Mark Lehner and AERA team leaders gave donors, friends, and colleagues tours of the Giza dig site on Saturday, 14 March.
This is a treat for non-specialists, as it the dig site is closed to the public and requires security clearance to access (thanks to Dr. Zahi Hawass). The guests were shown the Late Period burials, the Western Compound, the double-walled structure called the Chute, and the excavations at Khentkawes Town.
Joining Mark were Ann Lurie, a longtime and generous supporter, Bruce Ludwig, supporter and AERA board member, AERA co-founder, Matthew McCauley and his partner Jane Rusconi, and Suzanne, Nelson, and Nelson Del Rio Jr. Mohsen Kamel and Ana Tavares gave tours to colleagues.
No matter how many times I watch and listen to this group of professionals, I’m always fascinated. I like patterns and archaeology is all about finding patterns from scattered evidence left behind in abandoned homes, buildings, hearths, workshops, and garbage dumps.
Just as an artist may see form differently than you and me in terms of light and shadow, details of a feature or a structure appear to the archaeologist’s eye in ways that we would usually miss.
I experienced this to a small degree when I was privileged to dig with this team in 2004. What at first looked like a hopeless mass of dirt, soon became differentiated into compositions of Nile silt, ash, burnt material, or even granite dust. Eventually structures and traces of walls emerge where there appeared to be nothing.
I had a feeling out at the dig site in the afternoon of flashing back to the wonderful feeling of satisfaction I used to feel at the end of the day during the month when I was digging. I’d be dirty and sweaty and tired, my back would ache and my eyes would burn from the dust and sun.
But I’d just feel so amazing, looking up at the pyramids and looking around at everyone dragging their tired bodies to the microbus for the ride back to the villa. It was nice to re-experience that.