Back to school – or: DiverseNile after the summer break

Munich is very busy again, the quiet days of the summer break in the city are gone, the parks are crowded again, school vacations are almost finished and a new school year will start next week.

The MUAFS project and DiverseNile had just a very short break in August, everything was quite packed due to the extended corona term at LMU and some appointments including a very pleasant one in Vienna: my family lecture about archaeology in Egypt and Sudan! This lecture was part of activities by the Austrian Academy of Sciences in the framework of the KinderUniOnline.

I tried to explain to kids in the age of 7-12 years why I am personally still fascinated by ancient Egypt and Sudan. I talked about the numerous finds we unearth and can use to try to reconstruct daily life activities and more. I highlighted some examples from the tomb of Ankh-Hor in Luxor and of course I talked about cooking pots, ceramics in general (and brought some sherds with me to show!) and the very promising remains in the Attab to Ferka region which still have so many open questions for us.

You can watch my lecture (in German) at youtube:

Let’s hope that some future archaeologists are inspired by the rich archaeological heritage in Egypt and Sudan!

Research & teaching: introducing the MUAFS project via zoom

The summer term at LMU is well underway – although things are getting a bit easier here in Germany, teaching is still restricted to distance learning and digital forms like zoom lectures. I am personally very happy with how this worked out so far – and really hope also my students think so, at least they seem quite happy in my classes.

I am currently preparing a lecture within the class “Introduction to Egyptology II” – tomorrow, I will be speaking on this occasion about the general archaeological sources for Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology. Since it is a class aimed not only for students of Egyptology but also for students of other fields, I will start with very basic information about the archaeological record. Stressing of course, how rich the evidence along the Nile and also in the desert areas of Egypt and Sudan is!

At the end of the lecture, I take the great opportunity and give some case studies, introducing my own research in Sudan, especially at Sai Island and in the Attab to Ferka region. The MUAFS project is, I believe, a great example for still neglected regions along the Nile, for new research questions and modern methods and interdisciplinary approaches.

I will finish off tomorrow’s lecture via zoom with one of my favorite quotes: „The only truly bad archaeologist is one who does not publish the results of his or her field investigations. All else is opinion”. (Peter Drewett, Field Archaeology, 1999, 6)

Summary of week 3 at Ginis East

Our third week of the 2020 just ended and was very successful. We concentrated during the week on site GiE 001. Recorded by Vila as site 2-T-36B in the 1970s, this domestic site at Ginis East can be assigned to the Egyptian New Kingdom, showing also an intriguing Kerma presence according to the surface finds as well as Napatan ceramics. Magnetometry was conducted by MUAFS in 2019.

In the 2020 season, two trenches were laid out above promising anomalies in the magnetometry in the northeastern part of the site, just south of the modern car track. Trench 1 (6 x 4 m) yielded, apart from surface finds which were mixed and dated from the Kerma Period, the New Kingdom, the Napatan Period and Christian times, some Kerma Classique sherds from lower levels. However, no structures were found and the magnetometry seems to show natural features, especially more sandy areas which contrast to clay layers.

Trench 2 (10 x 4 m) is the area where we found plenty of evidence for marog digging. The pottery was abundant and is again a mix of predominantly New Kingdom material with Kerma, Napatan and Christian wares. Work in Trench 2 is not yet finished and will continue in the upcoming week.

All in all, remains in GiE 001 are clearly not as we were hoping according to the magnetometry, but it is still a very interesting site to study, especially within the context of the question of Egyptian presence during the New Kingdom in the area of Attab/Ginis/Kosha, thus in the periphery of Amara West and Sai Island.

Getting ready for the field season

Yesterday, our office was nothing for orderly persons – or let’s says armchair archaeologists unfamiliar with last minute preparations of archaeological fieldwork and how messy these can be… Cajetan, Marion, Giulia and me packed all the equipment we need for the upcoming field season in Sudan. Thanks to the great support of the Department of Ancient and Culture Studies of LMU we are particularly well equipped this year – but therefore it was also a challenge to get everything ready, sorted and packed. It took a while, but of course we succeeded and our luggage is almost ready to board the plane next week! And the office is tidy again.

Veronica prepared all the form sheets and find labels we need for the new project and Jessica helped with last minute additions based on the Vila volumes about the Attab to Ferka region.

Finally, the team got its well-deserved Xmas presents – the brand-new MUAFS T-shirts – and we had a last meeting, including Valentina and Franziska via skype, discussing logistics and priorities for the field.

The MUAFS team is ready for its first field season!

Many thanks to all, we are really almost ready to go, a few more days for final preparations and then we will be arriving in Khartoum, meeting our Sudanese colleagues and friends. Looking very much forward to the first field season of the MUAFS project!