After breakfast, we will catch our transport to our first stop.
The Valley of the Queens, almost a misnomer, as not only queens, but also royal princes were interred here. Ta-set-neferu, the place of the beautiful ones, is the final resting place of much of the Rameside royalty, most famously Nefertari, wife of Ramses the Great. It is thought that the use of the valley, for queens, is related to the sacred grotto at the western end where there are depictions of Hathor, the goddess who personified love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy.
We cross the Theban hillsides to the worker’s village of Deir el Medina, less than a kilometre away. Welcome to the village of the workmen who actually built the tombs, who laboured away, cutting through the rock, plastering the walls and crafting out the splendid decorations of these hallowed spaces for their kings and queens. Their workmanship shows in the beauty of the tombs they built for themselves, in and around the village. This UNESCO World Heritage Site carries one of the best documented accounts of community life in the ancient world, spanning almost four hundred years.
We leave the site of the workers village and make our way down the road to Qurnet Marai and on to Medinet Habu and some lunch.
After a short break, we begin our investigation of the first of the mortuary temples on our itinerary. The temple of Medinet Habu is Ramses III’s lasting legacy to Ancient Egyptian history. Its walls carry more than 7,000 m2 of decorated reliefs detailing the king’s military campaigns against would-be invaders from the north, in particular, the Sea Peoples.
On our way back to the hotel there is time for a stop at the Colossi of Memnon. These two 18-metre-high statues of Amenhotep III originally stood guard at the entrance to his mortuary temple. Unfortunately, very little remains to see of what once was the largest structure of its kind, even bigger than Karnak in its day.