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Egypt Holiday 2014: Ramesses II Temple at Abydos

Inside the Temple As well as completing his father’s much larger & more famous temple at Abydos Ramesses II also built a temple of his own. It’s much smaller, and there is less of it still standing, but there was still enough for an interesting visit. In fact, we could’ve spent quite a lot longer there – I managed to only see half the inside of it! My photos are, as always, on flickr – click here for the full set or click on any image (except the plan of the temple which isn’t mine) to see it larger on flickr. Plan of the Ramesses II Temple at Abydos, from wikimedia The only plans I found with a license that meant I could use them were labelled in German but I think it’s clear enough what’s what (at least of the bits I’ll talk about) 🙂 We approached the temple… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Ramesses II Temple at Abydos

Egypt Holiday 2014: Seti I Temple at Abydos

Temple Entrance Abydos was an important site for the Ancient Egyptians right from the beginnings of their culture. The first Pharaohs (including Narmer) were buried there, it was the capital of one of the nomes (adminstrative regions) and there were several temples built on the site over the course of the millennia. At first it was sacred to the god Khentiamentiu and during the First Intermediate Period this god began to merge with the god Osiris whose cult was rising in significance. As time went on the association of the site with Osiris grew stronger and eventually the 1st Dynasty cemetery was regarded as the site of the burial place of Osiris (with the tomb of Djer being the focal point of this belief). The best known structure in modern times is the temple begun by Seti I and finished by his son Ramesses II, known by the Egyptians as… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Seti I Temple at Abydos

Cleopatra: A Timewatch Guide

Cleopatra: A Timewatch Guide was on BBC4 back in February as part of a short run of programmes cobbled together from old Timewatch footage interspersed with some narration by a current presenter (and modern footage of talking heads) tying it all together. The presenter in this case was Vanessa Collinridge, who I’d not seen present anything before (which is a shame for her, as I’m judging her based on this …). The other two that we watched were The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide (presented by Dan Snow) and Roman Britain: A Timewatch Guide (presented by Alice Roberts). Sadly, as you might’ve guessed from the preceding paragraph, I wasn’t much impressed with this programme on Cleopatra. The idea, I think, was to look back through the Timewatch archives and tell a story about how our ideas about Cleopatra have changed over the last five or six decades. The other two… Read More »Cleopatra: A Timewatch Guide

Egypt Holiday 2014: Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple, First Pylon Luxor Temple is one part of a wide ranging and cohesive set of sacred buildings around the ancient city of Thebes. The oldest buildings of the temple that still exist today date to the New Kingdom, but it was almost certainly built on the site of a Middle Kingdom temple (and quite possibly an Old Kingdom temple before that). Once it was joined to the Karnak Temple complex by an Avenue of Sphinxes stretching 2.5km to the north, along which the god Amun processed in his sacred barque on festival days. And in early New Kingdom times before the avenue was built this was a canal, and the god’s barque floated between the temples. I have many pictures from this temple, more than in this post – the rest are, as always, on flickr: click here for the full set. Also click on any photo to… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Luxor Temple

“From King to Ancestor: Transition to Napatan Royal Afterlife (A Glimpse of a Funerary Ritual)” Birgitte Balanda (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Birgitte Balanda came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about the internal decoration of some Napatan royal tombs and explain what it tells us about the Napatan’s funerary rituals & beliefs. Napata is the name given to the culture that existed in Upper Nubia between the third & fifth cataracts of the Nile from around 800BC to 300BC. The dynasty who ruled the Napatans were also the 25th Dynasty Pharaohs of Egypt – most well known of which is Taharqa. After the Nubian Pharaohs were driven out of Egypt by the 26th Dynasty they continued to rule in Nubia, and I think continued to consider themselves the rightful rulers of Egypt. The Napatan civilisation was centred around Gebel Barkal, which is a prominent rock feature that has been important to several different Nubian cultures over the millennia. There were two royal cemeteries for Napatan rulers… Read More »“From King to Ancestor: Transition to Napatan Royal Afterlife (A Glimpse of a Funerary Ritual)” Birgitte Balanda (EEG Meeting Talk)

Egypt Holiday 2014: Karanis

Karanis with the modern city in the background Karanis is the site of a large Graeco-Roman town, to the east of Lake Qarun just outside the modern northern edge of cultivated land at Faiyum. It was a pretty large town, covering around 450 acres and there are still quite a lot of mudbrick structures on the site (although not as much as there were at the beginning of the 20th Century, which I’ll come back to later in this post). My photos from our visit are up on flickr, click here for the full set. Karanis Open Air Museum We started our visit in the Open Air Museum which contains pieces of sculpture and stonework from a different nearby site – Crocodilopolis. As the modern city of Faiyum occupies the same site as Crocodilopolis the pieces that have been excavated are kept out at Karanis where they can be more… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Karanis

Egypt Holiday 2014: Qasr el Sagha

Qasr el Sagha Temple Qasr el Sagha is about 8km north of Dimai and is the site of a small Egyptian temple. We visited there after we’d been to Dimai (post) and to the petrified forest (post). My photos from this site are up on flickr, click here for the full set. The only part of the temple still standing is the innermost part – with the shrines and and their antechamber. It’s undecorated, and never did have any decoration, which makes it hard to identify when it was built. By style it is either Old Kingdom or Middle Kingdom, but there is disagreement as to which it is. The structure uses Old Kingdom building techniques with large limestone blocks cut to fit securely together without mortar. However the layout of the temple most closely matches one with inscriptions naming Amenemhat I, a Middle Kingdom Pharaoh. Inside the Temple (left)… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Qasr el Sagha

From Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East

One of the Prince’s Souvenirs In early February J and I visited the From Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. My photographs are on flickr as always. This exhibition was a collection of photographs and objects related to Queen Victoria’s eldest son’s trip to the Middle East. The future King Edward VII was sent on this tour as a part of his education in 1862 when he was 20 years old – this was part of the “next step” in his education once his formal schoolroom education was finished. It was planned by Victoria and Albert in 1861, and despite Albert’s death only a few months before the departure date it went ahead as planned. The education remit of the trip extended past sightseeing and into diplomatic meetings – the Prince of Wales met the various local kings, leaders etc… Read More »From Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East

Egypt Holiday 2014: Petrified Forest and the Desert

The Desert If you look at the map we didn’t go very far into the desert when we were on holiday – we were never very far from either a real road or a bit of cultivated land. But we went just far enough to get a taste of looking at the desert. On the second day of desert sites we also stopped at a couple of places just to see the scenery rather than any Ancient Egyptian remains. This isn’t a very wordy blog post (particularly by my standards!), mostly it’s photos to look at 🙂 They are on flickr if you want to see them larger, but I decided to put them all in this post. The first of these stops was at a petrified forest, which was really cool. The Sahara hasn’t always been a desert (obviously!) and around 10,000 years ago the area where we were… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Petrified Forest and the Desert

Egypt Holiday 2014: Dimai

Dimai Temple Walls Dimai (or Dime es-Sabh) is the site of a Ptolemaic & Roman era town, on the northern shores of Lake Qahrun. Because the lake has shrunk since that time and the northern shore is no longer inhabited or cultivated the site is in a remarkably good state of preservation. It was inhabited for around 600 years from the 3rd Century BC in the reign of Ptolemy II through to its abandonment in the 3rd Century AD. My photos from this site and a few of J’s are up on flickr, click here to see the set. Screenshots from Google Maps showing position & layout of Dimai The most striking thing about the site as you arrive are the remains of the temple enclosure walls around the northern temple. These mudbrick structures are still very tall, much taller than head height, and they stand up out of the… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Dimai