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  Field Notes From
Death on the Nile

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On Assignment
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From Author
A. R. Williams

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From Photographer

Kenneth Garrett

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Brian Strauss (top), and John Echave

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
Death on the Nile

Field Notes From Photographer
Kenneth Garrett
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Saqqara was the burial site for the entire 3,000-year pharaonic period, so the tomb styles changed with the pharaohs. It was fascinating to immerse myself in 3,000 years of continual stylistic turnover and to learn about the stories of intrigue as they were being uncovered.

I needed to get aerial photos, but the only helicopters that were available belonged to the Egyptian air force. I spent a lot of time trying to get access, and I was constantly told that permission would come through in the next day or two. I was in Egypt for five weeks but, because of the current tensions in the region, the military never allowed it. Luckily I had taken some aerials of the area on a previous assignment. Since the geography hadn’t changed, I was able to use those shots.

Since I couldn’t get the helicopter for aerial photographs, I went to the office of the chief inspector of Saqqara to tell him that my time was up and I was going home. While I was there, French archaeologist Audran Labrousse walked in. “We found her!” he declared. He had been working in the pyramid of Pepi I’s second wife, Ankhesenpepi II. She had ordered the construction of a fantastic mortuary temple and a very nice pyramid for herself. Labrousse had discovered a painted relief of her, the first image ever found of an Egyptian queen in her own mortuary. And she was the first queen whose burial site included pyramid and coffin texts. It was quite possible that this queen was actually a co-regent for one of her infant sons. So for all intents and purposes, she may have been Egypt’s first female pharaoh. And I almost missed it. I took the photos my last morning there.

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