Join us for a unique 14-day tour across Egypt, where we will uncover the remarkable lives of ancient Egypt’s female leaders. Delve into a captivating journey from the north to the south of Egypt, exploring the powerful queens and goddesses who shaped the history of this legendary land.
Immerse yourself in the mystique of Egypt, a land steeped in legends and mysteries, as we unveil the rich tapestry of history woven with the narratives of extraordinary women. From the iconic Cleopatra VII, the last ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, to the mighty goddesses Isis, Hathor, and Sekhmet, the queens and goddesses of ancient Egypt held immense power, influence, and significance in the realms of culture, religion, and politics.
Our exclusive tour presents a unique opportunity to delve into the lives of these remarkable figures. Embark on a journey through awe-inspiring temples, marvel at beautifully decorated tombs, and decipher the captivating stories depicted in ancient hieroglyphs and artwork. Accompanied by our knowledgeable and passionate female guides, who possess a deep understanding of ancient Egyptian history, you will gain profound insights into the lives, achievements, and legacies of these powerful women.
Follow in the footsteps of intrepid women such as Amelia Edwards, who have traversed Egypt across the centuries. From the vibrant city of Alexandria to the majestic landscapes of Aswan, step into the captivating world of ancient queens and goddesses.
To enrich your experience, we are honoured to be joined by renowned expert Egyptologist, Dr. Edward Scrivens, from the Egypt Exploration Society. Dr. Scrivens will provide invaluable insights into the topic of female power in Ancient Egypt.
Designed with solo female travellers in mind, this tour offers a safe and supportive environment where you can explore ancient Egypt, learn about its fascinating civilization, and create unforgettable memories. We have carefully selected accommodations, tour guides, and activities to ensure your solo adventure is enjoyable and fulfilling.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are more than happy to arrange a call with you and address any inquiries you may have.
Embark on this extraordinary journey and immerse yourself in the captivating world of ancient Egypt’s queens and goddesses.
This tour has been designed and priced with solo female travellers in mind and offers a unique and empowering experience that caters to the specific needs and interests of female solo travellers. It recognises that women may have different concerns and preferences such as safety concerns, a desire for female-centric spaces, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded women. This tour provides a safe and supportive environment where solo women can explore ancient Egypt, learn about this fascinating ancient civilisation, and create lifelong memories.
With carefully chosen accommodation, tour guides and activities focused on female empowerment and cultural immersion, this tour aims to empower women to venture out on their own, discover new horizons, and embrace the joy of solo travel in a nurturing and inclusive setting.
During the tour we are delighted that Dr Edward Scrivens, from the Egypt Exploration Society, will be joining us as our resident expert. We have chosen Edward because he is a renowned expert on feminine power in Ancient Egypt and he has a wonderfully engaging way of sharing his knowledge.
Edward received his PhD from The Queen’s College, University of Oxford, where he held the Barns Studentship in Egyptology. His doctoral research examined the gendered representation of goddesses in tombs and temples of the late New Kingdom, and his ongoing projects continue to explore aspects of gender and religion in ancient Egypt. He lectured as Tutor in Egyptology at Swansea University and taught a course for the EES’s online programme (‘Queens, Pharaohs, Goddesses: Feminine Power in Ancient Egypt’).
Alongside his research and teaching experience, Edward has an active record of outreach work (from museum talks to producing online materials), believing that engagement with Egyptian cultural heritage should be accessible and appealing to a diversity of audiences. Outside of Egyptology, Ed has performed as a comedian across the UK and internationally.
From When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney (2018, p.10)
From all over the world we will gather in Egypt, this one place that was the home of our incredible Ancient Egyptian queens and goddesses.
Our greeter will meet you from your flight and support you through passport control, baggage and customs (including pre-purchase of your visa if you are from an eligible country). You will then be whisked to your hotel where you can chill out until the orientation session.
In the evening there will be an orientation session where you will hear all the details of the tour, and we will get to know each other. This will be followed by a welcome dinner.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Cairo.
Harriet Martineau in 1846, from Women Travelers on the Nile, edited by Deborah Manley (2016, p. 20)
No tour to Egypt is complete without a visit to the Pyramids and Sphinx, the last remaining Ancient Wonder of the World. You’ve seen them many times before in magazines and on television, but nothing compares to seeing them in real life.
The northernmost and oldest pyramid of the group was built for King Khufu in the 26th century BC. Called the Great Pyramid, it is the largest of the three and is truly an astonishing work of engineering. It was built over a twenty-year period, the sides are oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass.
You’ll see the burial complex of Queen Hetepheres, mother of King Khufu. It was discovered intact in 1925 and not only contained valuable funerary goods but also provided evidence of hereditary succession, as her burial was located in close proximity to that of her son. This indicates the significance of Hetepheres’ lineage and her role as the mother of the pharaoh.
The middle pyramid was built for King Khafre in the 25th century BC. It has a steeper slope than the pyramid of Khufu, and sits 10m higher, making it appear taller.
The southernmost and last pyramid to be built was that of Menkaure, the date it was built being unknown as Menkaure’s rule has not been accurately dated.
You’ll also see the Great Sphinx, part of Khafre’s pyramid complex. It represents Ra-Harakhte, the sun god, as he rises in the east at dawn, but the face of the Sphinx is a portrait of Khafre himself. It was carved from an outcropping of limestone left after quarrying the stone for his father’s pyramid.
After our visit to the Pyramids we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon we’ll visit the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation to see the mummy of our female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut. You will also see the mummies of Queen Tiye and Ahmose Nefertari.
You will have plenty of time to explore the rest of this delightful museum which spans Egyptian history from Ancient Egypt right through to the present day. It contains many beautiful artefacts, including jewellery worn by pharaohs. And did you know that Egyptians invented make-up? This museum has some incredible artefacts showing how it was used. There is also a textiles museum showing the production and dyeing of clothes in Ancient and Islamic Egypt.
Lunch and dinner included.
Overnight in Cairo.
“In 1925 a team lead by the American archaeologist George Reisner found an incredible cache of grave goods belonging to Queen Hetepheres”.
From The Complete Queens of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley (2006, p. 44).
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is near the Giza Plateau, adjacent to the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. It is one of the largest archaeological museums in the world and is dedicated to ancient Egyptian history and culture.
It is filled with artefacts from Ancient Egypt, including many fine examples related to our Ancient Egyptian queens and goddesses.
You’ll see the funerary artefacts of Queen Hetepheres, whose tomb you saw at the Pyramids. These artefacts reflected the wealth and status of the royal family during that era. The discovery also shed light on the role and importance of queens in ancient Egyptian society.
Here we will also see the enormous statues of Queen Tiye and her husband Amenhotep III, and gilded cartonnage masks from the funerary artefacts of her parents, Yuya and Thuyu.
More details will be added as it is released by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Lunch and dinner included.
Overnight in Cairo
“It was a pleasure merely to hear the sound of her voice, with which, like and instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another…”
Plutarch, quoted in The Complete Queens of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley (2006, p. 203)
Early start today as we continue our quest to find our queens and goddesses.
Welcome to Alexandria, where history and legend intertwine to create a vibrant cloth of myths and mysteries. At the heart of this tapestry lies one of the most fascinating figures in all of human history – Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt.
Cleopatra was a woman of great beauty, intelligence, and political skill, who ruled over one of the most powerful empires of the ancient world. Her life was filled with drama and intrigue, as she navigated the complex web of alliances and rivalries that defined the politics of her time.
But Cleopatra wasn’t just a politician – she was also a patron of the arts, a scholar, and a lover of culture and learning. She spoke multiple languages and was known for her wit and charm, which helped her win the hearts and minds of some of the most powerful men of her time.
We will explore the life and legacy of Cleopatra and her close links with the goddess Isis.
Alexandria is Egypt’s second city, the largest on the Mediterranean coast, and was founded by Alexander the Great around 331 BC. He had a vision to create a Hellenic civilisation of learning and culture; the city grew rapidly and eventually took over from Memphis as the capital of Egypt.
Today we’ll visit:
The Alexandria National Museum
This museum houses many important artefacts from the Ptolemaic period, including some that are directly related to Cleopatra and her family. In addition, there are many artefacts related to this period that were recovered from the ancient city of Heracleion, found under the sea off the coast of Alexandria.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria Library)
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major library and cultural centre and is a commemoration of the Library of Alexandria, once one of the largest libraries worldwide, which was lost in antiquity. An architectural marvel, the new library has shelf space for eight million books, and also houses, amongst other things, a planetarium and four museums. One of these museums also holds antiquities from the ancient city of Heracleion.
The Citadel of Qaitbay
The Citadel is situated on the eastern side of the northern tip of Pharos Island at the mouth of the Eastern Harbour, notable for our tour as the site of the ancient Pharos Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. According to legend, Cleopatra watched Julius Caesar conquer Alexandria from the top of the Pharos Lighthouse. Why not gaze out to sea and imagine how Cleopatra felt as she watched Julius Caesar approach?
Also known as Kom el-Shoqafa, meaning “Mound of Shards”, the Catacombs were built in the 2nd century AD and served as a burial place for members of the Roman-era society. Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, the necropolis consists of a series of tombs, statues and archaeological objects of the Pharaonic funerary cult with Hellenistic and early Imperial Roman influences. It is possible that some members of Cleopatra’s family or court may have been buried in the catacombs, as the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Alexandria for several centuries prior to the Roman conquest. They contain a blend of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architectural styles, reflecting the multicultural nature of Alexandria at the time.
Includes lunch and dinner.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Alexandria
‘Cleopatra’s…accomplishments are many. She seized Egypt on the cusp of its absorption into the Roman Empire, and she manipulated statesmen of that empire to fight off Roman domination. She used all her wiles and diplomatic skills to keep Egypt whole and unoccupied for two decades.’
From When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney (2018, p. 253)
This morning we set off to visit Taposiris Magna.
Taposiris Magna is an ancient city that was once a bustling hub of commerce, religion, and politics. For those of us in search of the real Cleopatra, the most intriguing aspect of Taposiris Magna is the legend that she and Mark Antony were once buried here, and their tombs have yet to be discovered. The search for these legendary tombs continues to this day, and you can join the many archaeologists in their quest for one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time.
In addition to looking for Cleopatra’s tomb, you can visit the centrepiece of Taposiris Magna, the Temple of Osiris. This is one of the best-preserved temples in all of Egypt and is dedicated to Osiris, the god of the afterlife – husband of the goddess Isis. The temple features stunning columns, intricate carvings and awe-inspiring hieroglyphics. There is also a fascinating network of underground tombs, where some of Egypt’s most powerful rulers and elites were laid to rest. Possibly including Cleopatra??
Once we’ve finished at Taposiris Magna we’ll set off for Cairo where you have free time for the rest of the day. Optional tours available.
Lunch and dinner not included, speak to your host if you would like recommendations.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Cairo.
The River Nile gently splashes against the boulders clinging to its banks and islands.”
From Egyptian Mythology – A Traveller’s Guide from Aswan to Alexandria by Garry J. Shaw (2021, p. 15)
This morning you have free time in Cairo. Why not take one of our optional tours and see a bit more of this extraordinary city? Or do some shopping in Cairo’s 900 year old Souq, Khan Al Khalili?
In the afternoon we will travel from our hotel to the airport to catch our flight to the very south of Egypt, the city of Aswan.
Lunch not included.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Aswan
“Ramses II has made a temple, excavated in the mountain, of eternal workmanship…for the Chief Queen Nefertari Beloved of Mut…Nefertari for whom the sun shines.”
Temple façade quote at Abu Simbel, quoted in The Complete Queens of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley (2006, p. 150)
Early start today as we set off from Aswan to Abu Simbel, to see the awe-inspiring sight of the twin temples standing proudly on the banks of Lake Nasser. These temples were carved into the mountainside during the reign of Ramesses II to commemorate his victories and glorify the gods.
Many people believe that it is the Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Queen Nefertari, that steals the spotlight. But who was Queen Nefertari? As the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Ramesses II, one of Egypt’s most renowned pharaohs, she was important for several reasons. As the queen consort, she held a position of great influence and prestige within the royal court, but more than that, she is widely believed to have been Ramesses II’s favourite wife. He had multiple wives and concubines, as was customary for Egyptian pharaohs, but Queen Nefertari held a special place in his affections.
Ramesses II expressed his deep love and admiration for Queen Nefertari through various inscriptions and artworks. He referred to her as his beloved, his one true wife, and the mistress of his heart. The Temple of Hathor is a testament to the pharaoh’s devotion to her. She played a crucial role in religious rituals and ceremonies. She was deeply devoted to the goddess Hathor and was considered a manifestation of the goddess on Earth. As such, her role as a high priestess of Hathor held great spiritual significance, as can be seen in this astonishing temple.
The façade of the temple features colossal statues of Ramesses II and Queen Nefertari, depicting them in a divine embrace. The intricate reliefs on the walls narrate the royal couple’s love story, their shared devotion to the goddess Hathor, and the queen’s important role as a symbol of beauty and fertility.
Inside the temple, the celestial ceiling is adorned with stars, a testament to the ancient Egyptians’ astronomical knowledge. The vibrant colours and exquisite details have been painstakingly preserved over the centuries. Your guide will unravel the symbolism behind the intricate artwork, allowing you to gain deeper insights into the life and legacy of Queen Nefertari.
After exploring the Temple of Hathor, we will have time to visit the nearby Temple of Ramesses II. This grand structure stands as a testament to the pharaoh’s might and power, with its colossal statues and imposing pillars. Inside, the walls are adorned with battle scenes and triumphs, showcasing Ramesses II’s military achievements.
As the day draws to a close, we will bid farewell to Abu Simbel and make our way back to Aswan, carrying with us the memories of a remarkable journey into ancient Egypt. Reflect on the extraordinary life of Queen Nefertari, a queen revered for her beauty, grace, and influence. We’ll meet Queen Nefertari again in Luxor.
Includes lunch and dinner.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Aswan.
“Mighty one, foremost of the goddesses
Ruler in heaven, Queen on Earth…
All the gods are under her command”
From an inscription at Philae, quoted in The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson (2003, p. 146)
Today we’ll visit Philae Island, Kalabsha and the Unfinished Obelisk, then board our cruise.
We’ll take a short boat trip to Philae, sacred island of the goddess Isis, located in the Nile River.
The Temple of Isis was constructed during the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. The temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis, who was a prominent deity in the ancient Egyptian pantheon and was associated with motherhood, fertility, magic, and protection.
Isis was also revered as the divine mother and protector of the pharaohs. She was believed to have played a crucial role in the resurrection of her husband Osiris and the conception of their son Horus, who later became the legitimate heir to the throne. As such, the temple on Philae Island held immense religious and political importance.
Cleopatra worshipped the goddess Isis and was closely associated with the island of Philae. She sought to strengthen her claim to the throne by aligning herself with Egyptian traditions and deities, particularly Isis.
Queen Nefertari, who we first met yesterday at Abu Simbel, was also connected to the Temple of Isis and played a significant role in promoting the worship of various deities, including Isis.
The goddess Hathor, often depicted as a cow or a woman with cow horns, was closely associated with Philae Island. She was worshipped as the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Hathor was considered the mother of Horus and was sometimes identified with Isis.
The temple complex on Philae Island served as a place of pilgrimage and worship for devotees of Isis from various parts of the ancient world. Its walls and structures are adorned with intricate carvings, hieroglyphs, and reliefs depicting scenes from ancient Egyptian mythology, rituals, and offerings to the goddess.
The island of Philae and its Temple of Isis were at risk of being submerged due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s. To preserve this important cultural and historical site, an international rescue operation was undertaken. The temple complex was dismantled and relocated to nearby Agilkia Island, where it was reconstructed, preserving its original orientation and layout.
After lunch we will take a short drive then a 15 minute boat trip across Lake Nasser to Kalabsha Temple, a rarely visited beautiful and remarkably well-preserved monument. It is the largest free-standing temple in Lower Nubia and was built during the reign of Augustus (30 BC–14 AD), the first Roman emperor. Primarily dedicated to the Nubian god Mandulis, the gods Isis and her husband Osiris were worshipped here too. There is also a beautiful mammisi which served as a symbolic representation of the birthing chamber where divine births took place. It is dedicated to the worship of the goddess Isis and has representations of the seven Hathors.
Our last visit today is the Unfinished Obelisk, located in the northern region of the stone quarries in Aswan. It is an enormous obelisk that was left unfinished during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut, who was keen on building projects, as we’ll find out later in the tour. It was intended to be one of the largest obelisks ever erected, reaching a height of around 42 meters (approximately 137 feet) and weighing an estimated 1,200 tons. However, during its construction, a flaw was discovered in the stone, resulting in the obelisk being abandoned in its unfinished state. The flaw, a large crack that appeared in the granite, rendered the obelisk unusable for its intended purpose.
The site provides a remarkable opportunity to observe the techniques used by ancient Egyptians in quarrying and shaping stone. It offers insights into the process of extracting massive stone blocks from the quarry using chisels, wooden wedges, and hammers. The partially carved obelisk remains embedded in the bedrock, providing a glimpse into the labour-intensive methods employed by ancient Egyptian artisans.
Once we have finished marvelling at Ancient Egyptian obelisk building techniques, we’ll head to the quayside and board our cruise.
Included lunch and dinner.
Overnight on 5-star cruise.
“Only conceive! The ante-hall alone stands upright, and in such a way that pillars are buried in the sand to the half of their height.”
Countess Hahn Hahn visiting Kom Ombo in 1844, from Women Travelers on the Nile edited by Deborah Manley (2016, p. 102)
During the cruise we will be visiting Kom Ombo and Edfu temples, where we’ll meet some gods as well as goddesses.
The Temple of Kom Ombo is a unique double temple dedicated to two deities: Sobek, the crocodile god, and Horus, the falcon-headed god. The temple is divided into two symmetrical sections, each with its own entrance, sanctuaries, and halls. One side of the temple is dedicated to Sobek, while the other is dedicated to Horus.
Sobek was the primary deity worshipped at the Temple of Kom Ombo. He was a powerful and revered god associated with fertility, protection, and the Nile River. As a guardian deity, Sobek was believed to protect the region from dangerous creatures, including crocodiles, which were abundant in the Nile. The temple served as a center of worship for Sobek, attracting pilgrims and devotees who sought his blessings.
Although not the primary deity of the temple, Hathor, the goddess of love, beauty, and joy, also had a presence at Kom Ombo. Hathor was often associated with healing and was believed to have protective qualities. Her influence can be seen in the carvings and depictions within the temple complex.
The Temple of Edfu, also known as the Temple of Horus, is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt and holds great significance in terms of its connections to the goddess Hathor. It is dedicated to the falcon-headed god Horus, one of the most important deities in ancient Egyptian mythology. Horus was associated with kingship, protection, and the sky. The temple was built during the Ptolemaic period, specifically between 237 and 57 BCE, but it replaced earlier temples that had existed on the same site since the New Kingdom period. The Temple of Edfu holds special associations with the goddess Hathor, who is often portrayed in the temple reliefs as the consort of Horus, emphasizing her significance as a divine queen and mother figure.
Full board on the cruise.
Overnight on the cruise.
“You are my country, Desdemona. … My Egypt. My hot, harrowing desert and my cool, verdant Nile, infinitely lovely and unfathomable and sustaining.”
From “As You Desire: A Loveswept Classic Romance”, from Loveswept by Connie Brockway (p.117)
Today we continue our cruise to Luxor. If you’re all templed out, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to relax and watch the world go by, and look at a landscape that has hardly changed for millennia.
Full board on the cruise.
Overnight on the cruise.
‘It’s almost as if Tawosret were standing on the shoulders of a sisterhood, having learned from each of the female leaders who had come before her.’
From When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney (2018, p. 100)
We have two queens – Hatshepsut and Tawosret – and lots of goddesses to focus on today.
Our first stop is to the famous Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately, the tomb of Hatshepsut is not open to the public, however we can visit the tomb of Tawosret, a significant figure in ancient Egyptian history. She was the last known ruler of the 19th Dynasty and the second documented female pharaoh in Egypt’s long history. Tawosret’s reign is estimated to have lasted from approximately 1191 to 1189 BCE.
Her rise to power was closely tied to her association with the ruling family. She initially served as the principal wife of Seti II, the fifth pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty. When Seti II died, Tawosret assumed the role of regent for her stepson, the young pharaoh Siptah. However, after Siptah’s death, Tawosret took on the full kingship herself. Unfortunately her reign was relatively short and marked by political instability and internal conflicts within the royal court.
Tawosret’s legacy is complex, and there is limited historical information available about her reign. Much of what is known comes from fragmented records, inscriptions, and archaeological findings. Nevertheless, she holds a significant place in ancient Egyptian history as one of the few female pharaohs known to have ruled in her own right.
In her tomb we can see many images in stunning condition considering their age, including Tawosret with deities and many other beautiful images.
There are many other fascinating tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and you are free to visit some of those. Please note not all tombs are open. Additional charge for the tombs of Ramses IV and V, Seti I and Tutankhamun.
“Hatshepsut was not afraid to flout tradition.”
From The Complete Queens of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley (2006, p. 95)
We saw evidence in Aswan of Hatshepsut’s ambitious building programme. She commissioned magnificent structures and temples, most notably her mortuary temple, at Deir el-Bahari, our next stop. This temple is considered to be a masterpiece of ancient architecture.
Construction of the temple began around the 15th year of Hatshepsut’s reign and continued for several years. It was strategically built into the cliffs of the Deir el-Bahari complex, creating a stunning backdrop against the rugged landscape. It consists of three terraced levels connected by ramps, each adorned with colonnades, statues, and intricate reliefs. The central ramp leads to a large courtyard known as the Upper Terrace, which houses numerous statues and obelisks.
One of the most striking features of the temple is the colonnaded structure known as the Hathor Chapel, situated on the second level, dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The walls of the chapel are adorned with detailed reliefs depicting Hatshepsut’s divine birth, her divine mandate to rule, and her divine journey to the afterlife.
Wander round this most astonishing of temples and remember the enigmatic and powerful woman who built it.
Our final stop for today is the Valley of the Queens to visit the tomb of Queen Nefertari, first encountered by us at Abu Simbel. Queen Nefertari’s tomb is considered one of the most beautiful and well-preserved temples in both the Valley of the Kings and Queens, built for her by her adoring husband, Pharaoh Ramses II. The temple is adorned with vibrant and intricate wall paintings that depict scenes from Queen Nefertari’s life, religious rituals, and her journey to the afterlife.
There are many other tombs in the Valley of the Queens, and you will have time to visit some of them.
Includes lunch and dinner.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Luxor
“I look up in amazement. The temple’s ceiling could have been painted yesterday – yet it is 2000 years old.”
From Egyptian Mythology – A Traveller’s Guide from Aswan to Alexandria by Garry J. Shaw (2021, p. 93)
An exciting day ahead as we travel from Luxor to Abydos and Dendera.
In Abydos we find evidence of Merneith, the earliest of the female pharaohs on our tour. Much evidence has been found in Abydos considering she ruled almost 5000 years ago. We will be visiting her tomb at Umm el-Qa’ab as well as the Merneith Enclosure, a group of tombs from the cemetery at Shunet el-Zebib.
There is also much evidence of goddesses at Abydos, including who was Isis one of the most revered deities here. We will also see Nephthys who was the sister of Isis and the other prominent goddess associated with Abydos. She was often depicted alongside her sister, and together they represented the duality of life and death. Nephthys played a crucial role in the funerary rituals at Abydos, helping to protect the souls of the deceased and offering guidance in the afterlife. There are also numerous depictions of other goddesses in Abydos, including Sekhmet, the powerful goddess of war.
There is evidence of other significant queens in Abydos. Ahmose-Nefertari was a powerful queen during the New Kingdom period of ancient Egypt and was the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Ahmose I, who was instrumental in driving out the Hyksos and reunifying Egypt. Ahmose-Nefertari was revered as a powerful queen and a significant figure in Abydos, where she was venerated as a goddess after her death.
Tetisheri was a queen and a mother of Pharaoh Ahmose I, the founder of the 18th Dynasty and the New Kingdom of Egypt. She was the wife of Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao and the grandmother of Ahmose-Nefertari. Tetisheri is considered a significant figure in the history of Abydos, and her tomb was discovered there in 2010, shedding light on her importance during this period.
Our next stop is Dendera, one of the best-preserved temple complexes in Egypt and features several notable goddesses and reliefs depicting female deities.
The main temple at Dendera is dedicated to Hathor. The temple showcases numerous depictions of Hathor, including her sacred symbol, the sistrum (a musical instrument), and intricate carvings on the walls depicting rituals, mythology, and cosmic symbolism associated with the goddess.
Adjacent to the main temple, there is the Birth House (Mammisi), which is dedicated to the divine birth of the child god Horus. The reliefs and carvings within the Birth House depict the story of the divine birth of Horus, with Hathor playing a central role as a protective and nurturing deity.
Within the Dendera complex, there is a smaller Temple of Isis. This temple was added during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods and features reliefs and inscriptions dedicated to Isis. The cult of Isis was widely popular in the Hellenistic and Roman eras, and the temple at Dendera became a significant centre for her worship.
The ceiling of the main Hypostyle Hall in the Dendera Temple Complex is adorned with a remarkable astronomical and cosmological depiction known as the Dendera Zodiac. It features the goddess Nut, a celestial deity who arched over the sky and encompassed the stars and constellations. This depiction of Nut is a fascinating representation of the ancient Egyptian understanding of the cosmos and the heavens.
One of the most intriguing features at Dendera is the only authenticated carved relief of Cleopatra on a temple wall. Her son and heir, Julius Caesarion, is shown with her.
Includes lunch and dinner.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Luxor.
“Because Sekhmet was said to breath fire against her enemies she was adopted by many Egyptian kings as a military patroness and symbol of their power in battle.”
From The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard H Wilkinson (2003, p. 181)
Today we will explore Karnak and Luxor Temples, Avenue of the Sphinxes and Deir El Shelwit.
Despite Hatshepsut’s nephew trying to destroy all traces of her, luckily for us there is still plenty to see. We’ll start in Karnak Temple and then walk along the newly opened Avenue of the Sphinxes, the first phases of which were started during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. This will take us to Luxor Temple.
Hatshepsut played a crucial role in the construction of Karnak Temple Complex, one of the largest and most significant in ancient Egypt. It served as a place of worship for several pharaohs over a span of approximately 2,000 years.
Numerous goddesses are prominently represented in Karnak’s structures and reliefs, including:
Mut – a significant goddess associated with Karnak Temple. She was the wife of Amun and the mother of Khonsu, the moon god. Mut was revered as a motherly and protective deity, often depicted as a vulture or as a woman wearing the double crown of Egypt. The Temple of Mut, located within the Karnak Complex, was dedicated to her worship.
Sekhmet – the lioness-headed goddess, had a strong presence at Karnak Temple. She was a fierce and powerful deity associated with war, healing, and protection. Sekhmet’s main temple, the Precinct of Mut, is within the Karnak Complex. Her statues and reliefs in the temple portray her in a menacing and authoritative manner.
Hathor – often depicted as a cow or a woman with cow horns and a solar disk on her head, is also venerated at Karnak. The Festival Hall of Thutmose III within the Karnak Complex is dedicated to the worship of Hathor and features numerous reliefs depicting her joyful presence and music.
Amunet – a primordial goddess in Egyptian mythology and one of the female counterparts of Amun, the chief god of Karnak Temple. Amunet represented the hidden and mysterious aspects of creation. Although not extensively depicted at Karnak, she is occasionally seen alongside Amun, highlighting their divine union.
Once we’ve found all our goddesses in Karnak, we’ll walk the 3km along the Avenue of the Sphinxes, the first phases of which were started during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. This will bring us to Luxor Temple, another significant ancient Egyptian temple complex. Various goddesses played important roles in its religious significance. Hathor was venerated in Luxor Temple. There is a chapel dedicated to her, known as the “Hathor Chapel,” where she was worshipped and revered for her nurturing and protective qualities.
Sekhmet also had a presence in Luxor Temple. Her statues and reliefs can be found in different parts of the temple complex, showcasing her powerful and authoritative image.
Taweret was also worshipped at Luxor Temple. She was depicted as a pregnant hippopotamus standing upright with the limbs of a lion and the tail of a crocodile. Taweret was believed to protect women during pregnancy and childbirth, ensuring their safety and the well-being of their children.
The representations and worship of these goddesses within the temple complex emphasized various aspects of life, including protection, fertility, motherhood, and divine lineage. Exploring the temple complex provides a deeper understanding of the divine feminine and the roles these influential goddesses played in ancient Egyptian culture.
It seems appropriate that our very last visit is to Deir El Shelwit, a temple dedicated to the goddess Isis who has been worshipped for thousands of years and is still revered to this day. This rarely visited temple is from the Greco-Roman period and has a central chamber or ‘naos’ which is decorated with intricate paintings and inscriptions depicting Roman emperors making offerings to Egyptian gods. The outer walls are plain but the inside is stunning. A corridor runs around the outside of the inner chamber where you can find four chapels.
Lunch and dinner included.
Overnight in 4-star hotel in Luxor with end of tour dinner.
“Egypt is full of dreams, mysteries, memories.”
Janet Erskine Stuart
Sadly, we have to say our goodbyes and depart from Luxor. Your onward journey within Egypt is included. If you are leaving Egypt immediately, we will book you a return flight to Cairo. Alternatively, we can transport you by road to Hurghada or Marsa Alam if you’d like some relaxation time at the beach, or by air to Sharm El Sheikh. All these, and other options, will be discussed with you after booking.
Lunch and dinner not included.
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