The Four Lectures:
Today the Assasif is dominated at its western edge by the magnificent terraced temple of Queen Hatshepsut, which is the focus of visitor activity today. This lecture will look at the earlier history of the area which extends back over half a millennia before the New Kingdom queen began her construction. It was in the Assasif that Nebhepetre Montuhotep, the first great Theban king to unite Egypt, chose to build his tomb and equally impressive mortuary temple, which served as the inspiration for Hatshepsut’s own. We will look at key aspects of Nebhepetre Montuhotep’s monument and how this king and his monument influenced Theban culture.
2) Tale of a model citizen
Cut into the rocky hillside flanking the Assasif are numerous tombs of the early Middle Kingdom. One anonymous tomb is believed to have been commissioned by an official who served under several kings, yet was never buried there. Instead, he had another grander tomb built in the neighbouring valley. The official’s name was Meketre, who is best known for the many stunning models of daily life placed in his tomb which provide a valuable insight into the activities of early Middle Kingdom gentry. This lecture will look at Meketre and how his life, and indeed death, charts the changing political landscape of Egypt following the unification of the country under Nebhepetre Montuhotep.
3) Digging for blue blood
More than a decade before the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Howard Carter and his sponsor the 5th earl of Carnarvon carried out excavations in the Assasif. There they uncovered many tombs dating to periods before the construction of Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple. Some of the records of their discoveries, including a previously lost manuscript written by Howard Carter, have only recently been made available and these shed further light on the funerary culture of the Middle Kingdom and the shadowy Second Intermediate Period. This lecture will present some of Carter and Carnarvon’s discoveries and their importance to modern Egyptology.
4) Taking over from the Earl
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition began excavations in the Assasif and surrounding areas early in the twentieth century. Their work included completing the excavation of a huge Middle Kingdom tomb complex partially cleared by Carter and Carnarvon. This lecture will look at the many important discoveries made by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s expedition, which have helped to reveal the ever-changing landscape in this part of western Thebes.