Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sundry items from the dig

We would like to share a few ideas of how some parts of a typical day at the dig goes:

The location of each burial in the Fag el Gamous necropolis is documented. s The cemetery is laid out in east/west and north/south coordinates.  This season we are excavating in the area that is found between 120 and 130 meters north of the central datum point and 20 and 30 meters west of the north/south line.  Within the 120/130 North 20/30 West area, we are excavating in the NW square that is 5 meters square.  In this photo you can see the stake marking the most north western corner of the square and the yellow line marking the western edge of the square.  Dr. Giovanni Tata (left) is holding the black and white meter stick against the stake;  Dr. Kerry Muhlestein (standing) is making measurements with a tape measure and Kristin South (background) is recording the measurements in the field book.  The feet of three mummies clustered in this corner of excavation site are seen in the foreground. 

The length of the burial, depth, head location and feet location are measured from the north and west edges of each excavation square.  These data are entered into a database to provide a 3D representation of all burials in the cemetery.

Not shown in the photo are Dr. Paul Evans, Dr. David Blumell, Dr. David Whitchurch, Joyce Smith, and Brent Benson.

A lunch break is taken by the workers at about noon.  The call to prayers started at 12:03 today.  The workers eat in groups usually by the village where they live and by family relationships.  We have workers from four different villages that are near the Fag el Gamous necropolis and the Seila Pyramid.  Lunch is usually tomatoes, soft cheese, pita bread, onions, leeks, and a leafy plant that resembles chard.  The food is shared and all partake.  We usually work during the lunch break.  Burial documentation including photos, measurements, and descriptions can be accomplished during lunch break.

Our inspector this year is Ayman. He has been so very, very good. He knows what he is doing, he is efficient and knowledgeable. He is also so very happy, kind, friendly and upbeat. He is a real gem, and we hope we can work with him for many more seasons. He has taught and helped us in so many ways, and is a very good person.

A great deal of what we do is record what we are finding in both writing and pictures. We usually have the various specialists gather around each find to help us record in the field book all of our observations. We have a great team and this method has helped us to be very detailed. 

We have been greatly aided in our accuracy and consistency by the work of Joyce Smith. She has created checklists we go through for each feature we find. This way we make sure we don't ever forget to do one of the little aspects of recording and work with everything we find. She also created a number of stamps we put in the fieldbook that helps us to record everything we need to and accurately draw the aspects that need to drawn.

Some days we have the workers take their lunch break when we have many things we need to record and we need to have only the specialists working and no one hauling sand, etc. away. On those days they usually get a bit longer of a break, and they use it to relax from their hard labors.

 While we are sad that we won't work with our whole crew any more this season, we are glad that we will get to keep working with our two foremen. Farag and Gabr are brothers and have been part of this excavation since they were teenagers. They are truly gifted with the trowel and brush. They have a delicate and practiced hand and a real sense for how to clear off sand without disturbing the object in it. I believe they also have mummy radars implanted somewhere in their heads. They can tell when they are about to find one before any signs seem to appear. They are good men, very good men, and we feel like they are our brothers. 

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