Temple of Luxor
Orbiting Earth some 400 miles away, most satellites are busy monitoring the weather, directing our in-car navigation systems, helping us make phone calls or letting us watch TV. But there are some that are deployed for reconnaissance, and they’re responsible for detecting all sorts of things from Space which we simply can’t spot down here on the ground.
One of the most remarkable discoveries of late was made by US Egyptologist Dr Sarah Parcak, whose ‘find’ made the headlines worldwide and was the subject of a BBC documentary aired this summer. She had spent years pioneering a high-tech form of archaeology and the reward for her hard work was the discovery of more than 17 pyramids, 1,000 tombs and 3,100 ancient settlements buried close to Sakkara. Infrared satellite images revealed the outlines of centuries-old buildings, and after Dr Parcak shared her findings with the country’s minister of state for antiquities, an intrepid team of French archaeologists was given permission to start digging.
So despite Egypt being so endowed with a wealth of ancient structures, it appears to have acquired a few more! Tourists will have to wait patiently for the excavation of these latest treasures but there are still have plenty of other sites to fire the imagination.
Here are our favourites…
Temple of Luxor 25° 42’ north, 32° 38’ south
Constructed for Amenophis III and Ramses II, this temple is famed for its Avenue of Sphinxes. If you get the chance, visit during the daytime then return in the evening to see the temple reliefs dramatically accentuated by floodlights.
Tutankhamun’s tomb 25° 44’ north, 32° 36’ south
Venture into the Valley of the Kings to view the painting of Tutankhamun’s royal barge taking him into the underworld.
Philae’s Temple of Isis 24° 01’ north, 32° 53’ south
When Aswan’s High Dam threatened to submerge parts of Nubia, this temple was dismantled and reconstructed – piece by painstaking piece – on to the higher ground of Agilkia Island.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops 29° 58’ north, 31° 08’ south
2.3 million limestone blocks. 6.18 million tonnes. 137 metres tall. Over 4,500 years old. Truly deserving of the prefix ‘great’.