I stayed in the West Bank of Luxor for two months. I was
working with the University of Pennsylvania expedition. We were excavating
the palace of King Amenhotep IIIat Malkata, and near the palace was a beautiful
lake. It was in this lake that the King and his Queen Ty, the strongest
woman at that time, used to go for excursions in a boat called Aton to enjoy
themselves. I met at that time two great Egyptologists: one was David
O’Connor from the University of Pennsylvania, and the other was Barry Kemp
from Cambridge University.
I used to work with them to learn excavation techniques.
Every night I used to meet my friends who were working in the Valley of the
Kings with various different foreign expeditions. Abdel Fatah El-Sabahi
was Inspector of Antiquities for the West Bank, and he was the one who came to
pick me up every day and who introduced me to Sheikh Aly at El-Marsam Hotel.
The stories and memories of Sheikh Aly cannot be forgotten.
One night he said to me, “I will tell you a secret. I can tell
that you are the only one who can discover the hidden chamber inside a tomb in
the Valley of the Kings.” He continued, “I am a man who can foretell
certain things, and I can see that, though you are young now, one day you will
become a famous archaeologist and you will fulfill the dreams of our family.”
Sheikh Aly began to explain the story of this hidden chamber. The
story began in 1922 after the discovery of the golden tomb of Tutankhamon.
“Many members of my family were working with Carter, including myself, though
only a young boy. We spoke to Carter in the last season, before he started
his excavation, and advised him to work between the tombs of King Meremptah, Son
of Rameses II, and the tomb of Rameses VI.” I was shocked when he told
me this, because Carter never mentioned any of this sage advice in any of his
publications, but I felt that the man was speaking the truth.
Sheikh Aly continued, “Carter used the tomb of Seti I as a storage room
for the artifacts that came from the tomb of King Tut. They did the
restoration and conservation of the artifacts inside that tomb. Our
cousins and myself used to stay in the Tomb of Seti for long periods of time
during this work, and we examined every inch of it. We know that there is
a hidden chamber inside the tomb that has not yet been discovered. In the
time of Dr. Sarawat Okasa, we were able to start the search for this hidden
tomb, but for unknown reasons we were stopped and could not continue. We
were almost in front of the entrance of the hidden chamber, but we were
stopped.” I thought about what Sheikh Aly said; no other artifacts from
the tomb of Seti had been discovered, and so it was almost certain that there
was another hidden chamber. Sheikh Aly never lost his hope of finding it,
and tried everyone in his attempt to get permission to search for this tomb.
An Egyptian Egyptologist who headed the Antiquities Organization at that time
refused to give him permission, saying that his ideas were based on talk and
legend, not scientific analysis.
But, I thought to myself, he could be right. After all, most of the great discoveries came through people who lived on the site. Sheikh Aly decided to get married to a young lady who was twenty years old. He invited us to his wedding and asked my friend El-Sabahi to give him some vitamins for potency. El-Sabahi played a joke on him, and instead of giving the old man vitamins, he gave him sleeping pills. Sheikh Aly slept beside his bride and woke up at noon the next day. This story was the laugh of the people in the village of Qurneh.
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