[Note: All of the photos aren't uploading right now, will have them up in the next couple of hours, I hope]
Few photos from our trip to Amarna and environs. We stayed in Minya at a resort — yes, resort — but geared to Egyptians so the price was very reasonable. For any potential future travelers, Minya is only worth going to for Amarna and maybe Bene Hassan, otherwise, it’s of extremely limited interest.
First up, Beni Hassan, some First Intermediate/Middle Kingdom tombs:
Yours truly in front of the tombs with the Nile in the background, also showing the sharp delineation between Valley and desert that Egypt is so famous for. That also shows the height at which these were cut into the local limestone. Interesting stuff, the limestone, probably part of the larger Theban limestone formation but very different from that found at the type site near Luxor. That stuff is bright white and very fine grained and homogeneous, apart from abundant chert nodules and fractures filled with quartzite. This junk is fairly heterogeneous and layered throughout so finding good spots was probably tricky (part of this formation in the area is, in fact, similar to the white Luxor stuff and is mined for building stones).
It is also cut through with joints:
Don’t know what the fill material is, but definitely not a precipitate mineral as at Luxor; probably material washed in from elsewhere and cemented in place. Many of these are seen, some of them quite significant in width and length, one at least cutting right through the length of a stairway.
That is the Amarna workmen’s village excavated by Barry Kemp in the 1980s. The overall site of Amarna is huge and this is one small part quite a ways away from where the workmen were working; took us a good 45 minutes to walk from one to the other. This:
is a brick from one of the walls. I photographed it because I’d not seen any mud bricks tempered with stone/gravel before. I’d only seen ones with organic material — the famous “straw” from the Bible — so this was a new thing for me, though apparently not uncommon.
I include that one for the benefit of CRM workers around the Northwest where finding a flake is a thing for celebration. =)
This is the location where the famous bust of Nefertiti was found! Rather inconspicuous, no? But there it is, the object that is causing so much trouble lately sitting in a nondescript mud brick room. And this:
Is where the not quite as famous but probably more significant Amarna Letters were discovered. Again, a pretty nondescript location, in a hole under a wall. I imagine one might expect both to be found in little shrines or something suitable to their importance, but no, just inside typical mudbrick buildings.
I include this one which is from the north temple (I believe) at Amarna because I’ve never seen this kind of building material in Egypt either: It’s almost concrete. It might be concrete, at least that’s what Kemp (he gave us a little talk) referred to it as, as well as a “plaster”. I tend to think it’s more of an un-cured plaster rather than a true cement/concrete, but it’s pretty neat stuff.
Part of the palace complex. This open pipe is running into a large rectangular pool. Probably not a bathing or swimming structure, most likely a sort of garden pond, as there are a series of rooms ringing it that probably functioned as bedrooms or other living spaces for the royal family. I tried to find some sort of plumbing arrangement — as in bathroom — but this was the closest I got. One bathroom was pointed out to me and I snapped a photo of it, but I don’t post it here because, well, there’s nothing to see. Apparently, that one had no plumbing at all, just a couple of pots that were regularly emptied of their contents.
This is one of the royal and unfinished tombs at Amarna. I post this one to show the varied quality of the bedrock limestone around here. Note the crack above the entrance which gave me some trepidation while entering, but I figured hey, what’s the chance of it collapsing now? Happily, it didn’t.
And finally a couple of fun ones:
My newly discovered Weber Grill glyph.
And yours truly basking in the holy rays of the Aten.