Today is a BIG day in this 11-day cruise and tour itinerary. We will cover a lot of ground around Luxor, Egypt, starting with the Valley of the Queens, where the wives of the most famous pharaohs were buried in ancient times. Pharaohs themselves were buried in the Valley of the Kings that we will get to later today.
Many of the high-ranking wives of Ramesses, Seti I and Ramesses II were buried in the Valley. One of the most well-known examples is the resting place carved out of the rock for Queen Nefertari (1290–1224 BCE). The full color carvings in her tomb are still intact. This is certainly one of the highlights of this trip. As you go down into the tomb, you start to appreciate the skill and art of these Egyptian people. The walls and ceilings are covered in bright-colored scenes and hieroglyphics. Now remember this was over 3200 years ago and you would think they were painted last year.
After visiting the Valley of the Queens we head over to the nearby Valley of the Kings. Here is where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to the 11th century BC, rack-cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the Ancient Egypt. We visit a number of these tombs including Tomb KV5, tomb of the sons of Ramesses II, containing 120 burial places. Yes, that’s right, we know that Ramesses II fathered at least 97 sons, let alone any girls that also came along.
The most famous tomb here is probably the tomb of Tutankhamun or King Tut, a pharaoh who reigned from 1334-1325 BC. It’s smaller and less extensively decorated than some of the other tombs and Tut wasn’t the most powerful of the people buried in the valley, but it’s famous because it was not looted extensively like the other tombs here. Like other pharaohs, Tutankhamun was buried with a wide variety of funerary objects and personal possessions, such as coffins, furniture, clothing and jewelry, but his tombs were near the bottom of the valley and were quickly covered by blowing sand. So, it laid that way for many centuries until 1922.
Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter and created quite the media frenzy. This find was definitely the most famous in the history of Egyptology and suddenly Tutankhamun became one of the best-known pharaohs. Some artifacts from his tomb, such as his golden funerary mask, are among the best-known artworks from ancient Egypt. Most of the tomb's goods were sent to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, although Tutankhamun's mummy and sarcophagus are still on display in the tomb.
We finish touring today with the Temple of Hatshepsut. This is an amazing place cut out of the side of a mountain (see the photos). It is opposite the city of Luxor and is certainly a masterpiece of ancient architecture.
Tonight, for dinner, we dine outside on the upper deck on the ship. We thought we would be sailing while dining, but instead we were stopped waiting to get through a lock on the river. Before dinner was served, we heard some yelling from down below in the water. When we looked overboard, we saw locals in row boats holding up tablecloths, scarves, and local attire trying to get our attention to sell to us.
We were four decks up and wondering how they planned on delivering any goods to us to look at when they suddenly started to throw the items up in plastic bags (and they had good arms and aim). So, the procedure is to haggle with them for a price until you agree and then they send a second weighted bag up for you to put the money in to throw back down to them. Well, this turned into a big party with us shouting out our offers and them replying until we finally bought some stuff from them. (I bought a tablecloth with twelve napkins).