Thursday, 11 December 2008

Abydos outside the Seti I temple, 1st Dynasty burials

OK I am massive lucky…..and then some. I thought I had got permission to visit the Archaic period burials at Abydos but when we got there it was disaster. Having produced my permissions, these were dismissed, I phoned this, that and the other, not good enough, no answer, phone switched off. I had spent 30 minutes arguing. Then I produced my ace in the hole and got hold of Dr Sabry, Dr Zahi’s deputy. He was marvellous and within 30 seconds we had our precious permission. One phone call and he arranged it all. I was totally made up as I had tried to get there before and failed. As we were doing these burials for our first essay it was really important. Assigned an inspector and a police man we went off. Our driver was amazing as this was a desert road more suited to a four wheel driver than our rather nice a/c mini bus. But our driver did it.

We went to the area of the burial of the early dynastic tombs. The area is known as Umm el-Gaab (Qaab), mother of pots and the amount of pottery there left by devoted pilgrims to the area was stunning. The wonderful inspector Mohammed Naguid took us everywhere. He had warned the German expedition we were coming and a rather stern member warned us we could visit, no stepping on mudbrick, if we wanted to go down shoes off. Harda ya Basha (yes SIR!!!). So we got to see the open tombs. Omg they were fantastic. Den was the first use of a stair case and has a pink granite floor. Totally huge and the granite floor was so smooth.

Djer was being excavated and showed what looked like burnt walls, an enclosed area which might have been an early serdab. It was stunning to think these were 5000 years old

Then we got to Khasekhemwy’s funerary enclosure, also known as Shent el-Zebib. Wow, double wow and triple wow. I could not believe it. It was huge, magnificent, amazing, and totally impressive. Although experts disagree about the origins of the step pyramid enclosure, some saying it came from nowhere and others that it had its origin in these enclosures. I agree with the later having seen this for myself.

Then the inspector suggested we went to the New Kingdom temple of Ramses II, built on older buildings. This is known as Kom el Sultan. Our visit really showed me how large the Abydos cemeteries were and how important the entire area was. You get an entirely different idea when you just visit the Seti I temple, with no idea of this vast area behind.

I also had a quick look at the House of Companions which is a simple place to stay there. It is not sophisticated or luxurious but it is clean. So somewhere to stay in Abydos

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