Journal: Friday 17 March 2000
It is the second day of the feast and seems to be just as busy in Luxor today as it was yesterday, so to escape the crowds, Jenny and I went over to the West Bank. Near the ticket office, as we were trying to make our minds up about where to go, we met up with Robin and we decided to visit Deir el-Medina together.
I had never visited the tomb of Peshedu (TT3) before, which is high on the hillside above the village, as it has only recently been opened to the public after restoration. From the entrance there is a spectacular view over the whole of the workmen’s houses. Peshedu was a ‘Servant In the Place of Truth’ (Deir el-Medina), during the Ramesside Period. Like many of the other artisan’s tombs, Peshedu’s burial chamber has a vaulted ceiling and is beautifully decorated in paint on a yellow ochre background with scenes from the ‘Book of the Dead’. Anubis as a jackal guards the entrance passage and the walls of the burial chamber are covered with thick black hieroglyphs and painted deities behind new glass panels. The decoration looked fresh and bright, like it had just been painted. Straight ahead we were confronted by one of the most famous and beautiful scenes from this tomb, which depicts the god Osiris seated on a throne before a mountain while Horus perches in the form of a falcon. In the curve of the ceiling a large personified Wadjet-eye supports a burning torch, while Peshedu kneels below. Another well-known scene was on the right-hand entrance wall (east) in which Peshedu crouches by a pool beneath a palm tree laden with dates. It is interesting that the decoration of the private Ramesside tombs abandons the scenes of daily life seen in earlier tombs for a more formal depiction of the deceased and his family adoring various gods of the funerary books. In these later tombs Anubis is as much in evidence as Osiris.
After a brief visit to the Hathor Temple, Robin had to leave as she had to go somewhere and Jenny and I decided to walk over the mountain again. As we climbed breathlessly up the steep track from Deir el-Medina we stopped to look back and had a fabulous view over the workmen’s village and eventually as we got higher, to Medinet Habu. In the dusty sleepy streets of Kom Lolla, a few donkeys and buffalo grazed lazily on their bundles of fodder, while out in the surrounding fields one or two men worked with hoes on their crops, a timeless scene, just as it would have been in ancient Egypt.
We followed the rim of the hills along the well-worn track that the Deir el-Medina artisans must also have taken, a lonely path but with stunning views at every turn. We stopped often to catch our breath – not so fit today because of our colds and Jenny’s throat is still very sore. The walk is probably only a few kilometres but took us almost three hours because the path weaves up and down as it follows the contours along the edge of the hills. By the time we came down into the bay of cliffs at Deir el-Bahri my legs felt like jelly and I know I will ache tomorrow.
Taking an arabeya back to the ticket office we walked to the Rameses Cafe at Medinet Habu and stayed there to have dinner. We chatted with Salah while he sat smoking his shisha and then Nubi came in for his evening cup of tea and gossip. It was dark by the time we were on the ferry on our way back to Luxor and the reflected lights from the floodlit temple shimmered on the water. I could think of nowhere I would rather be at this moment.