Karnak is a wonderful complex built to honor the Theban gods. The entire grounds are compromised of well over two square kilometers. This area became the most important place of worship in Egypt during the New Kingdom. It also was an important economic center for Egypt and it still is today. Around 85% of Luxor’s economy is based on tourism. The military police and locals prey on visitors for baksheesh (tips) at all of the sites we have visited so far. It can be outright tours or they can disguise it as a “special tour” just for you. This is the most common and has worked numerous times on us because as soon as we realize what happened it was too late. We are thinking of deliberately standing in people’s photographs and then asking them for money—this happened to both Devin and I at Karnak on separate occasions.
The physical structure of this area is amazing. The massive columns, the sculpted statues, and the detailed hieroglyphics all made this a worthwhile visit even in the 115F degree heat. However, we had to leave before we lost all our money to baksheesh and before we became totally drenched in sweat.
While walking through the complex, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my earlier visit to Pompeii and to notice the similarities. The basic layout of both complexes consists of roads, major religious centers as the heart of the area, and written language inscribed and drawn on the walls. It is amazing to think that these developments were built over thousands of years ago and how well-developed they were for the time. It also says something about how interconnected and similar various cultures have been and are all around the world.