The 2005 NEMES Sojourn
Saqqara · Giza · Maidum · Hawara · Illahun
by Alan M Fildes


I for certain have never feel threatened in Egypt. I consider it safer than many places in the United Kingdom and definitely friendlier. Arriving at Giza we find you can't alight from your transport below the Sphinx. We are told we had to park in the bus park. This we did following that hideous wall they "the Authorities" have erected around the plateau, what is going on? A surly ticket office clerk demanded LE 40.00. "He has had a charisma by pass!" I inform the group. We were then searched, and our bags rifled before we could enter the Pyramid site. Then thankfully things are back to normal "Ah Hogan! How are you?" "Quite well thank you!" I replied, grinning all over my face. Loads of youngsters stare wonderingly - am I really Hulk Hogan? (At least the Billy Connolly jibes are non-existent in these parts.)

Time of the essence we were off to the South of the Valley Temple of Khafre, I pointed out where 007 Roger Moore passed by in the film "The Spy Who Loved Me". I get a real buzz being here, even though litter, camel and horse dung are ever present.

As we walked towards the Tomb of Queen Khentkawes (LG100) I noticed an excavation. I instructed the group to halt there while I went to investigate. They (Egyptologists on a dig), can get a little tetchy, and quite rightly so if you just walk on to a dig without an invitation. I noticed a guard running towards me gesturing & shouting "NO! NO!" when he arrived I asked to see the "Field Director" of course he didn't understand.

Thankfully help was at hand in the form of a very pleasant Egyptologist called Reda. He came across to speak and I told him that I am a long standing member of the Egypt Exploration Society and then enquired about the excavations. He informed me the Field Director is Mark Lehner who is re-investigating Khentkawes causeway to update our knowledge of this extremely interesting and intriguing period. The end of the 4 th Dynasty and the birth of the 5 th Dynasty, it last excavated in 1932/1933 by Selim Hassan. We talked for a few minutes regarding the progress being made, when I asked if it would be possible to enter the Pyramid/Mastaba. "Yes" he replied, "I have the keys." "Fantastic!" I expressed my delight. "I have stood outside this monument on literally dozens of occasions longing to enter." now my time had come. You see it pays to be a member of the E.E.S. and of course I am a member of the International Association of Egyptologists.

Fulfilling his remit Reda could not allow anyone else from my group onto the site, I explain to them, they went happily roaming around the plateau, agreeing to meet at the Sphinx.

I entered the pyramid/mastaba with Reda, the remains of a false door with nsw(t) /bity, nsw(t)/bity, mwt (King of Upper and Lower Egypt, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, mother) this enigmatic inscription was cut into the granite. Then we went through the iron-grilled gates, only a few feet, but to me it was a joy. The entrance to the burial chamber lined with granite blocks descending before me into the darkness, I shinned down into it, but for me at least, with unknown dust and sand abounding, the air was not pleasant. With no lighting at all I couldn't see further than a few feet - oh for a torch! I just pointed my camera and pressed - hoping the results would be favourable. Thanking Khentkawes for my indulgence I returned to the entrance. I shook Reda's hand and thanked him for his understanding.

Leaving Khentkawes and on my way back to the group I took a keen interest in the weathering of the facades of Khentkawes and Kai. Could these tombs be older than the 5 th Dynasty? I wondered, and wonder still.

I rejoined the NEMES crowd. I saw I wasn't missed, explorers every one of them. Christine and young Joe Gaynor approached me saying "we have just been in a tomb that smells of incense can this be?" "Of course," I replied, "Although not ancient incense, probably the remnants of a visit from some cult or other."

We visited the tomb of Kar (G7101), near Khufu's Pyramid. I started chatting with a young Egyptian who was an Egyptology student, who was studying the inscriptions within the tomb. He was knowledgeable on his subject and proudly pointed out badly eroded hieroglyphs that one could hardly see without his torch. They mention Kars other family members. I made a mental note to consult my William Kelly Simpson Giza Mastaba's; volume 2, when I returned home. The area just east of Khufu is full of interesting anomalies - such as the abortive beginnings of a pyramid and of course the shaft that contained the treasures of Queen Hetepheres 1 (G7000X). These treasures we would view in the Museum later.

One last tomb we entered was the imposing Mastaba Complex (LG53) of Seshemnefer IV. It dates to the late 5 th Dynasty or early 6 th Dynasty. This done and the group all together (I normally lose one or two!), and after a group photograph we walked back to the bus park via the inscrutable Sphinx. Just before we embarked I noticed an excavation North of the Wall of the Crow; the ancient entrance to the sacred site of Giza. Alas time did not allow a closer investigation, except to say there is a lot going on at Giza.

The Museum, allows no photography at all or at least that's what the sign says. As we entered the Museum we were relieved of our cameras. Frankly I didn't see the point, and made my dislike of this loose rule obvious. The Museum is a Treasure House of over 5000 years of Pharaonic history, no, of mankind's history. Surely a few photos as mementos are not too much to ask, but apparently so. Who makes these decisions?

So, you can imagine my delight to see two locals posing in front of Tutankhamun's death mask, FLASH going off and all. I left the room in disgust to visit my favourite lady; Princess Neferuptah, a member of the XII Dynasty ruling family who's sarcophagus is on the ground floor (we will be visiting her final abode the next day at Hawara). We also see her beautiful beaded girdle. The Pyramidions of Kings Khendjer, Amenemhet III, Rahotep, Nofret, Queen Hetepheres I, King Hor (a shadowy figure from the XIII Dynasty) the list is endless.

Then it happened again - photography going on everywhere!! I was beside myself, so I went to the official who confiscated my camera at the museum entrance and told him what I had just witnessed - he just shrugged his shoulders. He was not in the least concerned. I had spent hundreds of pounds to get to Egypt, and all I wanted was the same rules for all. A wonderful occasion was soured by what I considered as stupidity. On leaving the Museum we sat in the gardens in the sunshine. After paying my respects to Sneferu whose stelae stands in the garden we were off for a meal and a bottle of "Obelisk" red wine, (yes it's definitely improving - the wine that is).


Excavations at Khentkawes causeway Giza
Khentkawes false door & inscription
The antechamber of Khenkawes
Khentkawes inscription showing uraeus
The descent into the burial chamber
Site design by BadgerNet