Journal: Thursday 5 October 2000
I am determined not to give in to this sickness, though I dare not venture very far away from our apartment at Kom Lolla. I hate to waste a minute of my time in Egypt and I’m beginning to feel cheated by having to stay indoors while the whole monument area just outside my window beckons to me. This morning, after a few false starts, I decided I could make it around the corner to Medinet Habu Temple, which is close enough for me to dash back home if I felt unwell.
Around mid-day, Jenny and I were in the rear of the temple looking at the rooms around the sanctuary area at the back of the Hypostyle Halls when we heard faint singing voices. Intrigued, we walked back out to the First Court at the front of the temple and found a group of tourists complete with hymnbooks, singing Christian hymns in English. What….?? Well, I suppose the temple had been used as a Coptic church once during its long history, so why not?
Escaping back into the deserted furthest recesses we carried on looking at the rear chambers, which it is thought, may once have contained the crypts to house the temple implements used for the most sacred rituals. The floors of these back rooms are now smooth and there is no evidence of entrances to underground vaults, but most of the temples had crypts for storage so they may have been there at one time. The chambers to the north and south behind the barque chapel of Amun are long, silent and very dark, certainly not light enough to take photographs after a few feet in from the entrance. Jenny was in the northern room and I was to the south of the sanctuary, quite a long way apart when I heard her shout my name, so I walked over to the other side of the hall and stood behind her wondering why she was peering into the blackness into a tiny low recess. When she turned her head and saw me she jumped in shock. Apparently she had seen someone she thought was me disappear into the gloom at the back of the room and she was very startled then to see me behind her. I was dressed today in a long white top and white cotton trousers and she swore that someone all in white had darted into the chamber but when she followed there was nobody there. We investigated the chamber thoroughly right to the end wall but there was no other exit except where Jenny had been standing when she saw ‘me’. I decided Jenny must have been too long in the sun. We left the chamber together to go into the room behind which buts up against the rear wall of the temple and it was then that we both saw it. A ghostly figure dressed in white walked right through the solid wall in the dark chamber in front of us and disappeared!
Sitting rather shocked on a low wall discussing what we had both just seen, we could find no rational explanation. Perhaps an ancient Egyptian priest had been disturbed by the incongruous hymn-singing at the front of the temple which was just ending. Then we went back into the room on the southern side of the Sanctuary and heard a strange noise inside the room, like a hammer loudly and regularly tapping on stone. One of the temple guards who we knew quite well came along looking for us and together we all listened to the noise. This was very strange as it couldn’t be heard at all outside the chamber. The guard even climbed up onto the high back wall to see if anybody was working nearby but he could see no explanation for the noise, which he said he had never heard before. We all kept going in and out of the room, but the noise could only be heard inside. What a spooky day.