Follow along online as Johns Hopkins University
Egyptologist Betsy Bryan and her team of students, artists, conservators and photographers return to their investigation of Mut Temple this month, focusing their attention to the area south of the temple's Sacred Lake. Bryan and her crew are resuming their excavation in Luxor, Egypt, and are sharing their work via " Hopkins in Egypt Today
," their popular digital diary offering a virtual window into day-to-day life on an archaeological dig.
With new posts appearing daily through the end of January, visitors to "Hopkins in Egypt Today", will find photos of Bryan and her colleagues working on site in Luxor. In recent years, the ongoing excavation has focused within the temple itself and around the perimeter of the sacred lake, called the Isheru. This year, Bryan and her team return to the area behind the lake where industrial areas for baking, brewing, faience (glazed pottery) and ceramic production were discovered between 2002 and 2006. The area behind the lake contains a large, open area without standing buildings. During the 2004-05 excavation, an area was investigated at the far south of the site, where the mud brick temenos wall separated the precinct from the secular city of ancient Thebes. In 2005, Elaine Sullivan identified a 25th Dynasty storage building of mud brick in the vicinity. This year, work continues to the east of this area, beginning where a slight rise in ground level exists. Excavation squares have also been placed directly south of the industrial area excavated earlier.
The team members are field director Violaine Chauvet, who earned her doctorate in Egyptian Art and Archaeology from Johns Hopkins in 2004 and is now a lecturer in Egyptology at University of Liverpool in England; photographer Jay VanRensselaer, returning since 1994; Sanchita Balachandran, curator of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum; Johns Hopkins graduate students Chris Brinker, Maggie Bryson, Katie Cobb, Katherine Davis, Marina Escalano-Poveda, Ashley Fiutko and Meredith Fraser; Johns Hopkins undergraduate students Kelly Cummings and Michael Riecken; and Gaultier Mouron, a graduate student from Geneva, Switzerland. Several experts will join the excavation during the season.
The goal of the "Hopkins in Egypt Today" Web site is to educate visitors by showing them the elements of archaeological work in progress. The daily photos and detailed captions emphasize not only discoveries, but the teamwork among Bryan, her colleagues, students and their "gufti," the local crew members who are trained in archaeology. That teamwork is essential to a successful dig, Bryan said. The Web site typically garners more than 50,000 hits every winter, when the dig ordinarily is active.
According to Bryan, modern-day Luxor is rich in finds from ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, like the major discovery made by the Johns Hopkins team in 2006: a 3,400-year-old nearly intact statue of Queen Tiy, one of the queens of the powerful king Amenhotep III. Bryan has said that the statue is "one of the true masterpieces of Egyptian art." Bryan is the Alexander Badawy Professor in Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Johns Hopkins. Her work is funded by grants from the American Research Center in Egypt and the U.S. Agency for International Development.