THE SUN KING-AMENHOTEP III

Day 1 – Saturday 2nd March 2013
Fly London to Cairo with EgyptAir and on arrival take our private transfer to the Movenpick Hotel at Giza for three nights on room and breakfast basis.

Day 2 – Promise of the Sphinx
This morning we go straight to the Old Kingdom royal necropolis that was later venerated by the New Kingdom pharaohs. They regarded the Great Sphinx as the image of the sun god Ra-Horakhty, to whom Amenhotep III and his father Thuthmosis IV owed the crown. Like his father, the newly-crowned Amenhotep would have made the pilgrimage to the feet of the Sphinx to have his kingship confirmed by the sun god. In the afternoon we visit the Egyptian Museum to see the wealth of stunning objects from Amenhotep III's reign. Our visit will include the golden treasures from the tombs of his in-laws Yuya and Tuya and his grandson Tutankhamun, the museum's largest artefact, the enormous statue group of Amenhotep and his family originally set up in the king's funerary temple, and the highlight - meeting members of Amenhotep's own family in the Royal Mummy Room. (B)

Day 3 – Pyramids and Tombs
Today we visit more of the Old Kingdom pyramid sites which so inspired the king's antiquarian interests. First Meidum, where Amenhotep sent the royal scribe, May, to make notes on Snofru's pyramid complex. Time to enter the pyramid and explore the fascinating ‘Mastaba 17’. Then to the ancient capital Memphis, where Amenhotep was crowned pharaoh and where prince Thuthmosis was installed as high priest. We have a relaxing lunch at the Sakkara Palm Club before continuing to the ancient necropolis of Sakkara. We see the Step Pyramid of Djoser and view the wonderful reliefs in the mastaba tombs. (BL)

Day 4 – To Luxor
This morning we take the flight south to Luxor and transfer to the Old Winter Palace, Garden Pavilion Wing, for six nights on room and breakfast basis. Late afternoon we stroll along the Corniche to visit Luxor Temple at its most atmospheric, as the sun goes down and the floodlights go on. Possibly Egypt's most beautiful temple, the vast majority of the site was built by Amenhotep III as a place to celebrate the Opet Festival. As we enter the inner sanctum to the exact spot where the king became a god, we can also study his 'immaculate conception' and scenes of his birth. (B)

Day 5 – The Temple of Amun
A morning at Karnak, the great temple of Amun, embellished by Amenhotep III with pylon gateways, gold and jewelled inlays and great quantities of statuary including the remains of his 70 foot colossus, the largest statue ever built in Egypt. We also look at some of the beautifully reconstructed kiosks and chapels in the Open-Air Museum. After our guided tour we have free time to wander and take photos before returning to the hotel. Later today we go to the superb Luxor Museum, where we can admire the many artefacts from his reign, including the perfectly preserved statue of Amenhotep III in red quartzite. (B)

Day 6 – El Kab  
We travel south to Mo’alla and enter the tomb of the Governor Ankhtify before we visit the earliest of Amenhotep III’s temples at the remote site of el Kab. Built at the entrance to the Eastern Desert goldmine route and close to the sources of natron used in this period's distinctive mummification techniques, it is dedicated to the protective vulture goddess, Nekhbet. We see colourful reliefs of Amenhotep and his father Thuthmosis IV and view the 18th Dynasty tombs. Time for a picnic lunch at Vulture Rock with its many ancient inscriptions. We return to Luxor via the site of el Tod with its temple of Montu. (BL)

Day 7 – Amenhotep the Magnificent
This morning we take our private launch across the Nile to the West Bank. We have special permission to visit Malkata where we will stroll through the rarely visited ruins of Amenhotep III's palace. Our next stop will be at Medinet Habu, the funerary temple of Ramesses III, to see evidence of how it was decorated with material usurped from Amenhotep’s temple at Kom el Hetan. We lunch at the Africa Restaurant before a visit to look at some superbly decorated tombs belonging to some of the king's key officials, including those of his vizier Ramose, the royal scribe Menna and court astronomer Nakht. (BL)

Day 8 – Kom el Hetan
Once again we cross the Nile and make the short journey to Kom el Hetan; the huge area containing the Colossi of Memnon and originally the site of Amenhotep's funerary temple. It is currently being excavated by archaeologist Dr Hourig Sourouzian, who has kindly agreed to show us her team’s progress at the site. It is thought to be the largest temple ever built in Egypt and the source of most of Amenhotep’s statues which today adorn museums across the world, many usurped wholesale by successors such as Merneptah and Ramesses III.  Next to the Merneptah temple to look for the proof of this. We take lunch at the Africa Restaurant before we visit Deir el Medina to see the homes and tombs of the workmen who constructed the tombs in the Kings’ Valley. We also take a look around the Ptolemaic Temple dedicated to the goddesses Hathor and Maat. This temple was built over the remains of earlier temples including that of Amenhotep I. Close by we can see the Great Pit where archaeologists found many ostraca recording daily life at the village. (BL)

Day 9 – Royal Tombs
A very special day as we visit the Valley of the Kings to explore the tombs of Amenhotep III's predecessors, his father Thuthmosis IV and his grandfather Amenhotep II. Here the mummies of Amenhotep III and members of his family were discovered in 1898, following their reburial in antiquity. Then a visit to the famous tomb of his grandson Tutankhamun. We then leave the main valley and enter the secluded and rarely visited  West Valley, which Amenhotep chose for his own burial. We have a special permit for our group to enter this astonishing royal tomb. We will also enter the tomb of Ay, Tutankhamun’s successor and vizier to Akhenaten. (B)

Day 10 – Monday 11th March 2013
We take our private transfer to the airport for our direct EgyptAir flight to London. (B)

Experts: Jo Fletcher and Stephen Buckley, who are both at the forefront of research into this exciting period accompany this tour. Jo is Honorary Research and Teaching Fellow at the University of York and her publications include ‘Egypt’s Sun King: Amenhotep III’. Stephen is an archaeological chemist, an Honorary Research Fellow in Bioarchaeology at the University of York and a member of the University’s Mummy Research Group. In 2012 they were awarded a BAFTA, in the Specialist Factual Programme category, for their film ‘Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret’.

(B) = Breakfast (BL) = Breakfast and Lunch (BLD) = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner

 

THE SUN KING

DEPARTURE DATE  Saturday 2nd March 2013 

TOUR CODE AWSK020313

 

BASIC HOLIDAY PRICE: £2,795

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: £190

LAND ONLY DISCOUNT: £461 (If you arrange your own flights)

 

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