Sunday, March 18, 2018

Our Final Weekend

With just two days left before returning home, and just when Mr. Will thought it was all over, we went back across to the west on Saturday morning to visit the excavation and research project of Andrea Gnirs, who is working in the south end of the Qurna necropolis, in tombs dating to Thutmose III-Amenhotep II. It was a wonderful visit, and we exchanged quite a bit of good information throughout the tour and discussions. Then it was off for a final lunch at Sheikh Ali/Marsam, where no sooner had we sat down to enjoy a quiet, relaxing meal, then the place filled up with tour groups and a group with Hourig Sorouzian, who was hosting a large party of visitors. Malesh, as they say! It was nice to have a chance to say a final goodbye to Hourig, as well as several Egyptian colleagues. And just as we were finishing up we were delighted and surprised to see another old friend and colleague walk in, Chris Naunton, who is leading a tour in Egypt and was stopping in for a quick coffee. As it had been ages since either JJ or Will had seen Chris, this was a happy circumstance indeed, and we sat a bit longer chatting in the shade of the Marsam garden.

Finally, though, it was time to leave as we belatedly remembered that JJ had a lecture to give at the Mummification Museum that evening. So, we made our way back east, taking our last trip across the river with Abu Ghalan. With just enough time to shower and change, we grabbed a quick drink with the legendary Salima Ikram and Steve Harvey at the Winter Palace, before Salima had to catch her flight back to Cairo. Then it was off to the Mummification Museum, where, despite a few technical difficulties, JJ gave her lecture on the new information we have learned about Djhuty and TT110’s decoration through the field schools’ epigraphic work. Afterwards, we bade the students farewell with a round of photos and many emotional goodbyes, but reminding one and all that we would see them again in a mere 6 months, insh’allah! The group headed off to a local riverside coffeshop under Hazem’s direction. And while Yaser meant to stay for only 5 minutes or so, as he had to catch a train to Abydos, he ended up spending the better part of the evening with them. As we have found, it is hard to leave our students.

Egyptologists Francesco Tiradretti and Steve Harvey chat before the lecture

There was no sleeping in on Sunday, as JJ and Will had promised to visit the work of Shaimaa and Nadia at the Sphinx Avenue at 9am. We spent a delightful hour with them and Hussien, getting an archaeological tour of the site’s history from Hussien, and conferring with Shaimaa and Nadia about the drawings they have been making of the Graeco-Roman blocks they have discovered re-used in a later building, probably a wine-press area. They treated us to breakfast afterwards, our last round of tamayya, fuul, torshi, potates, aubergine, and aish balady. It was a lovely way to spend our last morning in Egypt. 

The rest of the day was spent packing and having a final meal with Hazem and his family, as well as a final coffee with Hazem and Sayed, calling Yaser, who was in Abydos, so he could join in the final merriment of the season. Stay tuned, as come October we’ll be doing it all again!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Graduation 2018

With the last official day of the field school on Thursday, we decided to have our graduation ceremony and party on the Friday after. Will and JJ spent Friday morning, as always, doing a bit of work at the flat and at Chicago House, and partaking of our last koshari for the season.

At 4:45 we were collected by Hazem and set off for the ferry, where Abu Ghalan was waiting to bring everyone from the east over to the west. We were joined on the boat by Ahmed ElNasseh and his daughter, Yaser and his family, Mario and his wife, Amira and her family, Mahmoud, and Rasha. Hala and Rehab, on the other hand, missed the boat! They therefore had to be collected afterwards. Our trusty driver Mohammed met us on the west and drove us all to Sheikh Ali’s / Marsam, where those from the west were already waiting: Alaa Talaat, Walid, Hussien, Sayed and Safaa and their children, Mahmoud Hassan, Alaa Hussein and his family, Abu el-Hagag and his children, and Abd elGhany. We were joined this year by some of our colleagues from the west bank teftish, Fathy Yassin, Bahaa Abdelgaber, Ramadan Ahmed, and Ahmed Boghdady. And, of course, Abu Gomaa, Abu Hamada, and our second west bank driver Abu Amaar, with his children.

After returning the portfolios and tubes of drawings to our students, and speaking to them a little bit about the coming October-November field school, and once Hala and Rehab arrived, we began the official ceremony. As in years past, there was quite the receiving line for each student, and many photos to record the moment. In addition to their certificates, our returning students who participated in the illustration field school each were given a drawing board to assist them with their future work. Our new students each received a copy of the BM publication of the Tomb of Nebamun, as had been given in the past. Certificates awarded and photos taken, it was Will and JJ’s turn to show their appreciation for all the work that Yaser, Sayed, and Hazem had done over the course of the field school. We gave each of them a book that we thought would be of particular interest and use.

JJ, Ramadan Ahmed, Fathy Yassin, Yaser, Will, and Sayed

Returning Field School Students

Field School 2018 Students

 Presentation of Gifts to Yaser, Sayed, and Hazem

Group Shots after the Ceremony

Ceremony concluded, and random photos taken, it was time to eat and enjoy the evening.

Sohagi Brigade