Stairway to Eternity
Chapter II – Part II
The expedition marched westwards out of the green valley, but the days and weeks that followed brought little in the way of new discoveries for Sesortris and his men. No mines, only poverty-stricken villages of a few score people scratching a living from their goats, pigs and sheep. They came across abandoned villages where the wells had dried up and the villages had moved on. There was no danger to the Egyptians from the sparse local population. Sesortris’s men were well armed, disciplined and organized and the ony danger might come from a lack of food or water so the chariots and camel train were guarded day and night.
Two months had passed and the expedition was fast running out of enthusiasm. Sesortris realized that they had come far enough and now it was time to return to Egypt, they had found nothing so the expedition had in fact been worthless. The only benefit had been mapping out and seeing these new territories, confirming that Egypt was in no danger of an attack from the west.
The expedition was near an oasis named Tidikett and a local scout who they had taken on to guide them informed them that there they could rest, take on more water and meat for the long trek back. Sesortris agreed and led his army into Tidikett. The village proved to be larger than any they had seen up to then, still poor with dour mud buildings but well laid out and it seemed to have plenty of water and goats roamed all over the narrow streets and plazas of the village.
The Egyptians were not in the habit of paying for their food; they took what they wanted and never up until then had any villagers made any attempt to stop them taking whatever they needed. On the contrary, most had been so awed by the might, dress and discipline of the Egyptians that they had readily given whatever was ordered from them. Slaves had not been taken as they would have had to be fed and watered all the way back to Egypt, so orders had been give that no one was to be taken as a slave.
Things were different in Tidikett; the Egyptians felt they were not welcome. On wanting to fill their water bags this was denied and skirmishes broke out as goats were taken from their owners. Sesortris ordered his men to take up battle positions as the situation was getting out of hand. These villagers would have to be taught a lesson; no one could insult an Egyptian and get away with it. The wells were occupied, may of the local men were killed in the fight and most f the poor buildings were burned down. The survivors fled to the desert around their oasis as Tidikett was destroyed.
In the center square, surrounded by tall plams was the only relatively large building in the village. This was the temple of the people of Tidikett. Sosrtris accompanied by Cheops enters the sacred building; inside standing by a primitive altar was a lonely and frightened figure. By his clothing it was obvious he was the high priest of Tidikett. He stood with is back to a curtain, seemingly guarding whatever was behind it. The Egyptian general’s men rushed forward, swords drawn to put an end to the poor priest’s life but suddenly Chops ordered his men to spare him. Just in time, as a split-second later at least three blades would have slaughtered the old man.
“Who are you?” asked Sesortris. Answering through the scout the old man explained he was the high priest of the sun-god and guardian of the temple of Tidikett.
“What is hidden behind the curtain?” Cheops asked. The priest replied; ” it is the pathway to eternity, the way to heaven.” “What do you mean? Explain yourself.” The old priest pulled back the curtain and there painted on the wall was a white pyramid, behind it, the sun-god Ra. ” This is our god; R sleeps behind the white pyramid, where the land ends and the sea starts, where the sun sets every evening. The white pyramid is there; it is so large and so high, its top holds up the sky”.
Cheops was intrigues, he remembered a few years ago how his father had told him the story of his grandfather Djoser and of the high priest Imhotep; of how the Libyan chieftain head also spoken of the white pyramid where Ra sleeps every night.
The next day the Egyptian army was ready to leave Tidikett or what was left of it and start the long journey home. They had lost a handful of men the day before in the battle with the men from the oasis. They had also lost a few men in their long journey into Libya but finally the great bulk of the expedition was intact. They took with them the old priest as Cheops was fascinated by his story and wanted his father Snefru to meet him to hear the story as well.
Two months later the Egyptian army returned to the Nile kingdom, tired and dissatisfied with their discoveries. Only Cheops was satisfied, bringing with him Tinguaro, the old priest of Tidikett.
What joy to return home! The soldiers, officers, porters and camel drivers were overjoy to be back. Everyone in the villages wanted to hear of their adventures; these were of course exaggerated although in fact this firs Egyptian expedition into Libya had traveled one thousand eighth hundred miles into Africa and another one thousand eight hundred miles into Africa and another one thousand eight hundred miles back, making it the longest organized expedition ever made by Egypt or by anyone else.