Friday, March 13, 2015

Field School Week 3

This week's entry is a little shorter. Happy reading!

Our work week began on Saturday with the discovery that our door had been shut and sealed with wood, plastic, and a tent due to the discovery of the new tomb and the excavation required to understand the relationship in the use of the forecourt to Djhuty’s tomb. So now we must enter through the adjacent tomb, TT42, and carefully make our way past the conservators working in the passage. One side effect of such an amazing discovery …
Abu Gomaa making the morning tea
Planning the day at our on-site work space
Nonetheless, we split our team into two groups as planned, with half joining Will in the tomb to begin drawing their assigned walls, and the other half with me to begin researching their assigned tombs in the necropolis. Group 2 (Sayed, Peter, Rasha, and Alaa) started with Will and they spent the first day making drawings and hand copies of their areas, checking the wall against the early publication by Davies, checking the hieroglyphic sign-list for difficult or unclear signs, checking for areas of damage, etc. Essentially doing everything necessary to understand the wall before beginning to draw. Meanwhile, Group 1 (Hazem, Shaimaa, and Abd el-Ghany) went off to their assigned tombs and spent the day checking the walls against the entries in Porter and Moss – a compendium of tombs in the necropolis that provides plans and basic descriptions of the decoration for each known tomb. For anything not mentioned, they took copious notes and made hand copies as necessary. Here too they were preparing for their research by seeing what had been left out or was now lost since the publication of Porter and Moss in the 1940s. By the second day, Group 2 was ready to prepare their walls, put up their sheets, and begin their first real drawings, and Group 1 continued their work making notes. Sunday we treated ourselves to dinner with Jen Kimpton (a grad school friend) and Keli Alberts, colleagues at Chicago House, at the lovely Lantern, and good eats, many drinks, and lively conversation ensued.
Discussing damage and inscription issues
Shaimaa working in her research tomb
On Monday, the original plan was to head to the East Bank and Chicago House with Group 1, but this had to be changed as we were expecting a visit by the Governor of Luxor! So instead I had to stay on the West which meant that the Groups needed to switch places a day early. So Group 2 began their individual tomb research while Group 1 started in the tomb. Despite making all kinds of plans for the governor’s arrival (which included the removal of our fans and some lights!), he opted not to come, a rather irksome, if not entirely unexpected situation. Monday the students (and we) also finalized the logo for the Field School, which will be utilized on both the project shirts, and the certificates that the students will receive at the end of the project.
Front and Back logos for the Field School T-shirts

Tuesday continued with Group 1 in the tomb, now starting to draw their walls, and Group 2 likewise continued their tomb research. In addition, a second new tomb was discovered by the ARCE archaeologists, Ali and Saad, and thanks to our assistant Sayed, Will and I were able to crawl on our stomachs into about a foot and a half gap between the ceiling and fill and view the beautifully painted walls of the transverse-hall. Particularly exciting is that this tomb, like the one discovered last week, also belonged to a door-keeper of Amun, named Samut and his wife Takhat. The painted decoration is remarkably similar in both program and style, suggesting – to me at least – that they were decorated quite close in time, possibly by the same artist(s) or workshop, and the owners may even be related in some way, in addition to being colleagues! Here is a link to the new tomb’s discovery:

Wednesday the foul weather of the week – dust, overcast and temperatures hovering around 100F (37C) – peaked. Group 1 stayed at the tomb to finish their work, suffering, while Group 2 went to Chicago House with me for their library research day. This arrangement – 2 days in the tombs and 1 day at Chicago House – is the program for the remainder of the school to allow the students to take advantage of the library and begin to collect bibliography for researching the historical, art historical, architectural elements of their tombs, as well as the family and career of the tomb owner.

Thursday dawned an entirely different day – beautiful blue skies, a fresh breeze, and a good 10 degree drop in the temperature. Egypt like it should be this time of year!  The two groups switched today, with Group 2 returning to the tomb to finish their drawings – interrupted by the governor’s non-visit on Monday, while Group 1 joined me for the research day at Chicago House. So by the end of the week we were back on schedule with both groups at the same place in both research and epigraphy.
Declan enjoys the beautiful weather
By the end of this week Will and I realized that the students are exceeding all of our expectations, even down to how they organize their work stations in the tomb (see below)! Despite the heat, difficulties of access, and conditions in TT110 with the sealing of our door and the need to enter through TT42, they have done brilliantly. So much so that it seems that we may have underestimated the amount of epigraphy they would achieve, and at a higher level of proficiency. This is mirrored in their individual tomb research, where again they have been noticing all kinds of things missed by both Porter and Moss and the tomb publications, and are truly understanding and analyzing the early epigraphy of these tombs.

Sayed using the light string to hold his equipment: pens, ruler, torch, cotton swabs
Stay tuned for next week's adventures in epigraphy...