Neal Spencer, British Museum
Amidst the chaos, heat and dust of our building work at the dig house, we finally managed a short visit to the archaeological site of Amara West itself earlier this week, to see whether much change is evident from the end of our excavation season in late February.
During the season our daily commute consists of a 10-minute journey downstream in a small launch with outboard motor – the return journey takes 20 minutes as the boat contends with the Nile current.
The boat is usually laden with workmen, equipment and of course ancient pottery and artefacts being brought back to the expedition house for study and storage.
The site is much as we left it in February, though windblown sand has started to cover up the buildings we excavated.
Amara West is buffeted by strong northerly winds most of the year, sometimes so strong we have to stop work for the day. This wind, and the sand it brings, is largely responsible for the good preservation of the New Kingdom houses and other buildings.
We also know the sand was a problem in ancient times, as the inhabitants took measures to keep it out of houses as the outside ground level rose.
We’re now at an advanced stage of planning next season’s excavation priorities for the town – to continue in the group of mid-sized houses near the governor’s residence, and to start work in the smaller houses at the southern end of the town.
Excavations will begin in eight weeks time.