I often have flights of fancy about Khaemwaset being a man out of his time - an alternative archaeologist from the future, stuck in the past. Me.
How does this happen?
One minute I’m standing there in front of a carved Egyptian false door in a tomb - a blank, spiritual false door between the two worlds of the living and the dead made of solid stone -and in the next moment I’m plunging down a chasm, bludgeoning my spinning head against a series of violent visions rising like stone steps in a stairwell – animal-headed gods, jackals, crocodiles, falcons, grinning mummies, they strike my senses with hard lights of pain. I feel my skull cracking open and images surging into my brain.
Then I hit the bottom and black out.
I sit up in a circle of firelight in a hall of papyriform columns, my head ringing.
An attendant stands at the centre of this circle of illumination, calm as a candle, holding a torch flame.
I look down at myself.
I am inside the skin of an ancient Egyptian character called Khaemwaset, more, I’m inside his leopard skin -a pelt hanging across my chest and kilt like a spotted sash.
The uniform is a reminder that I am not only a hereditary prince, but also a servant of the gods, a kherheb, a priest.
There I am, shaven-skulled, inside the body of that ancient worthy, Khaemwaset, knowing everything he knows, but also being conscious of myself. Maybe being too obsessed with Khaemwaset has brought this on me. Or maybe the real Khaemwaset had been standing right in front of that same false doorway several thousand years previously, just as I had, and something happened across time at the very moment we both started wondering…
Whatever magic, or distortion in time and space, caused the phenomenon, we suddenly become two people out of our time.
The first thing that strikes me, perversely, is a sense of profound deprivation, of being robbed of something that I’d always thought would be mine. My own life and times. I don’t really want to be stuck in history. At least not permanently. Not in an age before antibiotics, anaesthesia, modern dentistry and the Internet. Your own age is the oxygen you breathe, it suddenly hits me, and without it I am left gasping as I walk out of the building with my servant and into the daylight of an earlier age.
It’s so dammed quiet. No tourist buses on the roads, no aircraft flying overhead. Here, even the air is different. It feels younger and headier.
Maybe it’s the lack of pollution.
I know very surely in that moment that Egypt isn’t just a place for me. Egypt is first of all a concept. It’s the Egypt of the mind I love, self-contained and endlessly satisfying. I love to hanker after it, not live in it and die in it. So what do I do now? What would you do if you were an Egyptologist stuck in 2,000 BC, knowing what you did about the greatest secrets of history?
Go out and hunt down Tutankhamun’s tomb before Howard Carter does? Tempting, but no, you wouldn’t.
How about cracking the tomb of great pharaohs like Seti or of Thutmosis? They’d be more rewarding than the boy king’s hole-in-the-wall.
No, I don’t want to start a treasure hunt. Instead I am galvanized by the desperate need to find a ticket home and that means finding the source of the power that brought me here, the only source of power available to a man like Khaemwaset. I’d do what Khemwaset is said to have done – I’d begin a search for a great source of power – Egypt’s greatest magical power, the scroll of Thoth.
Now it becomes clear why those still living in the 21st Century call me The First Egyptologist.
They recognise me as an individual way, way ahead of his time, a man with a precocious interest in archaeology and a genius for digging up hidden secrets.
I now understand that statue of Khaemwaset in the British Museum.
The statue’s eyes seem to gaze far beyond, and the face has an air as haunted as the sphinx’s.
I know the secret that haunts that face and the reason for that far-gazing look in his eyes. This 19th Dynasty image graven in breccia stone depicts a modern day Egyptologist from the 21st Century, an intruder trapped in the ancient past and pining to find a way home.
Khaemwaset is me.
Can you imagine that for a moment?
Stretch your mind across thirty centuries, just as my existence has been stretched and twisted violently out of context and out of time.
My fate can swing the history of humankind and transform the world’s belief systems...
(Excerpt from my Blog in "The Hathor Holocaust")