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Temple of Horus and Ancient Egyptian Haggling

The courtyard of the temple

Today we cruise to the city of Edfu, best known for one of Egypt’s most remarkably preserved temples, dedicated to Horus, the falcon-headed god. This really is a magnificent temple built between 237 and 57 BC. It’s the second-largest temple in Egypt and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with walls that display details about the religion and language of the country’s Greco-Roman period, and is dedicated to the god Horus, who was worshipped as the god of the sky and kingship.

This temple is unique because it is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt, considering the fact that it was buried under sand for centuries. The temple features beautiful decorations in the form of hieroglyphs, carvings, and paintings that depict the life of the pharaohs and the gods.

Today is a hot day as are most days in Egypt, so we spend as much time in the shade as possible and drink plenty of water. Fortunately, these temples we have been visiting are really large and really high, so they give off a lot of shade. But back to the Temple of Horus...

Carol and Phil at the entrance

One of the striking features of the temple is the grand entrance with two large statues of Horus at the doorway (see the photos), along with the Avenue of Sphinxes that leads up to the temple. Inside the temple, there is a wide courtyard that is surrounded by pillars, chambers, and shrines. Many areas of the temple are open to exploration, allowing visitors to get a close-up view of the intricate artwork and architecture.

Holy of Holies

One of the most impressive areas is what we would call the “Holy of Holies” with its ark. This, of course, was the area that only the highest of priests could enter into. Today a section of this area was under renovation, so we had the privilege to watch the process.

Carol wards off another street vendor

On the way out of the temple, we run the gauntlet again through all the vendors wanting to sell us something. They have clothing, trinkets, tablecloths, stuffed animals, and everything else you would guess at this kind of bazaar. One needs to be ready to haggle a bit as this is the local custom. It’s all in good fun, but here’s how the game works—the vendors stand out in the walkway holding some of their goods and usually barking “One dollar, one dollar…”, and try to lure you into their shop where, of course, NOTHING is one dollar. They may then show you an item (today I was in the market for an Egyptian outfit for myself) and make an offer. It’s not unusual for them to start at $150 US. So you counter their offer with $2 US. Yes, I’m not exaggerating. We both know it’s not worth $150 but certainly more than $2.

So the haggling begins…. $120… $5… $100… No, that’s way too much, I’ll go $10 but that’s it… $80.. No, too much, I’m leaving… here just hold it, $75… OK, it’s nice, I’ll go $15… No, you are killing me, $60… No (start to walk away)… $50… And so it goes back and forth until we finally agree on $25. He asks me “Are you happy?”. I say “I’m happy. Are you happy?”. He says “If you’re happy, I’m happy”. And we both go our own ways… me with my new Egyptian outfit and he with a newfound $25 (quite a lot in this area of the world).

After our visit to the temple, we again board our ship and set sail headed to Aswan, about 85 miles downstream. We have a nice Q and A with our Egyptologist this afternoon and then a short Egyptian cooking class.

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