Nurul and I go way back, we went to school together and like to go on adventures, so when I mentioned that the excavation I work on in Egypt was looking for volunteers, she signed up immediately (after a brief interlude when she wanted to buy a house instead, but then she bought the house AND went to Egypt).
Nurul, hello and welcome to my blog. Tell me, how are you enjoying your time in Egypt, now that we’re at the halfway point of the field season?
Hey Liesel! I am really enjoying everything – Egypt is interesting, so rich in history and treasures. I love the egyptian humour and there is so much to see. I am enjoying learning all about archaeology, it’s not just digging in a ditch, there is so much more going on.
What has been the best part so far?
Drinking Chai Masr (Egyptian Tea) in a pit with the Qufti foreman Abdul Hamid and his workers. I was also given cold guava juice! Apparently if they give you tea they like working with you. Yay!
Obviously going to all the cool sites with the antiquities card is awesome. So far, the Serapeum which is on the outskirts of Saqqara was amazing! I also enjoyed going inside the Pyramids.
What is the coolest thing you’ve seen?
The coolest thing I have seen is an amulet made of faience depicting the god Bes. I also enjoy seeing the oven in your unit actually. It felt like I was visiting someone’s kitchen!
What is the weirdest thing you’ve seen?
A police guard scratching his chin with the barrell of his gun.
What has been the worst part?
The aroma of a decomposing donkey, horse, chicken, dog etc. The Tell is a rubbish dumping site.
What’s the best thing you’ve found?
A piece of porphyry stone about the size of a small egg. My supervisor James said it is usually used for statues. I was really excited about it, but apparently it’s not a big deal.
What’s the most boring thing you’ve found?
Pottery sherds. There were so many that it did not become as exciting when it was found.
What’s the best thing you’ve bought?
A blank Papyrus sheet for me to draw on.
Name one “I didn’t know that was an Australian thing” moment.
I said, “I reckon” in agreement to something that someone said, and they laughed at me.
What’s the coolest thing you managed to get a photo of?
You standing next to Berenice making the exact same face. So funny! It’s a mosaic, found at Tell Timai at the Alexandria museum, of Berenice, wearing a boat on her head. She has these crazy googly eyes and is pretty ugly to be honest.
How many new penpals would you estimate you’ve made?
Hopefully I keep in contact with the whole crew. Everyone is lovely, and the best part is that we get each other’s humour. We also have some pretty tough people here who get shit done. We all seem to be so fond of each other and care about each other.
3 Hot Tips for anyone considering going on a field school who hasn’t been before.
- Bring gloves or really good quality sports tape to prevent trowel blisters.
- A thermal flask that keeps your cool drinks cold for a long time.
- Bring plenty of insect repellent to apply all the time.
3 Hot Tips for anyone considering going to Egypt who hasn’t been before.
- Learn to be ok to say no to people who push to sell you souvenirs. My method is shaking my head and literally run away from them.
- Consider a few weeks stay rather than days. There is so much to see! Take advantage of any excursion!
- Bring hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes. If you have no water, wet wipe bath is the alternative.
1 – 10, how likely are you to quit your job as a teacher to become an archaeologist?
7 – It is so much fun!
Thanks Nurul! Keep up the good work, everyone is so impressed with how you’re doing, and I am basking in your reflected glory for being the one who brought you. Yay me!