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Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

sydney
Level Contributor
715 posts
15 reviews
Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

Spent an exhausting day at Dashur & Saqqara today - fantastic! Dashur was extra special with no-one selling anything & us just soaking up the environment.

But after reading all the hype about the restoration & reopening just last month (with fanfare, ministers & Zahi Hawass) of the "new" Old Kingdom tomb of Mehu at Saqqara, we were disappointed that it firmly locked up (but it had a spanking new sign). We'd even bought tickets for it.

Later we also found Mereruka's tomb locked up (we'd bought separate tickets for that too) but our driver found a guard nearby (5 were milling around Teti's pyramid) who reluctantly & eventually went & got a key & opened it.

There was no one near Mehu's tomb earlier & we didn't realise that perhaps someone might be fetched to open it? Would this be the case?

Disappointing to come from around the world & miss out (this happened in the Naples Archaeological Museum too where whole wings for Pompeii frescoes & artefacts are closed for the day because of staffing absences or "cutbacks")

Does anyone know what the go is? We have 2 days left at the end of the trip back in Cairo I was devoting to the Museum & Islamic Cairo, but I would go back if it was actually opened.

Many thanks.

12 replies to this topic
Manchester, United...
Destination Expert
for County Galway
Level Contributor
2,160 posts
8 reviews
1. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

It's impossible to say whether what you experienced was a genuine closure or a flaky guardian but I will say that I've experienced many more of the latter than the former at Saqqara. With it being a lesser visited site the guardians are often to be found asleep or socialising at each others hangouts and you quite often have to go in search of them to get a tomb opened. The guardian with the keys for the twin tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, for example, is often with his mates up at the pyramid of Unas and the first time I visited the tomb of Mereruka nobody could find the guardian until another one shouted through the grill of the tomb door and woke him up!

sydney
Level Contributor
715 posts
15 reviews
2. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

I know tourism is down but there were quite a lot of tourists about at the time crowding the few open tombs. I was disappointed the pyramid of Unas was closed too (I was actually hunted away from that). I just thought everything was closed. It wasn't until the end that I realised that this might not be the case & we were too exhausted to go back & hunt down the guardian of Mehu.

Also I was disappointed there was no way to get to the serdab of Djoser's pyramid as they had the northern side of the pyramid cordoned off for the conservation "work". I really think that was poor.

Bolton, United...
Destination Expert
for Nile River Valley
Level Contributor
2,343 posts
26 reviews
3. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

It's fairly normal for you to have to hunt down or attract the attention of the guardians of the less visited Saqqara monuments; I know Saqqara isn't on most tour itineraries anyway, but those who do visit tend only to see a standard set of tombs and pyramids.

If you visit either of the New Kingdom necropolises that are open you will need to get the guardian to come and open them. This isn't a problem with the tombs to the south of the Unas Causeway, as the guardian will see you stood by the information board from his hut, but you do need to stand outside the Bubasteon tombs shouting, "Ya reis!" before he comes running down the, very steep, hill to open them.

Manchester, United...
Destination Expert
for County Galway
Level Contributor
2,160 posts
8 reviews
4. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

Since it's re-opening the pyramid of Unas has had restricted visiting times and the last two times I've been it closed at midday. I'm not sure if that is still the case - my last visit was December 2017 - but it could be the reason it was closed? If that was the scenario (that you visited in the afternoon) then I'd definitely consider scheduling an early morning return to enter both the pyramid and the fantastic causeway tombs of Niankhkhnum/Khnumhotep and Irukaptah which are all on the same 'Unas' ticket. Saqqara is an amazing site, with so much to experience beyond the obvious 'big hit', and IMO both Cairo Museum and Islamic Cairo are best visited in the afternoon and evening respectively. Sorry that I can't help you with Mehu but, if you do re-visit, you should definitely ask around for the guardian (who won't necessarily be 'at his post') and present him with your unused tickets...

BTW if you're intending on visiting the tombs of the Nobles in Luxor the case of the 'missing' guardian can also occur there so don't feel afraid to call out for assistance ;-)

sydney
Level Contributor
715 posts
15 reviews
5. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

It's hard when you don't know the "system". I just assumed the tombs were locked up like a lot of the others.I'll be wiser & pushier next time.

We've just come back from our 2nd day at Giza & I was annoyed we were hunted out of the mastabas of the Western Cemetery of Khufu, & we were followed to make sure we stayed out. No signs off limits & the area was obviously being used as a giant toilet with & packs of camels & horses weaving in & out of the mastabas. We were genuinely just looking at the architecture. I don't know what the problem was there?

Cairo, Egypt
Level Contributor
1,118 posts
228 reviews
6. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

tetibird,

At Giza, it’s possible that there were no restrictions for the area you tried to walk around, but you were hunted out by an unscrupulous hanger-on. He may have been hoping you would “hire” him as a guide.

montreal
Level Contributor
227 posts
9 reviews
7. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

I don't get it,those guardians are hire by who,or it is volontiers work,how come they hire so lazy people,shame

montreal
Level Contributor
227 posts
9 reviews
8. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

I don't get it,those guardians are hire by who,or it is volontiers work,how come they hire so lazy people,shame

Mumbai, India
Level Contributor
173 posts
6 reviews
9. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

We were lucky to enter Mehu as it was already opened by the guard for the benefit of a large French group. It wasn't easy to see it properly with the narrow spaces already occupied. The moment the last of the Frenchmen exited the tomb, the said guard was impatient for us to leave so that he can lock the tomb and follow the group to the other tombs. We couldn't enter Horemheb as the guard over there refused to open it for us, he was busy escorting the French group in a nearby tomb. (He knew where the moolah was). We could see everything else without trouble.

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
152 posts
59 reviews
10. Re: Disappointment - Tomb of Mehu, Saqqara

Oh my gosh, I might have been there on the same day you were! The tomb of Mehu was indeed locked up, but our guide went and found the guard who opened it for us, no problem. We were the only people in there and it was a highlight of our trip!

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