Egypt Tour 2:
Southern (Upper) Egypt

A Suitably Salty Song

The South

This tour comes next because under the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom, kings often used Thebes, "the city of the chariots" as their capital and during the remainder of the time, it often served as their royal burial place.

However, this tour ends at Memphis after a bit of a river journey. Besides giving you some time to see the South, it gives me the chance to make some really dreadful puns and jokes about the south, the river, etc.

Until the Middle Kingdom, Egypt didn't venture much into Africa. With the Middle Kingdom, they extended their rule through conquest, trade, and colonization until today's northern Sudanese became effectively "Egyptianized." By its turn, Aswan served as border post, colonial capital, and trade depot. Ideally, a tour should follow the path from Thebes, the central city of the Upper Kingdom and go south, their path. Unfortunately, the river goes in the direction. Rather than "fighting the current," this tour starts as Aswan and moves north.

Aswan and Environs

Until recently, a set of rapids, the "First Cataract," formed a barrior to southern Egyptian expansion. Eventually, the Egyptians moved into the south. Sucessive dynasties built upon Aswan as their trade and command center. At the cities height, during the New Dynasty, the local governor enjoy equal status with the viceroys of Upper and Lower Egypt.

When the Egyptian moved down south, they conquered the local African peoples, known aas "Nubians." The Nubians learned from the Egyptians. Eventually, from their capital at Meroe, in present-day Northern Sudan, they struck for their freedom and then invaded and conquered Egypt. Unfortunately, their sucessive went to their heads, and they attacked the Assyrians, who drove them back out of Egypt. Their city at Meroe outlasted the Egyptians.

When Nasser became president of Egypt, after a coup, he decided to build a massive dam on the Nile. A very controversial project, to say the least, the finished dam did give the Egyptian real control over the Nile's flooding as well as generating electricity. It also created Lake Nasser.

As a consequence, the ancient land of Nubia lies under water. The Egyptian government resettled the population within Egypt. The Nubians and Upper Egyptians look far more African than do the peoples of the north, due to long generation of migration and intermarriage. The World Bank raised funds to try to move some of the monuments threatened by the creation of Lake Nasser.

Elephantine: the original Aswan settlement

Possibly these boulders gave the island its name.

Ruins of various dynasties.

This would've been the world's largest monolith, but it cracked in construction.

A view from a felucca, popular river transport then and now.

The newly opened Nubian Musuem.

Another view

The Philae Temple, relocated after the building of Aswan Dam.

It says "please don't feed the crocodiles."

A view of Lake Nasser from behind the Aswan Dam.

Perhaps King Farouk didn't care, but Nasser gave a dam.

Another view of the river near Aswan.

Yet another view. Note the expensive hotel under construction on Elephantine.

Amir Khan's tomb.

Cruising on the Nile

Click me

Unless you really love the desert and scorpions, you can view most of Egypt's sites with a leisurely cruise up the Nile. The Egyptian boats look distinctly river oriented, with flat sterns. They follow a tradition as old as Egypt itself. In pharoanic times, however, the trip upstream required considerably more effort than downstream. Let's cruise along awhile.

The boat! The boat!

It's a nice view if you can afford it.

The Kombi Temple celebrates Horus and Sobek, two totally unrelated gods.

Another view.


Edifu: Yet another temple of Horus.

Symbol for Horus and resurrection, the bird is the word.

Would you want this on your mantelpiece?

Modern Edifu, a fairly average Egyptian river town.

If you jump, I jumped.

Old Man River. He just keeps rolling along.

Related Eyptian Tours:
Back to Tour 1: The Sakkara and Memphis
On to Tour 3: Luxor, Karnak, and Memphis

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