by Dan Jones
Depending on the location of the site the amount of physical and visual contact an archaeologist has with everyday life going on around where they work greatly varies. This season the AERA team is continuing its excavation of the Silo Building Complex (SBC) located just a stone’s throw away from the Great Sphinx and Valley Temple of Khafre.
The Giza Plateau with its awe inspiring monuments has countless visitors on a daily basis however, it is only a few intrepid wanderers on foot that are aware of the AERA excavation when it is stumbled upon accidentally. This mainly has to do with the fact that neither the excavators nor the archaeology can be seen by visitors. The discovery of the Silo Building Complex only came about after an extensive amount of sand around 8 metres thick was removed. By carefully managing this sand we have not only made the excavation of the SBC possible but we are easily able to use it to cover and protect the archaeology when our work is finished. Whilst excavating the SBC this surrounding sand mountain gives the impression that you are working in a bowl detached from the outside world. Most of the time our awareness of the outside world comes in the form of sound carried across the plateau by visitors. Visually our contact with visitors comes from people stumbling upon our work as already mentioned but also from those who take a horse or camel ride around the plateau as the track taken by the rider’s borders the SBC. It is from these riders sometimes along with their guide that we have verbal contact. Screams, laughs, and shouts mixed with a lot of dubious language from people getting used to their trusty steed or camel are mostly what we hear and cause us to look up from our work just in case one comes hurtling down into our bowl. However, when we are noticed, riders and guides sometime address us directly by wishing us good morning/afternoon, saying ‘good work’, hello, or asking if they can help us, to which we always respond in kind. A lot of the time though we are talked about in the third person. Riders ask their guides if we speak English. Our nationality has been described as German and that we are looking for another Pyramid. We have also heard that we are working in the valley of the golden mummies. It is these latter comments that although on one level make us chuckle inside is making us think about ways in which we can provide information to passing visitors about who we are and what we are doing.