Report from the field: week 1 in Abydos

I have been working for the last 2 weeks in Egypt as the field conservator for the Penn excavations in South Abydos (led by Dr. Josef Wegner). I am here primarily to work on the painted decoration in the burial chamber of King Senebkay. It has been a fantastic experience so far, but our remote location, busy work schedule, and intermittent wifi connection has made it challenging to provide real-time updates. There has been so much going on, so instead of writing one long post, I’m going to break it up a bit and start out by posting some photos from my first week in the field. I’ll follow up with more pictures and information soon, but for the moment, enjoy the photos!

Sunrise on site

Sunrise on site

First tea of the morning (quickly followed by more and more tea)

First tea of the morning (quickly followed by more and more tea)

View of the site, with King Senebkay's burial chamber in the foreground

View of the site, with King Senebkay’s burial chamber in the foreground covered with a temporary shelter

Egyptian conservation inspector working in King Senebkay's burial chamber

Egyptian conservation inspector working in King Senebkay’s burial chamber

My conservation supplies for the day

Some of my conservation supplies for the day

Site bathroom (brought out just for me, the only woman out there at the moment)

Site bathroom (so fancy! brought out just for me, the only woman working on site)

Dr. Kevin Cahail standing inside a recently-excavated building

Dr. Kevin Cahail standing inside a recently-excavated building

A view from inside the dighouse

A view from inside the dighouse

Kevin working in the pottery yard

Kevin working in the pottery yard at the dighouse

More soon, I promise.

  • David Schwartz

    Beautiful photographs, Molly… Have you had the opportunity to meet with your Egyptian conservation colleagues from the Supreme Council of Antiquities? Any surprises or unexpected findings regarding the condition of the wall mural in the tomb of King Senebkay? Best regards!

    • mgleeson

      Thanks Dave! My contact with conservation colleagues was limited to the Conservation Inspector who was assigned to work with me on site, and then when I was in Cairo, I unexpectedly had the opportunity to visit the conservation lab at the Cairo Museum! That was a real treat to see what they’re working on – and it was basically exactly the types of projects I work on in the Artifact Lab. As far as the condition of the paintings in King Senebkay’s tomb, I didn’t really encounter any surprises, but I was well-prepped by the Wegners prior to my arrival in Abydos. One of my favorite aspects of the burial chamber is that the blocks that were decorated for King Senebkay were reused, and much of the previous decoration is visible and has been able to be interpreted by Joe and his team. I’ll post photos of this in my next post! Thanks for reading and writing in!