April 4th 2012: Tine Bagh
So after a week in Gurob it is now my turn to write the diary. I arrived a week later than most of the team and we are now five from Copenhagen participating in the Gurob excavations this season including Ole, Lena, Henrik and Rachael. Rachael is actually British and Lena from Norway, but they are both from the University of Copenhagen. It has been a great week meeting up with good friends and colleagues and learning the Gurob ways. It started out with a memorable sandstorm where we all feared that our tent and gazebo would be gone the next day. Luckily they both stood the night and most of my work has been there since my task at the excavation is mainly to help Jan registering the small finds and give a hand with the masses of pottery when needed. The tent is also the base where equipment is kept and where our lunch is eaten.
After a tour of the site when we had a visit by Campbell Price from the Manchester Museum I started registering and drawing small finds from the excavations of the palace area as well as the industrial area. Many of the small finds are faience objects, from small disc beads, amulets such as Sobek and Bes and fragments of rings to various fragments of faience vessels. Some of the turquoise blue faience fragments are clearly from bowls with fine black decoration inside as was also found more complete in tombs excavated by Petrie, Engelbach and Brunton. Another vessel fragment, also of a known type, was from a fine calcite bowl with ribs that existed with and without a foot. Some of the material clearly belongs to what could be expected from a New Kingdom palace area.
The largest group of material from any excavation in a town is of course pottery. When it had been piling up with a large quantity from the industrial area in Gurob and more was coming in all the time also from the palace area I was 'back at' the pottery. My previous experience with pottery is mainly from many years in Tell el-Dab'a (ancient Avaris) where I have worked with Middle Kingdom pottery and my PhD was about the imported pottery known as Levantine Painted Ware. At Gurob the pottery is foremost from the New Kingdom and as Valentina has described in a previous diary entry she has made a database with the known types to which the new finds can be compared and referred to while new types can also be added. First of all the fragments are divided into the two main groups of Egyptian pottery, Nile silt and marl clay, and into subgroups of various imports and blue painted Egyptian pottery. The quantities of the various types are weighed to have statistical material from the different areas and periods. Diagnostic shards, i.e. fragments of rims, bases, handles are registered as they reveal the shapes of the complete vessels as opposed to body sherds of the vessels.
Finding the stray very fine quality Mycenaean fragments among the Nile silt and Marl wares reminds me very much of spotting 'my' Levantine Painted Ware among Middle Kingdom Egyptian pottery at Tell el-Dab'a. The NK pottery is generally finer and harder fired than most of the MK pottery and there are more painted versions such as the mentioned blue painted although it is still only a small part of the complete corpus.
After some days with pottery I was back at the small finds today. The most interesting was perhaps a wooden spindle whorl with a wheel shaped disc and part of the pin in the hole in the middle. Ivor opted for its identification as a wheel of a model horse, but Jan and I agreed on a spindle whorl although a model wheel cannot be complete excluded.
When I first said yes to write today's diary I thought I would also talk more about the nice day trip that part of the team made on our free Friday, yesterday. Since the diary entry is already long enough suffice it to say that we visited the temple areas of Medinet Maadi and Tebtunis in the southern Fayum area. Especially the Danish team members had been looking forward to seeing Tebtunis as we have a large papyrus collection from the temple archive at that site in Copenhagen: http://pcarlsberg.ku.dk/. In the 1930s it was bought by the Carlsberg Foundation that has also now generously supported our participation in the Gurob excavations.