Egypt and Jordan
 Egypt                Jordan
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Travels through Egypt and Jordan:  March 28 to April 12
(Pictures are thumbnails. Click on them for a larger view. You may click on the subjects listed to go directly to them.)

    Cairo    Egyptian Museum    Great Pyramids of Giza    The Sphinx    Step Pyramid at Saqqara    Temple of Luxor    Karnak    Luxor Museum    Karnak at Night    Valley of the Queens    Valley of the Kings    Nile Boat Market    Temple of Edfu    Cruising the Nile    Aswan Dam    Temple of Philae    Aswan City    Temple of Abu Simbel    Amman, Jordan    Amman Museum    Jarash    Mt. Nebo and The Dead Sea     Karak    Petra    Wadi Rum   

The Rich Family just finished their travels through four very interesting countries.  We went on a long game safari in Kenya and Tanzania.  Then we took a tour through Egypt learning about the ancient Egyptians.  And finally, we had a spectacular time touring the country of Jordan learning about their ancient civilizations.  This update is in two parts due to the amount of information that we have in pictures.  Stephanie also has included an excellent short story entitled, The Lion's Party.  Check it out in Stephanie's SchoolworkThere are also two new map sections showing our recent travels plus you can get an overall view of the Odyssey by seeing the world map in Itinerary.  

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Part of the reason for our delay was the limited availability of affordable phone lines in these countries.  To get an idea, you can click on the picture above in Egypt showing a phone booth offering International lines.   The phone was locked in a drawer.  Phone charges to the US were typically $7 to $10 a minute -- it is expensive to call from the Serengeti Plain on a radio phone.  Anyway, here is Denny working away getting this update ready for you.  Yes, there was electricity and water.  He just decided to avoid shaving for the last month.  We are not sure when his face will be back to normal!

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These three pictures give you an idea of what you have in store when you check out our two updates.  We saw a lot of great animals in Africa such as this giraffe.  The Riches pose for one of their "Japanese" style pictures outside the large pyramids in Cairo.  And, the view of The Treasury as you emerge from the canyon in Petra, Jordan really does take your breath away!  Click on either of the update lines in the box above or use the Navigation Frame on the left to check out all that is new!

We hope you enjoy learning more about The Rich Family Odyssey travels through Africa and the Middle East!!


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Arriving in Cairo, we found a crowded and smoggy city, as the traffic here attests.  People here, as we have found everywhere are friendly, and their dress is wonderful to view.  The Mosque tower scene with this busy market street was on the cover of National Geographic some years ago.

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Our guide, Mohamed, explains the workings of a water pipe to our group, including Stephanie's friend, Mary.  The open markets are very colorful with their fruits and spices on display.  Fresh cooked pretzels are sold with the whole business on the head.

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The Muhammad Ali Mosque, named after the person who helped get Egypt and Cairo established in the early 1800s, is at a place called the Citadel in Cairo.  It is very beautiful and was built between 1830 and 1857.  Our guide, Mohamed, took the opportunity while we were seated to explain some of the tenets of Islam.  Among other things, they believe in all the holy books, including the Bible.  Click on the last picture to get a better view of the domed ceiling.

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In the distance and smog, you can see the three large pyramids outside Cairo.  The fields are still largely farmed by hand.  An Egyptian lady explains the art of creating paper using papyrus, a technique the Egyptians invented thousands of years ago.  It takes about twelve days to complete the soaking and pressing to make a sheet.  Vendors in the street sell cheap imitations made out of banana leaves.

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Everywhere we went in Cairo and throughout Egypt, we saw buildings in a partially completed state.  Click on the first picture and you can see the building in process.  They pour concrete structures, then fill in the spaces with bricks.  The tops of most buildings are not complete and have rebar sticking out so that they can be built higher.  When people run out of money, they just stop building, so unfinished buildings are everywhere.  Next a view of a tall Mosque across the Nile from our hotel.  Last a view down the Nile River of downtown Cairo.

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Egyptian Museum

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Our tour started in the Egyptian Museum to get some basic education on the Egyptians before starting out to view the Antiquities in person.  In front of the building they display both papyrus plants and lotus flowers.  These were the symbols of upper and lower Egypt.  The early Egyptians emphasize the early union of the two Egypts into one.  King Ramesses II is the most celebrated King ever with many many temples and statues honoring him.  A copy of the Rosetta Stone, found in 1799, is shown next.  This was the key to being able to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics because it contained translations into Greek.  A mummified baboon is on display here.  The mummies of Kings and Queens are also in the museum, but pictures are not allowed.

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A model of a pyramid shows the design consisting of a remote temple honoring the king which then connects to a long causeway (where the body was transported) leading to a Mortuary Temple next to the pyramid itself.  Examples of Egyptian sandals show they are just like the ones we use today.  

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The discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 provided a real treasure in early Egyptian artifacts.  It was  never discovered by grave robbers and everything was intact.  Shown above are alabaster heads which were used to contain the inner body parts.  Next, the famous funerary mask showing an exact likeness of the king.  The last picture shows the third of many mummiform sarcophagus that were surrounding the king in the tomb.

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Artifacts found in the tomb were numerous and very beautiful.  Here is a detailed throne chair and a black jackal.

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The last, and largest,of the many mummiform sarcophagus boxes which were surrounding the king.  A small statue of an Egyptian wearing a 'backpack.'  The Egyptians believed that all of these artifacts would be needed in the afterlife.   

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Great Pyramids of Giza

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The pyramid of Khafre, 136.5 meters high, still has its original casing at the top.  In front of the pyramid is a truck of Antiquities and Tourist Police, who are present everywhere in large numbers.   We even had a plains clothes policman on our bus carrying a machine gun under his suit coat.  After the shooting in 1997, it did give one a sense of safety. The next pyramid for King Menkaure is the third and smallest (66 meters high) of the three large pyramids.  We entered and toured this pyramid.  Jennifer is about to make her way in.

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This is the sloping entrance to the actual tomb.  Jennifer and Stephanie stand in two of the rooms that would have held the treasures the king would need in the afterlife.  A picture showing all three large pyramids with some of smoggy Cairo in the distance.

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While at the pyramids, we rode camels to the base of the Khufu large pyramid.  In 1954, a boat, called the Solar Boat, was found buried in pieces in a hole next to the pyramid.  The boat was carefully put together and is on display in a building .  The boat is spectacular and measures 46 meters in length and 6 meters wide in the middle.  Last, a view of the causeway leading from the Temple to the Khafre Pyramid.  

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The Sphinx

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The famous Sphinx is in front of the large Khafre Pyramid and is made in his image.  While the Sphinx has been restored many times in the past (including early Egyptian Kings) , the current damage to the face is largely caused by man.  Egyptian Christians and others destroyed or defaced many of the Egyptian artifacts and wall carvings believing they were false idols and should not be seen or worshiped.  Restoration continues on the Sphinx and the Temple.

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Step Pyramid at Saqqara

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This is the step pyramid of King Zoser.  It is 62.5 meters high and is built in 'steps.'  Next are some spectacular columns in the nearby funerary complex of Zoser.  As we left the desert area and the pyramids, we noticed the stark contrast between the sand and the cultivated areas gaining moisture from the Nile.

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Temple of Luxor

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After seeing Cairo, we flew south to the city of Luxor named after the famous Luxor Temple, shown here with its entrance adorned by one obelisk and two statues of Ramses II.  This temple to the gods (known as the Harem of the South, it housed the god Amun's wife Mut) has been reconstructed using ruins that were in place and knowledge of what it would have looked like.  Inside there were many statues and engravings and writings on all walls and columns.  The second picture shows a statue of Thutmosis III inside the temple with the united crown of Egypt on his head.  Outside the temple is the Avenue of Sphinxes.  It was a line of Sphinxes 3 km long all the way to the Karnak Temple, where the god Amun lived.

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Click on this picture to get a sense of 'modern' Egypt compared with the ancient temples.  You can buy film, important Lithium Batteries and 'Vedio" right outside the temples.

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A few kilometers from Luxor is the even larger temple of Karnak, which is largely a tribute to the main god Amun.  This temple was continually added to by successive kings, so it is really overwhelming in scope.  Notice the Sphinxes lining the entrance.  At one time, they extended all the way to the Luxor Temple. Inside the temple, you see the backside of the large entry wall called a Pylon.  You can see some mud bricks up the wall showing how the Egyptians built the walls and made the carvings in them.  The last picture is a carving of a female (god or queen) in front of a tree of life. 

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This obelisk was to honor King Amenophis III, who was the king instrumental in building the initial parts of both Luxor and Karnak.  Denny is touching the back side of a scarab after running around the stone three times.  He was told this will bring him good luck.

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Luxor Museum

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The Luxor Museum houses some very fine pieces of ancient Egyptian art found near the ancient sites in Luxor.  In 1989, an excavation found several pieces of art under ground in perfect shape.  Shown here are some examples of that art work.  The last picture is part of a relief from the Akhenaton Temple, an inner part of the Karnak Temple of the gods.

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Karnak at Night

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At night, there is a spectacular sound and light show at Karnak.  Ramses II, himself, narrates the walking tour through the temple.  The first picture shows the row of Sphinxes lined up at the entrance to Karnak.  Inside, the lights give a warm glow to the columns in one of the inner temples.  The last part of the light show has the audience seated behind the sacred lake, shown here reflecting the walls of Karnak.  The show was fun, informative and quite well done.

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Valley of the Queens

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Once the Egyptians knew that the tombs of Kings within the very visible pyramids would be robbed, they started to bury their people underground in an attempt to hide these valuable and sacred sites.  These sites are on the west side of the Nile River across from Luxor.  As you enter the Valley of the Queens, you are greeted by the sign in the first picture.  Click on it to get a better view.  It says, "You are in the embrace of the history."  Inside one of the tombs of a queen, you can see the vivid colors which are still very clear today.  The last picture shows a transparent lower garment with the legs showing through.

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The most celebrated Egyptian queen was Hatshepsut, who reigned for 15 years and was the daughter, sister/wife, and aunt of the first three King Tuthmosis.  The Temple of Hatshepsut is under continuing major restoration and now looks much like it would have when it was built.

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Valley of the Kings

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Further up the road is the Valley of the Kings.  From the parking lot, you take a tram shown here up the hill to the tombs.  We visited the tombs of Ramses IV and VI.  Shown above is the entry corridor and the tomb itself with the decorated sarcophagus which would have held the mummy.  We were not able to take pictures of the tomb of Tutankhamen, but you can click on the last picture to see how the tomb was laid out.  It was not discovered by grave robbers because it was totally covered in rubble from another tomb above.

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Another view of an entry corridor and the elaborately adorned ceiling of the burial chamber for one of the Ramses.

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Nile Boat Market

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Jennifer and Stephanie climb on the top of the ferry boat used to cross the Nile.  Along the way down the Nile, we passed a village with colorful doors and a colorful boat.  After stopping at one point, we were approached by a hoard of boat sellers.  They would heave their items (clothes) on top of our ship and then hollar out to us, "How Much?"  It was fun, but was not the easiest way to bargain or see all their merchandise.  Egyptians everywhere were very aggressive in their selling techniques.

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Temple of Edfu

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On our stop in Edfu, we took a carriage ride from the boat to the Temple.  There were many tourists here ALL taking rides at the same time, so it was a total zoo.  Stephanie was actually frightened because of all the mayhem on the ride and in the market.

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The best preserved temple in all of Egypt is the Temple of Horus (the Falcon god) at Edfu.  The entrance pylon is in very good condition and the carvings are easily seen.  Even the faces of the figures have not been chiseled away by the later Egyptian Christians.  The Riches stand in front of one of the two spectacular black granite sculptures of Horus.  Inside the temple, the columns are also in spectacular shape with some of the color still visible.  Stephanie climbs down some basement stairs which lead to a channel that connects to the Nile.  The Egyptians used this to see how high the Nile was at flood times, which was a measure as to how good their crops would be.  This was therefore named the Nile-O-Meter!

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Cruising the Nile

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Part of the fun of our trip was just cruisin' down the Nile River.  Here you see the typical Egyptian sailboats called feluccas.  Crops and animals are raised right along the Nile.  Notice the contrast to the desert in the background.  Here is a shot of our boat as we went up (South) the Nile.  There are many of these boats and they all have the same design.  

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Jennifer and Stephanie enjoy the Egyptian sunset from the top of the boat.  Here is some of our tour dressed up for an Egyptian night.  Jennifer is in the back.  While at dinner, the staff makes clever sculptures out of towels for the amusement of the guests.

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Aswan Dam

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The Aswan Dam was built with the assistance and money from the Russians in the early 1970s.  While it does help control water and flooding, it also eliminated the silt that was carried down river and needed to keep the land fertile.  Now the Egyptians have to use chemical fertilizers.  They do get many more crops per year as a result of the dam.  The first picture is a monument celebrating Egyptian-Soviet cooperation.  The dam itself is wide and tall and is mostly of sand and rock construction.

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Temple of Philae

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When the Aswan Dam was built, it flooded many of the ancient temples.  The Temple of Philae, dedicated to the goddess Isis, was on an island that was covered with water.  The temple, which is very well preserved, was moved to another site created just for the temple.  It is reached by boat and you see some Egyptian school children on an outing to visit the temple.  They are always smiling.

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In the town of Aswan, there is a granite quarry that the Egyptians used for their granite statues and obelisks. Still present at the quarry is an obelisk that is 42 meters long.  The Egyptians stopped working when the granite cracked.  It gives you a sense of how resourceful the Egyptians were.  One gets the feeling they could do most anything they wanted.  While sailing on the Nile in the traditional felucca, we were greeted by several children in very small boats.  They would come close and sing songs for you.

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Aswan City

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In Aswan, we toured the market there.  You can get a sense of how crowded and busy it was from these pictures.  The tractor is pulling a large wagon used to collect trash.  There were two men on top sifting through the trash looking for cans and other items of value.  More trash was falling off as the other men were piling it on.  It appeared that the inflow and outflow were in a steady state.  We assume, however, that they unloaded the wagon once in a while.  That night, we were entertained by a whirling dervish dancer.  Stephanie and Mary stand under the whirling dervish.

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Temple of Abu Simbel

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The most spectacular temple that was rescued from the rising Lake Nasser behind the Aswan Dam was the Temple of Abu Simbal.  We flew from Aswan south to Abu Simbal (along with many other tourists doing the same thing).  The entire temple and the rocks surrounding it was moved from below water level and reconstructed on a higher site.    Ramses II (deified) is the left statue and the other three are gods.  Nearby is the smaller temple of Queen Nefertari which was also moved and rebuilt.

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Deep inside the Temple of Ramses II is a group of statues that receive light on February 22 and October 22.  All receive rays of the sun except the left statue, which is Ptah, the god of the underworld.  The date this happens is one day later than it used to.  Not bad considering the efforts involved to move the temple.  We bid adieu to Egypt with our guide, Mohamed, in front of Abu Simbel.  

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Amman, Jordan

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An evening flight from Cairo found us in Amman. We met our guide the next morning for a city tour which took us to the Citadel (how many cities have a place called a Citadel???).  This is the partially restored Roman Temple of Heracles built around 100 B.C.  From the top of the hill (Jabal al-Qal'a), you can easily see the restored 6,000 seat Roman Theatre.  The last building is the restored Umayyad Mosque.

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Another view of the theatre from the park in front.  It is used even today for performances and has great acoustics from the center of the stage.  Modern Amman has largely replaced the older city which was named Philadelphia, meaning city of brothers (just like our US city).  Amman and Jordan in general is very clean and orderly.  It was quite a contrast after leaving Egypt.

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Amman Museum

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In the Amman Archeological Museum located in the Citadel, many old artifacts are stored.  A couple notable ones are shown here.  The first is claimed to be the oldest sculpture done by man.  The second are some pieces of the copper dead sea scrolls which had the Old Testament and other writings on them.  The copper in the background shows how they looked when they were created.

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We proceeded north about 50 km from Amman to the Roman City of Jarash.  It is one of the best preserved Roman provincial cities of the near east.  The peak time for the city was the second century and had a population of about 25,000 people.    The first picture shows the much restored Hadrian's Arch on the road to the city and the nearby hippodrome where the chariots raced.  The arch is named for the Roman emperor in 130 AD.  Next, you see the colonnaded court just inside the city gate.  The court yard can be best seen from the top of the south theatre. 

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This progressive city actually had two theatres.  This is the restored one on the north end of the city.  Running through the entire city was a fully colonnaded street with temples and fountains on either side.  The grooves made in the rocks by Roman chariots can still be easily seen.

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Mt. Nebo and The Dead Sea

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On the way to Mt. Nebo, we stopped in Madaba at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church.  On the floor of the church is a map mosaic of the holy land.  It was probably created around 550 AD and is the oldest existing map of Palestine.  You can easily see the Dead Sea in the picture of a portion of the map.  Mt. Nebo is the place where Moses looked out on the promised land, now Israel, after wandering in the Jordanian desert for 40 years.  If you click on the picture, you can see the Dead Sea and the Israeli mountains in the distance.  A metal sculpture marks the spot where Moses likely viewed the promised land.  It is a symbol of the Christian cross and the snake Moses held up asking the Lord's help to rid them of snakes.  In actuality, it looks much like the Medical Doctor symbol.  Last, there is a church on the top of the mountain with a mosaic on the floor.  This picture shows peaceful scenes at the bottom with ostriches and donkeys and aggressive scenes further up with lions chasing animals.

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At the Dead Sea, we went 'floating' in the water.  You literally can float with all your limbs sticking straight up.  But don't put your head in the water -- it would really hurt with all the salt and minerals.  People were smearing themselves with Dead Sea mud to make their skin soft.  They sell it and Jennifer bought some for use back home.  On the way out, we passed a typical Bedouin tent house on the hill.  These nomadic people eke out a living with their goats anywhere they can.

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The next stop was at Karak, the site of a castle built during the crusades around 1100 to 1177.  It sits high on a hill looking down on both sides.  It is clear why it was such a good defensive position.  The last picture shows a kitchen area in the castle.  There a lots of tunnels and rooms -- great fun for exploring.

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Petra lies in the southern Shara mountains in Jordan.  It was the capital city of the Nabateans who created quite a unique place carved out of the rock walls.  You approach the site from the modern and expanding city of Petra.  Passing through the 1.2 km narrow siq walled rock canyon, you suddenly come upon the city.  Stephanie got a horse ride down the path to the start of the walk through the siq.  Along the side of the siq was a Roman aqueduct cut into the rock as you see in the last picture.  There was also a Roman ceramic pipe which carried water on the other side of the narrow canyon.  See a recent National Geographic Magazine for more details and better pictures of Petra.

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As you come to the end of the siq, you get a glimpse of the Treasury through the tall opening in the rocks.  After emerging, this is the view of the magnificent sculpture in the rock.  The Treasury was probably a tomb and a shrine built by the Nabateans.  While some of the sculpture has been damaged by man and the wind, it is still quite a sight.

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Leaving the area of the Treasury, you proceed toward the larger canyon which houses many tombs for the Nabateans.  These are frequently elaborate and are carved into the walls of the rocks as you can see here. The first picture shows the Street of Facades.  The second is a picture of many smaller tombs carved on the other side of the canyon.

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Three larger tombs are found further on. One is the Urn Tomb, another the Corinthian Tomb and the third is the Palace Tomb.  This is a picture of the Urn Tomb.  The ceiling in one of the tombs shows the natural rock formation and the many colors present.  Lastly, there is a Byzantine Church above the valley floor constructed in the fifth and sixth centuries.  The last picture is of a mosaic on the floor.

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Another spectacular temple is named the Monastery (from the Arabic term, Deir) for its lofty position.  It is 865 steps (Denny counted them) above the valley floor.  (Our legs still are feeling the results of the walk.)  The first view from the top is of the three large tombs mentioned above across the valley.  Next a view of the monastery itself.  It is spectacular but not nearly as much as the view of the Treasury as you emerge from the narrow siq.  As we were leaving the valley of Petra, we found a camel with a great pose in front of tombs in the background.  

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Wadi Rum

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Our final stop was to Wadi Rum, the location and camp for T. E. Lawrence, of Lawrence of Arabia fame.  The desert landscape in this area is spectacular.  The first large rock mountain is called The Seven Pillars of Wisdom from T. E. Lawrence's book of the same name.  We could only count six, but the seventh is certainly there somewhere if you have enough 'wisdom' to see it.  Nearby was a large Bedouin camp with their typical black tents.  In the desert, we were out in the open so Jennifer decided to go 'native' and dress like an Arab.  It worked!

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The Jordanian desert is really very beautiful with a grand mixture of colors as you see here.  The last picture is a place where we went into a canyon to see some ancient drawings on the wall of the canyon.

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