Egypt Day 5: Kom Ombo and Edfu

We're still in Aswan. Our guide and Egyptologist Medhat (Daddy) started us off with a tour of Kom Ombo, the only Egyptian temple dedicated to two gods: Haroeris (the elder Horus) and Sobek, the crocodile god. There is a whole story about how Sobek came to be worshipped as a way for the villagers to deal with man-eating Nile crocodiles. The temple priests were also healers, and Kom Ombo is where Egyptians went to be cured from anything from a stomach ache to a blood clot in the brain. No exaggeration, they actually performed a successful craniotomy.

Kom Ombo had an astonishingly advanced healthcare system. Patients were scheduled based on a calendar, with days dedicated to specific illnesses. This helped the healers to study and document cases that were similar, creating a library of symptoms and treatments. According to Egyptian lore, Cleopatra went to Kom Ombo for help delivering the baby she had conceived with Julius Cesar. The healers supposedly performed the first surgical birth in history, henceforth known as cesarean. In gratitude, Cesar presented the temple with a set of advanced surgical instruments, which are documented on the ancient walls of Kom Ombo and are remarkably similar to what is used in modern medicine.

By the end of our Kom Ombo tour, the heat was becoming quite intolerable. Temperature rose to 105 Fahrenheit, and I could feel the sun winning the fight with my SPF 50. Luckily we had a break for lunch back on the St. George. Coke on ice never tasted so great.

After lunch, Daddy corralled us like cattle towards a line of horse-pulled carriages (I think I will hear his "here family over here!" in my sleep tonight. The ride to Edfu was only 10 minutes or so, but I felt awful for the poor horses and quite sorry for myself in the process.

Edfu was not quite as interesting, perhaps because at that point sun stroke was becoming a real possibility. The temple is dedicated to Horus (the falcon-headed god) and very well preserved. Of particular importance is the documenting of construction methods for other temples.

I managed to survive the tour and ended the day with a wonderful cool shower and a dip in the shallow pool on the sun deck. Dinner tonight was a fabulous Egyptian buffet served al fresco, followed by a fun dance party (to Egyptian music) and games in the lounge. Later tonight the St. George will set sail to Luxor and the highlight of this journey - a visit to the Valley of the Kings.

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