Thursday, February 6, 2014
Yesterday was taken up with hiring the men who carry out the actual excavation work, as is the tradition in Egyptian archaeology. This morning we arrived at the site at 7 AM ready to begin. Some men began the tedious task of transferring the newly made
bricks for the conservation project from the manufacturing site to the King’s Palace where they were stacked for future use. Since the trucks are small, this chore will continue next week, too. In the meantime, the rest of the workers began the task of cleaning the site for excavation.
This year at the North Village the first challenge was the removal of the agul, known as camel thorn in the U.S. There must have been a fair amount of rain this year in Luxor because the “crop” was substantial and a great deal more than last year, especially on top of the clean sand that covers the walls. We are, by the way, delighted to report that most of that sand was still in place, protecting the ancient brick, very little of which was re-exposed to the wind. The wind today was relentless and rather strong, but it is Amsheer, the windy month, so it is to be expected. However, it was a struggle to hold onto papers at times.
The crew was satisfyingly efficient and by mid-morning break the North Village was clear of agul. I breathed a sigh of relief because in recent years the camel thorn
has harbored horned vipers and they are always instantly killed. I am not happy when this happens, but we can’t work with the thorns nor the vipers and there seems to be no way of removing them safely. No vipers were found today, however. Unfortunately the crested larks, a lovely little bird that I wrote about in 2012, also disappear when the agul is cut because there are no more insects to eat.
After our break, we began to work along the boundary between the North Village and the so-called Audience Pavilion to the north. This boundary was an area we had not yet cleaned. The work today clarified the northern boundary wall of the village. This single brick wall is separated with a small gap from the large mudbrick wall marking the Audience Pavilion’s enclosure. It was in just such a gap that the Museum excavators discovered the large deposit of ostraca from jars now in the Metropolitan Museum. Catharine and I immediately anticipated another deposit. But so far no such luck. However in the radim, we did find a large and well-made sandstone rubbing stone that was used to smooth large surfaces of stone like a door jamb.
Diana Craig Patch