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The Dig Diary 2000--Part 1

Sunday to Tuesday 17-19 September

Helen & Nigel Strudwick set out for Egypt. As usual, the first step is to do the paperwork relating to our permission to work, as without this we can do nothing. Thus on Monday we go to the offices of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) at Abbassiya, and sign our contract and obtain our letter to take to Luxor; we also have to check our passports with the police of the SCA.

We are scheduled to fly down to Luxor on Tuesday evening, so we visit the Cairo Museum. There, the chief curator of the New Kingdom section, Adel Mahmud, has arranged that we can look at two statues of Senneferi which are in the collection. We start to copy texts, and after that are taken out to lunch by Adel and some of his colleagues. They are incredibly kind to us! Our busy day is not yet over, as we have an appointment with the British Ambassador to Egypt, Mr Graham Boyce. He makes us most welcome at the Embassy; among the things we consider are his ideas for setting up a British Institute in part of a building in the Embassy which is planned to be redundant in the not so distant future.

On the Tuesday we return to the museum to complete our work and take some photographs. We then have lunch with Ahmed Mostafa, an inspector at Giza whom Nigel sponsored on a visit to the UK in 1999. In the evening we fly to Luxor, where the temperature at 20:00 in the evening is 31º! As we have lots of luggage we get a taxi to take us all the way round to the West Bank, the first time we have ever done this. It saves a lot of trouble. We move into the Abul Kassem hotel, as we have done for six years now.

The Abul Kassem hotel

Wednesday 20 September

It's something of an unusual experience for us to cross over the river to go to the East Bank Inspectorate--normally our first night or so is spent on the east rather than on the west. It is nice to see Director of Upper Egypt, Sabri Abdel Aziz, again, especially as he was not able to come to a conference we organised at the BM this summer. After doing our paperwork with him, we pay a courtesy call on Mohamed Nasr, the Director of the Luxor Museum, who was for many years in charge of the West Bank; then we cross over to the West Bank Inspectorate. There we find the General Director, Mohamed el-Bialey, whom we did have the pleasure of seeing in the UK this summer. We find out all about what has been going on in Qurna recently, as well as being allocated our inspector. He is Abdel-Rahman Ahmed Hassan, who was with us last year, and was excellent. It is agreed that we would start on Saturday--from this year, the working week for the SCA is Saturday to Wednesday. We then go back to the hotel for the afternoon, visiting Luxor in the evening.

Thursday-Friday 21-22 September

Wednesday night was really very hot and we are not sleeping well, so we don't rush out in the morning. We had a few things to check in some of the tombs of the nobles, and so we made a small excursion there. Our first visit was to the tomb of Menna (TT69), where we made this mini-panorama.

Then we wandered around to the area around the tomb of Ramose, where the SCA have been clearing some debris away. We particularly wanted to check Khaemhat, and photograph a set of Opening of the Mouth tools shown there. In TT99 we have found some such implements in Senneferi's burial, and thus we wanted to compare this list.



 For Friday we have decided to take it easy, and get ready for the early starts which will become life over the next month. I have to say that the heat is taking some getting used to. Lots of showers are needed to enable sleeping in these very warm nights. You can see from this why most Egyptologists prefer to work in the winter!

All text and images © Nigel Strudwick 2000

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