religion, priority and hugeness
The first was “religion”. This referred to the religious context of most of the scenes depicted in Egypt’s archeological wonders, its funerary monuments and its temples.
The second was “priority”. By this, our guide was referring in his impressive but imperfect English to the fact that many of the scenes depicted were “firsts” of some kind. The depiction at the Temples of Karnak of the first ever peace treaty, between the Egyptians and the Assyrians, was an example. (The truce only held for a couple of months before hostilities resumed.)
The third, and by far the most important conceptual theme was the quality that our guide described as “hugeness”.
At the Temples of Karnak, the hugeness was manifest in a number of ways.
The temple complex itself was claimed by our guide as the largest of its kind in the world, with the exception only of Mecca (and then only after Mecca’s recent renovations and enlargement).
There was hugeness in the massive stone obelisks that were constructed out of single chunks of stone quarried in Aswan, shipped down the Nile and erected among the temples.
And there was hugeness in the quite formidable forest of 134 massive, massive, papyrus-styled stone pillars, among which we wandered feeling very much on the small side.
At this point, of course, we hadn’t even seen the Pyramids. The hugest hugenesses were yet to come.