Journal entry for Monday 26 October 1998
Deciding to spend the whole day of the West Bank, Kit and I were up early and caught an arabeya to the Colossi of Memnon, where we stopped for a while to look at the gigantic statues of Amenhotep III which once graced the entrance to his mortuary temple. It was a beautiful morning and we strolled along by the canal road that leads to Medinet Habu, meeting my friend Nubi there at his house. He told us that he had been to see Dr Sabri el-Aziz to ask for permission for us to see the newly-restored tombs of Roy and Shuroy, but unfortunately they were still sealed and we could not visit them on this occasion. Kit and I decided to walk to Deir el-Medina and as Nubi had a day off from his excavation work he said he would come with us. It was a pleasant walk in the early morning before the tourist coaches arrived to churn up the dust as they hurtled along the road.
At Deir el-Medina we were introduced to Dr Mohammed Sayed Hasan, who was in charge of the antiquities on the West Bank and Kit and I went into the tombs of Sennedjem and Inherkau as Dr Mohammed’s guests. When we came out he arranged cups of tea for us all and after a long talk with him about the West Bank monuments, he came with us to the Temple of Hathor and showed us around himself. I realised then that this must be an important man by the way the temple guards were acting – as though this was a royal visit! Although I had been in the beautiful little temple several times before, Dr Mohammed made it much more interesting and I felt honoured to have his company. He explained a lot about the earlier temples which were in various stages of consolidation. Amenhotep I, who was worshipped as a deity after his death, is thought to have been the founder of the workmen’s village and there are a few remains here of a temple built for his cult, to the north of the Ptolemaic temple. In front of this is another reconstructed chapel of Hathor built for the workmen by Seti I and on the hillside opposite are the remains of another temple built by Rameses II and dedicated to the Theban Triad. There had obviously been a lot of restoration work done recently on these small shrines. When it was time to leave I thanked Dr Mohammed for his kindness and to my great surprise he invited Kit and I to tea at his house in Qurna the following day.
Nubi, Kit and I walked the long dusty tarmac road back to Medinet Habu under the scorching mid-day sun. There is no shade or vegetation at all along this road, which branches off from the wide road leading to the Valley of the Queens and you just have to keep going. Eventually we arrived back at Kom Lolla, which is the proper name for the village where Habu Temple is situated and to Nubi’s house behind the temple, where his lovely wife Zeinab had prepared a feast for our lunch. We were all glad to sit down in the shade under the trees in their garden for a rest. Nubi and Zeinab’s older children had just come home from school and were eager to practice their English on us as their younger son played happily in the water from a hosepipe. Nubi is the son of Haga, a wonderful old lady I had met a few years ago, but hadn’t seen yet on this trip and after lunch he suggested we called in at her house near Habu Temple for tea. As usual we were made very welcome. Nubi and Kit were getting along famously and Haga made a lot of fuss over him. I think my credibility went up for having brought Kit to meet my Egyptian friends and they all seemed to be really pleased to meet him.
It was late afternoon by the time we got back to our hotel, just time for a rest before dinner. All this tea drinking can be very tiring! Later in the evening Kit and I went in a taxi to the airport to meet my friend Robin who was flying out from England today. She would be also staying at the el-Gezira Hotel with us.