Monday, June 6, 2011

A visit to Dendera and my secret life as Amelia Peabody

Hello, dear readers. When last I left you, I believe I was in the middle of creating my layouts about our visit to the town and temple of Dendera. We docked at Dendera in the night. There was a club, or bar, near our berth, and I could hear music coming from it late into the night. Our guide told us that the region was well known for its bananas, which are slightly smaller than the version that we have here in the US. I'm afraid I don't remember whether we actually ate any of the bananas, or how the taste compared to what we were used to.

The next morning, we debarked and boarded a bus for the temple. Although there has been a temple on this site for far longer, the current structure dates from the Greco-Roman period. Here's my temple layout:

As you can see, the temple is set in a fairly open space. The woman at the top of all of the columns is the goddess Hathor. Her face, along with most of the faces on all the carvings in this temple (and most of the other temples we visited), has been chiseled away, either by Christians or Muslims trying to eradicate worship of the ancient gods. I didn't include a photo that shows this in my layout, but much of the interior of the great hall was blackened from the soot of campfires from visitors once the temple fell into disuse as a place of worship. At the top of the right-hand page, you can see a photo of the temple ceiling, with original paint still plainly visible. The sky was covered in stars to imitate the night sky. Isn't it beautiful?

I put my journaling about our visit to the temple in the little pink envelope tucked under the photos of the Hathor columns:

I also added two of my favorite elements for a layout: glimmer misting and a flower and button cluster:

I should explain a little bit about what it was like to visit any of the temples in Egypt. It was hot anywhere you went, but as long as you were out in the open air, you would have a breeze. The air was never still. However, if you went into an enclosed space, there was simply no circulation, and the heat would become stifling. Add in the humidity of a few dozen tourists' breath, and MAYBE you can imagine how uncomfortable some of these temple interiors could be. I do not consider myself to be a heavy sweater, but in places like the Dendera crypt, the Valley of the Kings, and Abu Simbel, the back of my linen shirts would positively wet. Ugh.

Returning to our tour of Dendera temple, we made our way into the interior of the Dendera temple, where our guide Mohammed offered us the opportunity to climb into the crypt and view some artwork that vandals never discovered. One of the temple guards lifted the hatch to a hole in the ground and we descended a steep ladder down into the ground. Then we crawled through a low, narrow hole in the wall and found ourselves in a long hallway, covered in carvings, with a ceiling only about 6 1/2 feet tall. No air moved down there, so we were drenched in sweat. And the exit route was one-way, meaning people had to stop coming down before you could come back out. Stuffy and claustrophobic, and one of the funnest things I did during the trip! Why? Well because it fit in with my fantasy that I was reliving the adventures of Amelia Peabody!

If you have never read about Miss Peabody, you really should. She is the heroine of a series of mystery novels set in early 20th century Egypt, during the height of the most romanticized period of Egyptian archaeology. The novels are written by Elizabeth Peters, and are always about the adventures of Amelia and her growing family as they search for ancient treasure and defeat the bad guy that threatens them. I've been reading these novels since I was in middle school, and they have been one of the big reasons that I was so anxious to visit Egypt in the first place. Amelia Peabody has a great love for crawling into low, dank underground spots to search for mummies, so the crypt in Dendera temple was the perfect place to wax a little nostalgic about my fictional heroine. And to make things even more delicious, consider this: Amelia's leading man is a tall, strong man, with a bit of a temper... just like my Alton! Hee hee. I don't think I even tried to explain to him that he was my Emerson on this vacation, but he really was. Swoon! Anyway, here's my layout about the crypt. The arrow is pointing straight to the hole we had to crawl through:

If you look up above the yellow paper where the title is, you may see some other papers poking out. Those are holding three photos that I tucked behind the paper because I wanted to include them without taking the focus away from that little hole we had to crawl through. There is a photo of Alton, who is looking rather creepy and mummy-like in the dim light, a photo of some of the pristine carvings, and finally, a photo of my foot, which I scraped up a bit crawling around underground:

The city of Dendera itself was filled with beautiful works of art. I took photos of some of it from the bus, and we actually stopped to snap photos of a few of the mosaics outside of the bus. The round mosaic you see here is the Egyptian zodiac. This mosaic is inspired by the zodiac carved in the upper reaches of Dendera temple. The long woman stretching across the lower photo is the goddess Mut, and her body is the sky, stretching above the earth.

On the home front, I know I keep promising more photos of my sampler. And one of these days, it's actually going to happen, I swear! Meanwhile, progress is being made. I had to take a little time off today over the lunch hour to meet up with the a/c guys at my apartment. This place has never been very good at keeping up when the temperatures soar, and with so many 90 plus days already this year, it's just exhausting to think of dealing with an overheated apartment all summer long. I can't tell yet whether things are really fixed, but it definitely seems better now that they've paid their visit. Here's Spike testing one of the living room vents to see if things have improved:

I told her it might actually be cooler if she didn't sit on top of the vent. She ignored me, of course. I hope everyone else is staying cool and getting lots of creative time. Til we meet again!


Chris said...

HI Robin,
I love reading about your trip. The layouts are great.

I think Spike has the right idea!

Tammy said...

You are making lots of progress on your trip layouts! It is fun to read about your journey. I've never heard of the books you mentioned so I'll check them out. Although I've not had a lot of time to read and I have a stack of books a mile long to read. But I can always add a few! Love the cat laying on the vent. :)

Amy said...

I want to visit Egypt some day and you just made me even more excited! Love the layouts and reading about your journey! Thanks for sharing!