Across the Nile from the main part of Luxor on the east bank is (naturally
enough...) the west bank. The mountains here are honeycombed with
hundreds of tombs. There are ancient tombs everywhere --
including under peoples' homes -- and more are being discovered.
(You can follow the progress of excavation of one tomb -- one of the
biggest, and discovered just recently, in 1995 -- at www.kv5.com.
People live all over the west bank in villages. There's lots of
agriculture, too, of course: The Nile is Egypt's breadbasket, as well
as the narrow strip of land wiere almost all of the 100 million (or so)
Egyptians live. Here are some shots of things, old and new, on the west
side of the river.
To get a larger version of any picture, click on it; a new window
should open. When you close that window, this window should still be
At the left below is the view you'll probably see as you drive away from the Nile: stark mountains with tombs inside -- and newer villages on top. Tucked away in the mountains, in hidden areas like the Valley of the Kings, are nobles' tombs buried deep into the mountains -- where the pharaoes hoped they'd be safe from tomb robbers. They were wrong: a lot of tombs have been looted over the centuries, but there probably are many more left to find.
Some villages here look like I imagine they did long ago -- with the exception of a few satellite dishes and maybe a paved road.
The first photo below is from the Valley of the Queens: the road in to the end of the valley, where there's a tomb entrance. As you can see in the second photo, not all the tombs are easy to reach...
Some villages seemed to have more goats than people. A lot of homes are decorated -- at least in old Gurna village, at the right below.
New Gurna village was built to replace old Gurna -- the government wanted residents out.. Architect Hassan Fathy designed and built a beautiful mosque with mud brick (unusual material for a mosque) as well as a theatre and homes. The first photo below shows a prayer area in a school inside the mosque. Unfortunately, the homes have been replaced by typical concrete buildings as their families grew. (In typical Egyptian style, the top of a home is left unfinished -- with posts and steel reinforcing rods sticking out -- so when new people come, the home can be built upwards. Because it basically never rains here, that's not a problem, I guess!) To top that, many residents of the old Gurna didn't move out: they simply took a second home in new Gurna and kept their old home, too.
The right-hand photo below is along a street in new Gurna.
One thing that makes these mud-brick and concrete villages interesting is all of the color. Here are a window and a door:
(These photographs are Copyright © 2003 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)