Sunday, March 18, 2018

Our Final Weekend

With just two days left before returning home, and just when Mr. Will thought it was all over, we went back across to the west on Saturday morning to visit the excavation and research project of Andrea Gnirs, who is working in the south end of the Qurna necropolis, in tombs dating to Thutmose III-Amenhotep II. It was a wonderful visit, and we exchanged quite a bit of good information throughout the tour and discussions. Then it was off for a final lunch at Sheikh Ali/Marsam, where no sooner had we sat down to enjoy a quiet, relaxing meal, then the place filled up with tour groups and a group with Hourig Sorouzian, who was hosting a large party of visitors. Malesh, as they say! It was nice to have a chance to say a final goodbye to Hourig, as well as several Egyptian colleagues. And just as we were finishing up we were delighted and surprised to see another old friend and colleague walk in, Chris Naunton, who is leading a tour in Egypt and was stopping in for a quick coffee. As it had been ages since either JJ or Will had seen Chris, this was a happy circumstance indeed, and we sat a bit longer chatting in the shade of the Marsam garden.

Finally, though, it was time to leave as we belatedly remembered that JJ had a lecture to give at the Mummification Museum that evening. So, we made our way back east, taking our last trip across the river with Abu Ghalan. With just enough time to shower and change, we grabbed a quick drink with the legendary Salima Ikram and Steve Harvey at the Winter Palace, before Salima had to catch her flight back to Cairo. Then it was off to the Mummification Museum, where, despite a few technical difficulties, JJ gave her lecture on the new information we have learned about Djhuty and TT110’s decoration through the field schools’ epigraphic work. Afterwards, we bade the students farewell with a round of photos and many emotional goodbyes, but reminding one and all that we would see them again in a mere 6 months, insh’allah! The group headed off to a local riverside coffeshop under Hazem’s direction. And while Yaser meant to stay for only 5 minutes or so, as he had to catch a train to Abydos, he ended up spending the better part of the evening with them. As we have found, it is hard to leave our students.

Egyptologists Francesco Tiradretti and Steve Harvey chat before the lecture

There was no sleeping in on Sunday, as JJ and Will had promised to visit the work of Shaimaa and Nadia at the Sphinx Avenue at 9am. We spent a delightful hour with them and Hussien, getting an archaeological tour of the site’s history from Hussien, and conferring with Shaimaa and Nadia about the drawings they have been making of the Graeco-Roman blocks they have discovered re-used in a later building, probably a wine-press area. They treated us to breakfast afterwards, our last round of tamayya, fuul, torshi, potates, aubergine, and aish balady. It was a lovely way to spend our last morning in Egypt. 

The rest of the day was spent packing and having a final meal with Hazem and his family, as well as a final coffee with Hazem and Sayed, calling Yaser, who was in Abydos, so he could join in the final merriment of the season. Stay tuned, as come October we’ll be doing it all again!