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Friday, June 15, 2012

Self-portrait of Jay.

Today we begin with a photo of our intrepid photographer, Jay Van Rensselaer. He is very camera shy and will only tolerate self-portraits, so this is one he took at breakfast before we left the Nefertiti hotel in Minya. Hats off to Jay for everything he does and to his better half, Macie Hall, who manages our website back in Baltimore.

The group at Beni Hasan.

The beautiful site of Beni Hasan is our first stop today, and as with many wonderful monuments the work to get to them increases the appreciation we have for them. The local elites of the Oryx nome (U.E.16) chose a truly commanding location for their tomb chapels that looks down over other graves in the lower expanse and over the ancient town slightly to the north.

Climbing to the tomb chapels.
Outside the chapel. The local nomarch Khety’s chapel is a fine example of these tombs where lively local painting style of the 11th Dynasty was used to ensure that the governor had all the food, drink, and other provisions needed for continued life. Nearby the chapel of Khnumhotep II displays the Residence-influenced proportions of the 12th Dynasty reign of Amenemhet II with pronounced ground lines and carefully drafted spatial arrangements.
Chapel of Khnumhotep II.

Gaultier taking picture of Maggie. Outside the chapels our students, not allowed photography themselves inside, are happy taking pictures of each other. Gaultier shoots Maggie with the view of Kom el Ahmar in the distance, and Sean is taking a picture of the beautiful Nile view from here. Thus we all gather for a group photo with the same view behind. From left to right: Front row: Sean, Betsy, Monika, Hannah, Marina, Darcy, Katherine, Meredith, Allie; back row: Sheri, Katie, Gaultier, Maggie.
Group shot.

Speos Artemidos.

Our next and brief stop is the Speos Artemidos, a rock cut shrine in a limestone quarry area just south of Beni Hasan. The quarry area itself was converted to house a chapel used by Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty and by Seti I in the 19th.  We cannot stay longer, because we are off to Amarna and must travel across the Nile to the west and then recross back to the east. You see our view crossing on the car ferry at Amarna and one of our vans coming off.  Now to visit Akhenaten’s home.

Van debarking from ferry.

Group shot with Mohamed Soliman and Inspector Hamada.
Relief of Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Meredaten mourning the death of princess Meketaten.

We head first to the Royal Wadi where Akhenaten’s tomb was sited east of the city. Here we take another group shot, this time including our hotel manager and great friend Mohamed Soliman (rear left) and Inspector Hamada on the right.  Inside the tomb a badly damaged scene of Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Meredaten mourning the death of princess Meketaten draws a broad smile from Gaultier who commented that he could not believe that he was finally here.


Tombs at Amarna.
Climbing to the tombs.

Now we turn back to visit the northern elite tombs at Amarna where of course the beautiful example of Meryre’s chapel is hard to rival. The royal chariot is seen bringing the king and queen to the Great Temple of the Aten, and Marina is very taken with the details of Akhenaten’s god’s place of worship.

Painted relief in Meryre's chapel
Marina admiring the details of the chapel.

Next we head to the North Palace where Katherine was particularly pleased to arrive. The superb restoration of this palace that may have been home to Meretaten as queen allows one to understand its ground plan far better than earlier. Katherine had given a presentation in our Amarna seminar this past spring, and she was very excited to get a chance to visit.


Honoring the king and his deity. Aten responds.

These last two photos were taken in the restored portion of the Small Aten Temple where a single column (largely refabricated) has been erected to provide scale and a sense of the mass. The students were determined to honor the king and his deity here, so here they are: first from left Sean, Sheri, Marina, and Monika make the gestures of adoration to the Aten, with Sean aping Akhenaten himself, Sheri being Nefertiti and the other two acting as princesses. In our last image, the Aten responds: Sean, Katie, and Maggie provide the arms of the Aten reaching down to Sheri and Marina. Is there anything else to say?


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