Lighting the tombs

A photo of the Tombs of the Nobles, Luxor, Egypt.

Tombs of the Nobles. West Bank, Luxor, Egypt. Jan 2020.

One of the things that has always fascinated me during my visits to Egypt is the astonishing wall reliefs in the underground and rock cut tombs.  These days, they are lit with the help of electric bulbs.  But surely in ancient times these subterranean sepulchres were DARK !

But of course I should have realised this would present no difficulty whatsoever for the enterprising ancient Egyptians.  Let’s face it, they thought nothing of hauling enormous blocks of granite from one end of the country to the other, building gigantic pyramids that are still standing four-and-a-half thousand years later, and mummifying their dead to preserve them, quite literally, forever.

Even so, to carve and paint chambers hundreds of metres underground ? How did they do it ?  Well, here’s how …

Here is a short video clip showing yours truly with wonderful Waleed Mostafa, guide on my most recent trip to Egypt.  We’re in the tomb of Rekhmire, one of the Tombs of the Nobles.

Sadly, my modern video camera does rather too good of brightening the darkness to really give a good impression of how the ancients turned night to day underground.  But hopefully you get the basic idea !

If you’ve been to Egypt, you’ll know how blinding the sunlight is.  Apparently the kohl the ancient Egyptians wore around their eyes wasn’t just cosmetic.  It was an ancient form of sunglasses to reduce the fierce glare of the sun !

Fiona Deal, Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, all available on Amazon. To join Merry on her adventures please click on each picture for the link.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Restoring Luxor Temple

Pylon of Luxor Temple Photo taken in 2004

I’ve been travelling to Egypt since I was sixteen.  I’ve witnessed it change through the years.  It’s wonderful to see the conservation, preservation and, in some cases, restoration of Egypt’s ancient monuments.

An example is Luxor Temple, set right in the heart of modern-day Luxor on the Corniche, the boulevard that borders the east bank of the Nile, with hotels strewn along its length.

Luxor Temple dates from circa 1400BC, a New Kingdom temple built under pharaohs such as Amenhotep III and Tutankhamun of the 18th Dynasty, and Ramses II of the 19th Dynasty. Unlike the other temples in Thebes, Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the pharaoh in death. Instead, Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship.  It may have been where many of the pharaohs of Egypt were crowned.

On my first few trips to Egypt the immense pylon (gateway / entranceway) to the massive temple boasted two enormous seated colossi of Ramses II and a single obelisk.  This was originally one of a pair.  Its twin stands in Paris at Le Place de la Concorde.

There used to be a shattered colossus of a once-standing Ramses II lying on the western side of the temple. And also a famous head-and-shoulders bust of this same king, set on a plinth on the eastern side of the entrance.

Head of Ramses II

 

I imagine tourists the world over who’ve visited the temple must have their own version of this photograph taken of me back in 2004.

So it was rather wonderful to visit in late 2018 (after a gap of almost 5 years) and see the incredible changes that had taken place.

 

Here is the pylon of Luxor Temple as it looks now.

 

Two standing statues have been reconstructed, one on either side of the seated colossus.

A fabulous feat of modern engineering to bring this fallen giant back from ruin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And imagine my surprise when I switched on the TV one Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago and saw a Channel 4 documentary which featured the restoration work to raise the fallen statue.  Here is Mahmoud Farouk, who leads the restoration team based in Luxor on photos I took of the television while the documentary was playing.  I even managed a tiny bit of video!

Now, I’m lucky enough to have met Mahmoud.  When I was last in Egypt over Christmas and New Year 2019-20, my guide introduced me to him, and I was very privileged to have him show me around a part of Karnak Temple usually closed to the public.  That’s one of the privileges of being able to tell people I write books set in Egypt !  Here we are together at Karnak.

 

It really is wonderful to see the work that he and his team are doing to clean and preserve the ancient monuments.

Fiona Deal, Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, all available on Amazon. To join Merry on her adventures please click on each picture for the link.

Carter’s Conundrums

Carter’s Conundrums is the first book in my fictional series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.  It’s available  to download at the special promotional price of £0.99/ $1.50 here.

The books are present-day adventure stories.  Meredith (Merry) is a thoroughly modern heroine who gets caught up in ancient Egyptian mysteries.  No time travel, but in Carter’s Conundrums she embarks on a treasure hunt.

When English tourist Meredith Pink finds herself locked inadvertently in the Howard Carter museum in Luxor for the night, she has no idea about the thrilling Egyptian adventure she’s about to embark on.  The museum was once Howard Carter’s home, where he lived during the historic years of his discovery and clearance of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.  Attempting to break free, Merry accidentally smashes the frame surrounding an original Carter watercolour of an elusive Egyptian queen.  The discovery inside of a hidden message from Howard Carter himself, together with a set of mysterious hieroglyphics, sets her off on a quest to solve the puzzle of a lifetime. 

Along the way she teams up with the dashing Adam Tennyson, a self-proclaimed “thwarted” Egyptologist.  Together they set about unriddling the ancient texts, and find themselves on a madcap treasure hunt around some of Egypt’s most thrilling locations.  

An exciting blend of adventure, mystery and romance, Carter’s Conundrums will demand all of Merry’s imagination and love of the fabled ancient land of the pharaohs to keep her on the trail, and out of trouble.

Read the reviews here.

Fiona Deal, Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, all available on Amazon. To join Merry on her adventures please click on each picture for the link.