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Bedouin Castle: Hotel, Safari, Nile Tours © 2013
EL HIBA is located ca 30 km south of Beni Suef, on the Nile’s east bank; it was a royal residence in the Third Intermediate Period. The ruins at El Hiba once represented a thriving town, but now it is mostly destroyed. The temple of Amun (founded by Sheshonq 1945 to 924 BC), once a reasonably large structure, is now in ruins with only its foundations remaining.
BENI HASSAN is located about 20 km south of Minya. There are 39 tombs here, built into the cliffs for nobles and government officials from the 11th and 12th dynasty (ca. 2000 to 1780 BC). The tombs that are open to the public are those of: Kheti, Baqet, Amenemhet, and Khnumhotep (Khnumhotep’s tomb has depictions of Asiatics arriving in Egypt). These tombs are especially interesting as they are some of the few remains from the Middle Kingdom. Inside the tombs you will see illustrations of daily life: wrestling, warfare, trading and even hair cutting. These tombs also give us an idea of the drought and famine stricken First Intermediate Period (between the Old and Middle Kingdoms) when life was so difficult due to famine and low Nile inundations.
At Beni Hassan there is also an unfinished temple, which was dedicated to the local lion god, Pakhet. This temple has Hathor columns (as at Deir el-Bahri) and it was constructed by Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty; on the walls there are negative inscriptions about the Hyksos, who invaded Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period (1640 to 1532 BC). Although Seti I (19th Dynasty) later usurped the temple, he did not complete it.
HERMOPOLIS (Near Minya) Hermopolis, is where the ancient Egyptian city of Khnum and the cult center of the god Thoth are located. As the Greeks identified the Egyptian god Thoth with their Greek god, Hermes, then, when the Greeks gained power in Egypt, the Greeks renamed this city “Hermopolis.” Here you will find statues of Thoth, a colossal quartzite statue of Amenophis III (with a baboon head), a temple that dates back to the Middle Kingdom, and pylons built by Ramesses II from the New Kingdom. In the 30th Dynasty, a mud brick enclosure wall was built around this site. The temple of Thoth was restored by Nectanebo I and was later added to by Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus. This temple stood for thousands of years until it was demolished in the 1820’s to secure building material for modern structures.
The necropolis of Hermopolis, TUNA EL-GEBEL, also marks that outer boundary of Akhetaten, the capital city of the New Kingdom’s visionary pharaoh, Akhenaten. At Tuna el Gebel are several boundary stelae that mark the western borders of the city of Akhetaten, as well as statues of the pharaoh Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti.
Also in this general area there are catacombs of the residents of Hermopolis as well as special animals, such as baboons (sacred to Thoth), that were sacrificed and mummified. The most amazing find here was an assortment of millions of mummified ibises – these birds (as well as baboons) were sacred to the god Thoth.
The tomb of Petosiris (ca. 350 BC) is located here and it has beautiful inscriptions as well as a small chapel; the tomb of Isadora (ca. 150 AD) still has her very well preserved mummy inside.