AMARNA: SUNRISE TO SUNSETon the trail of the heretic pharaohs

Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and their immediate predecessors and successors remain the best known of all ancient Egypt rulers, but the popularly-known ‘facts’ about them are often guesses at best, or even old guesses based on evidence which has been wrongly interpreted. Dr Dodson, the author of two books on their time, will explore the fact and fiction surrounding the late 18th Dynasty though visits to key locations for them, their dynasty and the cults they challenged, and informal talks.
Day 1 – Monday 9th January 2017
We take the direct flight from Heathrow to Luxor, where we check into the Old Winter Palace, Garden Pavilion Wing, for three nights on room and breakfast basis.

Day 2– Karnak
We will spend the first part of the day at Karnak Temple, following the trail of Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb. This will include Tutankhamun’s sphinx-avenue from the 10th Pylon towards the temple of Mut, and the monumental gateway, now in the Open Air Museum, showing the then-Amenhotep IV smiting enemies. We will then return to the hotel for some free time, before spending the evening in Luxor Museum, in particular to examine a reconstructed wall of the first Aten temple, at Karnak.(B)

Day 3 – West Bank
Today, we cross the river on our private launch ready for a full day. Amongst our stops will be: the statues that adorned the entrances to the memorial temple of Amenhotep III (possibly the prototype of the Aten); the newly opened tomb-chapel of Tutankhamun’s Viceroy of Nubia, Amenhotep-Huy at Qurnet Murai; the tomb-chapels of Khaemhat and Ramose at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (the latter a key monument of the transition between the reigns of Amenhotep III and IV); the tomb-chapel of Roy at Dra Abu’l-Naga (a fine example of the entirely-revised decorative scheme of a post-Amarna private tomb); the Valley of Kings, where we have  three tickets for tombs open on the day. We also visit the more remote West Valley to enter the tomb of Ay. We include a visit the house of Howard Carter and the adjacent exact replica of the tomb of Tutankhamun. During the day we will have a relaxing lunch at the Moon Valley Restaurant and return to the hotel late afternoon. This evening we visit the temple of Luxor by floodlights, to view the divine birth scenes of Amenhotep III, the Opet reliefs of Tutankhamun and the statues of Amun and Mut dedicated by Ay. (BL)

Day 4 – To The Southern City
We drive south, visiting en route the sandstone quarries at Gebel el-Silsila, whence came the building material for most of the temples of Upper Egypt (including those of the Aten) and where we also find a rock-cut temple constructed under Horemheb, and a large number of commemorative shrines left by kings and nobles of the New Kingdom. Arriving in Aswan, we will check into the Movenpick Hotel for two nights on room and breakfast Basis. We will have a lunch box from the Winter Palace today. (BL)

Day 5 – Aswan
In Aswan we will visit the famous relief of Men and Bak, the father and son chief sculptors of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, and then the granite quarries to view the Unfinished Obelisk, concluding the morning with a boat trip to Sehel Island, with its stunning rock-graffiti. After an afternoon at leisure, we make an evening visit the Nubia Museum.(B)

Day 6 – El Kab
Today, we head back northward, stopping off at El-Kab, a crucial site for the early years of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and Tod, a little-visited centre of the worship of Montju, Amun’s early rival as the god of Thebes. We then check into the Old Winter Palace, Garden Pavilion Wing, at Luxor for one night. Today we will have a lunch box from the Movenpick Hotel. (BL)

Day 7 – To Sohag
We now resume our journey north, to Akhmim, the hometown of some of the key figures of the Amarna Period. Here, we see one of the gateways to the temple of Min, with not only a number of colossal statues, but also some blocks from a temple of the Aten. The statues, some fragmentary, now bear inscriptions from the reign of Rameses II, but were actually made under that of Ay, including the famous image now labelled as Rameses II’s daughter Meryetamun, but actually a fine depiction of Ay’s wife, Tey. We then cross over the Nile to Akhmim’s twin-city, Sohag, where we check into the M/S Nile Elite, a floating hotel, for one night on room and breakfast basis. Lunch box provided by the Winter Palace today. (BLD)

Day 8 – To Amarna
To Amarna for the first of two visits. We begin with the northern group of private tomb-chapels, Boundary stela U and the Royal Wadi, with the Royal Tomb itself and the two unfinished tombs, one probably intended for Nefertiti (as female king) and one for Tutankhaten. We end our first day at this amazing site at the little-visited North Riverside Palace. We have lunch boxes with us so will picnic at the Amarna Rest House where we can buy hot and cold drinks and use the facilities. We check in to the Nefertiti Hotel in Minya for the night on half board basis. (BLD)

Day 9 – Amarna to Cairo
This morning we will start the day at the tomb-chapel of Ay, and then explore the ruins of the city itself, including some the most iconic spots. After a picnic lunch provided by the Nefertiti Hotel, we head north towards Cairo, where we check into the Mena House Hotel where we have Garden View rooms for three nights on room and breakfast basis. Pyramid View upgrades available on request.(BL)

Day 10 – Saqqara
The late 18th Dynasty saw a revival of Saqqara as a major cemetery, many tombs having been revealed by Anglo-Dutch, Dutch and French excavations. We will thus visit the great New Kingdom necropolis south of the causeway of Unas, and the newly opened tomb of the nurse Maya at the Bubasteion. We will also visit the Serapeum, founded by Akhenaten’s elder brother, Crown Prince and High Priest of Ptah Thutmose.(B)

Day 11 – Cairo  
For our final visit on this tour, we will head to the Egyptian Museum, which of course houses so many of the objects from the sites we will have visited on this tour and relating to the individuals we have been highlighting. The afternoon will be at leisure. (B)

Day 12 – Friday 20th January
After breakfast we head to Cairo Airport for our direct EgyptAir flight bound for London arriving early afternoon. (B)

Expert: Aidan Dodson
Dr Aidan Dodson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology & Anthropology at the University of Bristol, was Simpson Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo for Spring 2013, and Chair of Trustees of the Egypt Exploration Society from 2011 to 2016. Aidan has been accompanying tours to the Nile Valley for some 30 years, and has long specialised in the history of the late 18th Dynasty.

(B) = Breakfast (BL) = Breakfast and Lunch (BLD) = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner


DEPARTURE DATE  Friday 9th January 2017





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