Amara West project blog


Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2015: how does a digging season start?

Mattresses in Omdurman market
Neal Spencer, Keeper of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British Museum

Time is of the essence in archaeological fieldwork: maximise the amount of research done, keep costs low. Yet a couple of days ago, the Sudanese government announced the New Year’s holiday would be extended, to include the Prophet’s Birthday, through until January 4.

For archaeological teams flying into Khartoum, that meant excavation licenses could not be signed, and other government offices, banks and even some shops weren’t open. The Acropole Hotel was this morning populated by a variety of teams – Sedeinga, Tombos, Hamadab, Kerma, Old Dongola … – wondering how to make the best of their day. We ended up in Omdurman market, one of the biggest on the African continent, near sunset for some key supplies…

Omdurman market holiday (6)
Green with floral detail remains the fashionable choice in metal crates – blue was all the rage in 2012. Over the next two months for use at Amara West as object storage, toolboxes, laundry baskets, archaeological sample shipment and bedside tables.


Omdurman market holiday (8)
It’s not all desert camping and hardship: archaeologists also pine for a good mattress. These examples are stuffed with Sudanese cotton: we more often make do with a foam-filled variety available near Amara West.


Omdurman market holiday (1)
Our team will use smartphones and laptops to stay in touch with the world – this radio tucked away in a shop reminded me of the not-so-distant days (2010!) of listening to crackling Short-Wave broadcasts of the World Service….

Alongside regular updates on the blog, follow the season on Twitter: @NealSpencer_BM and #amarawest

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Filed under: Amara West 2015

One Response

  1. Caroline says:

    Reblogged this on An Archaeologist's Diary and commented:
    Great post by my colleague Neal Spencer, director of the Amara West Research Project. Yes, shopping in Khartoum or Omdurman is a must before any dig season in Sudan. My own dig gear does include one of those metal crates mentioned in the post, but it is the smaller version. My ‘shanta’ is blue… but I can’t remember if there are flowers on it! Might not have been in fashion in the early 2000’s. 🙂

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