Friday, March 11, 2016

Field School Week 3

View to the west from the top of the cliff. Deir el-Bahari is at the far right

We began the week by giving TT 110 a good cleaning as a sandstorm had occurred a few nights prior that left everything covered in a fine layer of dust. Once that was accomplished, after breakfast (!), Yaser, Peter, Shaimaa, Hazem, and Ahmed continued working in the tomb along with Sayed and Mr. Will. This allowed Mudira JJ to take the 2016 students to their research tombs and began explaining the first step of that part of the field school in more detail. 
Ahmed and Will in TT110
Sayed and Hazem in their 2015 Field School t-shirts
Mahmoud, Sayed, and Abu el-Hagag in the tomb of Ramose (TT55), Sayed's research tomb.
They are imitating the positioning of the courtiers drawn on the wall behind them.

Sunday we decided to follow an idea that had been proposed by Mahmoud and Abu el-Hagag to walk up to the top of the southern end of the hillside, just above our tomb, to where the tombs of Senenmut and Senimen are located, two important officials during the reign of Hatshepsut. This led to a quest to find the statues of each man carved from the living rock and hidden above their tombs. First we found the extraordinary, larger-then-life-size, statue of Senimen seated holding Hatshepsut’s daughter Neferure on his lap, and with his wife standing next to him. The statue is a personification of Senimen’s role as Neferure’s tutor, and the first of its kind. After a brief discussion of the statue and the career of Senimen, and intentional placement of his tomb where he could gaze for eternity out to Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahari, we proceeded to the top of the cliff-face so we could look over the back side of the hill towards Deir el-Bahari and the valleys below. Then we went to find the nearby statue of Senimen's colleague Senenmut, which is a “block” statue, so-called for its blockish shape. Seeing as Senenmut was likely Senimen’s successor as tutor, the statue appropriately depicts Senenmut again with Hatshepsut’s daughter Neferure. After lengthy efforts to take a group photo that did not actually obscure the statue we worked our way downwards from the statue to Senenmut’s tomb, which is located directly below. The enormous tomb has many features reminiscent of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahari, and as Mr. Will had helped prepare the illustrations for the tomb’s publication by Peter Dorman (then of the Metropolitan Museum) he was able to give the students a great deal of important insight into the unique architecture and decoration of the tomb. Following this Mudira JJ suggested a detour to the upper tomb of Useramun (TT61), which further drove home the role of landscape in the placement of the tombs, linking this walkabout to the one taken during the first week of the school. By then it was nearly breakfast and the bedraggled students staged a mutiny, dragging the Mudira back down the slope to TT 110.
The long dusty climb to the top of the hill
Alhamdulillah, we've reached the top!
The statue of Senimen holding Neferure, with his wife standing to the left
Mudira JJ discussing the statue of Senimen
Group discussion of Senimen's career and tomb placement
Group shot with Deir el-Bahari in the background
Abu el-Hagag mimicking Senenmut's block statue.
The head of Senenmut's charge, Neferure, is under his chin
Mr. Will speaking about the architecture of Senenmut's tomb, TT71
Mr. Will pointing out the differently styled roofs of the tomb's front hall
Will contemplating ...
The long dark passage of Senenmut's tomb

Group shot at the entrance to Useramun's upper tomb, TT61
Abu el-Yazid's modified photo showing the funerary landscape surrounding Useramun's two tombs.
Following a late and long breakfast, our former students Shaimaa, Abd el-Ghany, and Peter spoke to the students about various aspects of their work in copying the tomb last year, including drawing in areas of plaster, architectural elements, erasure, and re-carving. All of the students found the discussions particularly helpful as they will soon be starting their real drawing sheets. On the following day Alaa, who has been working on his own tomb, TT 108, just below our tent, came by to share his experience from last year working with Davies’ copies of the inscriptions in TT110.
Former student Abd el-Ghany speaking to the class of 2016
Former student Alaa preparing to work on the facade lintel of TT108

Monday the groups continued in their respective areas, with the students learning more about their research tombs, while the remainder went back to drawing in the tomb. ARCE photographer Ayman Damarany also arrived to take infrared photos of the passage and areas of the transverse-hall that we hope will assist our drawing of these difficult-to-see painted scenes. Since he needed to be in the passage for much of the day, Peter and Shaimaa visited several open tombs looking for parallels for the scenes they will draw. The workday was cut short by a surprise 40th birthday party for Yaser, as one-by-one the members of the team, plus the ARCE archaeologists, gathered at the tent unbeknownst to Yaser, who was still working in the tomb with Mr. Will. Upon a signal, Mr. Will insisted that Yaser leave the tomb so Ayman could photograph his wall (a ruse!) so that he could go over to the tent in all innocence and be thoroughly surprised to find dozens of friends and colleagues, including his wife and family, waiting for him. The party had been secretly planned for weeks by Shaimaa and the other students knowing that Yaser’s birthday would fall during the course of the school. The cake was designed and ordered from a local West Bank patisserie to be collected first thing in the morning, and Yaser was presented with a large-scale photo of his MA graduation that was prepared and signed by the school, a copy of David O’Connor’s book on Abydos (Yaser’s first love), and a small discreet hammer to fit into his drawing kit, and to be used if necessary on unruly students. There was general rejoicing, tuneless renditions of Happy Birthday in English and Arabic, and the day ended on a high note.
Yaser's children, Mohamed and Tokaa
The amazing cake
Yaser with his wife Manal and their children
JJ and Will with Yaser and his family

After the merriment and pleasurable distractions of walking tours and birthday celebrations, on Tuesday and Wednesday it was back to hard graft so that the students could get some solid drawing in and begin their first sheets in the tomb before the week’s end. Likewise Yaser was able to introduce object drawing to his students. On Tuesday the logo for the 2016 Field School t-shirts was chosen from a design suggested by Mahmoud, which drew upon the cornice of the Hatshepsut kiosk within TT110. Like last year, this will be the unique logo for this year’s field school and appear on the back of the t-shirts. Although the design proved easier to choose than expected, the students could not make up their minds as to the color of the shirts! So, an executive decision was made that the t-shirts would remain the same as last year, light grey, and the students could decide the color for the stitching. Thank goodness they quickly chose dark blue, or we would still be talking about it! On Wednesday, since the students would be finishing their first sheets, Mr. Will instructed them as to the information they should put on each sheet, a list of 9 items including a visual scale at 5cm or 10cm. The day ended with a sheepish Abu el-Hagag being roundly teased for having drawn his scale free-hand and labeling it as 10cm when it reality it proved to be only 3cm. He won’t make that mistake again!
Yaser and Peter discussing object drawing
Hazem focused on drawing a funerary cone,
a clay object placed in tomb facades and forecourts
Our students and Sayed drawing in TT110
Doctora JJ obsessing about the correct shape of a papyrus roll
The 2016 Field School logo
The list of 9 items for each sheet
A sad Abu el-Hagag contemplates his 10cm=3cm scale
A happy Abu el-Hagag showing off his corrected scale on his finished drawing

Thursday the group split, with the students needing to do research at Chicago House joining Mudira JJ, while Sayed, Yaser, and Ahmed (who had been ill and fallen behind) went to the tomb with Mr. Will to get in a solid day of drawing. On the East Bank, the day started with a visit to see the work of Krisztian Vertes (Chicago House artist) on the Roman frescoes located towards the back of Luxor Temple. We had visited him last year, and it was wonderful to see the finished results of the work he had shown us previously. Then it was off to the library so that the students could choose which published drawings they would use for the epigraphic analysis of their research tomb and examine any old photos that Chicago House held in its archives. Hazem assisted with this, helping Mudira JJ explain this aspect of the project to the students and ensuring that they took photos or made notes of everything they needed. In addition, Hazem, along with Peter and Shaimaa, researched parallels for the scenes they are drawing in TT110. Meanwhile, on the West Bank, a quiet working day was had, despite the foul weather conditions with temperatures heading towards 35C/100F. Will finally got a chance to put up a sheet of plastic himself and continue drawing the Hatshepsut kiosk that he had started the previous season. Sayed, who is working on the painted kiosk opposite that of Hatshepsut was able to utilize one of the photographs taken by Ayman to see more clearly the painted details on the wall. Yaser has the unenviable task of drawing the inscription of Djhuty which although carved, is largely in badly preserved plaster making the signs often difficult to see. And Ahmed successfully caught up and began to prepare the hand-copy for his first drawing of the south stela lunette. The day ended with a lovely if lengthy staff meeting over lunch at Sheikh Ali, where we ran into Hourig Sourouzian and Rainer Stadelmann who we invited, along with their team, to visit our work. Happily for us she reciprocated by inviting us to see their work at the funerary temple of Amenhotep III, located behind the famous Memnon Colossi.
Tea before the Luxor Temple visit.
Showing off the new t-shirts with Umm Kulthum, the legendary Egyptian diva, looking on.
Krisztian showing an example of his completed work on the Roman frescoes
Sayed's kiosk drawing set-up

Watch this space for more exciting visits, photos, and drawings in our 2nd-to-last week of work. Now it gets real!