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Published on Feb 14, 2014
Egyptian Journeys with Dan Cruickshank is a BBC Television documentary series in which Dan Cruickshank explores the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. Episode one: The Secrets of the Tomb Builders. Cruickshank finds out about the mysterious people who built the spectacular underground tombs of the Pharaohs. Cruickshank flies over the Valley of the Kings where the pharaohs hid their tombs over 3,500 years ago. Over 60 tombs are dug into the walls of the valley where the bodies and riches inside could be guarded from tomb robbers. Descending into the massive KV5, built by Rameses II for his sons, Cruickshank is able to admire the precise engineering skills of its builders. In the Tomb of Horemheb, sealed before it could be completed, he admires the unfinished work of the tomb artists. At Deir el-Medina he sees where the generations of builder, painters, sculptors and engineers who built the tombs lived with their families kept separate from the rest of the world. From the wealth of archaeological evidence (scraps of cloth, fragments of wood, traces of paint) archaeologist have built up a detailed picture of the tomb builders' lives. Cruickshank ponders the life of an ancient family of tomb builders at the house of Senagem. The builders were highly literate and thousands of examples of their writing on limestone and pottery have been uncovered giving detailed and intimate insights into ancient Egyptian life. From these ostraca we can see that they were not slaves but well cared for state employees who held some of the most important secrets of the state but court documents reveal these were also the tomb robbers. Cruickshank explains how this journey has changed his view of the valley from a place of death, afterlife, ritual and religion into a place of ordinary people and their daily lives. This insight into life in this land thousands of years ago is history from the bottom up a long way from the propaganda left behind by the pharaohs.
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