After an intensive morning of touring (from 6am to nearly 1pm) on Saturday, our second day in Luxor, we spent much of the day exhausted. All before lunch we squeezed in seven hours of extensive touring; we visited the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Temple of Ramses II (or Ramesseum), and an Alabaster Factory. The colors, the details, the history, and even the sheer scale of the places we visited impressed us, but for me, the day’s highlight came after the sun set.
We set out for the Luxor Temple at 4pm, just after our lunch break. This timing allowed us the opportunity to both see the site by daylight as well as observe its transformation into a glowing display of the past. In general, seeing the pyramids, temples, and tombs of ancient Egypt is impressive, but after five of their kind in a single day, and twelve in a week, these experiences begin to blur together and lose their impact. Saturday night, however, as the sun settled over the horizon, and the Luxor Temple shone ever more increasingly against a backdrop of black and blue, I found my breath catching and remembering that an overwhelming abundance of antiquity in Egypt does not make it any less awe-inspiring. In some ways this night-time tour offered a perspective that the Ancient Egyptians never would have experienced. Yet for me, this altered reality enabled an intense appreciation to settle over me. This outstanding vision, an array of radiant yellows under the heat of electric lamps, seemed to me to capture what I’ve struggled to articulate and cling to over the last few days – an intense, modern admiration for the splendor, and even the most basic existence and persistence, of days and people long, long gone by.