River Nile Attractions Bahr el-Nil
The Nile is the longest river in Africa and, after the Mississipi-Missouri river system, the longest watercourse in the world. Garnering great masses of water from the Ethiopian Highlands and rain-rich tropics, it traverses the very different world of the northeast African desert plateau to end in the Mediterranean after a course of 4,145mi/6,671km. In striking contrast to the green valley bottom are the yellow and reddish scarps of the desert plateau through which the river has carved a passage: and along the verges of the plateau stand the temples and pyramids which bear witness to an age-old culture.
The Pyramid of Meidum was begun in the third Dynasty and completed in the fourth Dynasty. Its exact purpose has never been determined but it was never used as a burial place.
At El-Hammamiya, on the edge of the desert, are three rock tombs (reliefs) of high officials of the early fifth Dynasty. Some 1.25mi/2km southeast of this are large rock tombs, laid out on terraces, belonging to Princes of the 10th (Aphroditopolitan) nome of Upper Egypt (Middle Kingdom) and the extensive necropolis of Antaeopolis, with tombs of the Late Period. A short distance away are quarries with demotic inscriptions and two curious painted figures of the god Antaeus and the goddess Nephthys. The name Qaw is derived from the ancient Egyptian Tu-kow (Coptic Tkow); the Greeks called the town Antaeopolis, after a local god whom they equated with Antaeus. According to the myth Antaeus was a Libyan King celebrated for his physical strength who challenged all visitors to his kingdom to wrestle with him and after defeating them killed them and used their skulls to build a temple to his father Poseidon; he was finally defeated and slain by Heracies. According to Diodorus this was the scene of the decisive struggle between Horus and Seth. In Roman times Antaeopolis was capital of the Antaeopolitan nome. The last remains of a Temple of Antaeus built by Ptolemy Philometor and rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus in A.D. 164 were swept away by the Nile in 1821.
El-Daba (east bank of the Nile). North of the railroad station, near some large quarries in the hills of the Eastern Desert, are the tombs of Qasr el-Sayyad (ancient Chenoboscion), belonging to Princes of the seventh nome of Upper Egypt under the Sixth Dynasty. The Tomb of Tjawit consists of two chambers, the walls between which have almost completely disappeared; the barrel vaulted roof, hewn from the rock, has survived intact. The tomb has much damaged reliefs (boats, men bearing offerings, etc.). To the south is the Tomb of Idu, consisting of a single transverse chamber. Here, too, little is left of the inscriptions and reliefs (the dead man going after wildfowl, offering scenes, etc.). Inscriptions in the tomb chambers show that they were occupied by monks during the Early Christian period.
Daraw (east bank of the Nile), a large village which was once a famous camel market on the route from Egypt to the Sudan. On the west bank, near Rakaba, are the remains of ancient Contra-Ombos. Beyond this, still on the west bank, is the village of El-Kubaniya, near which are early Egyptian cemeteries. Then (east bank of the Nile) Gebel el-Hammam, with quarries which provided stone during the reign of Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty) for the older Temple of Ombos of which nothing now remains.
On the east bank of the Nile, some 3mi/5km above El-Fashn, is the village of El-Hiba, nestling amid palms, with the remains of the Greek city of Ancyronpolis. The well preserved town walls, several yards thick, date from the 21st Dynasty. Within the walls, among the palms, are the remains of a Temple of Amun built by Sheshonq I (22nd Dynasty).
Biba (west bank of the Nile), a district capital and market town, with a conspicuous Coptic church.
14mi/22km northwest of Biba, beyond the Bahr Yusuf, on the edge of the desert, is the village of Dishasha, with the tombs of Fifth Dynasty nomarchs of this area. The tombs of lnti and Shedu contain interesting mural reliefs (battle scenes, the siege of a Syrian town, etc.). Beyond Biba are a number of large islands in the Nile.
Hiw (west bank of the Nile), a large village situated at one of the Nile's sharpest bends. A short distance above the village, on the banks of the river, is the Tomb of Sheikh Selim (d. 1891 ), who spent most of his long life sitting naked on this spot and was revered as the helper of boatmen on the river. Near Hiw are the sparse remains of ancient Diospolis Parva, with large Early Christian cemeteries.
The Aswan granite now appears for the first time in the cliffs flanking the Nile. The large island of Bahrif is passed. Opposite the island on the west bank is El-Waresab, where there are quarries with graffiti. Beyond this, on the west bank, the hill containing the picturesquely situated rock tombs of Aswan comes into view.
Faw Qibli (east bank of the Nile), the Coptic Phbow. This was the site of a large monastery founded by Pachomius at which monks from all the Egyptian monasteries used to meet twice a year. A short distance to the south was Tabennese, where Pachomius founded the first coenobitic monastery about 320.
Sidfa (west bank of the Nile), with a number of picturesque dovecots. On the east bank, some 1.25mi/2km from the Nile, is the district capital of El-Badari, near which, in 1924-25, were found the prehistoric tombs which gave their name to the Badarian culture.
Gobelein ("Two Mountains") is the name of two hills separated by a saddle some 55yd/50m wide which lie 25mi/40km south of Thebes on the west bank of the Nile: a striking landmark which formerly marked the boundary between the third and nomes of Upper Egypt.
On the eastern and northern slopes of the higher hill to the west are cemeteries dating from the Pre-Dynastic period (Naqada culture) to the end of the Middle Kingdom, but mainly from the First Intermediate Period. Near here was the town of Aphroditespolis or Pathyris (from Per Hathor, "House of Hathor"), which for a time was capital of a nome.
Tomb of Sheikh Musa
On top of the smaller eastern hill are the conspicuous Tomb of Sheikh Musa and remains of a Temple of Hathor, surrounded by a defensive wall. The temple, probably founded in the time of the Third Dynasty, was restored in the 11th Dynasty, enlarged in the reign of Tuthmosis, later destroyed and then rebuilt in the Ptolemaic period. A number of Greek and demotic papyri were found within the temple precinct.
In the plain west of the hill, near the village of Gebelein, are the remains of ancient Crocodilopolis, with a large crocodile cemetery.
Abutig (west bank of the Nile), a considerable market town (cotton ginning factory), which in ancient times lay in the Hypselite nome.
Gebel Abu Foda
In the Nile are the islands of El-Hawata and El-Mandara. Beyond them the hills of the Arabian Desert come close to the river in Gebel Abu Foda.
Tahta (west bank of the Nile), a district capital with a noted livestock market. On the east bank the hills come close to the river.
Dishna (east bank of the Nile), on the site of an ancient town.
3mi/5km west of Mishta is the village of Kom Ishqaw, the ancient Aphroditopolis.