Tuesday 22 January 2013
We set off at 7am with our minibus loaded up as usual with the aim of getting lots done. We were thwarted at the first hurdle. There is a blockage on the west bank of Luxor bridge and we find ourselves stuck there with hundreds of other vehicles for almost 90 mins before we’re on our way again. The GPR team are dropped off and then we call in on our colleagues Peter Lacovara, Diana Craig Patch and Catherine Roehrig at Malkata (the Joint Expedition to Malkata team).
Procession through the streets
Wednesday 23 January 2013
Fortunately, we had a smoother start today than yesterday—the vagaries of commuter traffic the world over!
With our quick start, Kris and I picked up where we left off yesterday with the ERT line across the mouth of the Birket Habu, while Angus, Sarah, and Dom trekked off with the GPR and GPS to scout out more area in the western half of the Birket. Because of technical issues, the planned ERT line across the Birket mounds proved unfeasible—too dry, so no conductivity—so we are using the GPR to investigate what we can of the subsurface topography in and around the mounds and across the basin instead (and because it can be faster than the ERT), which is leading to some long walks for Dom, Sarah, Angus, Reis Alaa, and Youssef. Today’s long walk started near the village of Hajir al-Aqaltah, which is perched on the southwest mounds of the Birket, and continued all the way to the north mounds, 3.2 km away, which is some trek with the equipment they are dragging! However, they all came back happy, if somewhat hot and tired.
Kris Strutt and Reis Omar Farouk on ERT
As a luxury, Kris and I managed to spend most of the day in the shade, having learned our lesson to think through exactly where to start the ERT line after ending up in a livestock parking area last time. We were able to complete a full run across the mouth of the Birket, a distance of roughly 720 m, taken in 75 m chunks, as the equipment allows.
Step aside for the CAT!
Continuing yesterday’s line meant starting in the approximate center of the distance, where we are hoping to find evidence of whatever channel or outlet led into the basin of the Birket Habu, and moving along to the start of the northern mounds, where the tarmac and concrete of Kom Bai’rat interrupted our ability to get the probes into the ground. As last time, the households of the villages were curious what we were up to and welcoming as always—cups of tea all around!
Sarah follows in the wake of the GPR
Second breakfast with the Sheikh
Thursday 24 January 2013
Normally Friday is day off and today was planned as an office day processing GPS and geophysics data collected over the last week.
We swapped days and Ginger, Sarah and I headed to Abydos at 7pm for the day. Kris stayed at the flat to get on with other non-THaWS work and Dom had a quiet day in the flat with a delicate stomach devouring his book on Who wrote Shakespeare? Sounds like it may conclude with the notion that it was indeed a man called William!
Dr Matthew Adams (Field Director of Institute of Fine Arts, NYU Abydos Excavations) very generously took time out from the Abydos mission excavations to give us a comprehensive guided tour of the area around the Early Dynastic enclosures. Back at the American dig house Michelle Marlar kindly showed us some of the wonderful painted limestone fragments from the Temple of Osiris. A huge jigsaw puzzle of material! See their work at http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/fineart/academics/abydos/abydos-current.htm
The processional wadi at Abydos
After a wander up the processional wadi we returned to take a speedy visit around the Temple of Ramesses II and then the Temple of Seti I – stunning! Back in the car by 3pm to hit the desert road back to Luxor.
Today is Milad un Nabi (a celebration of Prophet’s birthday) and there are lots of celebrations going on in the streets around the flat this evening.