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Saturday, February 1, 2020

Valley of the Kings - Hatshepsut and an Alabaster Factory

Our last stop in the tomb area was at the funerary temple of Queen Hatshepsut - also known as "the first great woman in history of whom we are informed," according to early 20th century Egyptologist, James Breasted.

Hatshepsut had a very successful reign of over twenty years and was a prolific builder.  Her funerary temple is one of the most prominent in Egypt and the Wikipedia entry for her contains an interesting mix of politics, culture and archaeology.

The temple is a mammoth structure, carved into the hillside and visible from a great distance.

With three levels to explore, this temple could occupy a half day for anyone willing to look at its entirety.  This is the only temple of its kind, so contemporary, even for the 21st century. It was built under the direction of a woman, after all.

Large statues on the top level portray Hatshepsut in the usual pharaonic pose.

The sanctuary at the rear of the temple contains some very colorful imagery, albeit far above eye level.



No tour to the Luxor area is complete without a stop at an alabaster "factory."  Fortunately, we found one quite close to Hatshepsut's temple.

The Monaliza factory comes with a complete "how to make it" show and tell and a very large factory showroom.

The raw materials are stacked near the entrance and one wall is covered with instructional diagrams.
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While tea or soft drinks are provided, the owner narrates a live demonstration of cutting, drilling and polishing the alabaster aided by several employees.  The driller was a particularly animated young man.  (40 second video at this YouTube link.)

A fair amount of time is devoted to describing the difference between real alabaster and fake stone made of plaster, plastic or concrete which you might encounter via street vendors.

As American visitors entering the showroom, we were shown how the shop was once visited by the U.S. ambassador to Italy, David Thorne, a special assistant to American Foreign Minister John Kayraa.  (That is Secretary of State, John Kerry, in case it wasn't clear.)

No matter what you might be looking for in Alabaster or related stone, this shop has it.  (Some things I am definitely not showing.)

Alabaster is a translucent stone and when cut thin, it displays its patterns quite well when lit from the inside.  A light bulb always hangs conveniently in the showroom.

I am always interested in alabaster pyramids and cats so I did look those over carefully.


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