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Thursday, June 21, 2007


Today we begin our two day visit to Aswan and Abu Simbel. It’s a tradition that we take a brief holiday as a group as a “thank you” from the Mudira (Director) of the expedition for all the hard work everyone does during the excavation season. Of course, the trip is also an important way to see the antiquities of other areas. We arrived at our hotel, the New Cataract, and found our rooms overlooking the island of Elephantine, the superb view from Jay’s room being the one you see here. The temple of Khnum on the island is visible in the picture. But right after a quick lunch, we took off for the sights and started, as do many tourists, with the High Dam of Aswan. Here you see Jim with his binoculars scanning the downstream side, while Emily, Sarah, and Jon look on. Just after this we boarded a small motor boat to go to the temple of Kalabsha.
View of the island of Elephantine.
Jim at the High Dam of Aswan.
On the boat going to the temple of Kalabsha.



Kalabsha was one of many large Nubian temples rescued from the waters of Lake Nasser formed when the High Dam was opened. Its salvage was accomplished with the assistance of many nations, and it was moved just south of Aswan, along with the small rock cut temple of Beir el Wali, the remains of Ramesses II’s Gerf Hussein Temple, and some rock graffiti collected throughout Lower Nubia. The temple is of a Nubian god, Mandulis, and is characteristic of Graeco-Roman era Egyptian temples in architecture.
The temple of Kalabsha.
Jonathon taking photographs at the temple of Kalabsha.
Sarah, Betsy and Dorothy looking at a relief.


Here you see Jonathan photographic the elaborate column capital in the first court. Sarah, Betsy, and Dorothy are looking at the sunken relief on the temple’s rear exterior, and it is indeed worth a look.

The relief on the temple exterior.



Jim in front of an image of  the god Horus.
Betsy provides some background information to the gourp.

Just down a path from Kalabsha has been installed the rock cut temple of  Beit el Wali, perhaps Ramesses II’s earliest monument. It has beautifully preserved painted raised relief decoration in its interior. Jim stands in front of a wall with an image of the god Horus, son of Isis, visible behind him. In the other picture, Jonathan, Adam, Emily, Jessica, Sarah, and Dorothy  listen as Betsy provides some background to the monument.



On the ride to Philae temple, Dorothy, Sarah, Jessica and Jon are chatting about all they have seen so far and also wishing it were not quite so hot…. Pant, pant. But then the exquisite image of this temple comes into view, and the heat is again forgotten, if briefly. Philae was also carefully rescued from its disappearing island and moved to another island nearby. This home of Isis that stayed open when all the other ancient gods’ shrines had been closed, remains one of the most pristine sites in Egypt.

On the boat ride to Philae temple.
The Philae temple.



Jessica taking pictures.

Everyone is excited to snap pictures. Jessica is taking hers, as Adam stands behind her. Jon, Emily, and Jess wander through the hypostsyle hall, heads up looking at the decoration and the inscriptions. Budding Egyptologists all.



After the great visit to the temple, a stop to get cool is in order. Here you see Violaine and Emily with their cold water and Dorothy with the ice cream that she, Jon, and Jess opted for. I was impressed to see Jess only eat half hers. Such self discipline! We returned back to the hotel around six in the evening to await the beautiful sunset at the Cataract Hotel. Here’s Jay’s photo of the Old Cataract at sunset, taken from his balcony.

Cooling off with cold water and ice cream.
Sunset over the old Cataract Hotel.




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