Esna and Edfu


In January 1869, exactly 150 years ago, Miss Riggs joined Thomas Cook’s very first tour to Egypt and the Holy Land. Travelling overland, the journey would take three months, there and back. Miss Riggs kept a diary of her adventure and I am going to be posting from it over the coming weeks. This is day twenty-nine.

Monday, 22 February
Left Luxor at 6 a.m. for Esné. (Esné pretty minarets – Esné temple of Knuph). Saw the bazaars and ruins and then on again by dinner time to Edfou. Decided to see the ruins by moonlight so after took torches and lanterns and walked a mile and ½ to Edfou. Used 14 magnesium lights for interior which lighted up splendidly, showing the walls and characters well. A sort of square building with outer court round and then a high wall finishing off with a pylon. Ascended pylon and lighted some more magnesium lights which threw the Arab village below in a blaze of light – all the poor people rushing out of their mud homes. On our return to the boat numbers of the villages accompanied us with large huge clubs and lanterns – very picturesque – and an adventure and a charming evening.

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View of Edfu by Edward Lear, 1854

The next time you’re at Edfu and wondering at the blackened state of the temple ceilings, you know who to blame. Those magnesium flares waved around by Miss Riggs and colleagues gave off soot.

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