The amount of time that the ancient Egyptian civilization existed and flourished — and ebbed and flowed — is hard to comprehend. We are challenged to imagine 500 years, much less 3,000 years.

The first monuments that we visited were the Great Pyramids. The Pyramids are among the oldest significant constructions left to us today. They were built about 4,500 years ago!

Our visits to the temples of Karnak, Luxor, Abu Simbel, Philae, Kom Ombo and Dendera surrounded us with huge columns, walls of hieroglyphs and figurative art, obelisks and pylons. They all seem so, well, Egyptian!

And yet, the time between the early and lates phases of the temples at Karnak or Dendera is over 2,000 years! In contrast, think about the amount of change in just the last 20, 30 or 40 years. There was much less outward change over 1,000, 2,000, even 3,000 years in ancient Egypt.

Of course, a lot happened in Egypt over these millennia. Power shifted hugely between pharaohs, the priestly class, regional forces, invading armies, Upper and Lower Egypt, Nubians, and toward the end, Greeks and Romans. But the outward expression of the institutions of religion, rulers and the identity of the civilization stayed very close to one norm for all that time.

We wanted to organize the places we visited on a single timeline to try to understand how they fit together over time. And just to geek out a bit too.

Leave a Reply