Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This video is a bit tenuous - but it is pretty and interesting! It's a video of different cities at night photographed from space. For anybody with an interest in human geography, it's very interesting to see how different the cities of various cultures look at night.

In terms of Egypt, there's pictures of Cairo from about 2:55 which segue into pictures of the Great Bend of the Nile at Luxor. There are stills of the Great Bend on this Nasa site.  I've linked rather than cross-posted because if you hold your mouse over the daytime picture of the Great Bend it changes to night time.  Be patient because the first time the transition is a bit slow - give it 20 seconds or so.  Once you've swapped between the two scenes once, the pictures should be cached in your browser so you can flick between them quickly.  It's interesting to compare the margins of modern habitation with the historic green, fertile strip.  In rural areas habitation is bounded within the agricultural land; around Luxor on both banks development extends clearly into desert areas.

The daytime picture also shows the true width of the Nile Valley far better than I have noticed it before by pointing out the shading.  The original plateau is darker than the valley the Nile has cut some 1,000' - 1,500' deep into the plateau - the rock which hasn't been exposed as long (we are talking millions of years) is paler.

Paler still is the Valley of the Kings, showing clearly how much it has been dug over by man, particularly modern archaeologists.  There is an image further down the Nasa page showing you what to look for.  Armed with that knowledge, it's then very obvious on Google Maps.

View Larger Map

It's also a really good way to see the geography of the Western Valley of the Kings in relation to the main wadi. South of the Valley of the Kings, Deir el-Bahri is very visible and again the entire wadi around the Temple of Hatshepsut is noticeably paler than nearby regions backed up against the cliffs, again suggesting that man has reworked surface of Deir el-Bahri more than other areas.   If you ever doubted how water has shaped the Valley of the Kings, zoom out a little and look at the next wadi north (above) the Valley of the Kings.  It's easy to see how water has deposited gravel on the corners of bends and at the junctions of side valleys.  The Valley of the Kings has been as affected by flooding as this wadi - it's just less obvious because the valley floor has been so altered.

For anybody not entirely familiar with the geography of the West Bank at Luxor, it's worth swapping to the Wikimapia view which labels the main sites.  There are some labels in Arabic so ignore those ... unless you speak Arabic of course, but the main historical sites are labelled in English.  For instance the burial ground of Dra Abu el-Naga is labelled just east of "Hatshepsut's Parking Lot".

I recommend zooming in and out.  As you zoom in more labels will appear but zooming out gives a wider perspective.  Just a warning though that it is a Wiki so, as with all Wikis, not all of the information is accurate - I'd suggest using it as something for enjoyment rather than study.


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