Amara West project blog

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Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2013: good to go

Our two site tents at Amara West, with guard SelimNeal Spencer, British Museum

After travelling 4,928 km by air, 721 km by road across desert and then through the rocky cataract region, and a final hundred metres in a motorboat, we arrived late Tuesday afternoon, almost oblivious to it being New Year’s Day – and Independence Day in Sudan.

Our two site tents at Amara West, with guard Selim.

Our two site tents at Amara West, with guard Selim.

Our first day here was spent setting everything up. The house had to be unpacked – it is amazing how much dust accumulates in houses with mudbrick walls, and one never knows quite how much damage termites will have wrought upon cardboard boxes, wooden beds or even wooden drawing boards.

Metal crates are used to house tools for each excavation area – here for house E13.5 and villa D12.5.

Metal crates are used to house tools for each excavation area – here for house E13.5 and villa D12.5.

Bedrooms are set up, the kitchen installed and the workrooms organised. With seven of us here – more team members arrrive Friday afternon – this all happened quite quickly. A small team of workmen was employed to erect our two site tents, and some of us visited the local market town of Abri, to acquire missing items and repair some excavation equipment. Pottery sorting and drawing – material from last season that could not be processed – was commenced by Marie Millet, Anna Garnett and Alice Springuel.

Clambering up the sandbank between Nile and archaeological site

Clambering up the sandbank between Nile and archaeological site

I was surprised by our progress, so much so that we had the opportunity to move all of the digging equipment – sieves, shovels, barrows, trowels, finds bags, brushes – to Amara West itself, as the sun set. The Nile is higher than last year, though the steep sandy incline from river to archaeological site is a significant challenge where heavy equipment is concerned.

The day was not without its surprises, though, ending with a scorpion sighting in the bathroom, and a small electrical fire caused by a generator surge.

The boat leaves for site at 6.00 am on Thursday, in darkness, and excavation will finally be underway.

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