Journal: Sunday 8 October 2000
Another day indoors, but at least today I’ve felt well enough to work on my notes and do some studying, so it wasn’t such a waste of time. More importantly I have been able to drink litres of water with no ill effects. The magic pills seem to be doing their job!
Jenny has been out horse riding in the desert for most of the day and came back with hilarious stories of being attacked by packs of wild dogs and accosted by gangs of wild children from the villages. We had a good laugh about it but I’m sure the dogs at least couldn’t have been very pleasant at the time, snapping and yowling at the heels of her horse. By late afternoon I was actually feeling hungry so Jenny and I went to the Rameses Cafe for an early dinner. Lentil soup for me – one of my favourite Egyptian dishes at any time and with plenty of lemon juice squeezed into it, it should be good for my stomach. Still feeling OK an hour later I decided I would risk venturing over the river with Jenny to Luxor Temple.
Luxor Temple is one of my favourite places to go in the evening as it stays open until 9.00pm and is floodlit. There are reliefs that will show up under the lights that are sometimes almost invisible by day and the whole atmosphere is very different. In Egypt, darkness comes around 6.00pm most of the year round, so there is plenty of time for a stroll around the temple. With a tripod and fast film in my camera I headed for the ‘Birth Room’ where, on the west wall, there are scenes of the birth of Amenhotep III. The reliefs show the gods Amun-re and Hathor with Amenhotep’s mother Queen Mutemwiya as she embraces her husband Tuthmose IV. Then she is held aloft by the goddesses Selket and Nieth – this is one of the scenes that is badly damaged and almost invisible in daylight. The story unfolds along the wall with the Queen being led to the birth chamber by Khnum and Hathor, where she delivers the baby while seated on a block throne. Khnum has fashioned the ka of the future Amenhotep III on his potter’s wheel and the baby with his ka are then presented to Amun-re by the mother goddesses Hathor and Mut. The baby’s mother Mutemwiya watches while the young prince is suckled by thirteen goddesses, two of which are in the form of cows. He is then presented to many other deities. This relief was carved as proof of the King’s divine birth and his legitimate claim to the throne of Egypt, much the same as Queen Hatshepsut before him, laid claim to the throne in her reliefs at Deir el-Bahri.
Walking back through the temple to the Court of Rameses II, I paused to admire the colossal statues of the King and the one remaining obelisk outside the First Pylon, beautifully lit against the dark blue starry sky.