Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

For ancient Egyptians, the Nile — which flows from south to north — divided their world into two logical halves. They lived on the east bank where the sun rose each morning and they buried their dead on the west bank, where the sun also died each evening. And, as nearly all the ancient art tourists travel to see is funerary, nearly all the sights (for example, the 60 or so pyramids) are, logically, on the West Bank.

For five centuries in the second millennium BC, Luxor was the capital of Egypt. And its West Bank is famous for its hidden tombs (buried deep in the mountains to be sure they weren’t looted) and for high-profile temples (scattered prominently to be sure dead pharaohs weren’t forgotten). Here are some thoughts from the mortuary temple of a rare female ruler, Queen Hatshepsut (and why she had to wear a beard).

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