Mandate Excerpt

Copyright© 2021 Steven R. Fisher

Chapter 23

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - Dra Abu el Naga, Luxor, Egypt

As they exited the gates, one of the guards that had been posted at the top of the hill came running down toward the entrance.

He said to Bob, “I’ve been watching as there has been a crowd gathering in front of the alabaster factory on the street below. It started at just a few, but now there’s about fifty. Come look.” They started up the hill.

As the two looked down, they could see the crowd, which had grown to eighty or more, milling about. Bob quickly pulled out his mobile and made a call, speaking in Hebrew. He quickly hung up and made another, similar, call. He said to the guard, “Keep me informed by mobile. I’m going back to the tent to get our people armed and ready. I also called for reinforcements, who, of course, will have to come across the Nile bridge, so they will take a half hour at least.”

He returned to the tent and spoke to John Reed. “There is a large group forming by the alabaster factory. I called our group here to tell them to be prepared; I suggest you do the same.”

“What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, but we have to be prepared for anything. Right now, with the others below, I guess that you’re in charge. They could be peaceful people protesting the Mubarak government, but I thought that was mostly over. And that peaceful group could become a mob, especially after dark, and they could come here to loot our objects. I doubt it, but it could be some religious thing. In any case, we need to make a show of force. Why don’t the two of us go up.”

He turned to Julia and Steve and explained the situation. Julia asked, “Should we tell David and the others?”

“Don’t disturb them yet. I have your mobile numbers,” He paused. “I sure hope that this is nothing. Hey, you two are in charge down here now,” he said with a smile he hoped was comforting. He turned and walked back up the hill, where he saw that some in the crowd were carrying signs and posters; some, he thought, were in English.

As the sun was setting, the crowd, which numbered possibly two hundred, started making their way up the dirt road that went about two thirds of the way up the hill. After that their leaders could only walk two-abreast as they made their way between existing tombs. Seeing that, Bob called down and told his armed “Egyptians” to quickly come to the top of the hill and appear in a single line, stretching out across the hill.

Seeing that show of force, the leaders yelled back orders and the crowd below paused in place. Two leaders approached asking, in English, who was in charge.

“I am,” said Bob, as he took one step forward, forcing the two to approach him. Bob intentionally kept the discussion in English, which would give him an advantage. “Why are you approaching our lawful archaeological site? We are all from the University of Pennsylvania in the USA. We are doing nothing to harm Egypt. I peacefully request that you leave,” as he moved his head from side-to-side looking at his men, who were in the traditional Egyptian galabias, but armed with Kalashnikovs with full clips.

The Egyptian leader responded, “You are trying to steal valuable Egyptian objects. You are on Egyptian land. You do not belong here. This is our land!” He turned his head, and the few other leaders took steps forward. The crowd below began shouting, in English, “Yankee go home,” and other yells in Egyptian Arabic.

Unfazed, Bob took another step toward the men. “We are not stealing anything. If we find anything we must turn it over. We hold a concession from the Supreme Council on Antiquities. Your government has full knowledge of our actions!”

“Ha!” said the leader, “What government is that? We have no government. Mubarak and his group of crooks is gone. The people rule Egypt now. Your concession, whatever that is, is invalid.”

“We mean peace, but we cannot allow you into our legal site.” Bob raised his right hand and, on the street below, six pickup trucks each holding four troops in full combat gear pulled up. They had come across the Nile Bridge with large white galabias over their garb. They had pulled off their galabias and now stood ready for combat on the street below.

“I suggest that you turn back. The University of Pennsylvania has even more troops to call on if there is any trouble. Leave us alone; anything we may find will be turned over to Egypt.”

The crowd started moving back down the hill and passed through the trucks surrounded by Bob’s troops. He walked back to the line and John Reed said, “Really nice job!”

Bob acknowledged and said, “Unlike at home in the USA, they don’t have bars to crowd and get fired up. But my troops will stay down there, of course after changing back to their galabias.”