This article appeared in the quarterly magazine of the Sussex Egyptology Society in March 2020.
I was really looking forward to the trip to Cairo this time, because I planned a trip with Araby, an Egyptology guide, and a driver to visit the Beni Hassan tombs, as well as Amarna in Minya during February 2020.
These were sites I have not previously visited. Araby had assured me that we could do it in one day, which in hindsight was rather optimistic! We set off from the Mena House Marriott Hotel at 6.30 am on the morning of 5th February after a hasty breakfast, with a brief stop along the way for tea. It was estimated it would take us three and half hours to travel the 300 kms. However, getting through Cairo is the difficulty, but the open roads were trouble-free.
We arrived at Beni Hassan at about 10.30 am. I was warned about the climb to the tombs, but the climb was really worth it; in fact climbing the steps was made fairly easy if taken in stages. We visited the four tombs of the Governors dating from c.2050 to c.1800 BC. These were the 12th Dynasty tombs of Khunumhotep II and Amenemhat, and the 11th Dynasty tombs of Baqet III and Khety.
I was enthralled by the art on the walls, particularly the wrestling and dancing scenes, and the surprise was seeing yoga positions high up on the walls in Khety’s tomb.
We then travelled to Amarna for a brief picnic lunch before climbing once more to reach the tombs from the time of Akhenaten. These were beautiful, and was particularly struck by the pillars I saw in all the tombs, but sad at the damage caused by the Copts who had lived in them. Araby told me that there are a number of stelae cut into the rock to mark the boundary of the city of Amarna. He said that the best example of the hymn of Aten is reflected in David’s Psalm 117.
I looked it up when I returned home: “Oh Praise the Lord, all ye nations; praise him all be people. For his merciful kindness is great towards us; and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.”
We travelled back to Cairo early evening but encountered heavy traffic in Cairo, which delayed my returning to the hotel It was the end to a very tiring day, but well worth the effort.
As well as Mary’s counselling and hypnotherapy business she works with University of Greenwich and has a passion for Egyptology.
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