Monday, March 18, 2013

Philadelphia surveyed, Burials of Interest

This morning I had to turn away too many workers. One of them had traveled a long way to work, but we just had too many people already. I hate it that I have to do that. I feel badly. I gave our taxi driver 10 pounds to give him to take a taxi back to wherever he came from. That is the most I can do for him. Turning workers away is my least favorite part of the job. 

I did have one very good part of selecting workers today. I had heard that Fati, our wonderful worker who looks like Santa Clause, had passed away. I had been sad because of this. But it turns out he was only mostly dead, and today he showed up, looking remarkably good for someone who had been mostly dead all week. We were very glad to hear him. He is the guy on our excavation who keeps telling the others to work. When we started, and he immediately yelled “yallah, schill turab” (get going, carry dirt), in the same voice that I have heard start work for us each morning for years, I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia. I am glad he is still doing well.

We started finding some interesting burials right away. One was of an adult, a small child, and  an infant all buried together. There must have been some story there. A sad story.

Another is completely unique in the history of the 30 years of the excavation. We found two people buried together, one facing west the other east. They were not tremendously deep. This is very interesting. Not sure what to make of it yet.

Another burial had a lot of nice cordage, tightly woven and it had been tightly tied around something that no longer survives, so that the cord remained in a bunch of tight loops. 

The day went by very quickly. Time flies.


We stopped working just a bit early so that we could go check out Philadelphia. We looked at it a bit more thoroughly than the last few years. It has so much promise, there are so many things we could do there. I so wish we were ready, financially and personnel wise, to start excavating there. I feel so more now than ever. We found evidence of some recent illicit digging. Also, many recent burials are encroaching on the site. The police presence is so weak the last few years that no one is afraid to do that anymore. Once people have been buried there we will never get to dig there. Some of the town is already lost to archaeologists that way, and I fear that much more will happen in the next few years. I will report this to the antiquities police, but I am not sure what they will be able to do about it. I need to find a way to start excavating there. Soon.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or airport), we finally found success in procuring our total station. Here is the transcript of email updates sent throughout the day:

Off I go with Emad in his car.  First thing he does is miss the turn to the east side so now wandering towards Giza.  Fear not.  He has now returned to direct his face to the half risen sun.

Have acquired entry pass for Emad.  Instead of arrival hall 3, we are at arrival hall 1.  He is the official representative of SCA and I cannot go through to this different place.  He needed 100 LE and the eBay screen shot of the DTM-300.  He has gone in to negotiate the price.  He will be back when money is needed.  Why do I feel that the only choice i have in this matter is whether I am crying, laughing, praying, yelling or silent as I stand with hands tied behind my back wearing a black blindfold?

Attached is photo of disability access.

Emad has emerged as an authorized agent.  Pushed Emad up the hill from arrival hall (salon - note dear reader, though one be almost persuaded at this point in the progress of this pilgrimage, salon should not be confused with saloon) 1 to the international arrival salon 3 (where we arrive).  Again, he enters as the sole agent.  This time I know where he is going - the office with Mohammed.

Now I wait for the sentence to announced.  How much cutting into the stack of 100's?  Will I be able to get any reduction in the initial amount?  Dear reader, I shall speak again, in shah ....

A cry of "Doktor Paoul" echos through the salon.  Emad has reappeared at the portal with two customs agents and four guards.  I present my passport and the sign the customs document.  Name, passport number (which I call out in Arabic as I write in alphanumeric) and then the piece de resistance.  "Write you nationality here," says the older of the twi customs agent.  "My nationality?" I reply?  Then I pause.  Yes, dear reader, do you hear those three words coming?  Proudly pointing to myself, and with a smile, I proclaim in Arabic, "I am a Fayoumi".  The customs agents, the guards, the guards elsewhere, and even Mr. Emad break into a smile and some even laugh.  It then is passed to others who did not hear the original proclamation of nationality - "He says he is a Fayoumi".   The smiles spread faster than the blame for a problem.  It works every time. 

The excavation site is in the Fayoum region of Egypt and is quite rural.  A Fayoumi in Egypt is the equivalent of a country bumpkin.

With the papers signed, Emad and the customs agents and the guards dissolve back through the portal off to the second of the two hallways on the left.

10 minutes later we are down the hill to departure salon 1 and Emad enters into gate 6.  Dear reader, whilst rolling down hill do you not think that I thought to let go and yell "lookout!"?  Maybe I have not explained that Emad uses a wheel chair and I am his most dutiful motor.  Still, the thought was nearly inescapable from the obvious fruition.  I would have been following the scriptural command, "do unto others as you have done to your mother."  [evans 18:15; 2012 revised edition]

Still no sentence.  Or whisper of the severity.

After 66 minutes I have seen the number of the beast written upon multiple pages and the number is 3216 LE.  Back to arrival salon 3.  Emad has the cash and has gone through to the other side.

The gates of the prison have opened and the prisoner is released into my waiting hands.  This is no end of a story.  There is no end.....


The case is in the room.

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