Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to do an Egyptian Temple Tour

Temple of Isis at Aswan
If you're going to Egypt, chances are you're going to Luxor. And if you're going to Luxor, you're just a short day tour away from four COOL temples! Between Luxor and Aswan is a leisurely air-conditioned van ride and the Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo temple complexes. And, of course, Aswan boasts THE Temple of Isis. Read about my adventures in Aswan here.

I actually did the van tour in reverse - I took an overnight train all the way south from Cairo to Aswan, and then the van ride north (which is to say, "down" from upper Egypt - I love Egyptian geography) to Luxor. The decision to do it this way was mostly made by the logic that if I was taking the sleeper train anyway, I might as well sleep a little later and get to Aswan, instead of waking up at the crack of dawn to disembark in Luxor. It turned out to be a good decision.

Temple of Horus at Edfu
Another good decision was NOT doing what I had originally planned - trying to take the temple tour on my own, by train. This would have left me (three times) wandering the desert like Moses with luggage, as I tried to hop on and off of trains, grab taxis and get to the temples and back to the train stations. IXNAY.

Instead, I signed up for the van ride.

I normally avoid anything with the word "van" in it because I can get seasick washing my hair and carsick sitting in a parked car anywhere near a windy road. Which can make for an unpleasant day. But I popped a Bonine before the van tour and was quite fine. The roads weren't windy, the air conditioning felt heavenly between temples, and there was quite a bit of entertainment along the way (see Mick Dundee and Spaghetti Strap Girl.)
Dude Playing Tennis or Zombie Apocalypse?

First, there's Kom Ombo. This Greco-Roman temple pays tribute to Cleopatra's ancestors (one of my favorite Egyptian topics) and boasts images of Sobek, the crocodile god. There are crocodile mummies in the Chapel of Hathor, excavated from a crocodile necropolis that was near the site. Another subject of interest to me, which found its way into The Vesuvius Isotope.

Next, we stop at the temple of Edfu. I found the Temple of Horus here quite reminiscent of the Temple of Isis at Aswan, with the symmetrical walls surrounding a lower entrance. The reliefs are quite well-preserved, and remind me a lot of two dudes playing tennis, or maybe a zombie apocalypse.

Finally, we arrive at Esna before moving along to our final destination at Luxor. The Esna temple features one of the cutest statues in Egypt. It is supposed to be the falcon god Horus, which I would envision as powerful and intimidating, but the statue to me looks like an owl in a top hat. Sorry.

Falcon God, or Owl in Top Hat?
A temple tour might seem like a peripheral activity on your Egyptian vacation, perhaps less important than the sites in Luxor or the pyramids. But if you have an extra day and are into temples, I highly recommend it. And it's a great excuse to visit Aswan.

This blog post explores a non-fictional theme or locale that is incorporated in The Vesuvius Isotope, the first Katrina Stone novel. Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.

Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a fascinating post. I've saved it for future reference. Egypt is one of the places on my bucket list and these temples would have to be seen were I to eventually make it there.