Friday, March 4, 2016

Field School Week 2

Since by the end of last week the students had finished learning about the “5 steps” of epigraphy, we were able to begin this week with the students applying the 5 steps utilizing the façade of the tomb, just as we did last year. This year, because of the organization of the school with all 5 students, plus our Inspector working at the same time, we have had to find even more places for them to draw. Since there isn’t enough of the inscription on the façade to go around, this meant more of them started by drawing damage. Mr. Will was able to step back and let his assistant Sayed begin the training in Arabic, though afterwards Sayed admitted to Mudira JJ that he was worried he might say something wrong. Rest assured, he didn’t! Rather it was immediately clear how helpful it was to have the initial work at the tomb being done primarily in Arabic, with Mr. Will and me only stepping in as needed.
Some of the students drawing at the TT110 facade
Sayed teaching
Ahmed drawing damage

It was a short morning at the tomb because Khadiga Adam, TT110’s conservator, had kindly offered (on her day off!) to give a lecture on the conservation work to our students. So by 10am we were back at the ARCE offices. The lecture gave us a chance to go over the students’ notebooks with Sayed, to be sure they were understanding everything from the first week. As was the case last year, we were all impressed, and relieved, to see that they were taking comprehensive notes in Arabic and English, and clearly understanding the discussions on both epigraphy and research, but also taking notes during the walks, site visits, and tours, in addition to the more organized talks. They had gone well beyond the call of duty! After Khadiga’s very informative talk and a late breakfast, we ended the morning by talking to the students about issues of re-carved cartouches and giving a lesson on features to look for when drawing hieroglyphs. Amongst the glyphs we discussed was the ‘w’ chick, which is not actually a chicken but a quail chick. This was reinforced later in the week when Abu Gomaa captured a similar bird at the tent and we were able to examine its features close-up.

Mr. Will and Abu el-Yazid
A sample of the students' notebooks
Mr. Will drawing hieroglyphs
The 'w' chick

Sunday found us back at the tomb with the students continuing to practice at the façade. Those who had drawn inscription were now drawing damage and vice-versa. This continued for the entire day, while Yaser and Hazem set up the drawing tent to make it ready for the start of that portion of the program. On Monday our former students Peter Fady and Shaimaa Mandour joined us, as they are here for advanced training which begins with the pottery drawing being taught by Yaser, and includes Hazem and our Inspector Ahmed. Just before breakfast we were treated to a visit by Luigi Prada, an Egyptologist studying at Oxford. Naturally he joined us at the breakfast, and with the addition of Alaa it brought our group to 15 – we were nearly bursting out of the tent! After the breakfast Mudira JJ gave Luigi a tour of the tomb and our work, while the students continued apace both in the tomb and in the tent.
Yaser explaining the steps of pottery drawing
Hazem, Ahmed, Peter, and Shaimaa taking notes in the drawing tent
Will, Luigi, and JJ
On Tuesday our group split, with the pottery drawing classes under Yaser’s direction continuing at the tomb, while we, Sayed, and the new students visited the work of Chicago House at Medinet Habu, the well-preserved mortuary temple of Ramesses III where Chicago House has been working since the middle of the last century. And although we thought we’d seen the last of Luigi, it was not to be! We took pity and picked him up on the road as he was hiking to guess where? Medinet Habu! Chicago House’s work now focuses on areas of the temple not previously published, including the small temple of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III and the Western High Gate, both of which we were privileged to be invited to visit. Brett McClain, whom you will remember from last week, kindly led us through our visit, providing history on Chicago House’s work in various areas of the site. Tina DiCerbo talked to us about her work on recording the graffiti found throughout the temple, both ancient as well as historic up to the date of about 1900. This was a special treat for Luigi, who is a Demoticist, like Tina, and had just come from El Kab where he was recording Demotic (a late form of ancient Egyptian used during the Graeco-Roman Period) and Coptic (a writing of ancient Egyptian using the Greek alphabet rather than hieroglyphs popularized during the Christian Period) graffiti on the ancient monuments. After this we made our way to the rear of the temple to visit the work on the blocks from the destroyed Western Gate being studied and drawn by Jen Kimpton and Keli Alberts. Unsurprisingly we discovered when we got there that we had lost Luigi and surmised that the two Demoticists were talking shop. Virtually nothing of the gate still stands having been destroyed, perhaps twice, in antiquity. Therefore the work of Chicago House is especially fascinating as they are not only recording the blocks but also trying to reconstruct the gate, if only on paper. In leaving Medinet Habu we found Luigi loitering in the front of temple, as if waiting for a lift. Naturally we obliged, and took him along with us to our next stop – the work of ARCE at Qurnet Murai, another of the Theban Necropolis hillsides. There Fathy Awad and Essam Shahib gave us a tour of the work ARCE is doing in clearing the site of modern debris and carefully excavating the area to understand its archaeological history from ancient to modern times, very much as they had done in the area surrounding our tomb, TT110. After this we lost Luigi for good, as he continued playing tourist and we had to go back to work, rejoining the other drawing students for breakfast. The remainder of the day the new students had a chance to practice putting up their plastic and begin drawing inside the tomb, about which they were very excited. After starting the day with Jen and Keli, Mr. Will and Mudira JJ finished it by joining them for an excellent dinner at the Lantern Restaurant, a favorite of all of us.
Tina DiCerbo talking about copying the graffiti in the temple
Jen Kimpton explaining her work at the Western High Gate

Standing amidst the remains of the Western High Gate
ARCE archaeologists Essam Shihab and Fathy Awad explaining their work

Wednesday, like Monday, we spent entirely on site, with the students in the tomb continuing their practice sheets and the students in the tent with Yaser continuing with pottery drawing. Both groups were making good progress. We no sooner get rid of Luigi than we get a message at lunch that Mudira JJ’s old friend and colleague Kara Cooney was swaning into Luxor for a National Geographic film project with Nicholas Reeves. As Wednesday seemed like the only day to get together, and despite having just gone out to dinner the night before, we quickly arranged to pick her up for dinner at Pizza Roma, our evening restaurant of choice. When collecting Kara from the lobby of her hotel, who should we discover was staying there and chatting with Kara, but Maria Nilsson and John Ward, who were also staying at the hotel and had just finished their 4 month season at Gebel Silsila. Some of you may remember them from last year’s field trip! Our evening of unexpected coincidences did not end with the meeting of the Gebel Silsila team, because as leaving the restaurant and saying good bye to Kara we were nearly run down (admittedly we were standing in the street not paying attention) by Moamen Saad and his wife Shaimaa, who we had not seen since that same Gebel el-Silsilah visit of last year, where Moamen had given the students a marvelous tour of his work copying the Ramesside inscriptions. Once again, much general rejoicing ensued and plans were made to see each other again soon.
Yaser and Mudira JJ discussing the Hatshepsut kiosk
Abu el-Hagag drawing in the tomb

Thursday we changed gears again, with the pottery drawing group headed back to TT110 to continue their training, while the new students had their first Chicago House “research day”. The goal was to have the students find the main publications for the tombs they were meant to be studying and then we would together discuss the epigraphic drawings that were published. Since Nadia had already learned some of the Chicago House method while working as an Inspector at Luxor Temple, we decided to assign her TT192, the tomb of Kheruef, which was drawn by Chicago House in the 1950s. With Sayed el-Rekaby’s previous work at Gebel Silsilsa we thought he might enjoy working in a carved tomb, and so we assigned him TT55 of the vizier Ramose, one of the most beautifully carved tombs in the Theban Necropolis, and published by Davies (like TT110). For Abu el-Hagag, who has worked with foreign missions in some of the tombs, we gave the tomb of Nakht (TT52), one of the smaller tombs in the necropolis but beautifully painted and also published by Davies. Similar to Nakht’s tomb, and also close by, is TT69 of Menna, which we have asked Mahmoud to study. It was recently published by Melinda Hartwig using high-tech photographic and digital techniques, and thus makes an interesting comparison to the more traditional methods used in the other publications. Finally, for Abu el-Yazid, we decided to allow him to study the tomb under his concession in Sohag so that he could use Chicago House to the best advantage of his own research. Fortunately, since the tomb is not published, he was able to discover that the tomb had been photographed and that Chicago House has these photos in its photographic archive, which Ellie Smith introduced the students to the previous week. After finding the appropriate books using the bibliography in Porter and Moss Topographical Bibliography, Mr. Will went through each of the books with the students discussing how to interpret the conventions used in each publication’s epigraphy, and this led to an excellent analysis of the inconsistencies which can occur in even the best publications, and how the students must know to compare the scenes in the drawings to the walls in the tomb. We finished the day early, since the library closes at 12, which meant that the students using the library were able to head home, while the students drawing pottery were forced to work until the usual ending time of 1pm. As compensation, Yaser met with his students in the evening to look at different objects in the Luxor Museum in order to discuss how they might be drawn, in many ways similar to what Mr. Will and Mudira JJ had done with the students in the first week as regards epigraphy. This led to 3 hours of heated discussion, argument, and consensus as well as actual drawings!
Abu el-Yazid and Sayed el-Rekaby on the boat to Chicago House
Mr. Will explaining the epigraphy research
Discussion of Melinda Hartwig's tomb publication of TT69 (Menna)

Friday found us back at Chicago House doing some work for the field school and for the two papers Mudira JJ has to write, and of course enjoying the delicious lunch. In the late afternoon we made our way to Hazem’s house for Declan’s birthday party. Much to our delight, Hazem's mother made one of Declan's, and our, favorite Egyptian dishes - kosheri, which is made up of macaroni, lentils, and rice with a spicy tomato as well as lemon and garlic sauces, and topped with crispy fried onions and chick peas. A national meal that has become a popular fast food, with kosheri restaurants, bars, and stands found throughout the country; the Egyptian version of a burger and fries, or fish & chips. She also made two different cakes for the occasion! An ice cream layer cake and a marbled pound cake. Declan was much taken with the ice cream cake, using one of the candles as a spoon for the ice cream dollops on the top of the cake. It was great fun, and he got a special galabeya outfit as a present from Hazem's family.

Home made kosheri
Declan enjoying his ice cream cake

Declan with Hazem, Hazem's brother Ahmed, family friend Midu, and little cousin Toota
Declan playing peekaboo in his new galabeya