Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wrapping up

Last night I did not get really sick, but I also didn’t feel very well. This made it so that I did not sleep all that well. I was so tired in the morning, and a bit sick. But I could not miss anything today. So off I went. 

We got to Kom Aushim, the government storage facility. The director there, Mustafa, is someone we are getting along really well with.We did some conservation for some of the Egyptian digs, and some for ours. David also did a lot of photography. 

Paul and I went with our wonderful inspector, Ayman, to Fayoum city. There we met with the Fayoum head of antiquities police, Ashraf. We talked about the encroachment upon Philadelphia. He said he would see what he could do, and asked me to talk to Ahmed Abd Alal about it. We also went to the post office and got a money order for Ayman to pay him for his services. Then we met with Ahmed Abd Alal, head of Antiquities for the governate of the Fayoum. We talked to him about how the season has gone, and how we hope it will go for next year and the year after. We gave him a model of the Seila pyramid as a gift. He was very pleased. We also talked to him about the encroachment at Philadelphia. Like Captain Ashraf, he said he would do what he could but acknowledged what a problem they are having with this kind of thing and how hard it is to do something about it. We can only hope. I like Ahmed and hope things continue to go well for him. He is great to work with.

We returned to Kom Aushim and I did some measurements of some objects there we are trying to publish. We finished up what we were working on and said our goodbyes to everyone. I especially hate to say goodbye to Ayman. I hope that we can work with him again, he is a great guy to work with. I got everyone paid, all fees paid, etc., and we were able to wrap up a great season. (In case you missed it, the last things we did was literally wrap up a bunch of stuff. Not bad, eh?)



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Final day at Fag el-Gamous

During the night I got feeling quite sick again. I did not want to slow anyone down, including myself, and there was no way I could miss going to the site today. I took some pepto bismo, some immodium, so ib profen (my head was killing me, which never happens), and some powerful stuff to kill what is inside you. I was basically held together by tape and pills. My family prayed for me, and I got feeling good enough to head out. I was so tired because I did not sleep well that I slept most of the way to the site. During the day there were several times that I could feel real pain in my stomach. This was mostly when I had to do some trekking around on the site. I never felt good, nor hungry. But by the end I was doing okay. I made it through our day pretty well. I have felt continually weak.

On the way to the site I pulled out my laptop and we went through pictures of the stelae and all the reports I have on them. We had been told some things by Farag and Gabr that just didn’t make sense to me. As I looked and looked at the pictures I feel like I really came to understand what we have in these stelae. After a while at the site we pulled out the computer and looked at it with Farag and Gabr and were able to confirm what I was thinking. This is good, we are making real progress.

For the first time ever we got to the site before the inspectors. When they arrived we were able to set things up and get going pretty quickly. As the textile field school proceeded David, Paul, and I went out to figure out how to use our total station. Dr. Brent Benson was with us at the beginning of the season to teach us how to use it, but because of our problems with customs we were not able to get it out of the airport until after he had left. He gave us some training about how to use it when we could, and so we finally gave it a try. It took us a little while to figure out how to get it all set up, but eventually we got pretty good at using it.  When we did, it worked very well. We were able to start to plot mud bricks with a fairly precise ability. I am excited about the possibilities of better documenting things with this equipment. We are so very, very grateful to Dr. Benson who donated the equipment.

In the meantime Dr. Tata and Madames Smith and South were running the textile field school for our inspectors. They did very well. They have learned a lot and analyzed quite a few good burials.

We did some more photographing of the stela, along with a bit more measuring and analysis. We will be able to make a good publication of this stela. There is so, so much to study and publish and we just don’t have enough time to keep up with it.

As it came time to start to finish things up, our sweet, wonderful inspectors from the field school presented us all with gifts. They are so very thoughtful and giving. They gave us wonderful little models of the Giza pyramids and gave Joyce Smith and Kristin South some nice little glass flowers that turn colors through fiber optics. They are so thoughtful. We then presented them with their certificates of graduation from our field school. I think they were very pleased with how well they did in the school and with the certificates. We believe we have finally figured out what needs to happen to make these certificates look the way they should. I think that in the end we had created an excellent certificate.

We cleaned up the storage magazine, preparing it for a year of sitting. It took some work, but I think we got it in pretty good shape. Then it was time to pay the workers, the guards, and to tell everyone goodbye. I always hate to say goodbye to Farag and Gabr, but hopefully we see them next year. They are good men. I also hated to say goodbye to our field school inspectors. They are wonderful and we have so enjoyed them. We will hope to see them again too. We have made wonderful friends here that we hope to see again and again.

We got home a bit earlier than usual. This was partially because we found a little bit of a shortcut. With the extra time we were able to get a cell phone set up for use whenever we come. We should have done this long ago. Then we had a wonderful dinner with Vassil Dobrev. He is a good man with a lot of good ideas. We talked about so many things, and it gave us so many things to think about for our excavation. I very much enjoy this good man and am grateful for our association and hope it continues for a long time.

I was exhausted by the time we were done, which was quite late. I chatted with Julianne for a few minutes and went right to sleep.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Back at Fag el Gamous

Today was a great day. We got to the excavation and set up right away. Dr. Tata began on the field school right away. Our inspectors in the field school are so bright and caught onto examining textiles right away. Dr. Tata and Kristin South are good teachers and they are very good students.

One of the first things they did was examine a small mummy. This mummy was beautifully wrapped in a tunic and with other nice wrappings. There was some evidence that they tried much of the full mummification process. The toes and toenails and brain and tongue were amazingly preserved. We found a wonderful necklace and two bracelets on each arm. The jewelry makes us think it was a girl, but we cannot tell. Assuming it was, this little girl was about 18 months old when she passed away. She was buried with great care as someone who obviously loved her very much did all they could to take care of this little girl in burial. Very sad. But they succeeded, it was a beautiful burial. She had been buried with several other mummies, so we are interested in examining them.


 We also practiced washing textiles. They want us to clean some of the textiles we have in the permanent storage facilities. However, they are so nice we did not want to wash them without having practiced. Today we chose some textiles we were going to rebury and practiced washing and soaking them, experimenting with how much water to use, how many times to rinse, how much pressure can be applied while washing with a brush, how brittle they were after drying, whether or not we could unfold and flatten them easier while they were wet, etc. We practiced on both linen and wool. Kristin South headed up this effort, assisted a little by Kerry Muhlestein but a lot by Gabr, who has a delicate touch and a real feel for ancient textiles. We feel we had great success in doing this. We were quite astonished at the result, and believe we can do some excellent work with any of our textiles. This was a very fruitful activity. We will see how they fare after a full day of drying, and will do some more practicing tomorrow.

Dr. Evans did a lot of osteological work today. Dr. Whitchurch and Dr. Muhlestein worked on a number of things. We cleaned up and inventoried some of the facilities. We photographed some amazing Roman Glass and the various pieces of metal found on the baby mummy. 


We cleaned off the Snefru Stela and started measuring and photographing it as we prepare it for publication. We pieced together a few things we were unsure of before. We were not able to finish, but we made some good progress. 

Tomorrow is our last day of going to the cemetery. It is hard to believe we are winding down like that already. Time goes by so slowly when I think about my family, but so fast in regards to the work here.

Spent the evening making certificates of graduation for our field school participants.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A day among days

What a day! We left fairly early and met Dr. Vassil Dobrev at Saqqara. He has been excavating there for  years. He was so gracious, enthusiastic, and welcoming. We first went through some of the things in the museum there at Saqqara. Then we went to his site. We spoke of how he has been detecting arrangements of pyramids, and looking at elevations, and using the clusters and alignments of mastabas as he looks for the right places to excavate. Absolutely fascinating, and very well thought out. We so enjoyed this. It gave us some real things to think about regarding our pyramid at Seila.

Dr. Dobrev then took us through his 6th and 8th dynasty tombs. He has been finding fantastic things there. There was much that was so interesting. We could have spent hours there going through more and more of his finds. This was such a wonderful opportunity.

From there we met with an inspector that Zahi Hawass had arranged to take us through some of the more interesting parts of Saqqara. First we went to a monument we have always wanted to enter.. We just walked straight up and he unlocked the door and we went in. And thus a longtime dream was suddenly realized.  We had a thrilling time going through tunnels and caverns.

From there we went to some wonderful tombs and had a great time looking at the incredible artwork.

 Then we went to the Serapeum. It has been closed for years and years, so it was another thrill to be able to see it. Impressive. Amazing. Huge. What a place. 

Then we went to Unas’ tomb and enjoyed some time there. In particular we got to a hillside where we were able to look one way and see Giza and another and see Dashur. I counted 16 pyramids that could be seen there. 

From there we went out to some more places that are typically closed. But we went in, we saw great stuff, and we loved every minute of it.

From there we went to a favorite restaurant called Andea’s. The food was good. We were in two cars, and on the way home the car I was in, driven by Eric, got a bit lost. We ended up going through some very small backroads of Cairo, going on roads that were under construction  until we got onto a bridge that suddenly ended (fortunately we noticed this before we drove off), and then went in a few circles before we got to a road we recognized. I finally got on my iphone and used the gps map function to figure out where we were and where we should go. I was nervous a few times, but in the end we made it.
I was exhausted, but this was quite a day!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Worship

This morning I thought I would be able to sleep in, but Julianne called me at 5:25 am to ask for help with a science project Tashara was working on. I don’t think I was much help, but it was nice to be a small part of it, even if I was so very tired. We all had breakfast together, and then came to church.

 I spoke in church today, and I feel like it went well. Then we were able to have lunch/dinner with the Lawrence family, a great family here in the area. The food was fabulous, the company was great, and we had a wonderful time. Then we came over to the building/house the branch meets in and hung out for a while. I skyped with my family and got ready for the fireside we are doing for them. Then I took half hour nap.

We had a nice turnout for the fireside, and I feel like it went very well. I spoke about the Exodus and Plagues and about Exodus and the Atonement. I think it went over very well. I am very pleased with how everything has gone. Afterwards I visited with the members of the branch for a long time. It was great, they are great people. I especially enjoyed visiting with Robbie Kongaika, who spent a lot of time in Laie and knows a lot of the same people I was friends with there. It made me homesick for Hawaii. Then I played with a little Asian 4 year old girl for quite a while. She is a little cutie, and just needed someone to visit with. She had a stuffed giraffe that we played with for quite a while, doing ring around the rosie, hide and seek, etc. We had so much fun that when it was time to go she offered for me to take the giraffe with me. It was quite touching. Instead I drew her a smiley face to keep with the giraffe as a way of us remembering that we are friends. It was so nice.
Lincoln is leaving early in the morning. We will miss him. He is a great team member