Digging diary, week 4: 23 - 28 May 2015
The Last Week
By Maarten Raven
Last week we were talking about hot weather, but now we have passed the ominous mark of 40 Centigrade and it is really getting time to get home. Even by night the temperatures hardly drop below 30, so sleeping is difficult. Even the workmen complain about the heat and sometimes just do not turn up. Personally I found it very hard to copy the relief scenes on our unique four-sided stela found last week. It is situated in a pit in the hot sand, and in order to trace the bottom lines I had to lie on my shoulder with my head down, sweat streaming in my eyes and flies crawling all over my face, whereas my felt pens went dry as soon as they touched the hot sheet of plastic used for making the tracings. But also that job is now over, and the stela is one of the most interesting monuments we discovered this season. It belongs to a stone-cutter Samut, about whom we know nothing yet, unfortunately.
The stela came up in the last strip of desert to be explored this season, lying between the tomb of Meryneith and the tomb of an unknown official (X) to the south of it. Otherwise this area proved to contain a strange brick-lined pit, an embalming cache under a straw mat, and lots of fallen bricks. Due to lack of time (and workmen; see above!) we have not been able to finish this area, but already it has given us some answers regarding the proper entrance to tomb X, which proved to have a nice vestibule paved in neatly laid bricks.
It has been an extra short week, with no more than three work days, followed by the closing of the site on Tuesday. Our brave ceramic specialist Barbara and her artist Lyla have more than made up for it by hardly taking any sleep at all, in an endeavour to finish the last drawings required for our two forthcoming final reports, including the long-expected book on the pottery from the tomb of Maya and Meryt. This will be another coproduction together with our friends of the Egypt Exploration Society, and we are already looking forward to holding the outcome of this wonderful cooperation in our hands. Maya's pottery is absolutely unique in the whole of Egypt, and it makes us realise once again how privileged we are to be able to work in a cemetery like this one!
On Thursday (28th) we shall all fly home to cooler climates, but the warm feeling of this season shall stay with us for a long time. A heartfelt 'thank you' to all team members! And on Saturday 13th of June we hope to report about our recent finds to our Friends of Saqqara during the annual Saqqara Day in Leiden. See you soon!