By Jane Richards
It was time to celebrate the Sed Festival. This would insure the annual Nile flood known as the Inundation which brought the rich black soil down the River Nile. These deposits were very important, Tepi understood, to growing all the things to eat, as well as trade to other countries.
This Festival would be very special, however. Prince Nekhi and Princess Tepi were being allowed to go along on this very important trip through southern Egypt. They were accompanying their parents, King SekenereTao I and Queen Tetisheri all the way south to the Sacred City of Abydos! Both were very excited.
Do you know what the priest at the temple school told me?" Nekhi asked. "The priest told me that the great god Osiris is buried at Abydos in a special temple." Nekhi grinned at Tepi and tossed his head,"I bet I know something you don't", he teased.
"Well", Tepi sniffed,"Since I don't know what it is you know how can I tell?"
"Our trip includes a stop at the temple of Hat-Hor [Hathor], in Dendara, too," bubbled Nekhi triumphantly, "Just think. We get to see the temple which is actually built on top of the original Sacred Horizon. You know," he continued,"the mound which appeared out of the sea, even before our ancestors lived. The priests told me all about it," boasted Nekhi, as he stretched a foot down to splash in the garden pool.
Tepi was already cooling her feet among the blue and white lotus blossoms which peeked from around the lily pads. This was one of their favorite places to sit and talk.
Their friend, Sethi, wouldn't be joining them on this trip. After his help in rescuing Nekhi from the Hyksos kidnappers their father, the Pharaoh, had seen that Sethi was enrolled in the scribes' school at the temple. This was a very special honor, but the long hours of studies left little time for other things, although the friends were able to visit each other often.
All around the palace the excitement spread. All the people who were to accompany the large royal party were making ready. There would be many priests, royal nobles, friends, priests, scribes, and servants. Food would have to be prepared, as well as plans to provide all the comforts expected by the royalty who would be traveling.
This trip would also include a short trip on a royal barge. The special barge men would provide the manpower required for several large cedar-made barges. These had high bows or prows carved into pictures of the different gods and goddesses thought to be in charge of having a safe journey while on the water. In the middle of each barge would be a sun shield made of linen under which the passengers could sit in comfort while traveling north to the sacred cities.
The day finally arrived. Both Tepi and Nekhi boarded the royal barge with their parents and settled themselves under the canopy out of the sun. Tepi gazed up at the tall mast. The sails were furled around it now. They would not need the sails for this part of the trip. The Niles' currant would take them to their destination with the help of the oarsmen on each side of the barge. The steersman at the back, with the long rudder, would steer the barge left and right as was needed. On the return trip, however, the sail, with its' bright multicolored sail, would be unfurled letting the wind from the north push them back up river.
"I wonder what this journey will show us," thought Tepi to herself. She turned to Nekhi, her brow furrowed, "Do you really think we will be safe going to the north?" she asked tentatively. Smiling confidently Nekhi answered her with a nod. "We have plenty of guards with us just in case. I heard that some of the military will meet us when we get off the barge, too, so I don't think we have anything to worry about, really." Nekhi didn't feel quite as sure as he made it sound but he certainly wasn't going to tell Tepi how he really felt. After his kidnapping at the ands of the enemy Hyksos a few months ago he wasn't at all as sure as he tried to sound.
Their first stop would be Dendera and the Temple of Hat-hor. As the priests had taught Nekhi, this was a very ancient temple. The very first leaders and priests in the land of Kem [Egypt] had built this temple according to the plans given them by the great God Osiris and the Seven Sages of Heliopolis. That was what had been taught to the royal children in the temple school they attended. There, the Sem Priest, and the priestesses of the temple would travel into the world of the gods and return, bringing the predictions to the King about how good the next crops would be for the next year. They would also aid the royal group in welcoming in the New Year right before the inundation [flood].
As the barge was getting ready to leave the dock three riders came galloping towards them. Their horses were white with lather and snorting from a hard ride. One of the men dismounted from his horse and ran to the captain of the barge. After a moment of wild gestures they both turned and came towards the Kings' chair on board the barge. There, the animated conversation continued for a few more moments before the horseman turned and went back to his horse, gathered up the reigns and all three galloped off in a northerly direction.
"What is going on," thought Tepi, as she turned a questioning eye toward Nekhi, who responded with a hunch of his shoulders and hands outspread. The barge swung away from land and proceeded out into the Nile the oarsmen beginning their rowing song as they traveled north.