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Egypt Holiday 2014: Walk from the Valley of the Kings to Deir el Medina

Walking over the Mountain After visiting the Valley of the Kings (post) we walked over the mountain to Deir el Medina. I didn’t take my camera with me as I (rightly) thought it would make the walk more difficult if I had to manage to keep the camera safe as well. J took his camera tho, and the pictures in this post and on flickr are his. View of the Valley of the Kings (left), Buildings at top of Valley (right) This walk would be how the workers who dug and decorated the tombs in the Valley got to and from work. There’s some disagreement as to whether they commuted every day or whether they overnighted at the “security post” buildings at the top of the Valley. While we were there Dylan said he didn’t think they slept there, but later on when we visited Deir el Medina Medhat said… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Walk from the Valley of the Kings to Deir el Medina

Egypt Holiday 2014: Valley of the Kings

Obviously you can’t spend any time on holiday in Luxor without a trip to the Valley of the Kings, and we went there on the 4th day of the Luxor part of our trip. This was one of the advertised highlights of the tour as we had special access to one of the tombs that isn’t generally open to the public (that of Seti I). We got to the valley around 6:30am and then had it pretty much to ourselves for a few hours. We had the standard “see three tombs” ticket, plus J & I bought an extra ticket to see the tomb of Ramesses V & VI. We didn’t go for Tutankhamun’s tomb as well – we’d seen it last time and didn’t think we’d have time to fit it in before going to the Seti I tomb. Originally there had been planned to be two trips to… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Valley of the Kings

Egypt Holiday 2014: The Ramesseum

Colossal Statue at the Ramesseum I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert…Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.                                                      Percy Bysshe Shelley We got to the Ramesseum a little before sunset and there was something about the quality of the light and the shapes of what’s left of the temple that meant I could… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: The Ramesseum

“Horemheb” Charlotte Booth (EEG Meeting Talk)

At the beginning of July Charlotte Booth came to talk to us at the Essex Egyptology Group – she’s actually the founder of the group, although she hadn’t visited in the last few years (not since I’ve been in the group) as she’d moved away from the area. She talked to us about the Pharaoh Horemheb, who is often presented as a sort of afterthought to the 18th Dynasty. Booth’s talk set out to show us that he is interesting in his own right, and is better thought of as the founder of the 19th Dynasty. Horemheb was almost certainly born in Amenhotep III’s reign. Booth explained that we can make an estimate of his year of birth by working backwards from what is known of his career. His status at the beginning of Tutankhamun’s reign indicates that he must’ve been a mature adult at that point – perhaps around… Read More »“Horemheb” Charlotte Booth (EEG Meeting Talk)

Egypt Holiday 2014: Theban Tombs of Nobles

I must confess, I’ve been dreading writing about the various tombs we visited while in Egypt. My memories of the New Kingdom tombs blur together much more than my memories of the various temples and pyramids. And we got less of a guided tour of any of them – sometimes Medhat pointed out some interesting features, sometimes I went through the tomb with someone who knew what they were looking at, but mostly I was looking at the spectacular art as a broad sweep rather than picking up on interesting details. So I’m grouping them into three posts main posts – non-Royal, Kings and Queens – and discussing them in brief and en masse. This post will cover the tombs of the Nobles that we visited on the West Bank of Thebes (the other non-Royal tombs we visited will be talked about along with the site to which they’re attached).… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Theban Tombs of Nobles

“An Ancient Flash Flood and Stratigraphy in the Valley of the Kings” Stephen Cross (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Stephen Cross came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about his work in the Valley of the Kings. The research he was telling us about was started to answer one question: why was Tutankhamun’s tomb (KV62) discovered intact? Nearly every other tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings was robbed, so what was different about Tutankhamun’s tomb. He immediately ruled out man-made causes – if the ancient Egyptians had figured out a certain way to prevent robbers getting in then they would’ve done it to all the subsequent tombs too. Of the potential natural causes a flash flood seemed the best candidate and so he investigated the geology of the Valley around KV62. What he found was that when he mapped the routes that flooding took through the Valley three different streams of water collided outside KV62. This creates the right conditions for the… Read More »“An Ancient Flash Flood and Stratigraphy in the Valley of the Kings” Stephen Cross (EEG Meeting Talk)

Egypt Holiday 2014: Temple of Mut at Karnak

Sacred Lake at the Temple of Mut, with Karnak in the background After visiting the main part of the Karnak Temple complex we returned to the coach briefly to go to the Temple of Mut. This is actually a part of the Karnak complex but it’s not possible to walk between the two sites (and it’s a different ticket). Hence the short coach ride. We were dropped off on the Avenue of Sphinxes that leads towards Luxor Temple and walked to the Temple of Mut. The goddess to whom this temple is dedicated was the consort of Amun and so one of the main three deities of the Karnak Temple complex. My photos are on flickr, click here for the full set or on any photo for the larger version of it. Plan of the Temple of MutMade by wikipedia user Markh This temple has only recently been opened to… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Temple of Mut at Karnak

Egypt Holiday 2014: Karnak Temple Complex

Sunrise Above Karnak Although it’s often referred to as “Karnak Temple” this huge site is actually composed of several temples. The primary one is dedicated to Amun-Ra and was once linked to Luxor Temple (which we visited earlier in the trip) by an avenue of sphinxes. Inside the enclosure walls are several other smaller temples, and to the south outside the walls is the Temple of Mut (which we visited afterwards & I’ll talk about in a separate post). The oldest structure that is still found on the site dates to the Middle Kingdom, but there’s archaeological evidence of occupation dating all the way back to prehistoric times. The various temples (particularly the main one) have been extended and/or rebuilt several times over the millennia that they were in use, making it not only an enormous site but also complicated. The main temple alone is the largest religious structure ever… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Karnak Temple Complex

Egypt Holiday 2014: Dendara Temple

Temple of Hathor at Dendara We visited Dendara after Abydos as it’s on the way back to Luxor. The temple here is dedicated to Hathor and is much more recent than the two at Abydos – it’s Ptolemaic and Roman era, although built on the site of older temples. One of the well known reliefs on the temple is of Cleopatra VII (ie the famous one) and her son Caesarion. We actually saw more of the surroundings of the temple than the inside – going up on the roof, under the floor and around the outside. My photos from this visit are, as always, up on flickr – click here for the full set, or on any photo to go to its flickr page. Plan of Dendara Temple ComplexMade by wikipedia user Sinuhe20 Key: A. Roman Kiosk; B. Domitian and Trajan Gate; C. Roman Birth House; D. Coptic Church; E.… Read More »Egypt Holiday 2014: Dendara Temple

“Egyptian Fortifications in Canaan” Rupert Chapman (EEG Meeting Talk)

On Sunday Rupert Chapman came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about his work on Egyptian fortifications in Canaan. He started by telling us about the different sorts of Egyptian fortification that exist, which have been categorised into four types by an author called Morris. The first two types are never found in the Levant; these are fortresses that control entry points into Egypt proper (for instance at Tell Haboua) and fortress towns such as Kuban in Nubia. The third type are migdol forts – migdol is a Hebrew word that means “tower” and the distinctive feature of these structures is a gate flanked by two towers. An example of this in Egypt is the entrance to Ramesses III’s temple at Medinet Habu. Chapman also compared them to much more modern structures – the early 20th Century AD Tegart Forts built by the British in Palestine (although… Read More »“Egyptian Fortifications in Canaan” Rupert Chapman (EEG Meeting Talk)