Friday, November 26, 2010

News: Jill Kamil talks to director Ray Johnson about the work in progress at Epigraphic Survey at Chicago House in Luxor

Never bettered, never better
Al-Ahram Weekly
25 November - 1 December 2010, Issue No. 1024

As the Epigraphic Survey at Chicago House in Luxor enters its 87th six-month season in Luxor, Jill Kamil talks to director Ray Johnson about the work in progress.
"Preserving Egypt's ancient records for present and future generations is what we strive to do," says Ray Johnson, director of Chicago House, the iconic home of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute archaeological team in Luxor. Johnson says that the documentation techniques pioneered by founder James Henry Breasted, while now augmented with new digital tools, have never been surpassed. "When a photograph or a scan is not clear enough, or the wall surface is terribly damaged, we use non-invasive photographic and digital images as the basis for precise line drawings that continue to set the standard for epigraphic recording everywhere," he says. "This technique has become known simply as the Chicago House method, and it still sets the disciplined and meticulous course of the work of our documentation teams...
Clockwise: Medinet Habu blockyard moving, coordinated by conservator Lotfi Hassan; conservator Hiroko Kariya preparing display group; Khonsu Temple epigraphic team Brett McClain, Jen Kimpton, and Keli Alberts puzzle over an inscribed block; open-air museum at Luxor Temple

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The OI's Edfu Project

The Tell Edfu Project
 The remains of what once had been the provincial capital of the 2nd Upper Egyptian nome can be found at Tell Edfu, which is one of the best well-preserved ancient towns in Egypt. The continuous occupation over several millennia led to the constant build up of settlement layers which created an artificial mound or a tell of considerable height. Tell Edfu is one of the rare examples where almost three thousand years of ancient Egyptian history are still preserved in the stratigraphy of a single site and therefore provides an enormous potential for increasing our understanding of ancient urbanism in Egypt, a topic that is still poorly understood since it relies almost entirely on archaeological data. There are only very few ancient Egyptian settlement sites currently accessible and even fewer have been excavated and published. The past excavation seasons (2005-2010) at Tell Edfu have focused along the eastern part of the tell which yielded evidence for the early administrative center of the town. So far we excavated a small part of this area and the first results already proved to be spectacular such as the large grain silos that are so far unique in the archaeological record in Egypt. For the first time it has been possible to discover archaeological settlement remains that complement the abundant textual sources dealing with the complex system of administration. Not surprisingly it seems that texts and archaeology do not always tell the same story! At Tell Edfu we have the chance to gather completely new archaeological data for the study of an important urban center in southern Egypt and its development during the whole pharaonic period. Urbanism and settlement studies dealing with ancient Egypt are very rare and this stands in sharp contrast to other regions in the Near East where the exploration of tell sites is a common phenomenon. Thus, the Tell Edfu Project has a significant impact on our knowledge of Egyptian urbanism in general.
For more information see:

Tell Edfu Project

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Epigraphic Survey 2009-2010 Field Season

The Epigraphic Survey 2009-2010 Field Season
The Luxor Temple blockyard conservation program coordinated by Hiroko Kariya assisted by Tina Di Cerbo and Nan Ray continued with final preparations for the Luxor Temple blockyard open-air museum. This three-year project, supported by the World Monuments Fund (a Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage grant) was completed and opened to the public on March 29, 2010 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by SCA Luxor director Mansour Boraik and about 100 friends and colleagues. More than sixty-two fragment groups have now been reassembled chronologically for public display with educational signage in English and Arabic. Sandstone pavement, protective fencing, and lighting for nighttime viewing are now in place to the east of the Luxor Temple sanctuary along platforms that support reassembled fragment groups from the Middle Kingdom through the Ptolemaic, Roman, Christian, and Islamic periods. Other platforms display material recovered during the USAID-supported dewatering trenching to the east of Luxor Temple by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), a conservation section, and a rotating exhibit section that now features "Egyptian Creatures" in art and inscriptions. An online catalogue of the museum displays is being prepared that will eventually be accessible from this Web site...
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