June 25: Luxor - The Western Bank
Today we get to visit one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, the Valley of the Kings on the Western Bank of Luxor. The whole west bank is honeycombed with tombs, not just of the ancient Egyptian Kings, but of their families and the noblemen who served them. Of all those ancient tombs, we will visit four:
(1) The tomb of Tutankhamun--or better know to us as King Tut. Discovered in 1922, this tomb was the only nearly intact tomb every discovered. Fortunately for us, grave robbers never discovered the tomb. King Tut ascended to the throne in 1333 BC, at the age of nine or ten. He appears to have died when he was about 18 as a result of genetic defects that arose from his parents being siblings, complications from a broken leg and his suffering from malaria.
(2) The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is one of the most beautiful of all of the temples of Ancient Egypt. Hatshepsut (1503-1482) is one of the few female rulers of Ancient Egypt. Her name means "Foremost of Noble Ladies." She is of particular interest since some scholars believe she is the most likely candidate for being Moses' adopted mother. A daughter of King Thutmose I, Hatshepsut became queen of Egypt when she married her half-brother, Thutmose II, around the age of 12. The couple had a daughter who died at an early age, but no son--and thus no heir. Upon her husband's death, she began acting as regent for her stepson, the infant Thutmose III, but later took on the full powers of a pharaoh, becoming co-ruler of Egypt around 1473 B.C. It is believed that she was grooming the young Hebrew boy she rescued and named Moses to be her successor. The plan fell apart, perhaps, when Moses killed an Egyptian. Thutmose III may have used that news to rid himself of both Hatshepsut and Moses.
After a wonderful Egyptian lunch at the Maratonga Restaurant, we head out for our final stop of the day--the Tombs of the Nobles. Although not at as elaborate as the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the Tombs of the Nobles are very impressive. We will visit three of the most beautiful ones: the tombs of Ramose, Userhet and Khaemhet.
After grabbing a falafel for the road, our day ends as we catch a flight back to Cairo. Overnight Hilton Heliopolis Hotel.
June 26: Madaba and Mt. Nebo
Today we transfer to our early morning flight to Amman, Jordan.
After arriving in the morning, we travel south toward the famous city of Petra. Along our way we will make several interesting stops. Our first stop will be to the city of Madaba. Once a Moabite border city (mentioned in Numbers 21:30 and Joshua 13:9), Madaba is well known for the remains of a famous mosaic map called the Madaba Map. The map dates to the 6th-century and contains the earliest extant representation of Jerusalem, labeled the "Holy City". The map has been a major key in developing scholarly knowledge about the physical layout of Jerusalem after its destruction and rebuilding in 70 AD.
After lunch, we will make one more stop on our way to Petra--Mount Nebo, a 3,300 foot high mountain located 6 mi NW of Madaba in Jordan, and opposite the northern end of the Dead Sea. According to ancient tradition, this is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land before he died. Because of its connection to Moses, Mt. Nebo has long been an important place of Christian pilgrimage.
Dinner and Overnight at the Petra Guest House Hotel.
June 27: Petra
Following breakfast, we depart for a full day tour of Petra--the ancient capital city of the Nabataeans built sometime around the 6th century BC. Petra, which means "rock" in Greek, is a fitting name for this city surrounded on all sides by rocky cliffs and magnificent tomb, sanctuaries, and dwelling places carved out of solid rock. Our journey to this spectacular city, known to most students in connection to the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, begins via a mile-long narrow gorge that emerges dramatically in front of a building called the Treasury. The source of Petra's vast wealth was her control of the ancient trade routes connecting the Roman Empire with the East. Unfortunately, when these trade routes shifted, Petra was deserted and forgotten for centuries. It was only rediscovered in 1812.
Lunch is included in the tour today.
Dinner and overnight at the Petra Guest House