Friday, November 15, 2013

Amarna, Autumn News for 2013 by Barry Kemp and Anna Stevens

"The continuing uncertainty about security in Middle Egypt has meant a modification to the autumn plans for working at Amarna. At the end of September, the police advised that they wished us to postpone opening the expedition house.

The plan for the second stage of the project to enter the information recorded on the object records cards from the current excavations (that extend back to 1979) into a database was, nevertheless, carried through, but based instead in the Amarna Project office in Cairo instead of at Amarna. A team of volunteers (Melanie Pitkin, Reinert Skumsnes, Conni Lord, Megan Paqua, Rebecca Bradshaw) spent much of October doing this and, by the end, had completed the work. The database now contains over 36,000 entries, which will now be copy-edited in preparation for launching the database online as an open access research tool for scholars interested in the material culture of New Kingdom Egypt.

The digitization of the huge number of object records is part of a scheme that is gathering momentum to convert the bulk of the expedition's records into digital files and to tie this to a scheme of ordering the most important information about the site into an Amarna Digital Atlas. The first element has, of course, a security aspect. Any archive that is composed of paper and film is vulnerable. Digitization enables multiple copies to be made. It is a large project but one that has been made feasible by a generous donation, specifically for this purpose, by Peter Borromeo.

The second element, the Amarna Digital Atlas, was conceived some years ago and is described on the project's web site:

Much work was done at the time in creating outline digital versions of key maps and plans. The project has now been given fresh impetus as a result of collaboration with the Egyptian section of the Berlin Museum, as announced in the project's newsletter, Horizon, issue no. 11 (Summer 2012), page 10.

The other piece of work planned for the autumn was to continue the recording of fragments of statues and carved blocks recovered from the re-clearance of the Great Aten Temple and stored in the site magazine. This has now been postponed until early 2014. The time has been spent instead on the preparation (with the assistance of Miriam Bertram) of a longer report on the temple intended for the project's web site and on further preparation of the North Palace report.

More recently, the police have relaxed their cautious policy on the use of the expedition house. A two-day visit to the house has proved possible, enabling a meeting with some of the local inspectors to discuss plans for next year. February should see a resumption at the Great Aten Temple. In addition to taking forward the cleaning and planning of the foundations, it is important to begin the consolidation of the mud-brick pylon, the base of which is now exposed to the elements. For this, new mud bricks, made to the original large size using a compression technique, will need to be produced. The best time for buying the main ingredient, enriched soil from the fields, is now when many of the fields lie empty ahead of the sowing of new crops, due to begin very soon. Four trailer loads have now been ordered for delivery to the temple site to await the opening of a new brick-making yard in the new year.

Thanks to the generosity of many people, including those who attended lectures given in Orange County, California and those who make donations through the Amarna Research Foundation, we have gathered some of the money we need for next year. But we still need more before our target is reached.
Please, if you can, donate to the project via the Amarna Trust section of the BigGive site:

Many of you will receive copies of the Amarna Trust's free newsletter, Horizon. Issue number 13 was mailed early in September. It is also available as a pdf on both our web sites:

Barry Kemp/Anna Stevens 11 November 2013.