B.C. Archaeology

Study Tours of the Ancient World


The November 2004 tour of Egypt had an Amarna Period theme and the group included a number of very enthusiastic and well read members. We had 18 participants plus the guides in the group which included: Gail Abercrombie, Beverley and John Anderson, Rod Bishop, Sherryl Bremner, Catherine Doherty, Graham Gepp, Alex Kennedy, Maria Kroener, Kerry Lapworth, Irene and Stewart Mackenzie, Fiona Mackie, Dawn and Steve Novak, Melanie Pitkin and Nola Thompson. Four members of the group (Gail, Graham, Alex and Kerry) were from Adelaide and Maria was from Brisbane.

In Cairo we stayed at the Pearl Hotel once again, a comfortable small hotel in the leafy suburb of Maadi located south of the city centre and out of the hustle and bustle. We visited Saqqara and Giza - the area of the pyramids was very busy with tourists. At Giza we went into the Pyramid of Menkaure, and examined some of the ruins in the local area. Lunch at Giza took place at a small café overlooking the sphinx - one of the best views in Egypt!

In the Fayyum Oasis we explored the Roman temples at Karanis and had lunch in the old hunting lodge of King Farouk. Our visit to the pyramids of Lisht enabled us to catch a spectacular sunset across the desert from the top of the Pyramid of Senwosret I, and on the following day we saw the pyramids of Hawara and Lahun.

Our First Class train trip to Minya was pleasant with views over the countryside. We went to ancient Akhoris with its breathtaking views over the agriculture and dramatic temple of Nero cut into the rock face. We also spent a day at the ruins of the old city of Hebenu, the rock-tombs of Beni Hasan and the temple of Hatshepsut at Speos Artemidos.

Our two days at Amarna enabled us to see most of the beautiful rock tombs, the town remains and the Royal Tomb. Part of the fun of going to Amarna is the morning and afternoon Nile crossing on the ferry which really gives a sense of arrival to somewhere special. We also had the opportunity to see the ruins of the house of Tuthmosis where the famous bust of Nefertiti was found.

The November 2004 Amarna group at Deir el-Bahri © Michael Birrell

In Luxor we saw the Amarna period remains at Karnak temple, the colossi of Memnon and Luxor temple amongst other sites. Our visit to the Palace of Malkata, now officially off limits to tourist, was facilitated by the fact that the guard told us we could have a look a round while Amr went and asked permission at the Inspectorate Office! The new display of talatats in the Luxor Museum was a highlight - Rod also steered the public ferry across the Nile on our return to the hotel! Additional sites visited included Abydos and Dendera, where Stewart made a convincing imitation of the god Bes, the Valley of the Kings and the temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

Michael Birrell

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