Abydos & Dendara

 

On Sunday morning, November 12, we met with our tour guide, Emam, for the three hour drive to Abydos. For safety reasons tourists travelling overland have to travel in police-escorted convoys. Our convoy consisted of about seven buses and twelve mini-vans with armed guards at the front and rear of the convoy. At every major crossroads, armed soldiers were highly visible. Armed guards where also scattered on the road throughout the route.

Abydos

Abydos lies on the West Bank of the Nile, about 90 miles north of Luxor. The site became a cult center for Osiris during the Middle Kingdom, when a tomb was identified as the "burial site of the god Osiris". It was here that the Egyptians believed that Isis found the last part of Osiris's dismembered body and restored him to life. This emphasis upon Osiris caused the city to become a pilgrimage site for the early Egyptians.
The mortuary temple of Seti I (1294-1279 B.C.), constructed by him and his son Ramses II, looks somewhat unimpressive from the outside, but the interior of this temple, with its beautifully painted walls, is in the best condition of anything we saw in Egypt. The temple also contains the "Table of Abydos"; a chronological list showing cartouche names of every dynastic pharaoh of Egypt from the first, Narmer/Menes, until the pharaohs of the last dynasty. The Table of Abydos has been called the "Rosetta Stone" of Egyptian archaeology.

Dendara

Our next stop with the convoy was Dendara and the Temple of Hathor. We entered the temple complex through the huge Roman gateway. Dendara is one of several temples in Egypt that was built by the Ptolemies in an effort to show their dedication to the main Egyptian gods.
With the exception of the supporting pillars, which had capitals sculpted in the image of Hathor and were defaced by the Christians, the walls, rooms and roof of this Temple are complete and well preserved. The stone steps of the spiral staircase are time worn but still used to ascend to the roof, where there is a small chapel decorated with Hathor-headed columns. This is the only temple we visited where visitors were allowed on the roof of the structure.
On an outside Temple wall is a relief of Cleopatra with her son, Caesarian.

At the end of the tour, our convoy headed back to Luxor.