We visited the Karnak temple early in the morning to beat the heat. After lunch and an air-conditioned nap back on the boat, we headed out again to see the Luxor temples at dusk.
The Luxor temples aren’t quite as old as Karnak (only 3,000 years instead of 4,000 years) and are on a slightly smaller scale.
The temple is also right in the heart of the modern town. In fact, over the centuries the town had colonized the temple itself, erecting buildings within the temple enclosure. Because of the silt brought by centuries of Nile inundations and sandstorms, the ground level had risen to cover all but the very tops of the temple. This means that there’s an 11th Century mosque floating about 20 feet above the current ground level (which has been excavated to the original).
The carvings were just as detailed as they were elsewhere, and it was fun to learn what they meant. For example, the carvings of a lotus and a papyrus being bound together represented the unification of lower and upper Egypt.
And here, as elsewhere, we saw record of the many centuries of history embodied here. For example, an entire wall dedicated to Alexander the Great, who roughly 300 BC expelled the Persians and established a Greek dynasty of Pharaohs (the Ptolemies) that lasted for 300 years. (The photos here show me touching the image of Alexander being crowned Pharaoh by the Egyptian god Horus; the other is the cartouche with Alexander’s name written in hieroglyphs.)
The Christians, too, left their mark. They filled in one of the ancient doorways to create a niche for a shrine and also covered the walls with frescoes depicting saints and possibly even the last supper. The paint was so faded that it was hard to see clearly in the twilight.
By the time we had made our way through the site, the sun was quite set and all the lights had come on. It was lovely to see this ancient holy site lit up.