The Missing Cities with Dr Chris Naunton

THE MISSING CITIES

Missing tombs, one of our most popular tours now goes one stage further and we look for some of the ‘Missing’ Cities of Egypt.

DEPARTING 21st October 2025

Antinopolis

Many of ancient Egypt’s cities were probably in roughly the same location, and therefore underneath, modern major settlements. As a result, it sometimes feels as though Egypt’s cities are missing, but in fact there is still a lot to see of the great cities of Memphis, Alexandria, Tanis, Bubastis, Fustat, Herakleopolis, Antinopolis and Thebes.

Mit Rahina
Herakleopolis
Herakleopolis

Getting at the information preserved in towns and cities has proven to be more difficult than digging temples and tombs, and was perhaps felt to be less immediately rewarding, at least for the earliest archaeologists. Many traces of the great cities can still be seen – if you know where to look.

Tanis

Accompanied throughout by Dr Chris Naunton this tour begins in Cairo and we continue our explorations in the Delta, Alexandria, the Faiyum and Luxor.

The Egyptians took most care over their religious monuments: tombs were built far away from where the people lived and sealed for eternity (they hoped), and temples were built of stone and well maintained for centuries. These are the monuments that have survived best, while the remains of Egypt’s great cities have proven to be more elusive.

Houses, even the palaces of kings and queens, and the other non-religious were constructed of mud brick, which was much less durable and has often been robbed away. More valuable items tended to be used or left in temples and tombs as well, not lying around where people were going about their ordinary business.

Getting at the information preserved in towns and cities has proven to be more difficult than digging temples and tombs, and was perhaps felt to be less immediately rewarding, at least for the earliest archaeologists. Many traces of the great cities can still be seen – if you know where to look.

Day 1 - Tuesday 21st October 2025

We take our direct flight from London Heathrow to Cairo and on arrival take our private transfer to the 5-star Crowne Plaza Hotel. We check in for four nights on room and breakfast basis.

Day 2 - Wednesday 22nd October – The Grand Egyptian Museum

We begin our adventure with a visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum. Plenty of time to view the galleries at leisure in this wonderful new Museum. Lunch will be own arrangements in one of the many food outlets in the main reception area. (B)

Day 3 - Thursday 23rd October – Saqqara

Our day begins with a visit to ancient capital city of Memphis at Mit Rahina with time to wonder at the fallen limestone colossus of Ramesses II. We spend the rest of the day exploring Saqqara where Chris will explain some of his theories on this vast complex, and why it yet conceals the tomb of the architect of the Step Pyramid. We visit the Imhotep Museum, the Step Pyramid Enclosure, the Unas Pyramid, the Serapeum and the Old Kingdom Mastabas. We have a break for a refreshing lunch at the Sakkara Palm Club. Tonight, we plan a meeting to discuss the journey ahead with a brief outline of sites we will visit.  (BL)

Day 4 - Friday 24th October – Old Cairo

We will walk through the gates of Old Cairo along El Moezz Street and enter the Mosque of el Hakem and discover the scant remains of the Fatimid city. We take a refreshing lunch at Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant in Khan el Khalili. We then visit Coptic Cairo where we find the ‘Hanging Church’ named for its location over the gatehouse of Babylon Fortress.   The fort of Babylon was founded by captives from Babylonia who named it after their hometown. Centuries later the Roman Emperor Trajan diverted a canal connecting to Nile to the Red Sea with a new harbour in Babylon as its entry point. The fort was later rebuilt under Diocletian. When the Arabs under ‘Amr ibn al-‘As conquered Egypt in AD 640-641, they built a new capital at Babylon which they named al-Fustat around the tent of their commander.

When the Fatimids took Egypt in 969 AD, they founded a new administrative capital to the north east of Fustat which they called al-Mu’izziyya al-Qaahirah, meaning the ‘Victorious City of al-Mu’izz’. The name was eventually shortened to al-Qaahirah – the Victorious – or ‘Cairo’ in anglicised form, while the name al-Mu’izz survives as that of the main street running through the centre of the old walled city.

These are the two founding locations of the modern capital city of Egypt, the successor, ultimately to ancient Memphis and Alexandria, the previous capitals.

Tonight Chris will give a talk on The Fortress of Babylon and the Red Sea Canal.  (BL)

Day 5 - Saturday 25th October – Bubastis and Tanis

Today we head out in to the Delta and our first visit of the day Tell Basta, the site of ancient Bubastis.

Next, we head to San el-Haga, better known as Tanis, famous for the Tombs of Psusennes I and several other kings of the Twenty-first and Twenty-second dynasties.  Tanis and Bubastis were among the most important cities of the Third Intermediate Period, an era characterised by the influence of ‘Libyans’ and the division of power in Egypt between various local rulers. Tanis was the successor city to Per-Ramesses, capital of Ramesses II, and the seat of the 21st Dynasty Kings; the succeeding 22nd Dynasty was based at Bubastis, at least according to Manetho. Both sites are dominated by the remains of vast cult temples – of Amun at Tanis, and Bastet at Bubastis. Tanis was also the site of the royal cemetery of both lines, whose kings were buried in tombs close to the temple entrance, a dramatic change in custom perhaps attributable to the Libyans.

We travel with lunch boxes from the Crowne Plaza today as we cover many miles.  Later we will check in to the Steigenberger Hotel at Ras el Bar set on the Mediterranean outlet of the Damietta branch of the Nile. This evening  we will have an informal meeting to discuss our adventures for the next day. (BL)

Day 6 - Sunday 26th October – To Rosetta and Alexandria

After an early breakfast we drive to the lovely coastal city of Alexandria. We travel with a lunchbox from our hotel today. We headfirst to Rosetta also known as Rashid. It was here in 1799 that the famous Rosetta Stone was discovered.  We explore the old town and the Qaitbay Fort before we check in to the 5-star deluxe Helnan Palestine Hotel close to the famous ‘Montaza Royal Palace’ one of Alexandria’s famous landmarks. (BL)

Day 7 - Monday 27th October – The Alabaster Tomb

A highlight today will be our special permit to view The Alabaster Tomb …. Egypt was just one of the countries that Alexander the Great conquered in forming this empire but it left a deep impression on him. Following his death in Babylon in 323 BCE one of his generals, Ptolemy, took Alexander’s body to Egypt for burial. Alexander founded a new capital for Egypt on the Mediterranean coast. Nothing of Alexandria was built when Ptolemy arrived with his emperor’s mortal remains, but in the following years the city would appear, with the tomb at its centre. The tomb has never certainly been identified but the best candidate we have is the ‘Alabaster Tomb’.  Next, we visit the site of Kom el Dikka where we see the remains of lecture halls, a theatre and villas dating from the Early Roman Period. We take time for local refreshments before setting off for the Faiyum. On arrival we check in to the Helnan Auberge on the shore of Lake Qarun for two nights on a breakfast and dinner basis.  (BD)

Day 8 - Tuesday 28th October – Herakleopolis and Lahun

Another special permit today as we head to Herakleopolis, one-time principal city of Lower Egypt. During the later Third Intermediate Period, while the north of Egypt was under the control of local rulers at cities like Tanis and Bubastis, the Nile Valley also came to be divided between various centres of power including Herakleopolis. Next to Lahun with a chance to view the pyramid of Senusret II.  We travel with a lunch box today and return to our hotel late afternoon. Tonight Chris will give a talk on the political geography of Egypt in the Third Intermediate Period.  (BLD)

Day 9 - Wednesday 29th October - Antinopolis to Assyut

A rare chance today to visit Antinopolis known locally as Sheik Abada.  Antinoopolis was founded by the Emperor Hadrian to commemorate the loss of his favourite, Antinous. At the time of the Napoleonic survey of sites and monuments c. 1800 it was one of the richest sites along the Nile Valley in terms of standing moments which included a roman theatre, hippodrome and colonnaded central street. It has suffered since that time but substantial remains of Hadrian’s city are still visible, along with a temple of the time of Ramesses II.  We travel with lunch boxes again as we have a long drive to Assyut. On arrival we check in to our comfortable corporate hotel for one night on breakfast and dinner basis. Tonight, we will have a meeting with time for discussion. (BLD)

Day 10 - Thursday 30th October – To Abydos

After breakfast we drive to Abydos where we break our day with lunch at The House of Life Hotel. We stay at this hotel for one night and we will all eat in the same restaurant in the evening. After lunch we go exploring and visit the lovely Temple of Seti I with some the finest relief work to be found in Egypt. We look at the Osireion before walking across the desert sands to the Temple of Ramesses II. A chance to view some of the latest excavations at the site. (BLD)

Day 11 - Friday 31st October – Dendera to Luxor

We drive to Luxor but on the way, we make a stop at the lovely temple of Hathor at Dendera where we can view the decorated astronomical painted ceiling. On arrival in Luxor, we check in to the Old Winter Palace, Garden Pavilion Wing on room and breakfast basis for three nights. There will be time for a lunch break and late afternoon we visit Luxor Temple. This evening Chris will give his final lecture. (B)

Day 12 - Saturday 1st November – Some Temples and Tombs

We take a private launch across the Nile and head straight to the homes and tombs of the workmen of Deir el Medina followed by a visit to Medinet Habu.  Deir el-Medina is the best preserved and most famous settlement site from ancient Egypt. Built for the workmen who created the tombs of the pharaohs in the Valley of Kings, not only have the houses of the workmen survived along with their own brightly decorated tombs, the site has also yielded a vast quantity of information shedding light on the daily lives of its inhabitants. Towards the end of the New Kingdom, the villagers seem to have been threatened by marauding foreigners, perhaps including some of the Libyans who would eventually settle and have such an influence on Egypt in later times. For security, some of the workmen moved into the nearby enclosure around the mortuary temple of Ramesses III, whose massive girdle wall helped keep the invaders out. The best-known figure at Deir el-Medina during this time was Butehamun who was heavily involved in the caching of the royal mummies, and his grand house still survives at the site. Over the centuries the temple became a city in its own right, the ‘Medina’ of Habu.

We have lunch at a local restaurant and then in the afternoon we visit some of the Nobles tombs. First to Sennofer,  the famous ‘Tomb of Vines’ with its colourful paintings and then to Rekhmire, vizier in the reign of Tuthmosis III. Finally, to the tombs of Menna and Nakht before we return to our hotel. (BL)

Day 13 - Sunday 2nd November – The Valley of The Kings

We take our private launch to the West Bank again to join our vehicle and head straight to the Valley of the Kings. We have three tickets for those tombs open on the day with an option to buy extras including Seti I or Tutankhamun. We take lunch at our local restaurant before returning to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. (BL)

Day 14 - Monday 3rd November – Home

We board our direct flight to London Heathrow, arriving early afternoon. (B)

Chris Naunton is an Egyptologist and author of several books including Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt (2018), Egyptologists’ Notebooks (2020), and two books for children, Tutankhamun Tells All! (2021) and Cleopatra Tells All! (2022). He regularly appears in television documentaries, most recently as co-presenter of Mysteries of the Pyramids with Dara O’Briain (Channel 5, 2024). He was Director (CEO) of the Egypt Exploration Society from 2012 to 2016 and President of the International Association of Egyptologists from 2015 to 2019, and is now Director of the Robert Anderson Trust.

B = Breakfast BL = Breakfast and Lunch BD = Breakfast and Dinner BLD = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner

The Missing Cities

  • Tour Code: AWMC211025
  • Departing: 21st October 2025
  • Returning: 3rd November 2025
  • Cost Per Person: £5690
  • Single Supplement: £680

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