The Nile River has six major cataracts which are shallow parts of the river with rocks and rapids. Aswan is located at the first cataract. Aswan has always been a popular stopping place for traders. Today, the market is filled with spices, textiles, and pottery.
Besides spices, the market also offered dates.
Along the streets of the market, you will see these water containers. Water is free and cold since it is usually kept in clay pots.
Aswan Dam and Aswan High Dam:
Before the High Dam, there was what Egyptians call the British Dam (Aswan Dam-not to be confused with the Aswan HIGH Dam), built between 1898-1902. However, the dam was unable to control the Nile’s water flow even though it was raised twice.
Gamal Abdel Nasser realized that in order to feed a growing population, Egypt had to produce more food/crops. To do this, more arable land was needed. The yearly flooding of the Nile had to be controlled. Because of political complications the World Bank refused to fund the project. Finally, the Soviet Union funded the building of the dam (1960-1971). The Aswan High Dam created Lake Nasser, the world’s largest artificial lake:
In the area of the dam, security, both military and police, is very high. Egypt cannot afford for anything to happen to the dam.
When the Aswan High Dam was constructed, many Nubians had to be re-located. Our group had the opportunity to visit the home of a Nubian family. The entire family live together…mother, son, children, grandchildren. When we arrived, we were taken into a large open area only partially covered by a roof and served tea and what is called “sunshine bread” because it is set in the sun before it is baked. Very good!
One of the daughters drew designs on our hands using henna. I got a scarab. It has lasted over a week.
Then, it was time to visit a Nubian Primary School. The children are taught both English and Arabic.
This was our teacher who tried to teach us Arabic numbers and to write our name in Arabic:
Temple of Philae:
When the Aswan (British) Dam was built, the Temple of Philae was partly submerged in water for six months of the year. During the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the temple buildings were disassembled, categorized, and reassembled on the Island of Agilika. The project, sponsored by UNESCO, lasted until 1980.
Philae was the center for believers in the goddess Isis, one of the most popular Egyptian goddesses. The architecture is a combination of ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman style.
The Papyrus Institute was similar to a US technical school. The students are taught to make papyrus and copy different scenes from various temples onto the papyrus paper. We were given a demonstration of how the paper has been made for centuries.
Following the demonstration, we were able to purchase a papyrus drawing of our choice…which, of course, I did. You can see part of the one I bought behind the lady doing the demonstration. It tells a story about how a person enters the after-life. The heart is placed on one side of a scale. On the other side is a feather. The god Anubis weighed your heart. If the heart is heavier than the feather, the person would be gobbled up by the god Ammut (she had a crocodile head). If the heart is light (unburdened and you did good deeds in your life), then the person is allowed to enter the after-life.
If your time is limited in Egypt, Aswan should be your destination. The atmosphere is relaxing and there are numerous activities to enjoy.
About the Author:
In 2010, Annie Coburn created Fab Placez. In 2014, she changed the name of her website to FAB Senior Travel to better define her target audience, mature travelers. In order to provide diversity of locations and topics for her subscribers, she publishes travel articles from other writers, as well as her own.
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