April 11 2012: Rosa Spencer and Mark Manuel
Today it's our turn, Rosa and Mark, to write the diary. For the last two weeks, we have been working on the southern looted tombs, sifting through the spoil left behind by the looters in order to recover human remains and any other associated funerary artefacts that they left behind. In this case, it was plenty of the former, but not so much of the latter. Although within two hours of starting work we had recovered a painted shroud complete with hieroglyphs - not bad for the first day! (More on that later, post SCA report).
There were two main looted tombs, but the remnants of the looting had been spread over a much wider area, and every time we looked in a new area we found more human remains. Despite this, we painstakingly sieved our way through all of the spoil and recovered both intact and fragmented bones, including two complete skulls and several leg bones. However, we always seemed to be finding the left leg bones, which could lead to some interesting reconstructions.
Part of the fun of working with the human remains was trying to explain to the workmen, as well as our Egyptian colleagues, where each bone we found was situated in the body. This lead to some interesting and often funny poses, with various bones held against our bodies! As well as the painted shroud mentioned earlier, we recovered several large fragments of a wooden coffin, one piece with a beautiful red, white and blue plaster coating on its surface. Soon we had found several more pieces of this plaster (we now have several hundred fragments) and Tine has been having a fun time trying to piece them together like a giant jigsaw! We also found a beautiful carved blue-glazed steatite scarab beetle with inscription and also several tiny faience beads amongst the spoil which was quite exciting as they're very small - a bit like finding a needle in a haystack! We?re still not sure of the inscription but it looks like Ramesses (again?).
From our preliminary analysis, we seem to have at least six adults, four juveniles, and one infant. So, quite a large group of people! They all appear to have been healthy individuals with little evidence of disease or malnutrition. However, a much more detailed analysis of them may reveal more hidden secrets about their life.
All in all, we've had a fabulous time at Gurob, and in Egypt as a whole.