Digging Diary Week 8 (20 February - 26 February)

The present week started on Saturday with the (by now traditional) site visit of a group consisting of Dutch people living in Cairo, organized by the Dutch-Flemish Institute in Cairo. They were joined by a tour group under the guidance of a former educational officer of the Leiden Museum, so that in total about 75 visitors enjoyed a day out in the desert and the learned comments given by our excavation team. We received some very enthusiastic reactions, and our site certainly looks spectacular now that it is ready to be opened for tourists. Most tombs have been provided with information panels in English and Arabic, and the Egyptian authorities made the site better accessible by the construction of wooden walkways and a concrete path linking our area with the tourist part of Saqqara. We expect an official opening (upon payment of an additional ticket) soon and regard this as a tribute to our site management and conservation project.

The new tomb, Meryneith and PtahemwiaOn Monday we received a visit by the Head of Collections of the Leiden Museum (Pieter ter Keurs) and the public relations officer Gabrielle van der Voort. The former was accompanied by wife and daughter, the latter by her husband, so that we had a nice little party together for a site visit, a tour along several of the tourist monuments of the Saqqara plateau, and finally a lunch at the dighouse. Needless to say, these are our public relations and the importance of convincing the governing body of the RMO of the value of our work is priceless. We think they were sufficiently impressed ... More visitors followed in the course of the week, the last opportunity since we shall close the site coming Saturday.

Will Schenck makes a drawing of the stela against the facadeProgress with the fieldwork this week has been slow because we have chosen to dismiss most of our workmen, continuing with no more than thirty. With these few men we have worked our way around the new tomb, cutting down to a late New Kingdom rubble floor which surrounds its mud-brick walls on three sides. Several modest funerary constructions now prove to be based on this stratum, among which the stelas and chapel leaning against the east fa├žade of the new tomb, a limestone chapel in the north, and a number of shafts plus the chapel of Tatia in the west. The latter was found last year and has now been surrounded by a protective shelter designed by our architect Nicholas Warner, so that its stela and one door-jamb could be put back. He also finished the consolidation of some walls of Maya, plus the partial reconstruction of Horemheb's First Pylon.

Visiting the French Mission at South SaqqaraOtherwise our time is occupied by removing drift sand accumulated over the years, reorganizing storerooms, transporting objects, skeletons, pottery, and pieces of equipment to their designated places, etc. On Sunday we shall say goodbye to the dighouse and store our personal belongings in the house of one of our foremen in Saqqara village. Our team members are leaving us one by one, and in less than a week the last of us will have gone. So do not expect any more digging diaries this season, but please do come to the Saqqara Day (June 12th) or keep consulting this website to find out more about our ongoing work. For now - goodbye and thanks for being with us!