Reflecting on another crazy busy year

You know you’ve fallen behind when the January/February 2018 issue of Archaeology arrives in your mailbox and you’re still not finished with the July/August issue!

It’s the little things that have fallen through the cracks this year. Things like reading Archaeology magazine and posting on my blogs. Mostly because I’m desperately trying to complete projects at work or volunteer stuff at home so that my schedule (life) can return to some kind of normality.  Each time I actually do complete a project, something else pops up to take its place.  Even though I say no to new endeavours or delegate tasks to others, things still pop up. Just like the heads of the Hydra in Greek mythology. You chop one off and two more sprout up.

It’s been another crazy busy year. The second one in a row. And I know a third one is coming along with 2018. I thought perhaps I should reflect on what I have actually accomplished this year so I don’t feel so bad from having neglected my dear readers. (I’m sure you won’t fault me for spending what little free time I may have away from the computer, taking a dance lesson, eating out with friends, walking in parks to exercise or sleeping in).

  1. An article co-authored with a colleague from the British Museum is about to see the light of day (proofs were sent back to the publisher a couple of weeks ago). The project started back in 2008 (!) but took forever to complete because of other museum tasks that take curators away from their research–mostly exhibitions, which can be very demanding–and sometimes health issues get in the way.
  2. A second article is about to see the light of day soon–proofs should be coming to me this week. This was one of those projects that popped up out of nowhere–a conference paper given as part of a panel discussion that was selected for publication. Can’t say no to that!
  3. An online journal has seen the light of day.  When things had come to a grinding halt, I offered solutions to fix the problem–yes, creating more work for myself. However, that is part of my work ethics: if I sit on a committee it’s because I actually want to accomplish the task given the committee. Luckily, once the problems were fixed, colleagues took up the tasks assigned to them and helped make this a reality. This took up loads of my time on weekends and week nights; however, now that we have a system and the journal has its platform, volume two should be much easier to deal with.
  4. Funds were raised so that my next big project is fully funded. Quite an accomplishment, that! It’s so hard to find funding these days, but I did not give up and working with a colleague who has the same work ethics made this a reality as well.  You’ll hear a lot about this project in 2018 because it will consume my life for the next three years–but it’s very cool and should have loads of blogging opportunities. (Time permitting, of course.)
  5. No consultants were strangled and I consider this an accomplishment because a couple have actually brought my patience to its limit!  :)

I’m very happy about the publications (excited to see them in print soon!), the new online journal, and securing funds for my new project. I can’t wait for my other big volunteer project (not mentioned here) to be over soon because that will free up personal time on weekends. Just knowing that I have brought the project to a point where I am satisfied that it can continue with minimal input on my part–without falling apart–is reassuring. I have done my part; others should roll up their sleeves while I supervise from a distance.

I hope the holidays give me time to read my issues of Archaeology magazine, post a few things for you wonderful readers and will help me recharge my batteries.
I may not have Iolaus to help me, but I’ll get you, Hydra… I’ll cauterise one chopped off  head at a time. Just you wait!

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Curator’s Diary November 2017: My First Trip to Sudan

Impressions of a first trip to Sudan by friend and fellow curator, Campbell Price at the Manchester Museum. Just by reading his post, I can see the sparkle in his eye and the grin on his face… he clearly enjoyed his trip to this wonderful country!

Egypt at the Manchester Museum

Last week I returned from six days in Sudan, my first ever trip to the country. Despite many visits to neighbouring Egypt, I have always wanted to visit Sudan but not quite managed. I have been especially aware of this since my appointment in 2011 as Curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum, which holds some 2000 Sudanese antiquities. As a guest of staff at the British Embassy in Khartoum, I was very grateful for their hospitality and the logistical help afforded in seeing so much of this beautiful country over a short period. Tourism is not nearly as widespread in Sudan as it is in Egypt, which has definite advantages (and some drawbacks) for the interested visitor.

Omdurman Sufi dancing at Omdurman

A personal highlight was witnessing Sufi dancing at the mosque of Hamed al Nil, at Omdurman just outside Khartoum, at dusk after Friday prayers. Although an…

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Sold Out!

Next Friday, I’m giving a lunch and lecture at the Museum on the topic that has many times graced my blog: the science related to the research on the classical collection.  What a fun learning experience that has been! The project is not completed by any means–it will culminate in the publication of said research in the collection catalogue–but we’re wrapping up the actual study of the artefacts.

A few days ago, I was told that the event was sold out!  Now I just need to get cracking on that PowerPoint!  I dump loads of very cool photos in it, I just have to organise them into a coherent narrative. No worries, it will get done by Thursday evening!

 

Jabba the Toad

On Thursday, I was invited to give a lecture on ancient Nubia at Appalachian State University.  When I talked about life on the dig at Dangeil, I mentioned Jabba the Toad and his other amphibian friends who live in our shower room. Jabba is a really big toad, but the others are smaller and hang out by the water drain. They sit there, covered in suds, staring at us with their big googly eyes while we’re showering. Jabba turned out to be of great interest to a young, budding archaeologist who attended the lecture.

Here’s Jabba the Toad… as seen on the Dangeil Twitter feed (where I got the photo for my presentation).

The CIPEG Journal

One of the many projects that have occupied my evenings and weekends these last several months is the CIPEG Journal: Egyptian & Sudanese Collections and Museums. After a slow start last fall, the editorial committee, of which I am in charge, has been working very hard on the first issue of the journal.  My tasks were included corresponding with authors, liaising with the reviewers, reviewing articles as well as designer the journal (cover and article template), formatting the contributions and designing the website that would host our open access journal (the latter in collaboration with the Universitätsbibliothek, Heidelberg).

At the General Assembly held during the Annual Meeting, which took place in Chicago a few weeks ago, we announced the publication of the first volume of the CIPEG Journal. We launched with five articles and we have five more currently in the works that will be added as soon as they are ready. Contributions to the journal are papers that were presented at last year’s annual meeting–either on the theme of the conference or research undertaken by curators of ancient Egyptian and Sudanese collections (and other non-museum scholars who also work with these collections). I was delighted that we managed to launch in time for the meeting.

You can now understand why I have been so busy. In fact, I have been juggling between three to seven projects at a time since November… and that does not include my projects and my daily activities at work. Phew !