National Geographic : 1962 Jul
HS EKTACHROMES(ABOVEAND OPPOSITE, LOWER) C N.G.S. Magnificent treasure of Thebes, the solid-gold coffin of Tutankhamun graces the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Scientific exploration of the boy-king's lavishly furnished tomb, found intact in the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings after three thousand years, remains one of the greatest archeological events of the 20th century. EGYPT FAMILIAR AS THE LAND of sun-scorched desert, sur prised us in January. As we traveled south from Cairo, Fred Rawe sat in a corner of the railway coach, shivering in his jacket. Sand sifted through the window frames. "We'll be f-f -frozen to death by morning," he said through chattering teeth. But morning brought a different crisis. Arriving at Luxor in the height of the Egyp tian tourist season, we found that our request for reservations had gone astray. There was not a spare room in all Luxor. The manager of one hotel took pity on us. "I can promise nothing, but let me see what I can do," he said. He returned a few minutes later, followed by several maids and cooks who eyed us with friendly interest. "We can do it," said the manager victori ously. The girls would crowd into regular hotel rooms; the boys would move into a kind of barracks behind the hotel-usually the quarters of the hotel servants. 112 "We can stay with friends," a houseboy explained. So our stay in Luxor took on the spirit of a house party. The hotel servants became our companions and even joined us in some pranks played on the faculty. The great ruined temples of Karnak and Luxor overwhelmed us. So did the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings, and those solemn stone portraits of Amenhotep III, the Colossi of Memnon. As our group walked among the towering colonnades and gigantic statues, we couldn't escape a feeling of almost op pressive power. But as we walked among those majestic ruins of the past, pathetic reminders of the present tagged after us-troupes of ragged beggar children. Here was the paradox that confronted us more than once on our travels, the contradiction of the genius and the falli bility of man. From the sculptured splendor of the Phar aohs, we returned to Cairo and midyear examinations.