Last Saturday, six of the team and two Roots volunteers, Elliot and Thomas, sprung out of bed at 4:30AM and began their bumpy bus journey to the city of Luxor, four hours West of El Quesir on the banks of the Nile.
We kicked off the day at the magnificent Valley of the Kings, where we met our expert tour guide Mahmoud, who took us to see three tombs: Ramesses IX, Merenptah and Ramesses IV.
Each tomb was striking in its own way, but the team were particularly taken by the tomb of Ramesses IX, who ruled Egypt for 18 years and is believed to be the grandson of the great Pharaoh Ramesses III. We made our way down a long corridor decorated with hieroglyphics dating from 1111BC, which had remarkably kept their bright colours despite being over 3000 years old. Although there was no sarcophagus in this tomb, the burial room was ornately decorated with symbols of the goddess Nut, and depictions of the traditional mummifying process, including the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony. The team then visited a traditional Egyptian Alabaster workshop where we learnt about alabaster masonry and had a chance to buy some unique souvenirs for our friends and family back home.
After a memorable morning, the team hopped back on the bus and travelled to the Temple of Hatshetsup. The collection of three temples was unearthed by Polish archaeologists in the 19th century. Hatshepsut became Queen of Egypt when she married Thutmose II, but later took on the full powers of a Pharaoh in 1473BC. Despite being a woman, she ruled the whole of Egypt for 15 years and often was portrayed as a male Pharaoh, being buried alongside her father Thutmose I in the Valley of the Kings. Set into a vast cliff-face on the edge of Luxor, this temple proved an impressive sight for the team.
Next up was a quick stop at the Colossi of Memnon, the two largest statues in Luxor. Towering at over 18 metres, these two figures have stood for over 3400 years, and were a great photo opportunity for the team.
To cool down, we saw Luxor from a different perspective on the waters of the River Nile. The relaxing boat ride opened our eyes to the lush greenery that borders the river, and that there’s more to Egypt than the dusty desert. Some local fruit refreshed the team for the final stop of the day: Karnak Temple.
Mahmoud had saved the best till last, as the team was blown away by the wonder that is Karnak. The highlight of Karnak was Hypostyle Hall, the largest religious hall in the world. With 134 columns adorned with hieroglyphs, the largest being 21 metres, this truly incredible sight was the perfect way to round off the day.
After an unforgettable trip, the team headed back to Roots, with an even bigger appreciation for Egyptian history. The day out to Luxor certainly will be a highlight of the expedition!
The team would like to thank our amazing tour guide Mahmoud and Roots employee Mohammed for getting us safely to and from Luxor.