Amara West 2015: necklace lost in the garden?

Something lost enters the archaeological record unintentionally and is usually something that you would not expect to find in the context you’re digging. You often think “what is that doing here?”.
It’s a little surprise for archaeologists… this is one of those moments at Amara West. Cool pics, too.

Amara West project blog

Manuela Lehmann, archaeologist (Freie Universität Berlin)

Excavating the necklace in house D11.1
Kate Fulcher and I combined efforts to reveal a necklace found nestled next to garden plots found beneath the side room of house D11.1. This work was best in the early morning hours, before the wind gets too strong. We cleaned the necklace and re-strung beads on new thread.

Necklace, Amara West, detail
The original thread – still in place – decays before us as we excavate. Nevertheless we managed to rescue some pieces as a sample for further analyses.

Necklace, Amara West
After removing the mudbrick rubble on top of the fragile beads, careful brushing revealed more and more stringed lines of necklace – each time we thought we were done, more would emerge. Unfortunately the wind became stronger, even blowing away beads, so we covered the area and will return next week.

Alongside regular updates on the blog, follow the season on Twitter: @NealSpencer_BM and #amarawest

If you…

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Snowing Dogs and More Dogs

This is on my to-do list for this spring: go up to Michigan to see the exhibition and meet colleagues! I’m looking forward to it.

The Kelsey Blog

BY MARLENE MICHELS GOLDSMITH, Volunteer Docent, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan

"Death Dogs" poster (left) and lamppost banner outside the Kelsey Museum (right). “Death Dogs” poster (left) and lamppost banner outside the Kelsey Museum (right).

As I write this, it seems to be snowing dogs and more dogs inside and outside of the Kelsey Museum, all in preparation for our upcoming special exhibition: Death Dogs: The Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt, opening Friday, February 6.

Let me tell you why.

Our docent class was cancelled today due to a morning snowstorm, but by afternoon I managed to trek to the museum. Death Dogs banners greeted me everywhere! Up on the second floor, I found Exhibitions Coordinator Scott Meier busy mounting some electrifying background art. Even though no artifacts yet graced the space, I definitely found myself in ancient Egypt. That’s when I pulled out my camera phone.

I’m not an academic, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an…

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I’m at a lost for words…

You may have read about the reported damage to Tutankhamun’s mask earlier this week. If you haven’t, take a look here, here and here (and many other places).  There is much conflicting information out there and an investigation is underway. There may be hope here, but it seems premature to hope.  I’m at a loss for words…

Exodus: Gods and Kings

This morning as I was reading the latest post on the Egypt at Manchester blog, I came across interesting observations on Ridley Scott’s extravagant Egyptian production, Exodus: Gods and Kings. The post looks at the portrayal of ancient Egypt in this particular movie and ‘the myth of authenticity.’

Generally, I watch movies set in ancient Egypt as well as films dealing with museums or archaeology because people inevitably ask me what I think about them.  However, I could not bring myself to actually pay money to see this latest incarnation of the Moses/Exodus story. (Plus, I’m not a fan of Christian Bale to start with… anyway.) As I read Kristin’s post, I felt I hadn’t missed much… and probably avoided giving myself a concussion from banging my head on the wall in Egyptological dismay. My own observations, had I seen the movie, would undoubtedly have been similar to hers.

Exodus: Gods and Kings and the myth of authenticity was posted on David Bordwell’s website on cinema.  Read it clicking on the blue link.

Lives in Ruins

You might think I have gone off on some weird tangent about ruins with this and my last post title, but no.  Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble is the title of a book by Marilyn Johnson, in which she delves into the lives of archaeologists. I saw the book as I browsed the book stalls at the AIA meeting in NOLA, took down the title and borrowed it from the public library when I got home.

The book is fun, witty and well written.  I have been giggling or laughing out loud since I picked up the volume and started reading it yesterday. I can totally related to the archaeologists she met and worked with for her book.  I just finished reading the chapter entitled Extreme Beverages, which I knew had to be about Patrick McGovern, the beer archaeologist.  Indeed, it was about Dr. Pat and the keynote lecture he gave at the AIA annual meeting held in Philadelphia (I believe that was in 2012).

Strangely enough, that was my first AIA conference and I attended that very lecture (it’s kind of weird to have attended an event mentioned in a book… the lecture was great fun). At the reception, I tried of one of his reversed-engineered extreme beverages created by studying residue in vessels found at archaeological digs around the world. I sampled the Honduran alcoholic cocoa drink Theobroma… although, as an Egyptologist, I should have tried the Egyptian beer, Ta Henket–even if I don’t like beer. (Don’t tell Dr. Pat!)  Ever since that lecture, I have in mind to bring the beer archaeologist to Raleigh… he’s at the top of my list of must-have speakers!  If he’s giving a talk in your neighbourhood, go! You’ll have a blast. Oh! And Johnson’s book is a fun and easy read.

My career is in ruins…

Last night I got back from 4 days in New Orleans where, in addition to having delicious beignets, chicory coffee, gumbo and a gator poorboy, I attended the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Although I know nothing of archaeology in South-East Asia, I attended the keynote lecture on Angkor and the Khmer civilisation of Cambodia (Angkor Wat is on my bucket list). It was an excellent talk and I learned new things.  I also attended the reception, where I met up with friends.  Some of us crashed the U of T Classics alum party… but we knew nobody there (even though Emily and I are U of T grads).  The Egyptology programme at U of T is in the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations department and we have little to do with Classics. I never actually took a class in that department

Most of the talks I attended were about the Roman Republic or Empire and Greek ceramics. However, being in charge of the collections of the ancient Americas at the NCMA, I also sat in on a session about New World archaeology where I learned stuff about the Maya civilisation and Easter Island.  I also browsed the kiosks of the book vendors and the AIA souvenir counter, where I saw hilarious magnets, some of which I bought for my fridge magnet collection.

There were the cute ones…






and the ‘must-have’ one for the female archaeologists who happen to like 80s music…






However, my absolute favourite was this one:






It made me laugh out loud. Obviously…






Very humorous, indeed!!!!!

Tomb of an unknown queen

Yesterday’s archaeological discovery of the day was the tomb of an unknown queen–a woman named Khentkawes III–at Abusir in Egypt. The lady may have been the wife of King Neferefre of the Fifth Dynasty.  You can read more about it in the Washington Post or Art Daily (the articles have different photos).