I am the newest member of the JEM team, and it is my great pleasure to be back in Egypt. I have been an Assistant Curator in the Department of Egyptian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for four years now; before returning to New York, I lived in Egypt for seven years, directing a cluster of projects at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo for the American Research Center in Egypt, and working with Dr. Zahi Hawass, then Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, on a variety of his initiatives.
Most of my time in Egypt was spent in Cairo, but I always loved it when I had the chance to come down to Luxor. The air here is so clear and bright, the people are friendly and kind, and the monuments are endlessly fascinating. After my years away, I do see changes here – new buildings continue to sprout up, the plaza at Karnak temple is finished, and across the street from our hotel, The New Memnon (https://imalqata.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/our-home-away-from-home/), the temple of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan looks very different! Hourig Sourouzian and her team have excavated and then reconstructed so much wonderful sculpture – I look forward to visiting the site properly soon, but I did catch a glimpse of the travertine hippopotamus as we drove by the other day!
We have been here a week but my first visit to the site was Friday, the day after we arrived in Luxor. We rode out to Malqata in the Land Rover to see how the site looked after a year away and to plan the start of the season. It was the first time I had seen the wall that now protects the site – the last time I was on the West Bank, children could still scramble up the scree slope to the temples at Medinet Habu!
Despite my study of old and new plans and satellite photos, I was not prepared for the vastness of Malqata. On that Friday, while Diana and Peter discussed where to begin this year’s clearance, Catharine walked me past the remains of the North Village over to the Amun Temple, and then we walked over to the King’s Palace, where Peter gave me a tour. I haven’t yet ventured past this point, but I look forward to exploring more in the weeks to come, as time permits.
Despite these changes, the air and the people here in Luxor are as I remember them. From our arrival at the airport, where we were picked up by Hassaan Mohammed Ali Ahmed, our excavation manager, to Chicago House, where the Director, Ray Johnson, greeted us and supplied us with coffee and a theodolite, to our wonderful hotel, where Sayed Farag El Nobe and his staff make us welcome every day, I feel truly at home. I look forward to working with Diana, Catharine, and Peter to uncover more of Malqata’s past.