Taking one more final breath, he submerges underwater. With every move he makes, dust sediments engulf the water. His goggles are useless now. He may as well be swimming blind.
He reaches out his hands. Frantically searching for a way towards an open space, a passage that leads to the second chamber. His heart quickens.
From a young age, Pearce Paul Creasman always had an interest in ancient things. He was fascinated by objects and places that told a forgotten story, taken by time.
So, it doesn’t take much imagination to understand how his love for history and a past world led him to Nubian Pyramids in Sudan, in search of a 2,300-year-old tomb of a pharaoh named Nastasen.
This isn’t the first time Creasman has found himself digging in this sweltering hot land. In 2018, Creasman visited Nuri after identifying a unique opportunity in exploring the ancient tomb within the pyramid of Nastasen that archeologist, Reisner, couldn’t tackle a century ago.
Once Creasman began digging, he understood why. His discovery stopped him dead in his tracks.
To reach the tomb, Creasman soon realised he needed a lot of equipment and more man power. Sand. Sand, everywhere. It was impossible to find the rock-hewn stairwell Reisner wrote about, in this 170 acre land, on his own.
Underneath the suffocating sun, Creasman tries to think of a solution. However time is working against him and warning signs of heatstroke creep in.
He fingers it out and applies for a grant. Now with the support of a team behind him, Creasman continues his search until one fateful day, he finds it. It’s the stairs Resiner wrote about. He comes alive with excitement as he imagines the ancient ruler, the minor pharaoh who ruled over Kush from 335 BC to 315 BC.
As he looks at the 65-step staircase that led to the burial chambers of Nastasen, suddenly his stomach drops.
The full scale of the work it’ll take to excavate this burial chamber hits home and Creasman is overwhelmed by his own ambition. Still, he swallows his fear and starts digging.
Eventually, the thrill of adventure and the adrenaline of a new ancient discovery overshadow any room for doubt in his mind. This is what he’s meant to do. It also doesn’t help that he has a team of history lovers by his side. But as they dig further, something emerges.
At first, Creasman didn’t believe his eyes. All he’s seen for weeks and weeks is sand. But there it is. Water. And the more they dig, the more they find.
Creasman prepares what’s needed. Namely, specialist diving equipment including a hose to pump oxygen from the surface and an emergency can-sized air container on his back. Finally, D-day approaches.
Creasman greets his colleague, Kristin Romey, who’ll be joining him on today’s exciting excursion. As she makes her way down the ancient staircase, Creasman is standing chest-deep in the muddy water. “It’s really deep today,” he warns. “There’s not going to be any headroom in the first chamber.”
They ready themselves and submerge completely underwater. He was right. The first chamber was a death trap.
As the leader, Creasman can’t afford to make any wrong moves. But dust sediments engulf the water as he moves forward. It’s now impossible to see. He’s surrounded by complete darkness.
He swims in circles and extends his hands. Frantically searching for a surface to guide him towards an open space, a passage that leads to the second chamber. His heart quickens.
Before he can begin to panic, the murky water turns a shade lighter. He must be near. Creasman uses the wall of the ancient tomb to guide him towards the light.
Finally, he surfaces. Using the small air pocket crevice left behind by the fallen roof, he takes a moment to center himself. He waits for Romey to surface behind him and gears up for one more dive. He’s so close.
Just one more dive, he thinks. It’s taken him more than a year to get here. All the money, all the time and all the pressure, it has all built up to this exact moment. His adrenaline is pumping.
With a breath of relief, he sees Romey surface. He tells her to wait there before making his way into the third and last chamber. Submerged once again, he reaches the end of his journey.
The moment of truth. Romey waits and waits. Just as she wonders if something went wrong, she sees Creasman’s hand holding something. He jumps out of the water grinning from ear to ear.
It’s all there. It was everything he imagined. Nastasen’s coffin lay unopened and undisturbed. In his hand, he held a small figurine called ‘Shabits’. These ancient objects were designed to look after the royals’ needs in the afterlife. He also found something else.
Creasman also found other fragile artifacts that were covered in pure gold. However some were damaged by the water causing the gold to seperate.
“The gold offerings were still sitting there – these small glass-type statues [that] had been leafed in gold,” Creasman explained, “And while the water destroyed the glass underneath, the little gold flake was still there.” How?
Due to the general preservation and condition of the chambers, tomb and artifacts received, it is likely that the tomb has remained untouched since it was first built.
That means that incredibly, Creasman and his colleague, Romey would be the first to enter that tomb since around 300 BC. But they’re not finished yet!
Creasman’s next mission is to have a peek inside the Pharaoh’s tomb.To excavate this 2,300-year-old underwater royal coffin is an audacious aim that comes with massive logistical issues.
However, Creasman remains optimistic as he believes that rule of pharaoh Nastasen is “a remarkable point in history that so few know about. It’s a story that deserves to be told.”