Friday, March 16, 2018

Field School Week 5

Saturday marks the beginning of the end of the field school – the last week of drawing. There was a notable lowering of energy amongst the students as they staggered onto the boat in the morning, less laughter and joking as they too clearly were recovering from the day before. The scene was similar at the morning tea and coffee, with a much more subdued atmosphere. The groups were changed so that Group 2 now came into the tomb for their 3 intensive epigraphy days, with Group 1 joining Yaser in the tent to begin object drawing. As it was another hot day, we were glad to head off at 1pm for lunch. Since we hadn’t managed to have lunch with Hazem’s family in several days, we were treated to a lovely spread at the home of his sister Ahlam, who also made basbousa especially for Will.

Like Movie Stars

On Sunday we continued in much the same fashion, though the wind proved to be a problem. What began as a nice, fresh breeze turned into a mini-gale, to the degree that it nearly brought down the drawing tent! Yaser and his students had to retreat to the breakfast tent and make hand sketches until the wind died down enough to return to drawing. In the tomb, the students continued working on their sheets and made excellent progress. Just before second breakfast JJ and Will played hooky and took up the invitation from Nozomu Kawai, an old friend and colleague of JJ’s from graduate school days, to briefly visit his work, seeing as it was his last day on site. The Japanese Waseda University mission is working in several tombs located just to the east of TT 110, and at the moment they are conserving a beautifully painted Ramesside tomb; they plan to continue their work in the area with excavation in the next season. Now that our season is drawing to a close, we felt it time to make our customary second visit to the Lantern with Jen and Keli, treating ourselves to a lovely traditional English Sunday dinner, and having a fun night out talking and laughing.

Group 1 drawing





Monday was our long day working on site, until 3pm, so that Group 2 could have the extra time in the tomb and Group 1 drawing at the tent. Fortunately, today was a much cooler day than the last time we did this, last week, as the temperatures only reached about 85F/30C. Now that each group had had 3 solid days in either the tomb or tent, both Group 1 and Group 2 have gotten an equal amount of time doing epigraphy in the tomb and drawing objects and pottery in the tent with Yaser. We are clearly in the home stretch!

Mina, waiting to draw
Measuring Hussien's neck

Tuesday the groups changed places, with Group 1 coming back into the tomb for its final day of epigraphy, and Group 2 with Yaser, who gave them several different pottery sherds and objects to draw to see how well they understood the methodology. At second breakfast we were treated to a surprise: a delightful spread prepared by Hala and Rehab consisting of tuna béchamel, goulash (minced meat-filled filo pie), and breaded chicken cutlets! It was all brought over specially from the east so that it would be warm, and everyone dove into eating the food so quickly that it was nearly all gone before one could blink! Which meant that the only photo that we could take of the feast was of the aftermath. We also had a visit from Dina Bakhoum, who has worked with ARCE at the Red Monastery in Sohag on site management and heritage preservation. She kindly delivered the students’ certificates to us (thank you!), and we had a lovely time chatting about her work and showing her the field school. At the end of the day, everyone piled into one bus to head for the boat as the students were going to Chicago House with Yaser to look at and discuss published examples of pottery and object drawings. The boat took the students directly to Chicago House, and Will and JJ jumped off mid-way, bidding farewell and heading off to lunch. When we stopped by Chicago House afterwards, around 3:30, they were still hard at work.

Group 2 drawing
Alaa Talaat

Ahmed ElNasseh


Alaa Talaat demonstrating object drawing with a electrical plug!

On Wednesday the students switched back again, so Group 2 could have its last day in the tomb and Group 1 be given a similar group of objects to test their drawing skills. Yaser was quite pleased with the overall results of his “exam”, and Will and JJ are relieved to have the two stelae and the cavetto cornice of the false door completely drawn thanks to the herculean efforts of our students, as well as the band of inscription above the Hatshepsut kiosk and a sample khekher frieze thanks to Sayed. Will and JJ joined Keli and Hilary for dinner at the amazing Thai pop-up restaurant tucked away amongst the narrow side streets of Luxor, and followed it with dessert at “Winkies”, a German/Italian ice-cream hangout. Another hidden gem of Luxor.

 Ahmed proudly displays the last drawing of the tomb!

Group 2 upon completion of their drawing
Group 1 upon completion of their drawing

Thursday marked the last day of the field school. The day began much as any other, but by the end everyone was feeling the emotions of the occasion. Fortunately, all work had been effectively finished the day before, so as the temperatures began to go up yet again, we needed only to focus on the cleaning and collation of the students’ drawings. During this time Will, Sayed, Yaser, and JJ also met with the students individually to provide them each with an evaluation and assessment of their epigraphy and drawing skills. This essentially took us to the end of the day, with Mr. Will and Sayed posing the students for the “graduation” photo with their choice of an example of their work, a tradition that was begun at the first field school in 2015. You can view the results on the “Graduation Photos” page! As you can well imagine, this was not the end of the photographic endeavor. Group photos were taken inside and outside of the tomb one last time for the field school of 2018. The students clammored into the bus, with Will, JJ, Sayed, and Yaser being dropped off at Marsam for the last of the season’s staff meetings, while the others continued on their way to the east. Hazem stayed at the site a little longer, breaking down the tents, and packing up all of our materials to be sent back east on the truck, joining us at Marsam a little later.

Final breakfast and tea

 Final Group Photos

The Final Boat Ride home

The evening ended with a marvelous sunset boat trip arranged by Yaser and his family, with Will, JJ, Sayed, and Hazem all joining them. Yaser’s wife Manal brought pastries, tea, and sodas for us all to share. It was a lovely way to round out a long and exhausting day, to unwind and relax together on the Nile as dusk descended to the calls of the mullahs from the numerous minarets lining the river. It seemed to be over before we knew it, and the boat was docking at our long familiar pier. Goodbyes exchanged but still the knowledge that we had one more day to see each other before seriously saying goodbye for another season.

 Lamar, the newest addition to Yaser's family