Monday, April 06, 2009
Wast (Thebes to Greeks, Luxor now) was the center of the Middle and New kingdoms (2000 BC to about 600BC). Because it was the center of Egypt for so long, it has lots of history.
Karnak Temple is massive--built over a 1300 year period, over 100 acres. Lots of restoration has happened, lots is still going on.
Luxor temple: Contrary to the architecture of Las Vegas, the temple of Luxor has no pyramids. Had a chance to talk to an archialogist from Chicago House (Univeristy of Chicago) working on some restoration. He has been working on it for three years had has been able to see noticable deterioration of the temple over that short time. It is mainly caused by irrigation of sourounding farm land. This has raised the water table--the water is absorbed by the sandstone blocks that are the temple's main structure--the water causes deteriation to the carving. He said the good news is that a de-watering system has been installed at both Luxor and Karnak to lower the water table and this seems to be helping.
Another temple (on the west side of the river--Luxor is on the east bank) is Harshepsut. This temple (built around 14oo BC is very different than the others--a series of raising plazas with colonades. It looks more Greek than Egyptian but it was built around 1500 years before Alexander came to Egypt. It is actually patterned on a temple built around 2000 BC in the same area.
Archiological work on this temple is being done by the Polish-Egyptian Acrchaeological Mission-- The Egyptian government and Warsaw University. It seams that at every site, there is archaeology work being done. Always with the Egyption Department of Antiquities and a foreign partner.