Of all the countries I have traveled to, Egypt was the most awe-inspiring. The itinerary consisted of a 15-day tour through the northern (Cairo), middle (Luxor), and southern (Aswan) regions of Kemet (Egypt) - home to the world's first advanced civilization and one of the greatest civilizations in world history. We visited ancient historic sites which included pyramids, tombs, temples, museums, and a local Nubian village which offered insight into the African origin of civilization.
Ancient Kemet is significant for its contribution in the development of written language, art, science, mathematics, architectural engineering, medicine, education, government, astronomy, religion, agriculture, philosophy, ethics, the calendar, and much more. In fact there is not enough credit given to Ancient Kemet for their contribution to human development.
Below are several ancient tombs, temples, and pyramids (built over 2,000 years ago) we visited during the tour, and images that capture the world’s first written language (Medu Neter – divine language also known as hieroglyphics).
Mir (The Pyramids of Giza), Giza
The three largest pyramids in the world were constructed under the ruler-ship of three Pharaohs - Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Pharaoh Khufu’s pyramid is the largest - measuring 481 feet above the plateau and estimating 2.3 million stone blocks each weighing an average of 2.5 to 15 tons (source).
Khufu's son, Pharaoh Khafre, had the second largest pyramid built. When standing and gazing at the pyramid, it may appear that Pharaoh Khafre’s pyramid appears the largest however it was built on a higher platform. Pharaoh Menkaure, Khafre’s son, had the third pyramid built.
Each pyramid was part of a larger complex that included temples, tombs, and other features that displayed the scenes of daily life where you can study civilization in ancient Kemet.
The ancient engineering feats at Giza were so impressive that even today scientists can't be sure how and when the pyramids were built.
Heru-em-Akhet - "Heru on the Horizon" (The Sphinx), Cairo
Heru-em-Akhet, the 240 long colossal of a Man’s head on the body of a lion made out of limestone, was constructed between 2,500 and 2,600 BCE during the 4th Dynasty. It is believed that it was built during the age of Leo.
The Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara
The Step Pyramid has six steps and is over 200 feet high (over 20 stories tall). Imhotep, a multi-genius architect, built the pyramid for King Djoser supposedly 4,500+ years ago during the Third Dynastic period.
Pyramid of Teti, and the Tomb of Teti at Saqqara
Teti was the first ruler of the 6th Dynasty, between 2345 and 2323 BCE. He built a pyramid northeast of the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara which houses his tomb. The writings on the pyramid walls were found to be the oldest religious writings discovered.
The First Equilateral Pyramid of Sneferu ("Red Pyramid") at Dashur
Sneferu was the first pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty, between 2613 and 2589 BCE, and is known for building three pyramids - the “Meidum Pyramid”, the “Bent Pyramid” and the “Red Pyramid”. The Red Pyramid is the first true equilateral pyramid, with straight sides and a square base, which provided the design and plan for Sneferu's son, Khufu to build the largest pyramid and one of the "Seven Wonders of the World" at Giza.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo
The Egyptian Museum is the oldest archaeological museum in East Africa, and houses a collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts and the largest collection of Pharaonic antiques.
The Temple of Luxor (Ipet Resyt)
You can see the extravagance of the Temple of Luxor, even before you approach the main entrance. Located on the east side of the Nile River in the City of Luxor, known as Thebes by the Greeks and Waset in Ancient Kemet, it is one of the greatest outdoor museums. This massive complex includes the Avenue of the Sphinxes, a two hundred foot wide entrance, the colossal Great Colonnade Hall, twenty-one foot high columns, large statuary carvings, Amenhotep III's sun court, a giant statue of Ramesses II’s chief wife Queen Nefertari, Ramesses II's obelisk, etc. The construction of the temple began under the ruler-ship of Amenhotep III during the New Kingdom, between 1390 and 1352 BCE, using sandstone blocks transported from Nubia. The temple was completed by Ramesses II, Tutankhamun, and other pharaohs. The temple was used for the pharaoh’s coronation ceremony and during the annual Opet Festival. Many of the temple blocks and sidewalls have undergone treatment and reconstruction due to exposure to the elements.
The Temple of Karnak (Ipet-Isut)
You would need to spend hours at this site to experience this temple. The Temple of Karnak, situated on 200 acres of land, is considered the largest temple and place of worship ever built! It is linked to the Temple of Luxor by way of the Avenue of the Sphinxes spanning two miles long. The construction of the temple began during the Middle Kingdom, between 2040 to 1782 BCE, using sandstone and granite blocks. The temple has expanded and been altered by Nectanebo I, Pinedjem I, Hatshepsut, Thuthmose I, Thuthmose II, Thuthmose III, Horemheb, Sesostris I, Seti I, Amenhotep III, Akhenaton, Ramesses II, Ramesses III, Tutankhamun, and other pharaohs. The damages, due to overexposure to the natural elements, have threatened the integrity of the site - both in structure and interpretation of the divine writings carved on the temple walls. Even in its massive state of deterioration it still remains an impressive colossal.
The Temple of Hatshepsut
The Temple of Hatshepsut is one of the most beautiful long standing historical sites even after attempts were made to destroy her images, by her successors, on the temple and monuments. It was built under the rulership of Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh, between 1473 and 1458 BCE during the New Kingdom, using limestone. On statues and portraits she is portrayed with a male body dressed with a crown and beard, as a way to ensure her legitimacy to the throne. She is known for restoration of buildings such as the Temple of Karnak and other monuments, as well as maintaining peace, trade relations, and economic development. This temple is located on the west side of the Nile River in Luxor, known as Thebes by the Geeks and Waset in Ancient Kemet.
The Colossi of Amenhotep III
These twin 60 feet tall, quartzite sandstone, statues of Amenhotep III are what stood at the entrance of Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple (and two small carvings of his mother, Mutemwiya and his wife, Queen Tiye alongside Amenhotep III’s legs) before it was partially destroyed by an earthquake and flooding. The temple was originally built on the west side of the Nile River in Luxor and is currently undergoing restoration. Amenhotep III ruled as a pharaoh during the 18th Dynasty, also known as the Old Kingdom, from 1386 to 1349 BCE and was popularized for building massive complexes, political stability and economic development.
Valley of the Kings
As you approach the Valley of the Kings you are greeted with desert sands, red rocks, sweltering heat, and dust. There is an unusual quietness that reminds you that you are walking above discovered and undiscovered burial chambers - the resting place of over 60 pharaohs that ruled during Ancient Egypt dating back to the 18th and 19th Dynasty, of the New Kingdom, from about 1550 to 1070 BCE. The tradition of building pyramids as tombs shifted to carving out burial chambers into the rocks located on the west side of the Nile River near Luxor. The royal tombs were decorated with paintings and divine writings that provided insight into daily life during that time period.
Ramesseum (the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses II) and Funerary Temple of Ramesses III
Ramesses II was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, from 1279 to 1213 BCE during the New Kingdom. The Ramessuem (a mortuary temple) was built under the ruler-ship of Ramesses II but very little remains of what was once a temple complex located on the west side of the Nile River in Luxor. What remains is a toppled colossus of Ramesses II (that once stood over six stories tall and is considered the largest sculpture in Egypt) as well as his legacy as a master builder - he built the temples at Abu Simbel, the tomb of his wife, Queen Nefertari, the monuments at Luxor, and many other buildings.
Ramesses III was the second pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty, from 1184 to 1153 BCE during the New Kingdom. The first impression of the Funerary Temple of Ramses III, also known as the Medinet Habu Temple, is overwhelming as you walk towards what resembles a massive fort. As you continue your journey through the massive wall openings you will see large columns, several courtyards, and an enormous hall. It is located on the west side of the Nile River in southern Luxor, and is said to be a larger version of the Ramessuem - the mortuary temple of Ramesses II. The temple is well preserved with the carvings of art work, and coloring of the divine writings still in place.
The Temple of Denderah
The Temple of Denderah was built under the ruler-ship of Ptolemy IX Soter II during the Ptolemaic Dynasty (between 305 and 30 BCE), a period of Greco-Roman rule in Egypt, using sandstone material. The temple complex consists of numerous temples and shrines, with elaborate divine writings and pictorial carvings. It also housed the original zodiac and sundial, an interpretation of the mapping of the sky, and other notable astronomical carvings on the ceilings. There is evidence that older structures existed on the site as early as 2250 BCE, during the Old Kingdom, under the rulership of Pepy I. This temple is located on the west side of the Nile River, south of Quena.
The Temple of Kom Ombo
The Temple of Edfu was built under the ruler-ship of Ptolemy III – Eurergetes and Ptolemy XII during the Ptolemaic Dynasty (between 305 and 30 BCE), a period of Greco-Roman rule in Egypt. At the entrance of the temple, you are welcomed with massive pylons standing at over 110 feet high decorated with carved images of battle scenes. There is evidence that older structures existed on the site as early as the New Kingdom, under the ruler-ship of Ramses III. The builders during the Ptolemaic Period preserved the design and construction of traditional ancient Egyptian building elements such as high ceilings and large pillars. This temple is located on the west side of the Nile River, between Luxor and Aswan.
The Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Kom Ombo was built under the ruler-ship of Ptolemy VI Philometer and Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos during the Ptolemaic Dynasty (between 332 BCE and 395 AD), a period of Greco-Roman rule in Egypt, using limestone material. The temple complex consists of numerous sanctuaries, courts, and halls, with elaborate divine writings and pictorial carvings. Notable astronomical carvings can be seen on the ceilings, and carvings that feature medical and surgical instruments can be observed on the temple walls. There is evidence that older structures existed on the site as early as 1550 BCE, during the New Kingdom. This temple is located on the west side of the Nile River, in the city of Kom Ombo, north of Aswan.
The Temples of Philae
The Temples of Philae consist of several sanctuaries, temples, and massive columns with elaborate carvings that were relocated to the Agilika Island, from Philae Island, due to flooding in the early 1900s. The temple complexes were initially built by King Taharqa and Nectanebo I, and later modified during the period of Greco-Roman rule by Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Ptolemy III Euergetes. The most prominent landmark on the island is the Temple of Aset and represents the last of the construction of ancient Egyptian temples. The Temples of Philae are located on Agilkia Island, near Aswan, in the Nile River, and is only accessible by boat.
Nubia is the region that covers south of Aswan (southern Egypt) to the south of Khartoum (capital of Sudan), and has been influential in the history of ancient Egypt. The Nubia Museum opened in 1997, in response to the need to preserve the history, artifacts, and monuments of ancient Nubia. It exhibits the archaeological, historical, cultural, and environmental heritage of Nubia, and provides insight into the development of ancient Egypt and Nubian geography and social civilization.
Abu Simbel Temples
Ramesses II (Maat Re Setep En Ra Ramessu Meriamen) was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, from 1279 to 1213 BCE during the New Kingdom. The Abu Simbel temples were built under the ruler-ship of Ramesses II and located on the west side of the Nile River in Aswan, near the border of Sudan. The facade of the Great Temple, the largest of the two temples, (measuring over 65 feet in height) also known as the Temple of Ramesses II has four rock cut colossal statues (measuring over 30 feet in height) of Ramesses II decorated with divine writings. The facade of the Small Temple has four rock cut colossal statues, separated by the entry door way, of Ramesses II and his wife, Queen Nefertari.
With an abundance of historic artifacts, the powerful rays of the sun, the dust of the old Sahara desert, the tenacity of the local vendors, and the beautiful waters of the Nile Valley, traveling in Egypt was an unforgettable experience. It is impressive that The Pyramids of Giza remain one of the original seven wonders of the world, intact; however, the existence and influence of Kemet is magical and everlasting.
Check out the Egypt Photo Album for more images and inspiration!