Firstly I am not going to give a big report on the excavation as lots has to wait for publication but it does mean that when Elena gives her public lecture on Saturday I will be able to expand the things she mentions knowing I am safe doing so. As a bit of background reading do have a look at this link http://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/Pischikova_a.pdf not only does it fully describe the tomb and general area but it also has some great photographs. Obviously I was not allowed to take any.
After stopping by the inspectors office to be ‘officially cleared’ I made it to the site just after 8. The team are working on three tombs Karakhamun, Karabasken and Irtieru, Karakhamun being the major one and they had been there since 6. When I got there some of them were busy recording and photography a buffalo skull, not quite treasure but it just shows you how archaeology has changed. Belzoni et al would have probably just thrown these things away but everything is recorded, photographed and stored. Digging is a whole different ball game these days.
These tombs are from the period when the Nubians or Black Pharoahs held sway over Egypt, hence the very unusual names. The first tomb we went into was originally underneath the Abu Rassoul house so the team are not expecting to find many artefacts however there was a very lovely ceiling which had been cleaned and a number of SCA conservators working there. That one was across a narrow plank bridge and I hate heights. I kept repeating the mantra don’t think about it. These late period tombs are very large and deep, they obviously had a bob or two. The second tomb was being used as a store room and is much ruined I was completely distracted by the giant jigsaw puzzle being worked on the floor. They have a number of fragments that come from one of the pillars and were using the area to reconstruct these into a coherent inscription. Another member of the team was working using some software to record some decoration. It is personal fascination to me how technology has made it into the archaeology arena and is making a huge difference. The old fashioned ways of pieces of paper on the walls are being ditched in favour of digital pens and pads. Obviously you have to have two skills now, artistic and use of the software.
Lastly we went to the tomb of Karakhamun which is huge, what is it with those late period guys. There is loads of colour, inscriptions and excavation still to be done. A huge task and one that relies on voluntary funding. Have a look at the website if yould like more info ad sponsorship details http://southasasif.com/Map.htmlSome of the stuff I saw was charming, really lovely. He does not appear to have had much family, only a brother has been identified, perhaps further excavation will reveal more. It took two Egyptians to get me back out of the tomb, it really is deep but it was worth it.
I have to give my thanks to Moustafa Waziry for giving me permission, Elena Pischikova for inviting me on the site and Meg Gundlach who actually did the tour and held my hand over narrow plank bridges and up and down hillsides. (Eventually some nice strong Egyptian men came to our rescue and pushed and pulled me up.)