Ancient Egypt Research Associates

Posted by Nahlaa Refaat Mahmoud, MRFS Student, SCA inspector

The ARCE/AERA Field School in Mit Rahina 2011 is training the next generation of archaeologists. I’ve heard, met and known many of their graduates and they encouraged me to apply. In the interview, which was held on July 15, 2011, there were many applicants. I was very nervous. But lucky me, I was one of whom they chose to get the opportunity to reach my highest potentials that I didn’t know I had or may needed to be discovered.

The teachers are challenging all the students with the evaluation system. They provide a unique program in learning that depends on the actual practice and on what we learn in lectures. These lectures help us through our work and they are about pottery, osteology, matrix, animal bone, conservation, etc. The evaluation system consists of different methods such as weekly presentations, reports, and daily evaluations.

Working side by side with the supervisors. Photo by Mark Lehner

At the archaeological site in Mit Rahina we are working under supervision. In this field school, the students are divided into teams and each team is supervised to ensure the team’s progress. My supervisor explains things in detail on site and we have many hours to practice. We work side by side, and we learn by seeing how the supervisors deal with the archaeology. Working with your hands makes you feel and see the archaeology clearly.

Explaining on site makes it easier to understand. Photo by Mark Lehner.

A Day In The Field School
In the first day, our supervisor told us that we can count the age of the archaeologists by the hours he/she worked in such excavations. I agree with him as we learned many things we didn’t know about before. Our workday begins at 6 am and ends at 8 pm, and from the beginning to the end there is an ongoing learning process. The first three days were so hard – the sun was burning our hands, the work was very tiring and we needed to concentrate hard in the heat to make drawings and take photos.

Learning about animal bone. Photo by Mark Lehner.

I was surprised about the field-school; the work, the lectures, even the accommodation. Although the accommodation is near the archaeological site, we have buses to make sure we arrive in the field to start right on time. An overview of the accommodation – we can see the places have wide areas and they are comfortable, clean and neat. Keeping our personal hygiene isn’t a problem especially when we apply the simple rules of cleaning and there is a system that is followed by everyone and it is successful. But there are a lot of mosquitoes. We are away from our families but this makes it is easier to concentrate on the work. There is so much to do that I don’t even miss the television.

In this field school, you can get the chance to work on many skills. I am learning how to be an archaeologist not to be only an inspector.