The Lost Tomb of Sekhemkhet By Roger Pederson



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The Lost Tomb of Sekhemkhet

By Roger Pederson


(present day)
There is only ..... darkness. Until we see some light coming from the distance. Rounding a corner at the far end, carrying a torch, a young woman walks slowly around the corner and up the passage toward us. She is wearing boots and is dressed in khaki jeans and a tank top. She carries a backpack, along with a belt and holster with a pistol strapped to her hip. Her hair is brunette, long and tied back in a ponytail.
We now see what she sees. The interior of the cave is wet and dripping in places. It is clinging with moss and bugs. Every step she takes echos throughout the passage. Spiders and other insects scamper out of her way.


Lara heads down a winding tunnel. Her torch dimly lights the way. She wipes away spider webs with her free hand.
She hears a cracking noise under her feet as she slowly makes her way along. Stopping to look down at her feet, she sees that she has been stepping onto the bones of skeletons.
She picks up small artifacts from the niches and ledges of the passage, examining them and discarding them as she goes along, evaluating the pieces in an instant ...... only briefly stopping her forward progress. She kneels down to inspect another artifact on the floor of the passage when something makes her look up and to her right.
Lara catches a glint of light from her torch reflected off what appears to be the tip of a blade embedded in the wall above. Something's wrong. Lara lights a flare and tosses it. She spots a human skeleton lying on the floor of the passage about ten feet ahead of her. She looks down and forward when she spots something unusual, ..... just below the blade. She gets down on all fours and crawls up carefully to the spot. Lara then gets out a small brush and gently dusts off the spot, revealing what appears to be a pressure plate. A booby trap!
She backs off and stands up again, looking around and spotting a large stone behind her to the right, and pushes it forward onto the plate. The blade swings down and embeds itself in the wall on the other side of the passage, ..... barely missing her. It's covered in a dark substance. Dried blood perhaps?

Lara: [raises an eyebrow]
"Well, ..... that's encouraging ......... I think."

She's careful about where she steps. Lara slowly aproaches the pile of bones. Clothing and some decaying flesh remain on the skeleton. Another explorer or archaeologist perhaps? She kneels down to check the carcass for any identification. Nothing. But then she glances at one of the hands and recognizes the ring she sees. An old friend of her father's!

Lara: [sighs]
"Dr. Owens. ......... I'm sorry."

'Poor soul', she thought as she stood up. 'Unlucky for him, ..... lucky for me', she said to herself. 'Thanks for the warning'.
She took the ring from his finger and placed it in her pack. The least she could do was return it to his family, she thought. When Lara was fifteen, her father went missing in Cambodia. Extensive searches by the authorities turned up human remains that could not definitively be identified. So, she knew what it was like to lose a father and not know how he died. Lara then turns and continues, carefully, down the passage.
Lara reaches a slight incline, when she comes upon some "steps" leading up. But they lead up to a wall ..... it was a dead end. Or so it appeared. Lara notices what looks like a slight gap in the face of the 'wall' ahead of her. She looks around. Finding a small niche in the wall, Lara reaches inside with her right arm.
Her hand fumbles about until she feels a rope and tugs on it. We see the 'wall' parting, ..... dust and small stones fall as it opens ..... revealing an arch over the entrance to the temple she had been searching for.

Lara: "Clever chaps."

Framing the entry were thick spider webs. Lara parted the webs and slowly stepped forward. She looked out over the cavernous chamber ahead of her. Lara stands still looking at the wonder of it. The chamber was at least forty feet in diameter.
She doesn't move. Instead, she looks at the floor ahead of her, examining it and the surrounding walls for possible booby traps. Nothing. Across the way, she sees the artifact she's after sitting upon a stone pedestal. Lara, turns and places the tip of her torch in a resting place on the wall. She walks slowly, carefully across the chamber to the other side and the artifact. As Lara walks along, she lights a flare and keeps looking around, as though expecting another booby trap of some kind here, ..... but nothing happens.
Lara walks slowly over to the pedestal, upon which rests a small figurine. The tiny idol is not beautiful to most people. But, to Lara, it's glorious! She can't help but stand there admiring it for a moment. She stood there wide-eyed and mystified. It rests on a pedestal of stone. Lara looks it, and the pedestal, over very carefully. She sees no danger. She slowly, carefully lifts the figurine from the pedestal. Nothing. Breathing a sigh of relief, Lara places the artifact in her pack.
We hear a slight rumbling sound. Not a good sign! A large portion of the floor between the pedestal and the entrance across the way breaks and falls away. She looks down at the abyss beneath her, filled with mist now, watching the pieces of broken floor disappear. No sound. Obviously, she thought, no one had ever gotten this far. Lara lights a flare and tosses it into the abyss below, watching it go out of sight.


Lara: "No problem."

Lara hooks a rock-piercing grapple onto a cable attached to her belt and loads the grapple into the barrel of her pistol. She looks up at the center of the ceiling, aims the pistol and fires. The grapple embeds itself into the rock ceiling of the chamber. She holsters her pistol.
Taking the idol from its pedestal had set off a chain reaction, which had now increased in volume. The temple has begun to shake in response to the idol being moved. Debris is falling all around her.


Lara: "Right then, ........ time to leave."

Lara grimaces as she swings across the great abyss beneath her. She releases the cable at the top of her swing, launches herself and grabs the ledge on the other side, quickly pulling herself up and running back down the passage the way she came.
She runs down the passage, tucks and rolls, barely avoiding another swinging blade as she makes her way back. Rocks and dirt are falling everywhere. The tunnel is falling in on her! She reaches the end of the tunnel just in time as she dives out of the way of more falling rocks and through the brush that covered the entrance.
Diving outside, she begins rolling uncontrollably downhill. She rolls over the edge of the cliff below. From the camera angle we think Lara is lost.
Then, we see her clinging to a branch just over the cliff. Rocks and boulders hurtle over her head and fall to the valley below. It's too far up to the edge of the cliff to pull herself up ..... and the branch is starting to give way. She lifts her feet up against the cliff's edge and pushes off, letting go of the branch at the same time. Falling to the valley floor below, Lara then pulls a hook on her backpack ..... deploying a parachute!


Lara: "Well, ...... that was fun."

She continues laughing, knowing that the artifact she had come for was safely in her pack. But the adreneline rush was what she was really after!

[fade out]

The fade in is followed by this:

Oxford

2008

A 21 year-old Lara Croft strolls down the aisle between the book stacks at Oxford's library, searching for a book. She pulls three books from the shelf ........ "Interpretative Archaeology", "Egyptian Myth: A Way to Eternity" and "Forgotten Scripts: Egyptian Hieroglyphs". She walks back and sets them on a study table, startling the person seated across from her. She takes a seat.

Across from her is a scrubby-looking young man who had his nose buried in a book, ..... until he did a double-take when he saw Lara!

He'd never been this close to such a beautiful woman. Actually, he'd never even gotten within ten feet of a woman like this!

He gulps and extends his hand in friendship, introducing himself.

Bryce:

"Bryce Hamilton."

Lara:

"Lara Croft."

Bryce: [looking at her books and recognizing what looked like Egyptian hieroglyphics]

"Archaeology student?"

Lara: [never looking up]

"Graduate student."

She glanced over and saw the title of one of the books he had.

Lara:

"Hmmm .... Alexander Burnett's 'Bioinformatics: Computational Aspects and Applications'. ..... some light reading?" [teasing, smiling]

Bryce was a techno geek, ..... a mathematics genius and an expert with computers.

Bryce:

"I've always been fascinated with the development of artificial intelligence."

Lara: [smirking]

"So have I, ....... though I must admit I prefer the real thing." [looking back down at her studies] " ...... hard as it may be to find these days."

Bryce:

"I'm going for my Master of Mathmatics and Computer Science."

Lara: [not even looking up]

".... good for you."

Long silence. Bryce squirms.

Bryce: {bragging]

"I'm uh, ..... I'm here on scholarship."

Lara: [sarcastically, looking at her book]

"Really? .... I'm here to study."

Bryce: [pausing, leaning across the table and whispering]

"Wait a minute ........ Croft? ...... Any relation to Richard Croft .... of Croft Industries?"

Lara: [turning a page in the book she's reading]

" ...... he's my father."

Bryce:

"Didn't ... uhh .......... Didn't I read that he disappeared a few years ago?"

Lara:

"Four years and five months actually." ...... [looking up at him] "Any more pleasantries you want to share?"

Bryce: [embarrassed]

"Sorry"

He went back to his studies and left her alone. So much for beauty and the geek. For now.

[fade out]

A few days later, he sees Lara walking across campus. He runs, calling to her.

Bryce:

"LARA!" [he catches up to her]

Lara: [glances over, continues walking, looking straight ahead again]

"From the library, right?"

Bryce:

"Right, ...... Bryce."

Lara:

"What can I do for you?"

Bryce:

"Are you in a hurry?"

Lara: [she sighs, stops and looks at him]

"Why?"

Bryce:

"Time for a cup of tea?"

Later, in a campus hang out, the two are seated at a table sipping tea.

Bryce:

"Again, I'm sorry about your father ....... I didn't mean to bring up any bad memories."

Lara:

"It's alright. ..... I have to live with those memories every day."

Bryce:

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

Lara:

"Let's find out." [as she places a hand on her chin, looking at him]

Bryce:

"You're a ..... [whispering] You're a baroness ........ I mean, .... you're royalty. You're filthy, bloody rich! What are you doing here? ........ No, never mind. I'm sorry. It's none of my business."

Lara: [smiling]

"It's perfectly alright. Actually, I'm rather surprised you didn't ask me that straight off. [sipping her tea] ..... Let's just say that I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge, ... and no amount of money can buy what I'm after. You know, we can only gather a small portion of knowledge here, [motioning around with her eyes] in school, ...... compared to what we acquire in the real world over a lifetime. There's so much more out there to be learned."

Bryce simply smiled and nodded. He could see there was something special about her. They quickly became friends. The two bonded in an almost brother/sister relationship.

What Bryce didn't know was that, over the next few weeks, he was essentially being interviewed for a job. The more Lara talked with him, the more she realized that he could turn out to be very useful. She had neither the time, nor the inclination, to learn as much about computers as Bryce already knew. And she knew that kind of knowledge would come in handy.

[fade out]

Just a few months from graduation, the two were seated at a table at the campus library.

Lara:

"Bryce? ....... Would you be interested in coming to work for me after graduating?"

Bryce:

".... What do you mean?"

Lara:

"I mean, would you like to come work for me?

Bryce: [looking over at her, gulping]

"........ For Croft Industries?"

Lara:

"Actually, you'd be working with me ..... directly. The family business is of very little interest to me, other than to see that it continues to succeed. You'd be given a generous salary, commensurate with what you could be earning in the business sector of course. As you know, my hobbies are archaeology and ancient civilizations. Someone with your skills in computers and science could come in quite handy. You'd be given extensive resources for any research you may want to do. ........ Here's the figure I had in mind."

[she pushes a folded piece of paper across the table to him]

Bryce: [unfolding the paper and looking at it, ... he gulps]

"A year?"

Lara: [nodding "Yes"]

Bryce: [smiling]

"Starting when?"

Lara:

"..... how about the day after graduation?"

They shook hands. Neither Lara nor Bryce were the type to pass up an opportunity.

[ fade out ]

{a few months later .... after graduation]



At Croft Manor, Lara is riding horseback on the mansion grounds. She rides up to Henry, who has been waiting for her near the front gate. He was Winston's nephew ..... a butler 'in training'. His family had been serving royal familes for over two hundred years.

She pulls up and dismounts, handing Henry the reins to the horse.

Henry:



"Lady Croft, ..... My uncle would like to see you."

Lara: [running up to the driveway, where she saw Winston loading luggage into a car]

"Winston, ........ what is it?"

Winston had decided that it was time to let the young people take over.

Winston: [in a soft voice]



"Lara, it's time for me to retire."

Lara:



"But ..... "

Winston:



"I've already informed Henry. He'll be staying on to work for you in my place, ..... if that's all right with you, of course."

Lara:



"Yes, certainly .... but you can retire and continue to live here. ....... You're like family to me, Winston. Please ..... stay!"



Winston: [softly]


"That means a great deal to me, Lara ..... but I believe I'd like to live out my remaining years in my boyhood home." [sighs, looking around, remembering Lord and Lady Erica Croft] "Besides, ..... I'm afraid there are simply too many memories here for me."



Lara:


"Of course, ..... if you're sure that's what you want."



Winston:


"It is. But, ... [smiling] ... I will miss seeing your bright and shining face every day, so don't be surprised if I pop by from time to time."



Lara: [smiling]


"You'd better!"



They hug.


Lara:

"I love you."

Winston turns to say goodbye to his nephew.



Winston:


"Take care of her." [they shake hands]



Henry:


"You know I will, ...... Goodbye for now, uncle."



Winston:


"Goodbye, my boy." [patting him on the shoulder]



Lara walks to the doorway, smiling, yet teary-eyed. She waves goodbye to Winston. Another chapter in her life comes to an end, .... and a new one begins!


[fade out]

Lara was determined to fulfill the promise her father saw in her, ..... and carry on his work. She studied even harder than before. Her workouts became more intense.

She studies archaeological records, maps, ancient civilizations. For her, knowledge was a thirst. A thirst that could never be quenched. Lara also practiced hand to hand combat, and became an expert in the use of many different weapons. She was determined to let no one stand in her way! She knew that, as a woman, there would be those who would try to take advantage of her ...... or, at the very least, underestimate her. She was counting on that.

Bryce went to work for Lara the day after graduation. Because of her vast wealth, he now had his very own tech center at Croft manor, filled with the most advanced equipment in the world. With all this. he could create a great deal of Lara's gear for her, not to mention a few extra "goodies". He had always fancied himself a bit of an inventor, always coming up with ideas and little gadgets.

One day, Henry approached Lara in the library with an invitation that had arrived in the mail. It was from an old mentor.

Lara: [after reading the brief letter]

"Henry, ..... I'll be needing you to drive me into town tommorrow evening."

Henry:

"Of course, madam."

That following evening, Lara descended the stairs of Croft manor and headed out the door to her Bentley. She attended a seminar given at Oxford by an old associate of her father's, and a former teacher, ....... Professor Charles Alden.

Upon arrival at the auditorium, she took a seat in the audience just before the Professor was introduced.

Alden:

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. ............... Ancient Egyptian civilzation is without question, one the most fascinating topics in the world of archaeology. The ancient Egyptians built massive monuments to their rulers. They also spent great time and treasure creating hidden underground tombs, ..... tombs that no human being was ever meant to see."

"We know that the kings of the Old and Middle Kingdoms were buried in pyramids. The rulers of the New Kingdom were interred in the Valley of the Kings."

"If one looks more closely into royal burials, it is quite clear that many tombs have yet to be found. They ARE out there. Whether these same tombs have escaped the attention of thieves over the millennia is quite another matter, of course."

"Though their entrances were well hidden, nearly all of the valley's known royal tombs were most likely robbed before the end of the 20th dynasty—Egyptian records testify to robbers' trials."

"It's possible then, that any tomb yet to be found was so well hidden ..... that it totally escaped the notice of ancient thieves! Only time will tell. ........... "



The seminar went on for another forty minutes. It had re-awakened an interest in one of her greatest passions ....... ancient Egyptian civilizations. It was an interest that her father had given Lara when he first took her to visit the Valley of the Kings and the tomb of King Tut.

[fade out]

Later, after the conclusion of the seminar, she met with Professor Alden briefly to say hello.

Lara:

"Professor, it's been a long time."

Alden:

"Lara Croft, ...... my favorite student."

They shake hands.

Lara:

"I was surprised to get your invitation. The last I heard, you were still in Egypt."

Alden:

"I returned for this seminar, ......... and to speak with you."

Lara:

"Really?"

Alden:

"I have a proposal for you, ... one that I would make to your father if he were still with us, God rest his soul. ....... Would it be alright if I come by your estate tommorrow? We can talk then."

Lara: [nodding]

"Certainly."

Her interest had definitely been piqued. On her way back to the manor, she thought about the Professor's seminar. She knew that there were many royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings that were yet to be unearthed. Many people believed that the sixty-two tombs discovered before 1922 represented all that would ever be found in the valley. That is, of course, until Howard Carter discovered the resting place of Tutankhamun. Lara knew there were others, since the closer one looked into royal burials, it became quite clear that many tombs have yet to be found.

[fade out]

The next day at Croft Manor, Lara sat at her desk in the study. Bookshelves line the walls, as well as ancient maps and priceless paintings. She stared at the computer screen on the desk, studying her and her father's notes on the Valley of Kings.

[Lara spoke out loud to herself as she read what she saw on screen]

" ..... the tomb of the unifier of Egypt, Narmer, still remains to be located. The founder of the 18th Dynasty, Ahmose, has yet to have his burial place identified (although his mummy was found as part of the burial cache from TT320, which suggests that his original tomb had been violated).

Faint graffiti left in the tomb of Horemheb by the High Priest Herihor suggested to her that other royal mummies had been moved to a secret tomb. These mummies could include Horemheb, Ay and Tuthmosis I. It could even lead to the undiscovered tomb of High Priest Herihor himself.

The location of Neferirkare's tomb is unknown. Menkauhor's pyramid and sun temple location are unknown, though it is believed that the 'headless' pyramid at Saqqara may belong to him.



Raneb's tomb may be in Saqqara and could be concealed under later constructions. Nynetjer's tomb is also believed to be in Saqqara and could have been destroyed by the construction of Unas's pyramid.

The tomb of Sekhemkhet may be near Saqqara. An empty sealed sarcophagus belonging to him was found within his step pyramid, prompting thoughts that he may still lay undiscovered somewhere." ........



Henry enters the study.

Henry;

"Pardon me Lady Croft, there is a Professor Alden here. He wishes to speak with you."



Lara: [without even looking up from the book she is reading]


"Henry, how many times have I asked you to call me Lara? I hate that title. ..... 'Lady' Croft!"

Henry:



"Sorry, madam."

Lara:



"And don't call me madam, It makes me feel like an old woman." [she looks up] "Please, show him in."

Not knowing what to say, Henry simply nods 'yes'. The professor then enters the study. Lara rises from her chair and walks around the desk to greet him.

Alden:

"Good morning my dear." [looking around] "It's been quite some time since I've been here. ...... No more Winston?"

Lara: [motioning]

"He decided to retire. This is Henry, ... his nephew. Now then, you said you wanted to discuss something last night?"

Alden:

"Yes. I've discovered something quite remarkable."

Lara:

"What is it?"

Alden:

"I believe I may have discovered the true resting place of Sekhemkhet."

Now he had Lara's attention as she stepped forward and grew wide-eyed with anticipation!


Alden:

"As you know, Sekhemkhet was the successor to Djoser, whose Step Pyramid at Saqqara is well known. Sekhemkhet ruled for only six years, and his pyramid, which may have been intended to be larger than that of Djoser, never rose much above ground level. For this reason the monument became known as the ‘Buried Pyramid’ and is located, as you know from your studies, to the south-west of the Unas complex. It was was excavated in the 1950s. From its design and an inscription from his pyramid at Saqqara, it is thought that the architect Imhotep had a hand in the design of this pyramid"

"Lara, the sarcophagus discovered in the burial chamber there is unique in that the decomposed plant material found on it was originally believed to be a funerary wreath. But, analysis has shown that the sarcophagus was not made of stone, ..... it was bark and wood. It was closed and sealed with mortar when it was found, .......... and it was empty! Because it was sealed and because the descending passage was still blocked when it was cleared by archaeologists, it's highly unlikely that this tomb had ever been violated by thieves. Lara, I believe I may have found the answer to a question that was never ment to be answered. What happened to Sekhemkhet's body and why it was never placed inside the sarcophagus?"

Lara:

"But, the name of Sekhemkhet was found on seal impressions on vessels in the corridor giving the identification of the pyramid’s owner. And they found sealed jars inscribed with Sekhemkhet’s name."

Alden:

"Yes, but there was no body in the sarcophagus they found there!! In 1963, Jean-Philippe Lauer took up the excavation of Sekhemkhet’s monument by investigating the possibility of a south tomb, a feature that he had found on the southern side of Djoser’s Pyramid. He also wanted to reconstruct a plan of the Buried Pyramid and to try to resolve the mystery of the missing mummy."

Lara:

"Lauer uncovered the foundations of the south tomb below a destroyed mastaba."

[A mastaba was a flatroofed, mudbrick, rectangular building with sloping sides that marked the burial site of many eminent Egyptians of that ancient period.]

Alden:

"Exactly. There are many theories surrounding the Buried Pyramid and its lack of completion which remain a mystery. But, I may have solved at least part of that mystery. ......... Some believe that those who were loyal to Sekhemkhet removed his body from that tomb and placed it elsewhere in the Valley of the Kings ..... to protect him."

He steps forward to Lara's desk, taking out a piece of paper and placing it on the desk.

Alden:

"In my research, I discovered glyphs inscribed along a corner of one of the walls of the pyramid at Saqqara. No one has ever been able to decipher that small bit of hieroglyphic writing found on that wall. People found it to be of no significance."

Lara:

"But you have, I take it."

Alden:

"Here, see for yourself. It states:

'The rule of Sekhemkhet shall live on for all eternity. He shall rule all of Egypt with the gods. And he will rest at the left hand of Rameses.'

"Lara, I have reason to believe that the inscription speaks of the tomb of Rameses VII and that Sekhemkhet's mummy lies somewhere in the northwest section. In the West Valley."

Lara: [looking over and smiling at Alden, as she whispers]

"..... at the left hand of Rameses."

Lara tells Henry to call the airport and have her pilot ready her private jet for departure. Destination?

Egypt!

to be continued .....

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