But it was the bird life of Ra Hotep’s time that charmed me.  The great man’s three hawks were there, but these were of small account when compared with the interest of the wagtails drawn to life.  For the wagtail befriends every Nile traveller to-day, lights on the deck of his dahabeyah, comes into his cabin, and as they are, in colour and dress, to-day, so I gather from Ra Hotep’s tomb they were, in the days of Senefru; they have not changed a single feather of their dress, and they are the beloved bird of the family of those who dwell beside the Nile to-day as they were then.  It is a long time that separates us from that date.  The Pyramids of Gizeh had not been built when these wagtails were sculptured and painted.  Men used stone knives and horn-stone hatchets then—witness the sculptures on the walls—and yet, as the little figure of the fluted Doric pillar tells me, there, on the tomb chamber wall (p.277), at that time of day they hewed out pillars that were the forefathers of the glory of the Parthenon, and knew how to work in high relief their mural sculptures and hieroglyphics in style scarcely surpassed when Hatasu was Queen; while as to pigment, here was colour, if anywhere, that had stood the test of time. (p. 278)

Yes, and it has had to stand crueller tests of late years.  For an English “Khawaja” opened this tomb-chamber for his pleasure some five years ago, and heartlessly left it open.  He had his look, he was satisfied, and cared not one jot or tittle what should happen to this, the most remarkable monument of the third or fourth dynasty handicraft in the necropolis of Meydoum.  He did not even let the Egyptian authorities know of his visit, or it is possible that the Museum directors would have at once prevented harm by filling the chamber, as Mariette had filled it, with the conserving sand.  He came, he saw, he went away, and after him came Arabs, who saw, but did not go away, and the result is that the splendour of Ra Hotep’s tomb-chamber is a thing of the past; and as I left the great brown Mastaba heaps, and, turning my back upon the glorious Pyramid of Senefru, passed away among the green corn and blossoming beanfields towards the Nile, I did not think kindly of that English “Khawaja,” and thanked Heaven that the exploration of the Necropolis of Senefru was in such tender, careful hands as those of the patient worker it had been my very good luck to find at work therein [Flinders Petrie]. (p. 278) 

(Gentleman’s Magazine, 271 (September 1891), 260-78)