Waking up in the morning we were in Luxor, although on the far south side, moored alongside four other empty cruise ships. These ships have been out of service since CoVid started also destroying Egypt’s economy. As the ships seem to dock this way, we made our way to shore through four empty lobbies, everything covered with white ghostly sheets, waiting for tourism to come back.
Today we were off the ship early and headed to Karnak, 2055 BC to 100 AD, hoping to have morning light and zero people. Karnak is the largest religious temple ever built. To the Egyptian population this was considered the place of the gods and was dedicated to the the triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. The area and temples covered 200 acres. The sacred enclosure of Amun alone is 61 acres and is so big that St. Peter’s, Milan, and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within it’s walls. The Hypostyle hall, at 54,000 square feet and featuring 134 columns is still the largest room of any religious building in the world.
The Egyptians believed at the end of the alpha agricultural cycle the gods and the earth became exhausted and needed to be rejuvenated. A twenty-seven day festival was held where the god Amun transferred power to the pharaoh. The statue of the god Amun was carried through crowds to the Luxor temple, a short distance to the south. Here is where the transfer would take place between Amun and the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh would emerge while the crowds cheered him, celebrating the renewal of the earth and expectations of a bountiful harvest. During the festival bread and beer were served to the people. Some were allowed to go into the temple to ask questions to the gods. The questions would be answered by priests concealed high up in pillars or from inside hollowed out statues.
Our timing was perfect as we were the only tourists there. The only other people there were the security guards and touts all wanting to show us “something that no one ever sees”, of course it really being nothing but where we were walking to. We would say ” la Shukraan”, (no, Thank you), over and over again, without them leaving. They would stop and another person would take their place for the three hours we were there. Exhausting! We just kept walking and exploring at our own pace, wishing we could just be alone.
We headed back to the ship for the last day onboard before finding a place to stay on the West Bank, along the Nile and very close to The Valley of the Gods.
Cheers, and early religious deception,