Day at Timeless El Kab
We booked an early call at the hotel, had a quick shower,
breakfast and then away with my old mate Awad ali Awad
(this is like the old days again) the only difference
being this time we are in his new minibus. An early start
6.45 was necessary to enable us to catch the convoy to
Aswan, we waited patiently by the recently completed Luxor
bridge until the convoy arrived. Then off we went like
a bat out of hell - or it seemed that way - non-stop until
we arrived at the Black Horse cafe. Here the police checked
the various registrations of the vehicles and head counted
the occupants. The chief of the Police was not overly
impressed when Awad stated my intentions to visit the
Archaeological site at El Kab, finally he agreed to let
me go only if I had my own personal armed guard whom he
would provide to accompany me.
convoy left and so did we armed, guard and all ( fortunately
he was a smashing chap) on arrival at the archaeological
site the entrance was blocked by an armed personnel carrier,
after explaining why we had left the convoy and why I
had my own armed guard they moved and permitted us to
proceed to the ticket office. Although they (the six of
them) followed my progress for an hour all good-natured
I might add.
first stop - after negotiating the countless steps - were
the New Kingdom tombs on the Western cliff face.
Ahmose Son of Ibana ( Tc 5). chief of the sailors,
2. Paheri ( Tc 3 ) Mayor of Nekheb and Prince of the city.
3. Setau ( Tc 4 ) Prophet of Nekhbet,
4. Reneni ( Tc 7 ) Overseer of the Prophets.
Tombs date from the very beginning of the New Kingdom
to the time of Rameses 111 exhibiting excellent wall paintings
and reliefs of everyday life and death, and exploits during
the overthrowing of the Hyksos. The hieroglyphic inscriptions
include depictions of the Tekenu and the Muu. Every wall
demands your full attention. Through the ages many explorers
and Egyptologists have visited and recorded the engrossing
scenes, starting in modern times with Napoleon's Savants
on the 20th September 1799 followed by Belzoni, Irby and
Mangles on 15th August 1817, James Burton 1825,
Champollion in 1828, Wilkinson and of course the great
Flinders-Petrie in 1887.
to view the Old Kingdom tombs we started into the adjacent
Wadi, following ancient paths, alas all the tombs I visited
were lacking any hieroglyphic decoration. The only Pharaonic
remnant we came across was part of a mummified crocodile.
Way below us on the Wadi floor our armed personnel carrier
was still evident probably bemused, although I must say
my newly acquired personal guard was taking it all in
his stride (little did he know I would spend four hours
at this enthralling site).
the highlight. We climbed down to the wadi floor scrambled
back onto the Mini buss and off to the rock of vultures. I
was determined to photograph as many Prehistoric and Old Kingdom
graffiti as possible in the time I had at my disposal. On
arrival we parked and walked towards this imposing sacred
rock that stands isolated in the centre of the Wadi, it's
great antiquity overwhelms your senses. Enhanced by the silence,
only the breeze could be heard, the place is timeless. The
prehistoric rock graffiti depicting abundant gazelles, cattle,
warriors, multi oared sailing vessels possibly date back to
6000 BC. I find myself climbing higher and higher finally
I am forced to stop when the climb becomes precarious, I'm
in awe of this fantastic place. As Awad climbs up to join
me he explains we have missed the next convoy (great news,
now there's no pressure on me to rush). The extra-time allows
me to visit the next rock of vultures only a further 200 metres
or so away. Here I find mainly 6th dynasty graffiti naming
Pepi 1 and Pepi 11. No climbing here, many inscriptions are
cut into the rocks and boulders lying on the Wadi floor.
When completed, I walk over the rock strewn dry riverbed and
climb towards the new kingdom temple of Amenhotep 111( Dr
Joann Fletcher would never forgive me if I didn't visit here).
A small temple with beautiful colours. When finished I spend
half-an-hour sitting on the shady side of the temple, wondering
how many inscriptions lie undiscovered in the Wadi's within
my eyesight. If I only had the time to look. Maybe one day
I will. Back to the Mini bus. Just as we're about to enter
the air-conditioned comfort we are stopped in our tracks 4
beautiful gazelles inquisitively pass by at a discreet distance.
Nothing has changed here since the beginning of recorded history.
short of time I briefly visit the Ptolemaic temple dedicated
to the goddess Nekhbet attested to Ptolemy V11, X and X1.
Although originally of the 18th Dynasty the remains of a rock
stele of Rameses 11 worshipping Re' Harakhte and Nekhbet is
in evidence. Finally back down the 42 steps to the chapel
of Thoth erected by Setau the Viceroy of Kush in the reign
of Rameses 11. Sadly not a great deal of decoration is left
has been my 4th visit to El Kab my previous being in 1989
the site especially vulture rock remains unspoilt and a great
joy to visit. I took over 150 slides for my collection, and
look forward to my next visit I'm sure I have much more to
see given time.
of time being the essence we must return to the Black Horse
cafe and rejoin the convoy on arrival, I say farewell to my
bodygaurd whilst I am invited by the Commander in Chief to
have a bottle of Coca-Cola ( which he kindly purchased) I
remark how beautiful his country is. An hour or so later I'm
having a Stella beer in the bar at the Luxor Sheraton reflecting
on another wonderful day.