Monday, April 16, 2007

Travel: A tour from Cairo to Aswan, via Amarna

"At Tel el Amarna, the tombs of the nobles waited patiently for us in the baking sun. These seldom visited tombs, overlooking the ruins of the city that Akhenaten and Nefertiti built at Thebes, contain some of most exquisite New Kingdom art in existence. The bas reliefs, created more than 3,000 years ago, are still richly coloured and scenes of daily life spring up like pop-up books.
Our group walked the hillside alone, crunching pottery shards under our heels. The heretic king who had worshiped only one god had made his stand here and failed to turn the enormous religious machine of ancient Egypt around. It was here that the famous bust of Nefertiti was found in the ruins of a sculptor's workshop. In 1922, Howard Carter would find the tomb of Akhenaten's son Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.
The Egyptians we met were friendly, polite, educated and aware of the economic disparity between themselves and visitors. Tourism is what they do, and as the diplomat's wife came to learn, they never stop trying to sell."

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