Digging Diary Week 3 (16-22 January)

This week we focused on two tasks: clearance of the hill south of Ptahemwia and exploration of areas north of the tombs of Maya and Meryneith by ground penetrating radar. We were joined by Peter Jan (photographer), Barbara (pottery specialist), and the radar surveying section: Bruno Deslandes, Georgijs Sicovs, Valdis Seglins, and Agnese Kukela.
Hill South of Ptahemwia, 21 JanThe hill south of Ptahemwia originally reached about 6 meters above the court of Ptahemwia, which is roughly the New Kingdom floor level we seek. To get there, we have begun cutting a terrace into the hill. Altogether we expect to remove an estimated 1100 cubic meters of sand and debris. So far, after nine days of intense labor, our men have dug out about 475 cubic meters. As we expected, most of the material so far has been spoil from previous excavations, including a couple fragments of Arabic newspapers from 2001 and an old pottery dump.

However, on the north side it seems we have reached an area that has not been touched by modern excavations, with a couple interesting finds such as a beautiful face from a wooden sarcophagus. There is also a heap of mudbrick emerging from the sand in that area, which could be a promising sign - if it turns out to be a medieval deposit rather than something left in the 19th century.

Excavating the hill The radar team had a very eventful week. They come to us with a great deal of experience working in and around the Step Pyramid to the north. We recruited them from their home base in Riga, Latvia, in order to locate the ancient surface-level entrances to Early Dynastic burial complexes below the tombs of Meryneith and Maya. They have tremendous ingenuity in applying their instruments to the uneven terrain and have found out a great deal. They believe they have pinpointed the location of the surface aperture north of Meryneith, now buried beneath spoil of earlier excavations and ancient monuments. One of the highlights of their brief stay with us was a visit of Latvia's ambassador to Egypt, Maris Selga. This week Maarten and Ladislava join us-perhaps just in time, as we go ever deeper!

The radar team in action View to the North