'Missing Tombs' October 29th 2017. The March 2018 departure is now full!  Please register any interest in a Spring 2019 departure soon.

The adventure began in Cairo where we were based at the luxury Mena House Hotel and we headed straight off to the Giza Plateau with the chance to enter pyramids , mastabas and of course the solar boat Museum. We could not leave Cairo without a visit to the Egyptian Museum where Chris talked us through some of the finds relative to his forthcoming book on ‘Missing Tombs’. The Tanis treasures, the Amarna collection and Tutankhamun’s treasures were highlights and relevant to the journey ahead.

Alexandria is a vibrant and exciting city and we had a busy schedule planned. Our hotel, the historic and comfortable Cecil on the corniche overlooked the ancient harbour and Ptolemaic royal quarter, a contender for the lost tombs of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Kom el Shuqafa, Kom el Dikka, Shatby Necropolis, the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Jewellery Museum all delighted.

However, a first for most of us was the special AWT permit to visit Abu Sir known by its Roman name as Taposiris Magna. We drove along the Mediterranean coast road with our Inspectors for the site and stopped on the road close to the ‘Lighthouse’.

A full day at Saqqara followed where highlights included the Unas Pyramid, Old and New Kingdom Tombs and the Serapeum.

Leaving Minya behind we visited the lovely Museum at Mallawi. Looted and fired in 2013 the Museum has now been completely renovated and many of the missing items returned. The Museum has some stunning displays and the lighting, display cases and exhibit labels are first class. Later we arrived at the rarely visited Governor’s Tombs at Meir, set in the cliff high above the Nile Valley. Steps covered by drifting sand were negotiated before entering the Old and Middle Kingdom Tombs to view desert hunting scenes, some reliefs still showing colour and others with wonderful boat scenes uncompleted on their grids.

The area shows a variety of burial styles and we debated the idea ‘lighthouse’ or ‘funerary monument’ before walking past many excavated and empty tombs to the temple believed by many to be the burial  site of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. While at the site we experienced a shower of rain but fortunately took cover in the ancient public baths.

Back in Cairo we took a day trip to visit one of the most impressive sites of the Delta, the vast site of Tanis. Here we studied the tombs of Osorkon and Psusennes, find site of the Tanis treasures now in Cairo Museum. As we wandered through the shattered blocks, statues and obelisks of the Temple of Amun Chris explained theories on the site, much of which is still completely untouched by excavation.

 

On our journey to Amarna we made a stop at Beni Hassan, where on purchase of one of the new photography tickets, for the first time in some years we were able to take pictures.  Amarna was, as ever, fascinating and Chris gave a guide to the tomb and likely occupants while we were actually in the Royal Tomb. It was a bonus and a real treat to meet up with Barry Kemp and his wife Miriam while we had our picnic lunch in the Rest House. Barry gave us all the latest news on his work during the drive back to the dig house.

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