Text Box: Text Box: EXCEPTIONAL EGYPT

ASWAN

The northern hills of the west bank (Qubbet el-Hawwa or Qubbet el-Hawa meaning windy dome) are filled with the rock-hewn tombs of princes from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period. The 6th Dynasty tombs, some of which form linked family complexes, contain important biographical texts. Inside, the tombs are decorated with vivid wall paintings showing scenes of everyday life, hieroglyphic biographies and inscriptions telling of the noblemen's journeys into Africa

This is the Mausoleum of the spiritual leader of the Ismailis, a Shi'ite sect (as were the Fatimid) based principally in India but with followers around the world. It is a very elegant pink granite structure of late 1950 origin, which also resembles the Fatimid tombs in Cairo. Members of this sect consider themselves to be the direct spiritual descendants of the Fatimid. The Mausoleum has an excellent view, including Aga Khan's white villa below, and is near the Monastery of St. Simeons on the west bank at Aswan. His Begum, or wife, still lives in the villa three months of the year.

The Aga Khan was extremely wealthy. On his birthday in 1945, he was weighed in diamonds which he then distributed to his followers. It should be noted, also, that he was a large man. Every day that his widow was at the Villa, she places a Red Rose on his white Carrara marble tomb. His widow, Omme Habibeh, popularly referred to as "The Begum" died on July 1st, 2000. The other months, a gardener fills this function, and it has been rumored that at one point, not a single rose could be found in Egypt, so for almost a week, roses were flown in from Paris by private jet.

Mohammed Shah Aga Khan was educated in Europe and succeeded his father in 1885 to become the 48th imam. He was succeeded by his grandson, Karim AGa Khan upon his death in 1957.

The Mausoleum is no longer open to the public.

Much of the red granite used for ancient temples and colossi came from quarries in the Aswan area. Around these quarries are many inscriptions, many of which describe successful quarrying projects. The Unfinished Obelisk located in the Northern Quarry still lies where a crack was discovered as it was being hewn from the rock. Possibly intended as a companion to the Lateran Obelisk, originally at Karnak but now in Rome, it would have weighed over 2.3 million pounds and would have been the worlds largest piece of stone ever handled. However, a crack in the stone occurred, which caused it to be abandoned. Tools left by it's builders have given us much insight into how such work was performed. The site has recently been renovated and equipped with tourist facilities. Nearby is the Fatimid Cemetery

Elephantine Island is the largest of the Aswan area islands, and is one of the most ancient sites in Egypt, with artifacts dating to predynastic periods. This is probably due to its location at the first Cataract of the Nile, which provided a natural boundary between Egypt and Nubia. As an island, it was also easily defensible. In fact, the ancient town located in the southern part of the island was also a fortress through much of it's history. At one time, there was a bridge from the mainland to the island.

Elephantine is Greek for elephant. In ancient times, the Island, as well as the southern town, was called Abu, or Yabu, which also meant elephant. The town has also been referenced as Kom, after it's principle god of the island, Khnum (Khnemu). It is believed that the island received it's name because it was a major ivory trading center, though in fact, it was a major trading post of many commodities. There are large boulders in the river near the island which resembled bathing elephants, particularly from afar, and this too has been suggested as a reason for the island's name.

The island is very beautiful, and while many of the artifacts there are in ruin, there is still considerable to see. One of it's main attractions is it's Nilometer, which is one of only three on the Nile, which was used to measure the water level of the Nile as late as the nineteenth century. There has been an ongoing excavation at the town for many years by the German Archaeological Institute, and some of the finds along with many other island artifacts, including a mummified ram of Khnum, are located in the Elephantine Museum. Another major attraction is the ruins of the Temple of Khnum. Elephantine Island was considered to be home of this important Egyptian god, and while this structure dates back to the Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, there are references to a Temple of Khnum on the island as early as the 3rd Dynasty. There are also ruins of a Temple of Satet, who was Khnum's female counterpart (the three local deities were foremost Khnum, but also Satet and a local Nubian goddess Anqet. These gods were worshipped here since the earliest dynasties), also build by Queen Hatshepsut, a shrine to Hekayib from the 6th Dynasty, a local governor who was deified after his death. His cult flourished during the middle kingdom, and some fine statues from the shrine are now in the museum. You will also find a 3rd Dynasty granite step pyramid which is now just visible, and to the north, the mud-brick vaults of the late period which housed the bodies of the royal rams. On the south end of the island is a small one room Ptolemaic temple which was constructed from materials removed from the Kalabsha Temple. Here, there are decorations attributed to the Nubian Pharaoh Arkamani from the 3rd century BC The building seems to have been finished by the Romans with reference to Caesar Augustus.

Nile in ASWANThe unfinished Obelisk

 

High dam,the unfinished obelisk, Philae temple, Elephantine island,Kitchener island,Botanical garden,granite quarries,Nubian homes,spice market,Cataracts, tombs of  ancientAswan governers,