Journal: Thursday 1 April 1999
This morning I went to Robin’s apartment, where we had coffee on her roof which has lovely views of both the Nile and the Theban mountains. Looking straight down from my viewpoint into the street, I could see it was baking day in Geziret and all along the road there were dozens of round flat loaves of bread laid out on wooden benches to prove in the sun. This morning the weather was perfect, warm but not scorching hot, or else the bread would have baked where it was. Later we caught an arabeya up to the taftish and bought tickets for the Queen’s Valley which, for some reason I had only visited once before. Instead of taking the wide tarmac road, we walked over the mountain from Deir el-Medina, past the Ptah and Meretseger shrines and down into the Valley of the Queens on the ancient workmen’s path.
First we went into the tomb of Prince Khaemwaset, the eldest son of Rameses III (QV44). The tomb is a wide corridor with a couple of side annexes and a long burial chamber and the decoration is very beautiful with delicately painted reliefs and very well-preserved colour mostly on a pale background. The young prince is shown on the walls with his father who seems to be presenting him to various deities and there are also scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’
The tomb of Amunherkhopshef, another of Rameses III’s sons (QV55), is also a simple corridor design. Here the superb detailed reliefs are painted on a blue-grey background and the overall appearance has an ultramarine hue which gives a soft and gentle feel to the young prince’s tomb. The prince is depicted wearing the ‘sidelock of youth’ and is accompanied by his father and many gods. A rear annex, undecorated but perhaps intended to be the burial chamber, houses the small sarcophagus of Amunhirkhopshef. Robin wanted to do some sketching in this tomb and got annoyed when the guard tried to throw us out after only five minutes. Nobody else was there and after an argument he let us stay longer. It wasn’t until we got back outside that we saw the sign to say visitors were only allowed five minutes in the tomb, but by then we had had half an hour. Whops!
The third tomb we visited was that of Queen Titi, a royal lady of Dynasty XX of whom little is known. Her small tomb was greatly damaged by later re-use, but some decoration remains, showing lightly carved reliefs painted in delicate warm colours on a white plaster background. When we had finished we walked back along the road to Medinet Habu, passing through the destroyed temple of Ay and Horemheb to the Rameses Cafe for cold drinks and a chat with friends there.
Later in the evening Robin and I went to a party in Luxor, given by one of the English ladies living there. It took a while to find Molly’s apartment – all Robin knew was that it was somewhere off Television Street, near a computer shop and had fairy lights on the balcony. But we did find the place eventually when we were just about to give up and spent a pleasant evening meeting old friends and some new ones too. Leaving after Midnight to go back on the almost deserted ferry across to the West Bank, I was feeling very tired. As I got into bed at 1.30am the local rooster, who always gets up early, was crowing. It must be time to sleep!