Egypt – the ancient land of legendary pharaohs and queens with eyes the color of coal, hieroglyphic-covered temples, tombs of rulers past, world-renowned pyramids and the mystic Nile River. With the staccato-like sound of Arabic syllables filling up the smoggy air, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve stepped back in time when visiting this intriguing, millennia-old country.
Egypt has some of the oldest and most significant historical monuments in the world, many of which have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. This photographic journey aims at giving you a glimpse of ancient Egyptian history.
ABU SIMBEL TEMPLES (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
Dating back to the 13th Century B.C.E, these twin temples carved out of massive rocks were not only built to commemorate the victory of Pharaoh Ramesses II‘s of the battle of Kadesh but also to honor himself (#vanity) and his beloved queen Nefertari. In 1968, the temples were relocated from their original site to allow for the construction of the artificial Lake Nasser.
THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZA (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
Possibly the most worldwide-known monuments, this complex consists of three pyramids known as the Great Pyramids – each is a funerary structure housing the tombs of one of three kings namely Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu.
THE GREAT SPHINX OF GIZA (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
This limestone statue commonly known as the Sphinx is a mythical creature made up of the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh or king. The significance of the Sphinx is highly debated; some researchers claim it was built to protect the entirety of the Giza Plateau while others believe it’s a portrait of King Khafre (who’s tomb/pyramid can be seen in alignment) possibly symbolizing his strength and power .
THE STEP PYRAMID OF SAQQARA (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
Built in the span of 20 years from 2670-2650 BCE, this unusually-shaped pyramid houses the burial tomb of King Djoser. In proximity to the pyramid is a series of chapels which are believed to have been used to perform rituals.
PHILAE TEMPLE (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
Located on the banks of Lake Nasser, this stunning, multi-structure temple was erected in honor of the goddess Isis – who was given the prestigious titles of giver of life, healer and protector of kings. Many impressive reliefs illustrating stories past can be seen on the exterior walls. Once inside the complex, history buffs are greeted by a stately row of beautiful differently carved ornate colonnades each covered in numerous reliefs as well – a true testament to the exuberance of ancient Egypt.
TEMPLE OF HORUS (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
This cult temple, dedicated to the mythological falcon god Horus son of Isis, hugs the shores of the slow-flowing Nile River. It’s considered to be one of the best-preserved monuments found in Egypt.
Befitting of a god, the name Horus translates to “the one far above” – a clear indication of his superiority and importance above all other gods worshiped in ancient Egypt.
TEMPLE OF QUEEN HATSHEPSUT
Located opposite the city of Luxor, the temple of Queen Hatshepsut was built in her honor and also serves as a mortuary complex. Precariously carved in a stone cliff, its construction is evidence of ancient Egypt’s advanced architectural knowledge. The delicate, detailed paintings on the stone walls serve as pictorial documentations depicting scenes from everyday life.
LUXOR TEMPLE (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
Luxor Temple was founded in 1400 BCE and stands out from other monuments with its 52 columns topped with carved-out papyrus flowers thought to represent life itself; these immense stone columns were also believed to support the sky. At the gateway sits two massive statues of Ramesses II defiantly guarding the temple.
KARNAK TEMPLE (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
Only second to Angkor Wat as being the largest ancient religious site in the world, the Karnak Temple is home to a series of statues sculpted into magnificent, stoic rams. These robust animals were venerated by the ancient Egyptians for their fertility and warlike characteristics.
Despite their prominent presence, the purpose of this temple was to honor three sacred gods: Montu – a local warrior god, Amun – the chief god of Thebes and his wife Mut.
DECIPHERING A FEW HIEROGLYPHICS AND RELIEFS
The ankh is often etched on monuments and is believed to have represented life.
Scarabs – these odd-looking beetle-like insects were a symbol of eternal life and rebirth and were worshiped by the ancient Egyptians.
These reliefs of various medical tools and plump (pregnant?) women sitting knees-bent are believed to reveal how women gave birth in ancient Egypt.
Reliefs of one-armed men served as a warning to enemies who contemplated attacking the reigning king and his people. If caught, the enemies would be obliged to succumb to total submission. In other words, the message that was conveyed was that enemies had no chance of winning a battle.
The relief below clearly depicts the many African slaves who were taken from their homelands to then be brutally forced to build some of the monuments still standing today.
Wanting to annihilate ancient Egypt’s mythical gods and beliefs, Christians proceeded in leaving their mark, literally, by inscribing their crosses on some structures……
….while completely destroying others by morphing them into crosses.
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Have you visited the ancient monuments of Egypt?