Journal: Friday 2 April 1999
This morning I went to Kom Lolla, near the Temple of Medinet Habu, to visit my Egyptian friends, Nubi and Zeinab. When I arrived Nubi wasn’t home, so while Zeinab made tea I played with their two youngest children, Mona and Hassan. Mona, a girl of around eight years old, is very quiet but self-composed and has the most beautiful sparkling brown eyes which seem to speak volumes. Hassan, who is three, is very cute and as the baby of the family is petted and pampered and gets away with all sorts of mischief. I had taken toys for the children when I first arrived last week and they were still playing with them. Egyptian children do not seem to have the abundance of toys that western children do and they really appreciated their gifts. Just as I was about to leave Nubi returned and I stayed for another hour, more tea and interesting archaeological conversation.
Leaving Nubi’s house I walked around the edge of Medinet Habu to Qurnet Murai and along the road to Deir el-Medina This is the ‘Village of the Workmen’, the community of artisans who were employed in the construction of the royal tombs and other monuments of the Theban necropolis during the New Kingdom. My son and I had visited the Hathor Temple last year with Antiquities Inspector Dr Mohammed Sayed, but on that occasion had I taken no pictures. This time I bought a ticket and with my camera ready for action, went straight to the temple which luckily at mid-day was empty. Originally there were several small earlier temples on the site, but the largest extant today, the Temple of Hathor, ‘Goddess of the West’, was begun by Ptolemy IV Philopator and was one of the last temples in Egypt to be contained within a high mudbrick enclosure wall. Various other Ptolemaic kings added to it and decorated it over the years and the result was a lovely little monument which still has a lot of colourful reliefs. The vestibule is beautifully decorated in soft feminine hues of pinkish-blue, with floral columns and Hathor-headed pillars. A column to the left-hand side of the doorway of the vestibule depicts the deified Imhotep with his mother and wife and on the right shows the deified Amenhotep, Son of Hapu. On the left-hand side a staircase, with a lovely little window, leads up to the roof and beyond the vestibule, three doorways lead to three sanctuaries. The centre chamber is dedicated to Hathor as the local goddess of the Theban necropolis, on the left, Amun-Sokar-Osiris representing the underworld and on the right, Amun-Re-Osiris as a solar god. The reliefs in each of the sanctuaries, showing the king offering to a wide variety of deities, are very well-preserved. In the sanctuary of Amun-Sokar-Osiris there is a relief showing a judgement scene where the heart is being weighed – usually only seen in tombs. Another interesting scene from this sanctuary shows the four-headed Ram of Mendes who represents the four winds and the souls of Osiris, Geb, Shu and Amun.
I spent a couple of hours in the temple, photographing the reliefs and talking to the guard, who was very knowledgeable and all the time I was there nobody else came in. I was very hot, so I walked back to Medinet Hubu for a cold drink and a restful hour in the cafe before going back to Geziret to the hotel. Later in the cool of the evening, I met up with Robin and we had dinner in one of my favourite restaurants, the Tutankamun by the ferry dock, where we could sit up on the rooftop restaurant and watch for shooting stars, with a light breeze coming off the river.