Africa

Excursion to Abydos and Dendera from Luxor

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That day we had booked an excursion with the hotel to visit the temples of Abydos and Dendera. They are off the tourist route and are the best preserved in Egypt. We left after breakfast at 7.30 and first we went to Abydos, which is further from Luxor than Dendera (about two and a half hours from Luxor). We were both alone in a van with a driver and an Egyptologist. Abydos and Dendera are in a little tourist area, so we had to stop at several police checks to verify that the guide had the relevant permits.

Alí teaching us to read the Ramses II cartridge.

In Abydos is the temple of Seti I, dedicated to the gods Osiris, Isis, Horus, Amun-Ra, Ra-Horajty and Ptah. It is one of the best preserved and most famous temples in its time because it was said that the most important relic of Osiris was guarded here: its head. But to understand the meaning of this, I will first give you a brief explanation of the myth of Osiris, represented in almost every temple in Egypt.

The god Ra-Horajty giving the power symbol to the pharaoh

The myth of Osiris and Isis

Since we begin with the temples of worship, it is important to know a little about the mythology of the Egyptian gods, since all the reliefs tell mythological stories. The most important story is that of Osiris (god from beyond). Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys were brothers. Osiris married Isis and Set with Nephthys. Set was jealous of Osiris because his brother reigned in the fertile lands and he deserted them, so he drew up a plan to liquidate him. One day it is seen that Set measured the shadow of his brother without him noticing and made a sarcophagus of gold and precious stones of his measure. During a dinner in which Osiris was present, Set announced that he would give the fantastic sarcophagus to anyone who fits perfectly into it. One by one the guests entered, who obviously did not fit, until in the end Osiris, for not making an ugly, entered, and of course, it was going perfectly. At that time Set and his henchmen closed the sarcophagus and threw it into the Nile. Isis, alerted to the subject, went in search of the sarcophagus to give a dignified burial to the king of Egypt. Once he recovered his body, he revived Osiris and became pregnant with him and gave birth to Horus. Set did not give up, killed Osiris again, dismembered the body in 14 parts and spread them throughout Egypt. Isis searched all the parts and buried them where he found them and there they ended up creating temples where they were venerated and guarded. Over time, Isis was eating Horus's head to avenge his father and finally he killed Set, even in battle he lost an eye. Eye whose representation in Egypt is an amulet against bad luck.

A halo of mysticism is breathed in Abydos.

Returning to the temple of Seti I in Abydos: upon arrival, our guide Ali explained to us the part of the legend of Horus and how a cartridge was read. The cartridges are the inscriptions where the name of the pharaoh is written. In the cartridges you could only write the name of this one and you usually find them everywhere in the temples, as a signature of who ordered it to be built. The temple has 6 sanctuaries, two hypostyle rooms and retains the ceiling throughout the premises. Moreover, since there is almost no one, it gives him even more an aura of mysticism. Aura who raised points when I saw two women (Westerners) meditating stretched out on the floor with a burning incense stick by her side.

One of the chapels of the temple of Seti I in Abydos

One of the mysteries of Abydos. What forms do you think these hieroglyphics represent?

Upon leaving Abydos we returned to the van and went to visit the Hator temple in Dendera. Hator was the goddess of music, dance and fertility and the Romans identified her with Venus. What impresses most when arriving at the temple is that the capitals of the first hypostyle hall reproduce the face of the goddess Hator. All the capitals have their faces erased and that's what the critics did. At the beginning of Christianity they hid in remote temples, where they could live and defend themselves. As the reliefs of the temples represented pagan gods, they were dedicated to erase all the representations that were there, so many temples have many chopped reliefs.

Temple of Hator in Dendera

The temple is from the tolemaic era, so it is not as old as others in Egypt. Apart from preserving the roof, it also retains the second floor, where there is a replica of a relief of the zodiac signs (the original is in the Louvre). To access the second floor, you can climb a ladder that turns 90 degrees or another that is almost a long straight ramp. The best thing about this temple is that the Christians did not discover the underground crypts and are intact. You can only enter one and you have to go down a very steep staircase and get into the Indiana Jones plan through a very narrow opening. There await, the intrepid adventurer, incredible and strange reliefs.

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