Egyption History & Travel - 2010

The Temple at Esna is only partially excavated and it stands in its “digs” almost 30 ft. below modern ground level. It is dedicated to a god, Khnum, who had gone out of favor through the centuries but was “resurrected” in importance by the Ptolemies. Though he had earlier been revered as the god of the source of the Nile, the Ptolemies believed him to be a creator god responsible for shaping the human body and the bodies of animals as well as the conformation of other gods. Since we were not allowed to go down into the pit and because it was dark and there was no direct lighting on the temple, we did not see much detail in this structure. We could see only the partially columned half wall at the front of the structure in very dim light. The columns seemed to start at the top of the wall and extend up to an intact ceiling for the rest of the structure. The tops of the columns appeared to be done in the usual styles with papyrus leaves and other flowers. B EYOND THE A NCIENTS Though the main focus of any visit to Egypt must be the antiquities, there is modern Egypt to consider. And we had many activities that helped us enjoy the here and now. OAT (Overseas Adventure Travels) plans other kinds of “discoveries” that take the visitor into modern markets, a papyrus factory, a Foundation supported elementary school, a women's sewing center, a working farm along the Nile, and a Nubian family home- hosted meal in Aswan. We visited several important sites such as the place of Anwar Sadat's assassination and the memorial to him and the unknown soldier right across the street. There is a graceful memorial building holding the tombs of Egypt's Unknown Soldier and Anwar Sadat was buried near that structure across the highway from the huge reviewing stand where he was shot. The joint memorial is triangular in shape, like a hollow pyramid, long the tomb shape of Egypt's leaders. What surprised us was the appearance and behavior of the guards at this memorial. They were sloppily dressed and their hair was unkempt. They were casually lounging around like soldiers on leave. We thought of the pride and sacrifice of the military men in our armed services who volunteer for duty guarding the United States Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Their rigorous training for the duty, their spit & polish appearance, their sacrifice of things other soldiers take for granted—like drinking, smoking, swearing. The Egyptian soldiers we saw that day seemed to take their duty very differently – what a shame.

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