Happy Birthday Antonio!
For today we had secretly planned and long awaited a surprise birthday party for the moudir! After another successful day in the field working on TT 313 and TT 315, we “kidnapped” Antonio and took him on a boat trip on the Nile with a fancy picnic. After three hours on the Nile, having delighted in a pleasant trip through the waters of southern Luxor, drunk some nice wine and enjoyed a birthday cake, the team members went to Luxor to have a walk through the markets and visit a book fair. It was a great afternoon!
Digging in the deep…
In the tomb of Henenu Kelly continued with the supervision of the ongoing excavations in three excavation units in the northwestern and northeastern corner of the courtyard. The upper courtyard has been cleaned so that the original Middle Kingdom bedrock and the ground level is now visible. However, when exposed, it is very fragile, so everyone has to watch his step. Sergio installed a polyurethane foam over the door gate to prevent bats and birds from getting in, which have been a problem for a long time. He also proceeded with the photographic documentation of small finds such as fragments from the decorated sarcophagus and stelae. Ana and Jónatan were registering and sorting incoming finds from the trenches after the sieving. Hazem continued with the drawing and documentation of selected relief pieces. Dina started a survey on graffiti in TT 313 and was able to identify several inscriptions in the courtyard and within the tomb. Although these graffiti are modern, they can help to reconstruct the visits and reuse of the tomb by tourists and local people in the last century.
Henenu and Ipi under full sail
Our early trip to the site is always surprising us with some new feature of the landscape, a monument whose structures can be better seen in the early morning, or the preparation by the Egyptians to receive the hundreds of tourists approaching the archaeological sites in the following hours. Today we got a good view of the arrangements for a balloon trip near the Ramesseum.
In the tomb of Henenu work has been progressing as usual: Kelly and Sergio were documenting and supervising the excavations in two different units in the upper courtyard, while Jónatan and Ana were in charge of the incoming finds from these trenches. A basket full of finds which still awaited recording and sorting from yesterday revealed the find of the day: four beautiful papyrus fragments with a neat hieroglyphic handwriting! Of course, everyone –especially our epigrapher Dina– was excited about this discovery. In the next days, hopefully we will be able to say more about its contents, context, and date! As in the days before, Hazem was drawing selected relief pieces (and was responsible as well for the selection of background music in the computer!). In the morning, Sebastian was continuing taking pictures in the photo lab, this time set up outside in the haima, where Antonio helped him with some of the largest pieces to be photographed.
Full (s)team ahead!
Today was the first sunny day after the hot and humid weather of the last days! Unfortunately, the wind blew away (again) our haima in front of TT 313 and it had to be set up again by our workers before everything else could get started. While we were assembling our haima, a group of soldiers coming from the upper section of the mountains –where an observation post of the army is located– surprised us. As soon as our inspector Kasim opened the tomb, Hazem started to work on his drawings, mainly of very interesting decorated relief pieces, and Jónatan –with the help of Ana– continued the recording and documentation of incoming finds from the trenches in the northeastern and western corners of the courtyard. Dina also found a workspace for her computer and continued with the encoding of the hieroglyphs of the eastern inner wall of the sarcophagus of Ipi from photos shot by Mohamed in the previous days. Outside the tomb, Kelly supervised the ongoing excavations while Sergio spent some time drawing the recent soil layer and its structures in the northeast. In the haima and with the help of Antonio, Sebastian continued taking photos of the special finds unearthed during this field season.
Siesta, monuments and fiesta
What do Egyptologists enjoy the most on their free day in Luxor? The answer is clear: exploring the Theban area! After we got a late breakfast part of our team went to Deir el-Medina, the ancient village of the workers who built and decorated the tombs of the kings and queens in New Kingdom Egypt. This group also visited the tombs TT 335, TT 339 and TT 218-220! It is a pity that photography is forbidden in these chambers since they show a variety of colourful scenes and motifs from ancient Egyptian life and death. However, we all understand that it is for the benefit of the preservation of the heritage.
Recording after the dig!
Today Henenu´s tomb continued in the three excavation units opened until now. Sergio and Ana established some nails and started to clean a new area in the lower courtyard, while Kelly’s team was in charge of the other opened areas in the facade section of the tomb. Jónatan and Hazem continued with the documentation and drawing of the decorated reliefs and the sarcophagus fragments found scattered in the various chambers of the tomb of Henenu. Raúl and Sebastian also proceeded to take detailed pictures of some of the objects and findings of this season. Having set up previously a temporary photography lab at the end of the corridor in TT 313, they initiated the arrangement of textiles, natron bags, jar stoppers, and limestone fragments.
I´m getting hot in here…
With 45°C in Luxor, today was the hottest day of week! This situation made most of our team members seek for a working place in one of the tombs, which provide a cool shelter from sun and heat. Therefore, Sebastian and Raúl prepared a photography lab in one of the chambers in TT 313 where they set up a table, a special light environment, and camera equipment. Their task was to prepare the photographic documentation of finds made in the last field season such as natron bags and fine textiles. In contrast, Sergio and Ana spent the day outside setting up nails, measuring squares, and preparing a new excavation unit in the lower part of Henenu’s courtyard.
Early in the morning the local stone masons visited the tomb TT 313 with the purpose of breaking a massive rock lying in the courtyard. It took a while and a lot of sweat to crush and remove this huge chunk of limestone with an approximate weight of 3-4 tons. This special spectacle happened at the same time as the excavation of three different trenches was ongoing. This required a large amount of supervision and organisation. Kelly, Jónatan, and Sergio finished the clearing of one of the side chamber where several decorated reliefs fragments and pieces of a sarcophagus were found in the first week of the field season.
A sad day…
The visit of the Spanish journalist Alicia Arena (from journal ABC) was planned for yesterday and today. However due to the sad events striking Cairo and Alexandria, she had to leave Luxor immediately and did not have the possibility to complete her visit and interviews with the team members. Indeed, these recent terrorist attacks became an important conversation topic during our breakfast as everyone had the urge to share his feelings of compassion with the victims and their beloved ones.