Excavating is only one part of the work of an archaeological expedition. The processing, study, and conservation of the recovered materials is really the major task and to obtain even a partial understanding of what has been dug up requires as host of specialists in a variety of fields. At Hierakonpolis, excavations have been going on for many years in several different parts of this vast site and study of this material is also on-going as we excavate the temple. The international crew with us this season are involved in a variety of tasks.
|Wim Van Neer is curator at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren Belgium, where he studies the faunal remains from Africa, the Near East, and Belgium. He has been working in Egypt since 1984 on sites dating from the Palaeolithic to the Coptic period. He especially likes fish and we provided him with some big ones.|
|Veerle Linseele is a Ph.D. student in archaeozoology at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. She is here at Hierakonpolis studying the strange animals buried in the cemetery of the site's Predynastic elite (HK6)--elephant, baboons, and wild cattle (aurochs), the massive head of which she is shown holding, though what she is thinking is anyone's guess! We are also keeping her busy with the faunal remains from the temple, which in just one 5x5m square produced over 4,000 identifiable bones. This is Veerle's second season at Hierakonpolis, but she has also worked at the Predynastic site of Adaima (about 30km to the north), Turkey, and Burkina Faso. |
|Fran Cole is a freelance archaeological conservator trained in London. She has worked in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Peru, Chile, Norway, and Borneo. She especially likes medieval numismatics although she isn't finding much of that here, but she also specializes in conservation of fragile organic materials like matting, leather, and textiles. From the six years of excavations at the working-class cemetery at Hierakonpolis (HK43) we recovered many burials that were laid on reed mats of several different types. This season, Fran is conserving and studying this matting and making many interesting discoveries in the process, which she will be telling us about in a future installment.|
|Joe Majer is a seven-year veteran of Hierakonpolis. He helped to excavate the temple in 1989 and he is here again to lend a vital hand. He has on occasion been kidnapped by other projects--Roman sites in the Eastern Desert, Christian fortresses in the Sudan, and the Persian period site of Tell el Muqdam in the Delta--but we always ransom him back. He is currently on loan from Ellen, his partner, having completed (well almost) the remodelling of their bathroom. Aside from his considerable skill in surveying, mapping, and excavating, we also depend on him for his perfect popcorn--nobody does it better.
|Kathryn Piquette is currently studying for her Ph.D. in Egyptology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, focusing on the development of early writing and art and their role in the funerary context. She has worked in Jordan, Peru, and a Coptic site in Egypt but is here at Hierakonpolis helping us with the distinctive predynastic pottery from the temple. After the day's work is done she enjoys long-distance running across this site and, when she can get away with it, playing the bagpipes in the house courtyard!|
|None of this would be possible without the most important member of the team, Hagg Sidain Abdel Razzik, who has been taking care of the expedition and all of its various needs for years. He first began working with the Hierakonpolis Expedition in 1969 as a teenager, when he helped survey the site and locate all its different features. He received his archaeological training from Michael Hoffman--the expedition's director back then--and continued to be the chief workman until 1989, when he handed his trowel over to his sons and took over general site management and security. From loose screws to organizing gala luncheons for tour groups, he takes care of all of our requirements and it is not an exaggeration to say we couldn't do it without him. |
|Our two newest members of the team joined us as part of a furry present to the director for her birthday. Their current job is to sleep and eat as much as possible, but future plans include the catching of our many mice. However so far the only things they have managed to kill are several cans of tuna.|
|Renée Friedman is director of the Hierakonpolis Expedition.|
For more on Hierakonpolis and how to support, see www.hierakonpolis-online.org.