Ancient Egypt Research Associates

…dumpy level, total station, single context record, temporary benchmark…

by Rahel Glanzmann (AFT /AUC trainee)

A few weeks ago, these words had no practical meaning for me.

I have a deep passion for the Ancient Egyptian culture and I try to absorb anything that concerns the subject of Egyptology while studying at my home base University in Basel, Switzerland. A program such as the one offered by the AERA field school had for long time been an aspiration in order to get closer to the REAL, i.e. to gain fieldwork experience right there where theory meets real practice. For me, this is a dream-come-true experience. But more than that, just a few days here and I was captured by the feel for the professional engagement that I want to devote to any of the tasks offered for training.


Mohammed, A. and Mohammed, A. and me cleaning the surface on our first day. Photo by F. Sadarangani

Time is flying: our class is already two weeks into the field school program.

The days are very structured. We usually get up very early in the morning to have breakfast and to gather all excavation tools. We leave at 6.45 am for the excavation site and back to the Villa for lunch. At 5 pm the lectures start on archaeological topics, or the student will do presentations on the progress made in the fieldwork.


Students participate in lecture. Photo by M. Yasser

It is amazing how fast one gets used to the daily routine here at the field school.

Last Tuesday was quite different than other days. While excavating in the field early in the morning, a pleasant wind was blowing. We enjoyed our second breakfast as the wind became stronger and even stronger. We were exposing and cleaning the features but they were re-covered with sand very shortly again. And all our recording forms and notebooks were fluttering in the wind and we needed to fix everything by using some stones. The wind and gusts intensified importantly the visibility was restricted due to the blown up sand. Consequently, Freya (our supervisor) decided to quit the excavation for the day. We hurried to gather all our tools and paperwork. And we trudged through the wind, covering our faces with scarfs to protect ourselves from the dust and sand whirling about, and we tried to reach our magazine as quick as possible to depose all our findings. We all returned to the villa safely.


Sandstorm on site. Photo by V. Pabeschitz

I know that I can already say: this experience with AERA will be memorable and it is the best possible place to have made my very first practical excavation experience.

I get an amazing personal gain too. I come to appreciate a throughout different study environment atmosphere where I can learn from professionals and scholars. We are very few non-Egyptians enrolled in this year’s program. Studying side-by-side with local Egyptian students is a great experience. We are very concentrated at work but we also laugh a lot and have fun together. During the lecture or discussions I can even catch the meaning of some few archaeological Arabic words. Everyone is very kind and helpful where ever the gap is observed.