Sunday, January 3, 2010

Egypt (Day Seven)

Day Seven - Aswan
We started the day with a trip to the Unfinished Obelisk. This obelisk was partially carved out of granite thousands of years ago. While carving it, the granite cracked and the project was abandoned. If it had been completed, it would have been the largest obelisk in Egypt at 120 feet tall.
It was incredible to see that carving marks in the granite remain after all these years.

Next, we went to the Aswan dam. This dam was built progressively from 1898 to 1960 in an effort to control the flooding of the Nile. In the end, there are two dams that now form Lake Nasser, the largest reservoir in the world. The Egyptian economy depended on having the Nile flow controlled. Therefore, it was more important to created the lake than to deal with the problems it would cause. Several ancient sites were flooded as the lake filled with water.
One of the sites that was flooded was the Philae Temple. We took this little boat out to see it.
This is the Philae temple. It was completely flooded by Lake Nasser. In 1960, UNESCO funded the project to move this temple. They built a dam around the temple, drained the water, disassembled the temple, and then moved it to a nearby island in the exact same orientation it was originally built.

When the temple was underwater, sand had partially covered it. The dark line in the picture above shows the waterline.
Overall, the temple is in surprisingly good condition.

Most of the hieroglyphs are in excellent condition.
After the temple, we went on a Felucca ride. A Felucca is a traditional sailboat that has been used on the Nile for a long time.

Our "Captin" had this sweet "welcam" painted on his boat.
The Felucca took us to an island on the Nile that is a botanical garden. It was so nice to see some vegetation! This garden island is heavily watered and provided a nice place to escape from the desert heat.


Amy said...

I love the old school sail boat - i bet you guys were the professionals there :) call me to hang out!

Cheryl and William said...

The temple is SO INCREDIBLE! I am sure it was even more spectacular in person!

Kristin said...

Amazing, amazing, amazing. I can't wrap my mind around the fact that you guys were actually there! (And, P.S. I remember when we studied Egypt in 6th grade and obelisk was one of my spelling words...) ;)