Around 3100 BC, a unified kingdom was founded by King Menes. Since then, Egypt had been ruled by a series of dynasties for about 3000 years until the last ruler Cleopatra VII, who was committed suicide after the defeat in the battle against Rome in 30 BC. Rome took control of Egypt and annexed it. After the Emperor Constantine I transferred its capital to Byzantium (Constantinople) on the Bosphorus, Egypt played an important role to support the Byzantine Empire with its abundant grain production. The Islamic Empire conquered Egypt in 639 AD, and it ruled Egypt until the Ottoman Turks conquered Egypt in 1517. The French invasion of Egypt led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 and the expulsion of the French by Ottoman in 1801 led Egypt into chaos. In 1805, Muhammad Ali, the commander of Albanian regiment, took the power and established a dynasty to rule Egypt, modernizing its economy and military. But the rapid modernization led to the intervention of European powers and eventually the economic subordination to them. Suez Canal, built in partnership with France, was completed in 1869, but Egypt owed an enormous debt to European banks, which allowed the British and the French to dominate Egyptian government. Crushing the anti-British movement known as Orabi Revolution in 1882, Britain occupied Egypt. Britain placed Egypt under the protectorate in 1914 when Britain fought the war against Ottoman Empire, detaching Egypt from Ottoman Empire. The nationalist movements against Britain and for independence became much fiercer after the war, leading Britain to declare Egypt’s independence in 1923. In 1952, a military coup occurred against the background of the blistering discontent over the Egyptian monarchy seen as corrupted and pro-British, which led to the establishment of Egyptian Republic in 1953. Now, Egypt has one of the most developed and diversified economies in the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and service.
On the second day in Luxor, I joined the tour to Colossi of Memnon which started early in the morning. Just when we crossed the Nile River, the sun began to rise.
The Colossi of Memnon appeared suddenly. Two statues looked isolated in the grassland. I saw a mountain at far distance. At the foot of the mountain, the Valley of Kings was located. Tombs of privileged nobles were situated between the Colossi of Memnon and the Valley of Kings. The Colossi of Memnon faced to the east, the sun direction. What do the Colossi of Memnon imply?
Before entering the Valley of Kings, I saw a house of Mr. Howard Carter who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen.
*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.
At seven in the morning, we arrived at the Valley of Kings. Though it was early in the morning, a lot of tourists from all over the world had already come. We rode a tram and moved in the valley at the foot of the rugged mountain with white rocks. A number of caves soon appeared. They all were the tombs of pharaohs. These caves with no monument or the temple were simply created at the side of the rugged mountain. As the west side of the Nile River was thought to be the land of the dead in ancient Egypt, the burial of the mummified dead in the land of the dead might be enough for mourning them. Or the Colossi of Memnon might play a role as the monuments for the dead.
A few out of 61 tombs were open to visitors. I visited the tombs of Ramses I, Ramses IX and Tutankhamen. The tomb of Tutankhamen was much smaller and narrower compared to those of other pharaohs. In the tomb, the real mummy of Tutankhamen was exhibited. Tutankhamen was very small and seemed feeble. His height and the size of the feet were just like a boy in the late elementary school years. When I visited the tombs of Ramses I and IX, the tombs became very crowded with visitors and it took about several tens of minutes to look around one tomb. I was exhausted because there were too many people in a narrow space and the air was hot and thin. I got worried that the CO2 and humidity exhaled by visitors would be harmful to the preservation.
Leaving the Valley of Kings, we went to the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Queen Hatshepsut, the step mother of the young king, ruled the kingdom on behalf of him. At first, a small temple appeared at the foot of the rugged mountains in the distance, and it seemed not so far away. But when I got off the tram and came close to the temple, I was overwhelmed by its enormous size. It only looked small because the rugged mountains surrounding the temple were too huge and there was nothing to compare around the temple.
I was totally overwhelmed by the enormous sizes of remains in Luxor.