In the extreme South of Egypt lies the bustling port of Aswan.
This town which has always played a key part in Egyptian history
was, in dynastic times, the southern seat of power in the empire
and many of the great expeditions of antiquity departed from there.
Today Aswan is still a major cornerstone of Egypt's prosperity
as it is the site of the High Dam. This major feat of engineering
provides most Egypt's electricity and also regulates the flow
of the Nile and permitting new land to be irrigated.
Aswan's historical importance rose as it is located beside
the Nile in an area known as the 'First Cataract', an area of
rocky shallows where navigation is difficult. This meant that
whoever controlled Aswan controlled access to Egypt from the South.
The Rulers of the district, or Nome, of which Aswan was the
capital built for themselves a Necropolis of rock cut tombs on
the high cliffs on the West bank of the Nile. Today these provide
a much more 'genuine' look at the way these tombs were than the
heavily touristed Valley of the Kings. Only in this small Necropolis
is it possible to visit tombs where the debris of thousands of
years still lies scattered around infrequently visited burial
One of the most impressive tomb entrances in the Necropolis
belongs to the tomb of Heqa-ib, a noble from the 6th dynasty
about whom little is known, apart from the fact he was the governor
Another impressive tomb facade is at the entrance to the tomb
of Sirenpowet I, who was a prince during the reign of Amenemhet
II. Although most of the external part of the tomb is now lost,
the remains of six fine pillars still stands in the small courtyard
in front of the tomb.
Although much of the stonework in the Necropolis has survived
in good condition, the artwork in the tombs has not fared so
well. This image is from the tomb of Heqa-ib and shows a fairly
common theme in the Necropolis art, that of hunting and fishing.