Digging Diary Week 4 (23-29 January)

The hill south of PtahemwiaThree weeks ago, the hill south of the tomb of Ptahemwia reached nearly 6 meters above the floor of that tomb's court. Now a set of terraces cascades down to a platform about one and a half meters above it. In a few days, I expect our most intensive labor effort to be complete and the workforce to be reduced in size.

The men will be well rewarded for a mighty effort, given sometimes under arduous circumstances. Today, Thursday, a powerful wind swept in from the south, blinding the men with sand cast back from their baskets as they emptied them on the spoil heap. It is a visceral task: it is about struggling against the pain of sore muscles
and unfavorable weather to earn a poor wage (though better than what all the other missions at Saqqara currently pay). But still the weather and hard labor have taken their toll.

Busy workmen in sometimes heavy weather conditionsToday our workforce amounts to no more than 70, while the extraordinary rigors of the last two weeks have convinced another 25 that they had better stay at home. The ones that remain are the best. Today, as the wind-borne sand blinded them, they suddenly sat down as one and refused to work further. The maelstrom whips around them. Yet they are easily rallied. In an instant they are brought to their feet, and they shout against the wind and then run through it madly. And at the end of the day, their spirits have rarely been higher, for they met tangible adversity and conquered it. They can tell their former comrades all about it when they get home.

Look to the WestSo far we have found no particular name to go with whatever lies at the bottom of the hill. Two small heaps of rubble with uninscribed blocks rested above it and to its east. The ceramic material has included Coptic pottery at every level of the hill, but the percentage of New Kingdom sherds steadily increases the lower we go, and it has been two meters since meeting any modern rubbish. In a couple days we will reach the floor level of the New Kingdom necropolis. Soon we will know if any of the limestone revetments emerging from the sand are inscribed.

Barbara looking at pottery
Ladislave probing a possible burial