By Jane Richards
"Cairo Museum," whispered Seth in an awed voice as they followed their guide into this huge building. After going through a security check they looked in awe at the huge atrium and into the rear. Their guide led them through priceless collections of sarcophagi, sacred boats, and gigantic statues as well as smaller statues of individuals, families, and people at work. They also saw the ancient palette of Narmer from the Old Kingdom. The second floor contained the famous collection from Tutankhamuns' tomb, including the solid gold inner casket. After going through the Mummy Room, which contained some of the most famous Kings of ancient Egypt, they were ready for lunch with their Father.
The lunch was at a small sidewalk cafe and proved to be very tasty, although not at all like the fast food the boys were used to eating at home.
After several days the boys, their Mother and Father, as well as several archaeologists boarded a train to travel south to Upper Egypt. They were going to a very ancient site. The name of the town now was El Kab, but Seth knew from his studies that it had been called Nekheb. It was believed, by his Father, to have been the location of a very ancient predynastic temple [called a per wer by the ancients] in which they worshipped a goddess named Nekhbet [she who belongs to Nekheb]. Her symbol was a vulture. The same symbol which could be seen on the ancient crowns of the Kings of Egypt.
The train ride over, they then climbed into a large truck and traveled out into the desert to an oasis surrounded by palm trees with a small pond in the middle. In amongst the trees were tents set up for the scientists.
"Over there," pointed Seth. "Is that the site, Dad? Was that really a temple?"
"That's what we hope to find out, son. Our theory is that it has been rebuilt several times in the past, but underneath we hope to find the remains of the original. We also hope that when dated, at the Cairo University, it will show an origin of 5000BCE or older."
"Was it a temple to the vulture goddess Nekhbet?" queried Seth, surprising his father with the knowledge.
His Dad grinned, pleased with his sons' acquired information in Egyptology. "You've really been studying, haven't you! Yes, that's our theory, at least. Now we'll have to work hard to find out whether we're correct or not, and you are going to help."
The next morning the work began. There were many students, as well as archaeologists, from all over the world. Many were from the University of Cairo. The boys were put to the job of transferring small pieces of stone to the laboratory tent after the stones had been removed from the site. The scientists had numbered them after carefully recording where they were found and in what position.
"Whew," grunted Seth. "This is hard work, Ramey. I didn't realize how hard archaeology was!"
"Didn't know how dirty it was, either," replied his brother as he dusted himself off for the hundreth time. "I think it's about time for dinner. I'm really hungry!"
The sun was just about to set behind the hills of the desert and the boys decided to get the last of the marked stones down to the lab tent. They trudged up the well-worn path to remove the last stones sitting there waiting for them. As they approached the area Seth just happened to glance down. There in the dust beside the stones something glinted in the last rays of the sun. Bending down, he looked more closely and then called to one of the archaeologists nearby.
"I think I've found some kind of artifact over here. Could you come over and check it out?"
The scientist walked over, looked and then bent down for a closer study of the item. "I think it's some type of knife, but I can't really tell, yet." He turned and motioned some other scientists over to the area. "What do you make of this?" he asked the others.
Getting out their brushes they very gingerly brushed away the dust and grime which covered the small object. A glint of gold caught everyone's' eye. Carefully the object was photographed 'in situ', [the exact way it was found], tagged with a number while others took notes. Then, the object was removed from the ground. It was a beautifully designed dagger in a golden sheath. The haft [handle] of the dagger contained various colored gems. The sheath was intricately carved with designs. Since Seth had found it he was given the dagger to take to the lab. He carefully cradled the object in his hands and slowly made his way down the path to the tent. About half way there he imagined he felt warmth in his hand and glanced down. The sheath and dagger seemed to have a strange glow! "Must be my imagination," thought Seth to himself. Just as this thought scurried through his mind he felt a sudden jolt under his feet. Ramey, who had been following his brother, let out a gasp. The ground seemed to tremble underneath their feet as they slipped into darkness.