Michaela Binder, Durham University
This year’s team – Ashild, Laurel, Milena, Mohammed Saad and myself – is finally complete and we’re ready to kick off the 2012 season of excavating in the cemeteries at Amara West. The strong winds of the last few days have made excavation a bit difficult, but on Friday conditions were perfect.
There’s no time to be wasted: despite exhausting travelling from Europe to Khartoum and then immediately onwards to Amara West, work started the day after everyone arrived and settled into the house.
The first day on site, everyone familiarised themselves with the cemetery and started documenting the surface features of individual graves. Except for Mohammed Saad, none of the other members of the cemetery team have worked in Sudan before.
Laurel is working on a small burial mound (G310), and was the first one to start ‘real’ excavation. Three workmen soon revealed a large, rectangular pit orientated east-west filled with windblown sand. After about one metre, the shaft starts cutting into the bedrock.
On the western side of the shaft, something that looked like the opening to a burial chamber soon appeared – very much to everyone’s excitement.
Unfortunately, however, the grave turned out to be empty – perhaps looted in ancient times like many of the graves at Amara West.
Well, there are plenty more to come.