Aswan – Nile River Cruise
This morning we arrived at Aswan, Egypt’s southern-most city. Our first excursion for the morning was a trip to the Unfinished Obelisk. This semi-finished obelisk dates back to the New Kingdom and had it been finished, it would have weighed 1.8 million kgs and stood 41 m high. A flaw was discovered in the stone after three sides of the shaft were quarried. We all stood around and puzzled at how this gigantic rock would have been moved to the river and then transported up river. Mohammed provided an explanation that sounded very easy in words, but I’m sure the execution of which would have cost many injuries and lives. Even with today’s machinery and techniques, it seemed a mammoth task.
Next we were transported to a jetty where our motorized boat was waiting to take us to Philae Island. Along the wharf many nubian traders were selling their handicraft. On arrival at Philae Island, the Cafeteria sign welcomes you and pledges to serve you ‘whatever you want’. Philae was an important place of pilgrimage for the worshippers. It is believed that from this island Isis watched over the sacred island of Biga, one of the mythical burial sites of her husband Osiris. The rows of well-preserved colonnade leads to the Temple of Isis.
As we wondered around, we came across an entrance with some steep steps descending into the river. This turned out to be a Nilometer. The walls were calibrated to record the level of water of the annual floods which in turn predicted what the crop yield of the following year would be. The Nilometer dates back to Pharaonic times. With the construction of the Aswan dam, the flow of the Nile is able to be regulated and hence Nilometers no longer serve any use.
Our next stop was the Aswan High Dam. We stopped briefly at the eastern end where there is a visitors’ pavilion and we were able to get off the coach and read details of the dam construction. The Egyptians are very proud of their dam and at the time of its construction it was the largest in the world. These days there’s high security at the Dam and photography is forbidden.