tall cedar trees garlanded with Bougainvillea and hibiscus stood as a backcloth.
Beneath them were to musicians playing.
One or two elderly dears thought this a disgusting assault on the ears and privacy of the gardens, but all the photographers, which on this type of holiday means the majority, were delighted to get records of the unusual instruments. Indeed the white clad figure standing against the dark foliage, red tree trunks and bright flowers, made a charming picture. I myself, found amusing exciting and exhilarating and wanted to dance. A sure sign that it was considerably cooler in the exotic gardens. The island was the home of Lord Kitchener when he was the commander of the British army in Egypt and during his campaigns in the Sudan and Central Africa he collected many horticultural specimens for his garden. Today, tall trees tower above plants and ferns of many varieties, from the high plateau of the island, between the purples and orange of bougainvillea and hibiscus and pink and white of oleander, superb views of the river could be seen. Many birds haunted the garden and I recognized by hoopoe among them. There are many legends in Egypt about this attractive bird on one tells that the high crest was given to him by Solomon as a reward for shielding Sheba’s complexion from the fierce rays of the sun.
We strolled through the Woodlands, with I’d died identifying…
The various species, closely followed by two hawkers who were anxiously trying to bring our attentions to their wares. It was the end of the season for them, and the hotel was being closed after our departure in the morning. With my last pesetas, I brought a string of red sea pearls from the elder of the salesman, the man who was suffering from [Tahoma] the eye disease so prevalent in Egypt.
Leaving the Botanical Gardens behind, we began our return, sailing among the rocks of the first cataract. Little groups of black clad women, had gathered at the river’s edge to wash their linen. They gazed at us curiously, but at the first sign of a camera, hid their faces in the folds of their gowns.
We saw a fisherman paddling along in his can do, and I wondered what type of fish he would catch. Perch weighing 56 to 66 pounds frequent at the upper reaches of the river and the delicate flavored Tilapia is common throughout the length of the Nile.
Before returning to the rocky a landing stage at the Hotel Cataract, we visited Elephant Island, so called because of the high rounded boulders which could be seen in profusion.
We found the museum closed, due to the fact that dusk was falling and so after a brief glance around we continued on our way. There are archaeological sites on the island,…
But at present this area is being used as the storage place for many of the important Temples being dismantled, catalogued, numbered and awaiting reconstruction and other sites.
Our visit to Egypt was now at an end and the morrow saw us flying northwards to Cairo where we lunched in the airport lounge while our plane was being refueled then on over the sea to Rhodes. The airfield was situated in green meadowlands surrounded on all sides by softly contoured hills. After the arid lands of upper Egypt this seemed like the Garden Of Eden.
End of Libya / Egypt / Rhodes 1962 – Part 2.
On the way back to Blighty, Doris stopped off at Rhodes and Athens – See https://wdeod.com/2017/11/28/greece-rhodes-1962/