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Warm Welcome in Luxor

Warm Welcome in Luxor

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Warm Welcome in Luxor

Pathways are being finalized and the work at Mut Temple is nearing completion. Photo: Kathleen Scott

Another expedition season has started in Egypt and thus far, signs point to a full and busy calendar of arrivals and departures for ARCE member institutions. According to Madame Amira Khattab, ARCE Deputy Director for Research and Government Relations, interest in returning to archaeological sites is running high. ARCE sponsors the fieldwork of its Research Supporting Members by providing administrative and technical support to affiliated expeditions each season. Andrew Bednarski, ARCE/Luxor Egyptologist, provides this update on recent activities:

“While we talk about the ‘new season’ of work that began in September, this refers to ARCE's conservation field schools in TT 110 and the Isis Temple of Deir el Shelwit, and belies the fact that about 600 workmen, and all of ARCE's project archaeologists, continued their effort to clean and document the site of Sheikh Abd el Qurna from July to August. ARCE's Qurna Site Improvement (QSI) project on the West Bank of Luxor ran continuously over the summer.

Local workmen clear debris from the demolition of Qurna's modern hamlets high atop Qurna. The Ramesseum and Valley cultivation are in the background. Photo: Moamen Saad

Our presence in Qurna is very much appreciated by our workmen and their families, given the collapse of the tourist industry, and the struggling local economy. Even the Eid el Adha celebrations this year were muted, as there were more goats and sheep for sale than people with money to buy them for the traditional family feast.

The QSI project is going remarkably well, and the landscape has been significantly improved, both visually and from a safety point of view. In addition, masses of archaeological and ethnographic data have been collected on the most recent stratigraphic layer of the site: the recently demolished modern hamlets that surrounded the area's ancient tombs. Read more about ARCE’s QSI project's recent work>>

ARCE's other archaeological effort includes the continued excavation of TT 110, the tomb of Djehuty. The tomb's forecourt was partially excavated by an ARCE Preparatory Field School (http://arce.org/conservation/fieldschool/TT110) in February 2013. Information on this, the clearance of its pillared hall, and the excavation of its burial shaft and subterranean chambers will appear in the next ARCE Bulletin.

At Mut Temple, the pathways are being finalized and the new Conservation Field School in statue reconstruction will soon be in session for roughly two months. Once the signage and lighting are installed, the work will be complete.

Original colors are revealed daily as conservators get hands-on practice through the field school. Photo: Kathleen Scott

Cleaning and conservation work within the Roman Temple of Deir el Shelwit, done by one of ARCE's conservation field schools, has progressed to such a point that ARCE anticipates an end to its work within the temple at the end of 2013. With the addition of signage, lighting, a new staircase, pathways, and a parking lot, the temple should be ready for visitation in the New Year. Conservation work within TT 110, another focus of an ARCE conservation field school, is also progressing well. Original colors are being revealed daily, and previously obscured hieroglyphic texts are coming to light. In short, it's full steam ahead for ARCE Luxor as its major APS projects near completion.”

Returning to Luxor for the start of a ‘new season’ Ray Johnson, Chicago House Epigraphic Survey Director, describes a welcoming environment:

 “All is well with us in Luxor as the Epigraphic Survey begins its 2013-2014 archaeological field season.  We have enjoyed a long, slow opening, in part due to the Eid al-Adha holiday in mid-October, which delayed the completion of the paperwork by about a week, giving us some extra time to settle in. We resumed our epigraphic, conservation, and restoration work at Medinet Habu on Monday, October 28th, transferred our equipment to the temple site, met our MSA inspectors, and reopened the small Amun temple and blockyard. We also opened the Chicago House library.

The mood is calm. Luxor is quiet, but not entirely bereft of tourists.  There were tour groups on my flights to Luxor, and the official word from the Luxor governor is that tourism is 12% now, up from 2% last month. It will take some time, but as more and more countries ease their travel restrictions, we expect to see a steady increase as the weeks go by. Egypt is a very different place from when the team was last here in April, but we have been warmly welcomed back.”

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