Saturday, March 17, 2012

Re-visiting Old Friends

If laid beside a stone, under shelter of this cliff, they would, no doubt, remain unmolested till the disappearance of the storm should permit me to revisit this spot in the afternoon or on the morrow.
Charles Brockden Brown, American author and historian, in Edgar Huntly

I had the opportunity to re-visit two old friends today: one a talkative colleague and the other a silent monument and both with interesting stories to tell. A mutual friend had us on a mission to collect some sand from Deir el Medina and so we approached from a quiet route, walking over the pebbly desert hills rather than driving up the asphalt road with other visitors. Our route gave a sense of the desertedness that the site once enjoyed, hidden from the valley below. Here lived the painters of the tombs of the pharaonic kings. A community still lived here in the third century B.C. when the Greek-heritage Ptolemies built a small but exquisite temple. Here lived monks for centuries, both within and without the old temple walls, hence the name Deir el Medina: "Monastery of the City".

I need to make a habit of re-visiting old friends, to be reminded of their wonderful characters and to discover new fascinating things about them. I had such a nice morning with my friends, the antiquities inspector and the temple. Here crowned vultures fly across the ceiling's night sky.

Although the temple is dedicated to the goddesses Hathor and Maat, Osiris figures prominently in the wall decoration. His royal robes, here portrayed as beaded, makes for quite an impressive specter. I was happy to re-make his acquaintance.

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