Journal: Friday 3 December 2004
We had arranged to Meet Christine and Jackie to go to Deir el-Medina, which is Christine’s favourite place. She is an Egyptologist who we have known for many years, but she only visited Egypt for the first time a couple of years ago as she was terrified of flying. I find it odd how so many Egyptologists have never been to Egypt, so that their knowledge is purely academic, while others who excavate in Egypt often never have time to visit any sites other than the ones they are working on. Ask almost any professional Egyptologist a question and unless it is their own particular field of interest they often cannot give you an answer. Christine and Jackie phoned us during breakfast and said they were too tired to go out today – so Sam & I drove over to the West Bank to Deir el-Medina anyway.
We walked through the workmen’s village to the temple and spent a couple of hours there, first looking at the outside walls and then the chambers inside. There is so much beautiful colour left here that we wanted to take digital pictures before it was no longer allowed. You can never tell, the way things are going. I think we photographed every scene in the temple. There are some beautiful and colourful depictions of the gods at Deir el-Medina and they are so well-preserved. Ptolemaic reliefs are not my strong suit and once more I was having difficulty in reading the hieroglyphs, which to me don’t seem to make sense.
After leaving the temple we walked back along the top of the workman’s village. As usual here we were accosted by men selling ‘genuine antiquities’ which they bring out of pockets in little tobacco tins in a very secretive way. I managed to get rid of them quite quickly by speaking Arabic – they soon lost interest, realising we were not gullible tourists, this usually works. Every time I walk through the village there seems to be more and more of it – I’m sure it’s growing.
Later we drove over to Medinet Habu for lunch. I left Sam in the cafe and went off into Habu Temple. I rushed around quite quickly, first in the shrines of the Divine Adoritix – two of them have been closed off with gates, with only the Amenirdis and Shepenwepet shrines open. Took photographs in the first and second courts and the rooms around the hypostyle hall, especially in the Osiris suite and then had a walk around the palace area. I have large albums crammed full of Habu pictures but wanted digital ones too. A gafir kept hassling for baksheesh, but as he hadn’t actually done anything I ignored him for once. There were plenty of other people there to hassle. I had an enjoyable hour and a half wandering around the temple – most of the other people only stayed for 15 minutes or so.
When I got back to the cafe some old friends of ours were there so I stopped to chat with them for a while. Sam had been talked into pricing up an AUC book order which had just come in and she was hidden under piles of books (she works for a book-seller in England). I helped too for a while and we soon got the job done. We have invited our friend Salah to come to Kharga with us tomorrow and we thought if we helped finish this job it was more likely that Shahat would give him the day off. He’s never been to Kharga and is quite keen to go. While pricing the books I found new copies of Aidan Dodson’s ‘Complete Royal Families’, a new book which Sam has just paid £20 second hand for in the UK. Here it was LE150 – about £13, so I had to buy it. It’s very heavy but too much of a bargain not to take it.
We left Habu around 5.00pm and drove back to the hotel for a quick shower and change before meeting up with Christine and Jackie at Salt & Bread restaurant near the Railway Station for dinner. Afterwards we all went to the Etap to hear Maha singing again (we are such creatures of habit). Sam and Christine proceeded to drink a bottle of wine each while I stuck to my ahwa on this occason.