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Week 5: 5-11 February 2017

Sunday. Our first full day in Aswan started with a visit to the island of Elephantine, where Johanna Sigl of the German Archaeological Institute gave us a tour. We saw the remains of the city and several building phases of the Satet temple. After the tour we had refreshments and lunch sitting in the lounge chairs on the terrace of the dig house, with a view on the Nile. In the afternoon we went to the island of Philae, were Simone gave us her site presentation on the mammisi. After some time walking around the temple and searching for the last dated hieroglyphic inscription, we took our boat past the island of Bigge, where the temple of Osiris once had stood. For us only an impressive looking archway was still visible.

On Monday morning we visited the site of Qubbet el-Hawa, were the Spanish mission led by Alejandro Jimenez-Serrano is working. The site is huge and impressive, and we were led around quite a number of governors tombs. A tomb that we all were very excited to see was the one of Harkhuf, with the wonderful autobiographical text on the façade. We then took the boat to the site of Deir Anba Hadra, a monastery which is quite well preserved as it was deserted in ancient times. The monastery is located a bit high up though, so instead of walking up in the desert sand, we took the opportunity to go on our first camel ride! Our last stop of the day was the island of Sehel, which holds a few features that caught our interest. First of all, all the beautiful rock drawings that were made by the Egyptians. Secondly, the Anuket sanctuary, which is similar to the Satet sanctuary enclosed by three boulders. And lastly the famous famine stela can be found here.

On Tuesday the day started at the Nubian Museum, of which the collection is displayed beautifully. The display is chronological: it starts in pharaonic times and goes into the Islamic period. We then went to the granite quarry, where the unfinished obelisk of Hatshepsut can still be seen in situ, and where Antonio gave his site presentation. The afternoon was spent on the island of Kalabsha, were Vera gave us her presentation (with beautiful handouts!) on the temple of Beit el-Wali.
At seven o’clock that evening we were all sitting in our sleeping carts in the night train, ready to go back to Cairo. The ride was an experience on its own, as it was a bit difficult to fall asleep in a wiggling train cart, but after lying in bed for an hour or two we managed to fall asleep (probably because the end of our intensive twelve day long trip was near).

Waking up just before dawn and looking outside to the landscape was well worth the bumpy 14 hour train ride. Around 9 am we got out of the train and back on the bus to Zamalek, where everyone could go back to their homes. We had nothing else planned for the upcoming two and a half days, so we could finally regain our strength from our long trip and visit the library again to work on our paper and presentation for the GARDEN IV conference.

After the Giza plateau and Saqqara, Dahshur was our next big site with pyramids, which we visited on Saturday. Filippo gave his site presentation and told us all about the bent pyramid and the red pyramid of Snefru. It must have been a great challenge for this pharaoh to build these two additional pyramids after the one at Meidum, almost as challenging as it was for us to climb and descend into the red pyramid. A lot of students had aching muscles from climbing back up through the 58 meter long shaft!

Until next week!

Juanjo Archidona Ramirez & Nina Biezeno

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