Today saw a change to the planned itinerary, but that is the joy of running your own schedule – you can change things. Most of our group wished to explore what the shops of Luxor City had to offer, so we packed them off with a local chaperone leading the charge.
The remainers leapt into a taxi and off we shot back to the Western Valley and its evidence of much excavation. We headed for Ay’s tomb under strict instructions from the Head of Excavations that no photos were allowed. We decided the best plan was to walk from Ay back along the valley. In the open area below the tomb’s approach, there was much work going on. We did see that a gate has now been placed across the entrance to WV25, and next to the road we also saw evidence of what looked like small rooms, possibly worker’s huts. Further down the valley a team was busy clearing rocks from a section of hillside, loading them into waiting trucks, barrow-full after barrow-full. Rounding the curve just before the tomb of Amenhotep III, another team was busy working away. Lots of activity here, but it didn’t look like anything major had been found. Hopefully I am wrong.
Valley of the Kings
We decided to drop in at the main Valley and happily ran into Salah Elmasekh, who was sitting outside KV1. After a good chat, we took a stroll up past the tomb of Yuya and Tjuyu to the closed KV19, the tomb of Mentuherkhepeshef, son of Rameses IX. Again plenty of buckets and wheelbarrows, but nobody working. We came back to the central valley passing by KV17. From here it was an easy downhill stroll to our waiting transport.
Dra Abu el-Naga
Next stop the tombs of Roy, Suroy and Amenemope. The first tomb we visited was the 18th dynasty tomb of Roy. Although small with a single chamber and a burial shaft, the wall paintings are exquisite.
Close by is TT148, the tomb of Amenemope. A lot to see in this tomb with its side chambers and statues. There is also a large granite sarcophagus, showing how important Amenemope was in the 20th Dynasty.
Another small tomb, almost next door, is that of Suroy. Very similar to the tomb of Roy, but showing less care in the execution of the wall paintings. Still, good to see.
On our way down we passed the entrance to Kampp 150, so much in the news in 2017, and couldn’t resist a peek inside. Torches are a must as there is no lighting and the burial shaft is very deep, in this mid-18th Dynasty tomb. Cool.
As we didn’t have long before we were scheduled to meet those brave souls who had opted for the greater adventure, shopping in Luxor, there was just time to pull in at Asassif. I wanted to show the others TT192, the funeral complex of Kheruef, steward to Tiye and the man charged with organising the first and third Sed festivals of Amenhotep III. The entrance to this complex is interesting, in that as you descend into the ground you pass under a lintel with pictures of Amenhotep IV and his mother offering to Atem and Ra-Horakhti. The complex suffered from a roof collapse during an earthquake, however this unfortunate event did much to preserve the inner wall inscriptions. This tomb, for me, is always a highlight because of its 18th dynasty inscriptions. Their grace and delicacy are here well preserved and have not suffered from being overwritten or usurped by later rulers. Lots to see here, but make sure you take a torch as it is not well lit. There are some very interesting dark tunnels and chambers underneath the first courtyard – enough said!
Time to head back to the Nile Valley Hotel for lunch and a chance to hear the stories of the Luxor shoppers. Everyone seemed very happy with their purchases. Perhaps it is a wise thing to go shopping with a local.
After another excellent Nile Valley Hotel lunch, it was time to get moving once more.
This afternoon’s port of call was Deir el-Bahari, the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut. No one can fail to be impressed the first time they see this gleaming white edifice, seated beneath the cliffs of the Theban mountains. A sacred place even in the Middle Kingdom, the location of this temple is something to behold. It lies in a straight line between Karnak and the tomb of the Queen on the other side of the mountain. The temple is also aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, but we were now at the other end of the day and it was time to head for home.
A brilliant day.