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Group Shot at the Wadi al Gadid Museum
For the students the season is winding down – their last day is Sunday – so we took Thursday off and had a two-day weekend, celebrated by a holiday in the Kharga Oasis. We left our hotel Thursday morning at 4:30 am and crossed the river to meet our two minibuses. The new road to Kharga was accessible (after we did some interesting maneuvering around back roads to avoid the police check points) just south of Luxor and is superb. For the first time in six years we traveled a real distance in Egypt without having to be part of a convoy of foreigners. It was just great, and we arrived in Kharga before 10 am. Here we are in front of the Wadi al Gadid (New Valley) Museum – all nine of us (including Jay, by the way, who set the self-timer for the photo) and enlarged by the presence of two Hopkins additions: Nozomu Kawai, one of our graduate students working on his thesis here in Egypt and Adil Mahmoud, Curator of New Kingdom Art from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo and also a Hopkins grad student.
Looking at Clay Tablets
Finds from both Kharga and Dakhleh Oases are housed in this large new museum, and here we are standing in front of a display of unique finds from Dakhleh. Since the Egyptians wrote on papyrus or limestone chips (ostraca), the scarcity of those materials in the oases stimulated creative solutions. We are looking at a group of clay tablets, fired accidentally, and shaped for all the world like cuneiform tablets from Iraq, but written with sharpened bone implements in Egyptian hieratic. These are administrative documents from the governor’s palace at Balat in the Dakhlet oasis and date from the late Old Kingdom, ca. 2300 B.C. Most of us had seen photos of these amazing written clay tablets, but it was the first time any of us had seen them in the flesh! (well in the clay). Awesome!
Reading an Inscription
Here we are – Fatma, Yasmin, Violaine, J.J., and myself looking at a tomb false door of the Governor of the Oasis, Khenty-ka, from the Sixth Dynasty. The inscription was fascinating, and we’re all busy reading it, because the Governor was addressing himself quite exclusively to people (the very few of them) who could read and write. He spoke to “those who could recite and those who could read the list of offerings he requested in this document”. The text continued to state that if he received what he asked for in his offering list as a result of someone reading his inscription, it would be well for them as well. We really enjoyed this unusually literate but practical text.
Visiting Hibis Temple
After the Museum we went for a visit to Hibis Temple, the largest and main temple in the Kharga Oasis. The temple is unfortunately in very unstable condition and has been slated for dismantlement and removal to a safer (less wet) location. However, recently that plan has been at least postponed, if not canceled. In any case, the temple has had scaffolding up for some two decades now, because its poor sandstone blocks are cracking badly. The temple was built by the Persian king Darius I (Twenty-seventh Dynasty) whose agents were busy developing agriculture in the oases and building fortresses for protection as well. The Hibis Temple is dedicated to the Theban triad of gods, familiar to all of us by now – Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, but Amun is here identified as being Amun, lord of Hebet (ancient name of Hibis).
Inside the Temple of Hibis  Relief of Horus Spearing Seth-Apophis
Inside the temple of Hibis Yasmin looks at a relief on the wall that shows a form of Horus, son of Isis, as a falcon headed and winged god with a spear or harpoon. If you look closely at the bottom of this picture you might see a wavy object. This is a huge snake identified as the god Seth-Apophis, the traditional enemy of the sun god. The falcon headed god is rendering him incapable. This image of the god spearing the large snake has been thought to be the ancestor of images of St. George and the dragon many centuries later in Europe.
The Kharga Hotel Pioneer
Our luxury home for one night – the Kharga Hotel Pioneer. It was very comfortable, and we had a wonderful stay. We recommend everyone come here.
Cemetary of Bagawat
After lunch at the hotel we went to the cemetery of Bagawat, a fascinating early Christian necropolis just a quarter mile form Hibis. The tombs are built of mud brick and of domed architecture with deep burial shafts inside.
Inside the Tomb of Peace  Domed Ceiling with Paintings
In the tomb of Peace, as it is termed, Violaine, Fatma, Elaine, and Elizabeth stare up at the domed ceiling to identify the images painted there. The very fine Coptic paintings mention a number of Biblical figures, including as you see here St. Paul, Mary, and Noah – with his family in the ark.
Nozomu and Adil Posing for Jay
At Bagawat still, Nozomu and Adil pose for Jay.
Petting the Puppies at Bagawat
Before leaving Bagawat, Yasmin, Violaine, and Scott feed and pamper the adorable dogs and puppies at the site. Everywhere we go we meet new animals, and the bets are on as to who will bring on home next week.
Roman Shrine at Fort of Nadura
A small Roman shrine at the foot of the hill leading to the fort of Nadura has us all spilling out of the minibuses to see what’s there. Everyone fans out to look at whatever there is to see.
Inside the Fortress of Nadura
Inside the fortress of Nadura, Nozomu and Fatma are looking at the Roman architectural remains. We found a small temple of Antoninus Pius there within the fort.
Leaving the Nadura Fort
Descending the hill from the Nadura fort you see Elaine, Scott, and Elizabeth, with Yasmin behind. Note our police escorts fanned out behind. They were protective, but never intrusive.

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