Friday, March 25, 2016

Field School Week 5

After the fun but exhausting field trip to Hierakonpolis, Mudira JJ opted to have a working day in the flat in order to prepare for the evening’s lecture at the Mummification Museum. Meanwhile, everyone else went to the site for a regular working day. Mr. Will was back in the tomb with the students continuing their tomb drawings, while Yaser gave his students their drawing exams. This involved each student being given an object that they had to draw correctly and with all of the required information, in a limited amount of time.
Shaimaa drawing a wooden winged scarab as part of her exam

Mudira JJ having finished her lecture prep while drinking several pots of coffee, headed off to the usual lunch spot to wait for Mr. Will to return from the site. She had no sooner ordered their iced lemonade drinks than the phone rang with a frantic and barely intelligible Hazem on the other end. The phone was quickly passed to Yaser who explained that Mr. Will had fallen getting off the boat and they were taking him to hospital! Drink order cancelled, JJ impatiently waited for the taxi to come and get her so she could go to the hospital and see exactly what had happened. As it turned out, crossing over several boats, which is the usual crazy form of embarkation, one of the boats had decided to leave while Mr. Will was stepping from it to the next and Ahmed was stepping from our boat onto the now moving boats. Needless to say, Will fell between the two boats and Ahmed nearly fell into the Nile! Unfortunately, after having decided to move the boat, the kid (yes, kid!) decided to move it back, thereby catching Mr. Will’s leg between the two boats and crushing it. General panic ensued, and though no evident blood, Mr. Will could not stand. Yaser and Ahmed carried him up the gangplank and stairs to the taxi waiting above, which had been intended to take him to lunch. Instead, it took Mr. Will and the students to the hospital, with Ahmed following on his motorbike. Much nervous hilarity ensued in the waiting room, as the students who return east with us each day, Ahmed, Peter, and Shaimaa, as well as Hazem and Yaser all joked about making a drawing of Mr. Will’s leg and how to define the different areas of “damage”. Fortunately, despite having his leg crushed between two boats, the x-ray and doctor exam showed that Will was basically fine. A sore and very bruised leg, with a good-sized chunk out of his shin, but no breaks or bone chips, Alhamudulillah! The doctor even proved to be a friend of Peter’s – small world, which is not unusual in Egypt!

Hospital trip settled, Mr. Will and Mudira JJ made their way to a rather late lunch at Oasis and retrieved their iced lemon drinks. In all too little time it was off to the Mummification Museum to make sure all was ready for the lecture. Although we left plenty of time for any unforeseen problems, we didn’t need it, as the lecture hall was perfectly prepared for the event. Instead we spent the pre-lecture half hour greeting attendees and chatting. It was with great pleasure that we saw a steady stream of Egyptian colleagues, Inspectors, foreign missions, and many old familiar friends appearing, some quite unexpectedly, so that by the time the lecture was to start the hall was full and the atmosphere lively. After a lovely introduction by John Shearman, Director of the ARCE Luxor Office, Mudira JJ presented the 2 seasons of work by the Field School to the crowd. The lecture was very well received and once it ended Sayed took the stage to impersonate Mudira JJ giving the lecture. After much photo taking and general rejoicing, all those still standing retired to a local coffee shop overlooking the Luxor Temple for ice cream.
JJ with old friend Ibrahim Soliman
Full House
John Shearman introducing the lecture
JJ in full flow
Sayed's take on mudira JJ's talk

Shimaa Montser, Lamia el Hadidy, Abu el Yazid, and Mohammed Osman
Abd el Ghany, Alla Hussein, Sayed el Rekaby, Moamen, Will, and Yaser
Peter photo bombing

Post-lecture coffee shop gathering

Having survived the late night, it was back to the tomb on Sunday so Yaser’s students could finish their exams and the remaining students could spend their last day drawing in the tomb. We also had a visit from the Mexican Mission directed by Gabriela VĂ©rtiz who is working in the nearby tomb of Puiemre (TT39), a contemporary official of Djhuty, and a tomb which Davies had also published, like Djuhty’s TT110. Monday the group split, with Yaser taking his students to Chicago House so they could examine and critique published examples of pottery and object drawings, while the other students spent the day preparing for their tomb presentations. This gave Mr. Will, Sayed, and Ahmed a chance to finish their drawings in the tomb, and Mudira JJ a chance to really look at the drawings they have been working on over the course of the Field School. She was thoroughly enjoying this when she was called out of the tomb for “something important.”  Mild annoyance by this random interruption to the work quickly turned to surprise when she arrived at the tent to discover Yaser and his group not at Chicago House as she had assumed, but waiting at the tent. After chastising them for their premature departure from the library, she was overwhelmed to realize that the purpose of their appearance was in honor of the Egyptian Mother’s Day and that all the students had secretly gathered in order to present her with a gift – a beautiful bracelet. After many hugs and general rejoicing everyone put their hands together for the customary group shot. At the end of the work day Will’s old friend Iman Abdulfattah and her mother visited us. Iman is a Research Fellow at ARCE in Cairo, studying Mamluk architecture, and they had come to Luxor as tourists for a few days. Our colleague Antonio Morales, currently a Lecturer in Egyptology in Berlin and working on several Middle Kingdom tombs located around the cliff bay of Deir el-Bahari, also visited with his team. Check out their Facebook page:

Mudira JJ explaining TT110 and Djhuty to Gabriela Vertiz and her team
A Mother's Day group photo

Tuesday the day started with a visit from our friends Keli, our Chicago House colleague, and Owen and Hillary who are photographers that have worked in Luxor for both ARCE and Chicago House. They had friends visiting, so it was a chance to show off our work and the tomb as we are always happy to do. Wednesday started with a visit to the tomb of Puimre (TT39) – a quid pro quo for the team working there having visited us on Sunday. It was wonderful to see the students look at the walls with an epigrapher’s eye, and also quickly grasp the similarities to TT110 in terms of “reading” how Puiemre included both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in his tomb. And it was a treat to see a bit of graffiti left by Davies outside the tomb – his initials and the date he worked there.
Gabriela Vertiz speaking with our group at Puiemre's tomb, TT39
Field School and Mexican Mission at TT39
Davies Graffito: N.[D.] 19[20]

Following the morning visits on Tuesday and Wednesday it was back to work, with Mr. Will in the tomb for the last two drawing days with Sayed, Yaser, Peter, Shaimaa, Hazem, and Ahmed, while Mudira JJ listened to the tomb presentations by the rest of the students. This was the culmination of their independent study of their assigned tombs, and it was wonderful to hear how confidently they explained in Arabic to their colleagues what they had each learned through their research. After each presentation the students were given a one-on-one evaluation by Mudira JJ, Mr. Will, and Sayed in lieu of a formal grade. At breakfast on Wednesday Abu Hamada, our West Bank driver, treated us all to homemade fatir, a filo-like sweet bread that you dip in “black honey” (i.e., molasses from the sugar cane). It was delicious and much appreciated by all who got to eat it!
Mahmoud giving his presentation at the tomb f Menna, TT69

Abu el Hagag explaining details in the tomb of Nakht, TT69

Nadia's lecture by torchlight in the tomb of Kheruef, TT192

Sayed pointing out the unusual carving in the tomb of Ramose, TT55

Abu el-Yazid's presentation of his research on the tombs
at Athribis in the ARCE roof-top tent
General rejoicing following Abu el-Yazid's successful evaluation

Thursday was the last day of the field school and full of activity. Everyone needed to clean and collate their drawings, Mr. Will and Mudira JJ needed to sign off on them, evaluations needed to be finished, pictures needed to be taken, the tomb packed up and locked, and all of this with a visitor for the day! We had invited Hamsa Dwidar, who had helped us with the interviews and since become a fast friend, to come down from Cairo and join us for the end of the season and the certificate ceremony. So she spent the final day with us, learning about the field school, the history of Djhuty and his tomb, and watching the students work. Essam Shihab, the Field Director at the ARCE Luxor Office, also visited us, which was extra special as he and Hamsa are also old friends. The official work day finally ended at 2pm. Then it was off to a local restaurant – Mosht – located in the basement of a garage, but which despite the location everyone swore had excellent roasted chicken on spits. The chickens were carried in on their spits from the roaster outside and presented on platters with rice and various side dishes. Everyone dug in and indeed, it was delicious! The lunch was the result of a “harama” as several of our students had failed to attend Abu Hamada’s breakfast the day before and thus had to pay for the lunch. After lunch we went for tea, coffee and shisha at Mahmoud’s local hangout. At the beginning of the lunch Mudira JJ, Mr. Will, and Sayed were still finishing evaluations, with the last one finally being given at the coffee shop. It was realized in the course of the afternoon that with all of the work to close the tomb we had forgotten that Ahmed had brought his computer so that he could give a tutorial in digital illustration. So our students turned the coffee shop into a classroom with Ahmed demonstrating various tools on the computer and Yaser discussing the digital illustration work he had done in Photoshop. The day ended at 4:30 with a tired but very happy Field School heading home.
Mr. Will demonstrating how to collate

The students cleaning and collating their drawings
Mudira JJ modeling the scarf gifted by Abu Gomaa
Last goodbyes at the tomb
Digital epigraphy demonstration and discussion at the coffee shop

One final note about this last week. The late evening at the coffee shop following the lecture kick-started a week of dinners. On Sunday, Mr. Will and Mudira JJ met Iman and her mother for dinner. Iman had also graciously acted as courier to bring the printed Field School certificates for the students form the ARCE Cairo office (please don’t tell the students!). Monday we joined Hazem and his family at their house for a lovely Mother’s Day meal. Tuesday we had a “double dinner”, starting at 4:30 with a wonderful late afternoon meal at a local Luxor restaurant with Essam Shihab, and followed by drinks and dessert at Lantern with our Keli Alberts and Jen Kimpton. Wednesday we were treated to dinner out at the Indian restaurant (one we hadn’t tried yet!) by Sayed and his family. His daughter Jenna and Declan had fun playing together, especially after we left the restaurant and went to a wonderful outdoor coffee shop located within a garden. And on Thursday we had dinner with Will’s former student Moamen Saad and his wife Shaimaa and daughter Doora, along with Abu el-Yazid, at their flat outside Luxor. It was a lovely evening, and Declan and Doora entertained each other, and us, all night.
Declan feeling right at home in an Egyptian tea garden