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labelThe Dig Diary 2001--Part 7


Monday 22 October

The day kicks off with our saying goodbye to a team member again, this time Gillian. She's been in Egypt a month now, working in Cairo before coming here. She's worked here a number of years now, and has seen the pottery work through to its conclusion. The place doesn't seem the same without her. At the tomb, another old friend has gone--we surrendered the tent after Gillian left.

You'll notice in this photo our latest arrival, Evan, towering above the rest of us. Evan works in the Egyptian department at the British Museum as a Museum Assistant, and he's come out here to help organise closing up the tomb and packing the objects for storage.

Evan trains hard in the UK and plays basketball for the Reading Rockets. To keep him fit, Helen immediately organises a workout for him, running up and down the ladder into the pottery shaft to remove things destined for storage elsewhere. Later on I get him to prepare some cartonnage assemblages for Tony to photograph. You can see how dirty he got from moving things around in the left-hand photo below. At the right you see the pottery storage area after Helen finished her reorganisation of it by location and type.

Tony continues to work through the photos needed, mainly of coffin pieces. The rest of us continue much as before, sorting out objects, cleaning walls, doing the textiles, and so on. We are now ready to register the objects we have.

Tuesday 23 October

This turned out to be a long day. While Evan continued to put cartonnages together in preparation for photographing, Tony started on the decorated textiles. We mentioned in an earlier diary that we had an excellent and unusual selection of such things used as mummy wrappings, and this is why we brought April out to work on them. Julie has finished conserving them, and April has almost finished studying, and so it was a good time to photograph them.

Click on this link to see a 300k video of April at work on the textiles.

All continues to go well. We need to discuss the question of registering objects with the General Director, and so we arrange to go to the Inspectorate to see him, as he has been very tied up with the possible visit of President Mubarak which has still not happened!

At the Inspectorate, it seems that all foreign missions are arriving at once. In the past week, French, Italian, Swiss, Polish and American missions have all arrived. Such a change from when we were the first ones here. All goes very well, and we are to start work on the register book tomorrow. We also get the keys to the other tombs we have requested permission to visit for study purposes. In fact Abdul-Rahman wants that we go off and do the first ones today, but first we are visited by the Director, Mohamed el-Bialey, who wishes to look over the finds. We have a very pleasant visit from him, and he is extremely complimentary about what we have been doing.

Today Abdul-Rahman suggests that we begin our work on the other tombs which we have asked to look at for comparative purposes. These tombs tend to be unpublished ones, and we want to check certain details for the purposes of the publication of TT99. Today we look at TT122 and TT64, the tombs of Amenhotep and Heqaneheh. Here you see us waiting while the first tomb is opened.

Tomb 122 is actually accessed through tomb 58, so we get to see two for the price of one, as it were. TT122 dates to the 18th dynasty and is quite damaged. However, it has a nice set of scenes of Opening of the Mouth.

Tomb 58 was usurped in the Ramesside period, and empty spaces from the 18th dynasty were filled with new scenes.

TT64 is better known, as the owner was the nurse of the prince Amenhotep; the latter is shown in the lap of the tomb owner. Heqaneheh lived in the reign of Thutmose IV, who appears in the tomb.

At the end of it all, it was after 16:00 and we were all rather tired...

Wednesday 24 October

Today is Tony's last day and he needs to get the objects finished and then move on to photographing a number of the wall scenes for which we need further pictures. Here are a couple of the objects, a sealing of a Coptic jar and also some Ottoman smoking pipe fragments:

For me, the main event of the day is to be the preparation for registering finds. We get a visit from Chief Inspectors Sultan and Nour, and there are some slightly tense negotiations as to whether all the objects I want to register should be, as there are concerns as to how well some would survive over the years. In the end we agree, and Abdul-Rahman and I prepare to start writing in the Register Book.

At the back of the tomb, Helen and Evan are making preparations for dealing with the Study Finds which are to be moved to the magazine but not registered. Here you see them making lists and rearranging boxes.

Tony manages to get his photography done and we go back to the hotel. Back there we find a lot of painting and other work going on for reasons we can't quite follow....

Lunch is over and Tony departs for the airport and back to running his photographic business. It's been fun having him here.

Thursday 25 October

Today is going to be hard work for me and Abdul-Rahman. We have to register as many of the objects as we can. This means that I write the English entries for the book, and then he writes the same in Arabic. We have to look at the objects, and there are the expected difficulties of translation. It goes slowly. The last thing for each object is that I stick a photograph in the book, primarily for identification purposes. It's a time-consuming job.

At the same time, Evan is organising the packing of the objects into trays at the back of the tomb. He has covered the base of the trays with a foam covering, and is locating the objects in the trays using small foam blocks which he holds in place with small wooden cocktail sticks. Click on the picture of Evan to see a 300k video of this.

Thus I really don't have time to do anything else. We get a visit from Christian Leblanc, Monique Nelson and Françoise el-Bialey. Christian is the director of the French Mission at the Ramesseum and the tomb of Ramesses II; Monique is the most senior member of their team, and has been working in Thebes for many years; Françoise is the wife of the General Director of the site. Helen is able to give them a full tour of the tomb, and they are very interested in the finds we have and very complimentary about the work.

Julie needs a number of digital photos taken of the friezes to enable her to complete her condition survey of the tomb--she and I will use these photos to fill in the gaps between the areas of my drawings of the walls. This is because it is not normal to copy every element of every frieze from the Egyptological perspective, but Julie does need them. Here is one, with Julie holding up the scale while Helen takes the picture.

I said that it would be a long day. Abdul-Rahman and I get to object number 75 at about 16:15 and call it a day. Julie has also been working late on the paintings. We are all very tired, but it has been worthwhile, as it means it brings getting to the magazine to deposit the material is closer.

All text and images © Nigel & Helen Strudwick 2001

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