Getting more out of your holiday – Hidden Ramasseum

Although Ramses II is not my favourite Pharaoh this is actually in my top sites to visit. There is a lot of it and it is not visited by the big tour groups. Do have a look at the tiny block yard as you get a crick in the neck looking at things at the back of the first pylon and these do make it easier to recognise things. You can see the Egyptian camp before the battle of Kadesh easily. If the guardians are feeling co-operative they will take you inside the first pylon so you get a fabulous view from the top of the pylon. I like to read the poem by Shelley and get my guests to work out what is wrong with the poem compared to what they can see.
Also have a good look at the toes of the colossal statue, even the cuticles are carved and wrinkles on the toes. If you look at the Nemes head cloth you can see some graffiti. Now when you see how poorly it was carved in an era with iron and steel and compare it the head cloth which is shiny and matt to give the impression of the stripes, well you just marvel at the skill of the ancient workman with his copper tools.
Other bits of interesting bit of graffiti
• Belzoni on the back of the black granite statue
• De Goutain from Thedant on a column in front of the Darfur scene. I had some guests from Switzerland and they told me Thedant is a wine producing area of Switzerland and there are grapes carved around the name. Was he a wine producer? I would love to know.
• Belzoni, Salt and Bonfils by the gateway leading from the hypostyle hall to the sanctuary.
I like the Darfur battle scene on the back of the second pylon, south wall facing the hypostyle hall. Right in the middle of the battle scene is a barbecue. Well it looks like it; there is a small cow, some buns and ladies carrying jars of wine. Actually it is the overseer of the town coming to treaty with Ramses. The hall has loads of colour and is almost complete. Finally I want to point out the magazines made of mud brick, made without a key stone but vaulted. Hassan Fathy studied them when working on his New Gurna.