Saturday, November 10, 2012

From Moiya on Safaga,

Situated on the western shores of the Red Sea, Safaga is known primarily,  for its exports of phosphates from local mines however, the recent expansion along the coast has also touched this port city.  Today, numerous hotels and resorts are being constructed to lure some of the worldwide visitors to this region.  33 miles to the north, the resort city of Hurghada is also booming.  Once a small fishing village, the brilliant turquoise waters and the variety of coral and marine life found in the Red Sea has enticed numerous hotels.  Safaga also stand as your gateway to the city of Luxor and the treasures of Thebes and Upper Egypt, located approximately 140 miles from the port.  Considered to be the world’s greatest open air museum, tens of thousands of visitors come each year to see Luxor Temple, the Temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut and the tombs of the Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, making this Egypt’s best tourist attraction.  No trip to Egypt would be complete without a visit to these ancient wonders.  Wyona and Greg have gone here today and David, myself and Arta are going there tomorrow.  It will be a very long day!

In the 27th Century BC, life in Egypt ws focused in and around Giza outside of what is now Cairo.  It was during this time that the architect Imhotep introduced the step pyramid in Sakkara as the eternal resting-place for King Zoser.  This began a 500-year period when pyramids stood in testimony to the power and wealth of the Pharaoh.  The sheer size, mathematical precision and the discipline of the thousands of laborers required to build them is credited as being the force for Egypt becoming a highly organized state. For centuries Thebes was little more than a small village located on the Nile River.  After a long decline in control by Egyptian rulers in Memphis and the arrival and expulsion of foreign powers from Egypt in 1550 BC, a new period began.  Using Thebes as its first capital, the new rulers focused the political, religious and administrative aspects of Egypt’s society into one location.  For the next 400 years Pharaonic Egypt thrived and powerful empire blossomed.  During this period the temple complex of Karnak became an important symbol for the empire.  Between the 18th and 19th dynasties, each new Pharaoh would add a room, hall or pylon to the complex, each intricately carved with hieroglyphic inscriptions.  The Pharaohs belief in the afterlife also changed.  The massive pyramids, which were once the symbol of power and strength for Lower Egypt, were no longer considered to be a safe eternal-resting place.  Instead, royal burial tombs were carved from the mountains in a stark canyon on the west side of the Nile River a few miles from Thebes.  It was believed that Amun-Ra, a god who represented the fusion of god and king, would traverse the valley each night.  It was the intent of the Pharaoh to secure passage on his sacred barque, which would take them on a step towards immortality.  A prime example of the creativity of the early Egyptians may be found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun.  It was here in the Valley of the Kings that English Egyptologist Howard Carter opened the door to Tutankhamun’s tomb for the first time in centuries on November 4, 1922.  Much of the boy-kings treasures may be seen on display at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.  Culture, religion and life in Thebes reached its peak in the 15th century BC.  The creation of the mortuary complex of Queen Hatshepsut, Luxor Temple and the temple of Amenophis 111 attest to the prosperity of the empire, which at the time has expanded into Upper Nubia and into western Asia.  After the death of Akhenaten, the first king to focus on one god, the country was ruled by successive generals.  Continued attempts at expansion proved useless and by 1198 BC when Ramses III had come to power, a downward trend and started.  By the 4th century BC, Egypt was vulnerable for attack and with the coming of Alexander the Great in 332 BC, the dynasties of Pharaonic Egypt had come to an end


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