It’s been so busy already that I have barely had time to think about anything besides rocks, let alone to write. But Friday was our day off, which is always welcome.
It never ceases to amuse me that as archaeologists our day off from tramping around the desert looking for artifacts is to tramp around the desert visiting sites where we already know there are artifacts. We went to visit the Middle kingdom tombs of Beni hassan. These tombs have some of the most famous scenes of daily life, including bread, beer, and wine making, harvesting, statue production etc. They even include a few scenes of lithic tool production. Coincidence? I think not. No photos allowed in the tombs, so here is a dredge from the internet-
These were really some of the most impressive tombs I have seen in Egypt. I can’t believe I haven’t seen them before. What have I been doing for the last decade?
In the afternoon, because a day off is no time to rest, I went on a mission to find a bucket. Why, you might ask? It all starts with the team wanting to be closer to the site. Last year we were only allowed to stay in Minya, so we had a 1.5 to 3 hour drive EACH WAY, to get to and from the site. This year Christiana, the director, worked her mudirial magic and got us permission to stay in a town much closer to the site. We are staying in a 10th floor flat in a town bigger than a village, but with a somewhat village feel. Our flat is quite nice, with 2 bathrooms and many bedrooms, and great views of the Nile. The problem is the water pressure doesn’t really make it up to the 10th floor. And if anyone else is running any sort of water (dishes, hand washing, toilet flushing, laundry) there is literally only a dribble. To compound problems I have a mass of long hair which does need to be washed in occasion.
So I decided to implement the bucket and bowl showering system which I haven’t had to do since staying in a real rural village in the yucatan, over a decade ago. Others had shoping to do as well, so we walked through town stopping at vegetable and fruit vendors, grocery stores, a sunglasses stand, and every place that sold plastic items. I found a bucket about halfway through, and, as if we weren’t spectacle enough, I was now a foreigner carying a plastic bucket through town….
But I have to say people were much more relaxed and nice than I have sometimes encountered in Cairo. There were no catcalls, and no one was trying to rip us off. No one was pushy either, one shop owner just tried to get his shy daughter to practice English with us, and that was just sweet.
Luckily I managed to escape being photographed with the bucket. And I am happy to report that the bucket style hair washing was successful. Even pleasant!
It just goes to show how complicated the logistics of running a project are. There are a zillion details from where to live and how to get to the site, to how many and what size towels are needed….
And on Saturday we were back in the wadi trying to understand not only how the gajillions of stone tools were made, but how the pharaohs got enough people out in the desert for enough time, and with the supported needed to move tons and tons of stone and sand, often just to make the little teeth for harvesting sickles. And people say Ancient Egyptians continued using flint well into the bronze age because it was cheap and easy… We’ll see about that!