B.C. Archaeology

Study Tours of the Ancient World

ANCIENT EGYPT:
THE AMARNA PERIOD


Akhenaten and Nefertiti proceed to the Temple

You arise beauteous in the horizon of the heavens
Oh living Aten who creates life.
When you shine forth in the Eastern horizon
You fill every land with your beauty.
You are so beautiful: you are great;
Gleaming and high over every land.
Your rays embrace the lands and all you have created;
You are Re and reach out to all your creations,
And hold them for your beloved Son.
You are afar, but your rays touch the earth;
Men see you, but know not your ways.
When you set in the Western horizon of the sky
The earth is in darkness like the dead.
People sleep in their rooms with covered heads;
They do not see each other.
If all their possessions were stolen
They would know it not.
Every lion leaves its lair; all snakes bite;
Darkness covers all. The world is silent.
For the creator rests in his horizon.

Extract from the 'The Great Hymn to the Aten' by King Akhenaten

THE TOUR

This three-week Study Tour has an emphasis on the Egyptian 'sun-kings' of the Amarna period and the monuments of the 18th Dynasty. From Cairo we visit the majestic Step Pyramid of Saqqara and see the ruined colossus of Ramesses II at Memphis. A morning is devoted to the Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza. In the Fayyum Oasis we see the spectacular Roman ruins of Karanis, and the dramatic remains of the pyramid of King Senwosret II at Lahun. The great Salt Lake is a picturesque backdrop for our lunch. We then travel by bus to Minya where we spend a few days exploring the local antiquities.

We visit the superb painted tombs of the Middle Kingdom at Beni Hasan, and explore Queen Hatshepsut's desert temple at Speos Artemidos. A highlight of the tour is the two days spent at Amarna examining the remains of the ruined city of the 18th Dynasty King Akhenaten including its magnificent tombs. We see the Temples of the Aten, walk around the remains of the royal palaces, and explore the superb painted tombs of the Nobles. While in Middle Egypt we also visit the dramatic ruins of Ashmunein with its Temple of Thoth, and see the Ptolemaic painted tombs, underground galleries of the Ibis mummies and the boundary stela of Akhenaton at Tuna el-Gebel.

We travel south by bus to Abydos where we explore the wonderful painted Temple of Sety I and the Osireion (a Temple to Osiris) and visit the little visited Temple of Ramesses II. We continue our journey to Luxor which will be our base for the next few days. We spend a day amongst the ruins of Karnak Temple and tour the imposing remains of Luxor Temple. We enjoy the excellent Luxor Museum, with its stunning collection of New Kingdom sculpture, and see five tombs in the Valley of the Kings, including the tombs of Ay and Tutankhamun.

A highlight of the tour is a luxury cruise from Esna to Aswan on a dahabiya sailing boat. The accommodation is in well-appointed en suite cabins, each with Nile views. The cruise is very relaxing - we can relax, watch the local scenery and have meals on the covered deck - divine! We stop to see the archaeological remains at El Kab, the Temple of Horus at Edfu, the ancient quarries and shrines at Gebel Silisla, and the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus and Sobek at Kom Ombo. Our cruise ends in Aswan where we visit the wonderful Temple of Isis at Philae. On our return to Cairo we visit the Cairo Museum and see some of the majestic Islamic remains in the Old City.

Luxor Temple

ITINERARY*
Day 1: Fly from Australia
Our flight on Emirates Airlines leaves Australia in the morning with a short stop over (usually 1-2 hours) in Dubai. We arrive in Cairo in the evening and transfer to our hotel.

Day 2: Saqqara Step Pyramid and Memphis
A short drive takes us to Saqqara where we visit the ruins of Memphis and see the colossus of Ramesses the Great in the local museum. We then see the newly opened Imhotep Museum at Saqqara with its fascinating collection of objects from the site. We see the remarkable Third Dynasty Step Pyramid of Djoser and explore the well preserved Old Kingdom mastaba tombs of Mereruka and Kagemni. In the afternoon we descend into the burial chamber of the Pyramid of King Tety to see the famous Pyramid Texts. Overnight Giza.

Day 3: Giza pyramids
The morning is spent at Giza where we view the Great Pyramid. We see the remarkable cedar boat of Khufu and then visit the pyramid of Khafre - after entering the pyramid we explore Khafre’s impressive Valley Temple and see the Sphinx. We have lunch in Giza with a view of the pyramids. Overnight Giza.

Day 4: Fayyum - Karanis - Lahun Pyramids - bus to Minya
In the morning we drive across the western desert from Cairo to the edge of the Fayyum Oasis. Here we see the extensive ruins of the Roman Period town of Karanis with two stone temples, ruined houses and baths. A high-light is the interesting museum of the Oasis. Lunch takes place in a restaurant at the edge of the Birket Qarun (Fayyum Lake). In the afternoon we stop to see the pyramid of Senwosret II at Lahun before continuing south by bus to Minya. Overnight Minya.

Day 5: Hebenu - Beni Hasan tombs - Speos Artemidos shrine
This day trip takes us south of Minya to see a number of sites on the east bank of the Nile. The first stop is the ancient city and tombs of Hebenu, modern Kom el-Ahmar. A climb to the tomb of Nefer-sekheru offers a breathtaking view across the Nile Valley. We then continue on to Beni Hasan to see the beautiful painted tombs of the 11th and 12th Dynasties. We have a picnic lunch in the café at Beni Hasan before heading to see the desert temple of Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, today known as the Speos Artemidos. Overnight Minya.

The pyramids of Giza
The Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan

Day 6: Amarna (Day One)
This is the first of our two days at the ancient city of Akhetaten, modern Amarna. We start by looking at the marvellous painted North Tombs with their stunning view across the desert plain. We then see monumental Boundary Stelae U, carved by Akhenaten to define the limits of his new city. After lunch in the local café we see the Royal Tomb, built to house the remains of King Akhenaten and his immediate family. The tomb is carved in an isolated desert valley east of the city. Overnight Minya.

Day 7: Amarna (Day Two)
Our second day at Amarna starts in the ruins of the North and Riverside Palaces and the houses in the North City. We then have an early lunch before exploring the ruins of the Central City including the temples to the Aten and the Royal Palace. The afternoon is spent in the South Tombs where we study the Hymn to the Aten in the tomb of Ay. Overnight Minya.

Day 8: Ashmunein - Tuna el-Gebel
In the morning we travel to Malawi where we visit the ancient site of Khmunu, modern Ashmunein. Here we see the ruins of the temple of Thoth and the Christian Cathedral of the 5th Century. We then travel to nearby Tuna el-Gebel where we have a picnic lunch. The afternoon is spent viewing the painted Ptolemaic tombs, including the famous Greek tomb of Petosiris, and the atmospheric underground galleries housing the mummified remains of the sacred ibises and baboons of Thoth. We continue south and check into our hotel in Abydos. Overnight Abydos.

Day 9: Abydos
This morning we explore the stunning memorial temple of Sety I which preserves wonderful painted scenes. We also see the Osireion, a symbolic tomb for Osiris, and take a short walk across the desert to the Temple of Ramesses II. After lunch we continue our journey south, arriving in Luxor in the early evening. Overnight Luxor.

The North Palace at Amarna
The Temple of Sety I at Abdyos

Day 10: Luxor Temple - Luxor Museum
In the morning we visit Luxor Temple which is located in the heart of the modern city. We take time to explore this picturesque monument concentrating on the remains of the Amarna Period. These include the impressive Opet Festival scenes of Tutankhamun and the religious scenes of Amenhotep III. We pause for lunch in a nearby café. The afternoon is dedicated to the Luxor Museum with its famous talatat relief scenes from Akhenaten’s demolished Aten temple at Karnak. Overnight Luxor.

Day 11: Deir el-Bahri - Valley of the Kings
In the morning we visit the colossi of Memnon, the famous statues of Amenhotep III and the original location of his mortuary temple. We then visit Deir el-Bahri, the famous mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, including the newly reconstructed Third Terrace. We have lunch in a local cafe before travelling by bus to the Valley of the Kings. Here we will see five royal tombs including the tomb of Tutankhamun in the main Valley and the tomb of King Ay in the West Valley. Overnight Luxor.

Day 12: Karnak Temple
This day is dedicated to exploring the extensive ruins of Karnak Temple with a special emphasis on the Amarna Period remains and scenes. We travel to Karnak by motor boat in the morning and then see the impressive Hypostyle Hall, the Third Pylon with its interesting Amarna period co-regency scene, and the 18th Dynasty Festival Hall of Tuthmosis III. Lunch takes place at a nearby café. In the afternoon enthusiastic members of the group can re-enter Karnak to see more of this remarkable complex or take time off to shop or relax. Overnight Luxor.

Day 13: Dahabiya Cruise - Esna - sail to El Kab
In the morning we have a short drive to Esna where we see the well preserved remains of the Ptolemaic Temple of the Creator god Khnum, still partially buried by the town. We join our Dahabiya sailboat (which has only 9 ensuite cabins), for our 5 night cruise up the Nile to Aswan. After lunch we take a leisurely sail up river, sitting on the deck and watching the world go by. In the afternoon we drop anchor near the ruins of El-Kab. Overnight cruiseboat.

Day 14: Dahabiya cruise - El Kab - sail to Edfu
In the morning we walk to the ruins of the ancient city of el Kab where we see the temples and the superb painted tombs of the 18th Dynasty. We return to the dahabiya and sail to the city of Edfu where we anchor for the night. We have dinner on the deck of the boat as we watch the sun go down over the Nile. Overnight cruiseboat.

Esna Temple
Our luxury Dahabiya sailing boat

Day 15: Dahabiya cruise - Edfu
In the morning we explore the wonderful Ptolemaic Temple of Horus. Built for the leading state god of ancient Egypt, the temple of Edfu is one of the best preserved in the country. In the afternoon we continue our sail this time through the narrow part of the river where the sandstone cliffs come down to the river’s edge. We drop anchor at the river edge and enjoy a hot cooked meal on the deck. Overnight cruiseboat.

Day 16: Dahabiya cruise - Gebel Silsilah shrines
Today we explore the remarkable New Kingdom shrines at Gebel Silsila. This includes the Speos of King Horemhab and the shrines of the 18th Dynasty officials who quarried stone in this region. The cruise on our dahabiya two-masted sailboat then continues up the Nile. There is free time to relax, read and watch the life on the river bank. In the afternoon we anchor near the ruins of the Ptolemaic temple of Sobek at Kom Ombo. Overnight cruiseboat.

Day 17: Dahabiya cruise - Kom Ombo
In the morning we explore the beautiful ruins of the temple of Sobek at Kom Ombo. The temple is late Ptolemaic and completed by the Roman Emperors. We also see the new Museum of the Crocodiles which displays finds from the area. Our cruise then continues upstream towards Aswan. We enjoy the life of the river and relaxing on our boat. We reach the outskirts of Aswan where we anchor for the night. Overnight cruiseboat.

Day 18: Dahabiya cruise - Aswan - Philae - fly to Cairo
Our cruise comes to an end in Aswan. We travel by the bus into town and visit the temple of Isis on the island of Philae, one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt. Often called 'Pharaohs' Bed', Philae was the ultimate destination of Victorian era travelers who came down the Nile on a dahabiya. There is some free time in Aswan to explore the local markets. In the evening we fly to Cairo and check into our hotel. Overnight Cairo.

The splendour of Kom Ombo Temple at sunset
Philae Temple

Day 19: The Cairo Museum
This day is set aside for the remarkable Cairo Museum with a guided tour concentrating on the 18th Dynasty remains. We see the statues and reliefs of the Amarna period, the treasures of Tutankhamun and the burial equipment of Yuya and Tjuya, parents of Queen Tiye. Free time is provided in the afternoon for exploring other parts of the museum's incredible collection. Overnight Cairo.

Day 20: Islamic Cairo and markets
We visit the Old City of Cairo to see the awe inspiring mediaeval buildings of the Islamic Period. High-lights include the spectacular 19th Century Mosque of Mohamed Ali and the monumental 14th Century Mosque of Sultan Hassan. We can climb a minaret for a great view of the medieval Citadel. The day ends with shopping and dinner in the Khan el-Khalili markets. Overnight Cairo.

Day 21: Depart Cairo early afternoon
We depart Cairo International Airport for our flight to Australia in the early afternoon.

Day 22: Arrive in Australia
We arrive back in Australia in the early evening.



* Please note that the Company reserves the right to make alterations to the itinerary in the period up to 60 days prior to a tour departure. The itinerary may also be subject to minor re-arrangement due to the scheduling of the operators and availability of access. If this occurs, the Company will endeavour to provide a comparable alternative.

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