Nile Cruise: Edfu and Kom Ombo

We woke up in the morning and had docked overnight in the town of Edfu, and went to go see Edfu Temple. It’s frequently called Horus Temple, as it’s a temple dedicated to the god Horus.

It was another early start – we were leaving the boat at 7:30am! Our guide arranged for us to take a horse carriage (“an Egyptian Ferrari”) to the temple. This is their standard practice and standard for the tour. But for me, I was sad to use the horse carriage. The horse did not seem well-treated – I could see its ribs, and the driver would whip it along when the driver thought it wasn’t going fast enough. You could just tell from looking at it that the horse was tired.

Then we got to Edfu Temple. This one’s architecture was slightly different than those we’d seen before, and the inner part of the temple had more of a Greco-Roman flavor with columns arranged in a courtyard.

This temple was one of those that’s unfinished – according to our guide (on six separate occasions of telling us), the rulers liked the temples unfinished because it meant more offerings and more taxes! You can know a temple is unfinished because some of the cartouches where they’d put the ruler’s name are blank. A cartouche is the tall, ellipse-like container for the name in hieroglyphics.

I liked this temple and I liked the architecture! I wish I’d had more time to walk around it and just enjoy it, but our guide quite liked “guiding” us.

We got back on the boat, and then sailed to Kom Ombo temple.

So this is a dumb confession, but I expected most of the temples to be right on the Nile. After all, you read so much about the ancients sailing ships down to visit them. I didn’t really think about the river changing course over four millennia. But the Kom Ombo temple is right on the Nile, and I enjoyed seeing the river next to the temple!

This one had a Nile-ometer that measured the flood of the Nile every year. This was used so that the priests could calculate the offerings and taxes owed.

Oh by the way – Kom Ombo is an unfinished temple. They didn’t finish it because it meant getting more offerings and more taxes!

Kom Ombo has a large part that’s dedicated to alligators, and has a museum where you can see mummified alligators! It’s insane that the ancient Egyptians mummified them, but it’s pretty cool to see. Sadly, no pictures were allowed!

At this point, if we’re being honest, I was beginning to get a little bit “templed-out” if you will. The temples are so amazing and gorgeous – but it’s hard keeping them straight! Our guide was also super repetitive and said almost the same thing at most of the temples, which also made it harder to keep straight.

Our guide was a little like having a guide at the Louvre who takes you to a painting and says “This is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. He was a very important artist during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was the rebirth of Greco-Roman culture that began in Italy and spread through Europe in the fifteenth century.”

Then you continue to the next painting:
“This is a painting by Botticelli. He was a very important artist during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was the rebirth of Greco-Roman culture that began in Italy and spread through Europe in the fifteenth century.”

And so on. I tried to discern whether I thought the repetitiveness was because I don’t have enough Egyptian history to really understand the nuance, but I kept watch of it. It really was just repetitiveness. As usual, I’m not very good at tour groups! I’ve definitely learned that I’d rather research a place on my own and then go see it rather than have someone explain it. I do not maintain much information just hearing it (especially when I’m trying to look around and investigate a temple!).

Muhamed and I had an interesting conversation about the repetitiveness – I asked him at dinner if he thought it was repetitive, and he felt the same way I did. It turned into a discussion of schooling and how it seems like Egyptian schools is more Asian in the sense of there’s a lot of memory and repetition, and not as much discovery emphasized. For people coming from cultures where discovery is emphasized, he and I both had a hard time with not getting new information!

After, we went back onto the boat and had another amazing Nile sunset – I’m getting spoiled on gorgeous sunsets every night here!

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