letter 6: Mummies, Monkeys, and Murals

Dear Sirs or Madams,

Today has probably been my favorite day so far. This morning, we traveled across the Nile to the West Bank of Luxor, also known as the Valley of the Kings, before setting sail and heading to the town of Qena, also known as Dendera. After the blazing heat of the first half of the day, MiMi and I enjoyed the coolness found inside our suite on board. After a fun. talkative dinner, here we are, getting ready for bed. Time seems to move differently here – it sometimes stops all together, when I watch the swaying palms and falcons circling the hills from the porch in my room or while I’m attempting to read a cartouche on the wall of a tomb. But during dinner, we had been talking for what felt like 30 minutes – it ended up actually being an hour more than we thought. Time stretches and retracts like a slinky, suddenly, unevenly bouncing back and forth, in and out, faster and slower. So here, let me tell you about what I did with today’s slinky of time.

We started out early, hoping to miss the heat of high noon. The rocky valley in the Western Desert closed you off from the rest of the world. For a moment, you could picture how it must have once looked – being empty and isolated, aware of the treasures around you, but having no direction as to where they were- the could be right there under your feet for all you knew. Anyway, we were able to go visit four tombs: Ramses III, Ramses IV, Ramses IX, and Tutankhamen. Each had something different- something wonderful.

Ramses no4’s Tomb was artfully decorated, his sarcophagus in the shape of a cartouche. No9’s had a steep stairwell you needed to climb down to enter, along with a beautiful starry sky painted on the ceiling. No3’s has the same style of ceiling, along with some of the most mythical creatures I had seen, for example, a 3 headed snake with wings and the feet of a bull. You are not allowed to take pictures inside of the tombs without a pass, which I did not purchase, so, my apologies. The Boy King’s tomb was very simple- only the burial chamber was painted, since he died so suddenly at such a young age. However, they had his body in a glass case where people could just walk by and stare at it, which disturbed me. I understand and support the research of the mummies and what they can tell us about ancient Egypt – but when they are put on display in museums, it feels like I am violating them. I was never supposed to see their body in that manner – if at all. They put so much effort into keeping their bodies hidden and protected so their souls could identify their bodies in the afterlife, but now they are all over the world- just out for everyone to see.

*sigh*

Afterwards, we got back to the bus and drove to the other side of the valley to visit the mortuary temple of Queen/King Hatshepsut – one of the few female Pharaohs in Egyptian history. After her husband died and she assumed power, she brought great wealth to Egypt from the land of Punt (modern Somalia) – she built great temples and obelisks. However, when she died and her husband’s son Thutmosis III took over, he destroyed almost every trace of her existence, etching her name and picture of her out of temple walls. you see, his father- Hatshepsut’s late husband, told him that he would rule beside her, but she pushed him off the throne, so he defaced and tried to erase her very existence from history. It was quite an interesting sight.

And finally, saving the best for last, Ibrahim took us to the tomb of Nefertari – not to be confused with Nefertiti – this queen was the great royal wife of Ramses the Great (II). Her tomb is the best preserved examples of ancient Egyptian art found- probably ever. The detail and vividness of the colors are astonishing. You are only allowed inside in groups of 12 for ten minutes per group- only 250 tickets are sold per day. Air is also constantly being vacuumed out to help keep harmful bacteria from deteriorating the colors. Trust me when I say, it is all for good reason. This tomb, more than any other, took my breath away. everything from the deep blue of the sky on the ceiling to the bright yellows and greens of the hieroglyphs, I was astonished. Here, the time slinky stretched the most, thankfully allowing me to study the walls and the colors without feeling rushed. It is a definite must if you ever find yourself in Egypt.

 

To brighten up this very detailed and descriptive post, I have a new statistic for my journey. My grandmother has been offered camels in exchange for me three times! The highest number of camels currently is at 500? I can’t truly remember.

Another funny thing was that in Tutankhamen’s tomb, there is a mural of 12 monkeys on the wall. why? well, the Egyptians figured out that the monkeys ‘relieve themselves’ in even intervals of time- so they used these intervals to divide up the day into 12 parts, and the night into 12 parts, giving us a 24 hour day.

Well, goodnight everyone. I better stop typing before I start snoring.

 

adios,

Eliza

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7 Replies to “letter 6: Mummies, Monkeys, and Murals”

  1. Papa just said he could tell you are really enjoying your trip. Today sounds spectacular! Y’all are certainly fitting a lot into each day! You need to be “snoring “!😃❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so happy for you, Eliza. It sounds unbelievable, and I wish I were there too! I love your descriptions. I’ve often felt the same way about time when I’m traveling—it’s one of the joys of doing so. Another is that the memories made on the road are more durable than ordinary memories. You’ll remember this trip clearly even when you’re Mima’s age (and that’s old!). 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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