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labelThe Dig Diary 2001--Part 8

Friday 26 October

I have to confess that I was so tired after the marathon the previous day that I did not venture beyond the hotel, but rather took time to rest, and also to catch up on some needed work, like updating our databases of the objects and producing lists of the objects we would be registering. I also updated the dig diary and worked on some videos. Helen did some drawing but she was also very tired and stayed in. Julie spent much of the day sorting out some of her conservation equipment and supplies prior to our packing up. But Evan and April kept up the spirit of adventure and went to Deir el-Bahari and the Valley of the Kings in the morning and to Karnak in the afternoon. In the evening we were invited to a very pleasant dinner at Mohamed el-Bialey's house in the Western Valley of the Kings. There it is very very silent, and there was even a short power cut during which we could see the beauty of the place in the moonlight.

Saturday 27 October

Abdul-Rahman and I start by finishing off the register book. When this is done, he goes off down to the Inspectorate to see about arrangements for getting them to the magazine as soon as possible. Here you see the crate we are using temporarily to store them, and Julie completing conservation on the ivory adzes.

Evan has now moved on the packing of the non-registered or study finds which will go in the magazine. Helen and I move around the other shafts in the tomb checking what is now in them. There are a number of stone blocks still on the floors of the tomb which have to be put down a shaft before we finish. Shaft F is the chosen target, and we lower them down, with Helen at the top noting the numbers, me at the bottom arranging them, and Evan doing the bulk of the work lowering them down.

The last shaft we open up is Shaft A, which mainly stores mummies and linen. We are selecting a few bags of plain ordinary mummy bandage for April to do a random sampling on, so that we don't just know about the nice textiles but about the bulk of the material. We choose bags from different but representative contexts. Down Shaft A we also revisit the mummy of the priest Wedjahor, who was buried in the tomb in about 705 BC.

In the middle of the morning Abdul-Rahman arrives back with the news that we might not get in the magazine today, as another one has to be opened first. We don't mind so long as we are sure of getting in tomorrow, as we're all off on Monday. We have a shaft cover which needs fixing, so Abdul-Rahman supervises the repairs in the courtyard.

So now we are pretty well prepared for the magazine and for final packing up. Julie continues working round the tomb, checking her condition survey and cleaning sections of the ceiling in the front room.

Sunday 28 October

Today is going to be the last major working day in TT99. April has to finish off the textile samples she has taken, and Julie continues on the walls. Evan and I finalise the arrangement of the objects which we expect to take to the magazine today, and Helen is entering location codes for these objects into our database. While we wait for the call to the magazine, she and Evan also take more photos of wall fragments for Julie.

At just after 10 am the call comes. We are to get the finds down to the area of the tomb of Ramose to go to the magazine. This is no small task, as we have four heavy wooden boxes of finds, and the way down is very steep. Eventually a local donkey cart is pressed into service, with everyone acting as brakes to help the poor animal get down the hill.

Things now move quite rapidly. Off we go in the back of the pickup clutching on to the boxes and the trays for the object. One bit of foam was blown off and retrieved by the chief guard who was following on his motorbike. At the Carter Magazine, the boxes are unloaded and then work starts on the registered objects. Each one and its description written in the book has to be checked by a committee of four senior inspectors; poor Abdul-Rahman gets a hard time where they disagree with the exact nature of what he has written. As this goes on, Evan places each object in its allotted place in the tray system. Once we have placed this year's material in the trays, we open a box from 1994 and place its contents in the better storage of the new cupboard. Then we rapidly empty the three boxes of study finds into the other part of the cupboard. Everyone (except us, as Evan did out estimates very carefully) is surprised when it all fits. Here you can see pictures of both sides of the cupboard; you will note that we have had it painted bright red so we can identify it easily:

Then the cupboard has to be locked up and our name written on it. Below you see Ibrahim Soliman, the second-in-charge on the West Bank, writing the arabic description on the door. Then it is locked and sealed just like the door of a tomb.

And suddenly it is all over... We have five empty wooden boxes to take back to the tomb, which will be used for storing our equipment. Here they are being loaded into the back of the pickup. When we get them back to the bottom of the hill of the tomb, we take a couple of them up and leave the rest in case we need them tomorrow.

Getting the magazine done is a major achievement and we all really feel we are nearly there now. But there is still more to do in the tomb. We still have three large boxes of coffin fragments in the tomb chapel, and we have agreed to lower these down Shaft E at the back of the tomb before we finish. Evan suggests a system of ropes, and we do this with the assistance of one of our best guards and also the man who painted the cupboard who happened to come along at this time to collect his money! Note how many Egyptians take of their galabeyas when doing hard physical work.

Julie, Helen and Evan work quite late that day. I go back, among other things to write the report for Abdul-Rahman. In the evening we all go to the relatively new Indian restaurant in the Sheraton Hotel to celebrate. We have an excellent meal and a very nice evening.

Monday 29 October

Today sees the departure of everyone. The first part of the team away are Evan, Julie and April, all on the Monday direct flight to London. They all seem to have had a good time, and have done great work. The final closing up of the tomb is left to me and Helen, although a lot of the work had been done the day before. This is all about packing up equipment and tidying the chapel--all the antiquities have been dealt with the day before of course.

I take the opportunity of the clearance of the inside of the tomb to take a few photos of the rear room. It isn't easy due to the light, and there are some colour problems, but the tomb does look impressive.

Round about 11:30 the work is all done. Our guards are good enough to carry the boxes etc down to the area of the tomb of Ramose where they will be picked up later on. We have five empty wooden boxes and we manage to fill four of them, plus tables, chairs etc.

Then the tomb is closed up by Abdul-Rahman and Sheikh Hassan, the chief guard of the area.

And that's it... except for the fact that we have to come back for a few days to finish off those bones.

But there are still a couple of tombs on our comparative list to do, both near the famous tomb of Ramose. The first is TT123 of an Amenemhat, of the reign of Thutmose III. This has a number of interesting scenes and some unusual arrangements; it's a carved tomb and the photos I took don't really do it justice. Here's a close-up of a rather nice pig. The other tomb was the adjacent TT124, but although we found the entrance, it appears either to have been destroyed or simply become filled with debris, so we don't do anything.

Back at the hut above the tomb of Ramose, we find the guards all seated having their lunch. We ask if they mind looking after our equipment for a bit longer while we go down to the Inspectorate to say goodbye.

We visit Mohamed el-Bialey for the last time this year. He seems pleased with what we have done, and is suggesting all sorts of other tombs for us to work on.

Back to Ramose again, where the lorry to take our equipment away has arrived. I have arranged to leave it in the storerooms at Chicago House in Luxor, thanks to the kindness of the Director, Ray Johnson. We load up, and then head off to the south to the bridge and then back up to Luxor. On the way we drop off Abdul-Rahman at his village near the bridge. I'm very sorry to say goodbye to him--I hope now he will have more time to deal with the various matters he has to look after at home.

Unloading at Chicago House is a quick affair, as I want to get back to Qurna where Helen is busy packing our suitcases. I forgot to take pictures...

We are invited back to Chicago House for dinner before going to the airport, and so we say farewell to Abul Kassem at about 18:00. It's our eighth season there and it is a bit like home. We have an extremely pleasant evening at Chicago House and go for the 22:00 plane to Cairo, which leaves the best part of an hour late.

Tuesday 30 October

We sleep in late, and then we go down to the centre of Cairo to see Rawya Ismail, who runs the Egypt Exploration Society's office in Egypt. We have known her for many years, and have worked with her when she was a guide. Helen has not seen her for many years, and so we pass some time with her before going for a little shopping and then back for another sleep. We seem to be very tired!

All text and images © Nigel & Helen Strudwick 2001

© Nigel Strudwick 1997-2018