Studenten Dagboek 2017
Elk jaar schrijven de MA studenten Egyptologie en Egyptische Archeologie van Nederland en Vlaanderen hun ervaringen in Egypte neer in een dagboek. Hier kun je onze studenten van 2017 volgen.
- Week 1: 8-15 January 2017 (Hanne Declerck & Maarten Praet)
- Week 2: 15-21 January 2017 (Marlijn Monteban, Emma de Looij, Jolieke van 't Hoff)
- Dagboeken van 2016
A week has passed since the start of the archaeology program of the NVIC. For most of us, the Cairo semester started with the search for a flat on the island Zamalek. After much negotiation and phone calls from our broker, Sanaa, we all managed to find a flat before the start of the program. Apart from some weird interior decoration (some more hideous than others) the flats looked fine at first. It didn’t take long before we discovered that some things were not as good as they seemed to be: Saturday we were invited to ‘maison gas leak’, which was apparently a very nice place compared to the freezer some other people are living in. Mums and dads: don’t worry, (most of) the problems have been fixed by now. Living in Cairo is very exciting. Crossing 26th July street is always an adventure, almost everything is incredibly cheap and to top that: CATS ARE EVERYWHERE! Many of us appear to be cat lovers, so we’re doing just fine here.
The first day of the program started with an introduction to living in Egypt and the schedule for the semester. In the afternoon, Marleen took us on a tour (by bus) through Cairo city. Cairo is an enormous city with a lot of different neighborhoods, so there are always a lot of things happening in this city. The next couple of days, Khawla taught us some Arabic in the mornings. We should now be able to introduce ourselves in Arabic, count to ten and ask for directions. It might not surprise you that we’re still struggling to pronounce these words. We try though, and the Egyptians seem to really appreciate it. In the afternoons we visited the main Egyptological institutes in Cairo. We were all very much in awe of the beauty of some of the institutes. We started with the American Research Center in Egypt, where we also attended a very interesting lecture on the conservation of coffins later in the week. The Swiss institute has the most beautiful colonial building and a garden with Nile view. Unfortunately, most of us will probably not go back there since the institute mainly has books on architecture. The German and French institutes are the more obvious choices for us, because they have more extensive libraries. The library of the IFAO (French institute) is the biggest. We also visited their conservation and dating labs. It was very interesting to learn more about C14-dating, the specifics of archaeometry and the vastness of their archives. The director of the institute was very kind to invite us to lunch at the IFAO, which was amazing. The German institute also has a very good library, but it’s closer to our apartments and they have a lot of really nice cats there…
Saturday we made of first site visit and of course this couldn’t be just any site. We spent the entire day at Giza and it was just as amazing as we all had hoped it would be. Marleen showed us the mastabas at the Eastern and Western Cemetery after letting us take a lot of pyramid-selfies, then gave us some time off to finish our Giza assignment and to visit the monuments we wanted to see. Of course most of us went straight to the pyramids. Only Khufu’s was open for visitors and after arguing with the security that our passes were in fact real (apparently, we were the first people to buy these passes, so every time we want to visit something, the security wants to check them and show them to all their colleagues), we made the exhausting, but very exciting climb to the burial chamber inside the pyramid. Then of course, we still had to visit the sphinx, where we obviously had to take a lot of selfies as well. For the assignment, we had to look at some photos taken by George Reisner a hundred years ago and try to take a photo of what that spot looks like right now. We split up in small groups to do so. Luckily we had gotten some information about the location of the photos, so finding them was not that hard. It was, however, very interesting to see how the site has changed over the years.
Next week we are scheduled for a three day trip to the Delta, so we’ve got some interesting sites and exciting adventures coming up!
After our first true taste of Ancient Egypt, a day full of classes was upon us. We had our last classes of Arabic, a preparation for our Delta trip and a seminar about Deir el-Barsha, the site where KU Leuven excavates, but that we unfortunately cannot visit.
Monday was the first day of our 3-day Delta trip. We had to get up early, since the bus ride to our first stop Tanis was very long and it even included a military escort. Finally we were in Tanis, known as the capital of the kings that ruled during the 21st and 22nd Dynasty of Egypt and famous for the silver coffins that were found there. The site was quite large and it contained the tomb of Psusennes I, which we were allowed to explore. It consisted of cramped spaces with few, but beautiful decorations. Some of us climbed a hill for an amazing view, while others tried to find other names but Ramses on the stone blocks in the area (not as easy as you think). Unfortunately the bus ride to Tanis took longer than expected, so we were not at Ismailia in time to visit the museum there. Therefore we could spend the whole day at Tanis and afterwards we headed straight to our hotel which was a blessing to some of us. The Mercure Hotel had the kind of luxury that we happily embraced; containing an open buffet, a quiet environment, good showers, and most importantly: beds with actual blankets!
On Tuesday we had to leave at 7:00 and we continued our bus ride in the direction of Alexandria. We made a stop at Rosetta, the find spot of the Rosetta stone which made translating hieroglyphs possible. There was a small museum called the Rashid Museum which we thought might tell us about its ancient Egyptian history, but the museum only briefly mentioned the Rosetta stone and focused more on the colonial and Ottoman period. Nevertheless, the interior of this museum was beautiful. After our group photo was taken by the security officers, we continued our journey to Alexandria. Eventually we arrived in Alexandria at 14:30 and the first site we visited was the Serapeum. It was time for the first site presentation, which was given by Juan. The Serapeum can be dated back to Ptolemaic and Roman times and was dedicated to the god Serapis. Our last site of the day was Kom el-Shoqafa, where we visited a large catacomb dating back to the 1st century AD. A part of it was submerged and it contained an interesting mix of Egyptian and Greco-Roman art style. In the evening we arrived at the Semiramis Hotel which was the complete opposite of our previous hotel. Everything was very outdated, brown water came out of the showers and the toilets were really peculiar, but at least the view from the hotel was nice.
We spent our last day of the trip in Alexandria as well. The first site of the day was Kom el-Dikka. This is a Roman site with an amphitheater, lecture halls and bathing houses. Our next stop was the Citadel of Qaitbay; a fortress built in the 15th century which had a great view on the Alexandrian bay. Before, we had been told that the Egyptians consider us as the antiquities. At the fortress we got a real taste of that, since we were ambushed and followed multiple times by some schoolkids who wanted to take our picture. Luckily they were eventually told off by the staff, so we could truly admire the view from the fortress. Lastly we visited the Alexandrian library which contained a small antiquities museum, and we got a tour through the library. A lot of us found some nice souvenirs at the gift shop before we went back to Cairo.
It was Saqqara-day on Saturday! First we went to the complex of Djoser known mostly for its Step Pyramid. On our way to the pyramid of Unas we saw the pyramids of Dahshur in the distance, which made for an amazing view. Once at the pyramid of Unas it was Nina’s turn to give a site presentation. She told us about the texts that were found there, including the notorious Cannibal Hymn and serpent spells. When we went inside we were in awe of the beautiful texts that were written on the walls. The pyramid was made even more spectacular when they turned off the lights, due to a recent discovery about reliefs beneath the texts that can only be seen when raking light is cast upon the wall from a certain angle. After the pyramid of Unas we went to the tombs of Maya and Meryt, whose statues are part of the famous collection of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. The tomb next to it belonged to Horemheb, dating from the time before he was king. For the Dutch students it was a great experience because we had learned a lot about them during our studies in Leiden, since Leiden University was involved in their excavation. Our next stop was the tomb of Mereruka, who was a vizier during the time of Teti. His tomb was beautifully decorated with all sorts of interesting scenes. Following that we went to the Serapeum of Saqqara, where the next site presentation was given by Maarten. It was an imposing structure with large granite sarcophagi meant for the Apis bull. On the way back we saw some puppies, which also got a lot of our attention.
And so another great week ended. We look forward to next week in which we will visit Meidum and Lahun and at the end of that week we will fly to Luxor. The adventure continues!
De dagboeken van vorig jaar kun je hier teruglezen.