Saturday, March 26, 2016

Our Last Friday

Our last Friday, and as with all the others there was no time to rest!  The graduation ceremony was scheduled for the evening, with dinner in the garden of the Hotel Marsham, the same venue as last year. Though officially meant to kick off at 5:00 pm, because of the success of the digital session the day before it had been decided to have a “digital working session”’ including the three assistants and Ahmed an hour before. This meant that Mudira JJ and Mr. Will had to get their skates on to make arrangements for the evening. Fortunately, Hazem had already booked the restaurant and warned them about what we had planned for the graduation ceremony. But special gifts still needed to be purchased for the students. Like last year we intended to give the students copies of Richard Parkinson’s informative work on the New Kingdom tomb of Nebamun. But of course leaving it to the last minute, we learnt that the local bookshop, Aboudys, had only 3 copies. Starting the night before Hazem arranged with the shop manager to scour all bookshops in Luxor for an additional 3 copies, for all 6 of our students. With only minutes to spare, they arrived at Aboudys, much to our relief. Peter and Shaimaa, as advanced students, received copies of the reprinted Prisse d’Avennes The Atlas of Egyptian Art edited by Maarten Raven. For Yaser, Sayed, and Hazem, Will had had a brainstorm. Earlier in the season he had collected the last of his personal effects from storage at Chicago House where he had worked as an artist from 2000-2003. The boxes had remained unknown to anyone but Tina de Cerbo, who amongst her many other responsibilities is also the house manager. In one of the boxes he found 3 carved limestone plaques which had once hung in his studio, 2 of which were based on his own drawings of Amenhotep III from the publication of the Temple of Merenptah. They would make perfect gifts for all three assistants.

With the afternoon spent organizing, collecting and wrapping the gifts, 4:00 pm was coming around far too soon. JJ, Declan, Will, and Hazem met Yaser and his family and Ahmed at the ferry landing at 3:30. One last journey together with boatman Mahmoud across the Nile. Sayed joined us at the Hotel Marsham for an excellent session discussing the possibilities of carrying on with the digital aspects of the inking via email and skype over the next year. Both Yaser and Ahmed were willing to experiment using different computer programs to introduce sun and shadow lines to the scans of the students’ work that Will would be able to provide. It opens up exciting possibilities for the future!
As the meeting was breaking up, the students and their families were already arriving. Hamsa Dwidar as guest of honour agreed to announce the names of the students in the ceremony. Our other special guest, Essam Shihab, offered to present the diplomas. Mudira JJ and Mr. Will could sit back, so to speak, and join in the general applause. The presentation took place on the terrace with the Nile cultivation as an appropriate backdrop. Since this year we began before dinner, we actually managed to finish before dark!

Digital Epigraphy Session

Certificate & Gift Presentation
From left to right: Yaser Mahmoud, Sayed Mamdouh, JJ Shirley,
Will Schenck, Essam Shihab, Hamsa Dwidar
Field School Students, 2015-2016

Some Family Shots
Women on one side ...
And men on the other

The evening was enjoyed by all, not least the children, including Declan, who turned the Marsham’s garden into a playground. It was hard to say good bye and the party kept breaking up and reforming as everyone seemed to find the chance for one last conversation.

Peter with some of the children
Ahmed's shoulder providing a pillow at the end of a long evening

But as with all things eventually we were piling into the respective minibuses trying to determine who was taking the one to the West and who to the East. Those who have been following this season’s website will not be in the least surprised that amidst the general confusion was a good measure of general rejoicing until all found themselves in a bus whether the right one or not. Abu el Yazid was meant to be in the East bus to catch a lift to the rail station for his journey home to Sohag. But as it turned out, he had failed to actually pack! So plans were changed, he was dropped off at his rooms on the West Bank, and must make his own way later to the station. Or perhaps as with the rest of us, he couldn’t actually bring himself to say goodbye to an extraordinary field school and an amazing group of students who had all become such good friends.