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Final days at Abydos

26 June 2008 by Sam

woman examining lots of pieces of ancient pottery on a table

Carolyn’s ancient Egyptian ‘jigsaw puzzle’

Antiquities curator Carolyn Routledge has been busy as her excavation project at Abydos, Egypt draws to a close. Here’s her latest report:


“Today we are packing up at Abydos. It is something of a bitter-sweet time here. Up until now we have been working frantically to finish all our work on time. Now the pace has slowed while we wait for the Egyptian inspectors to seal the magazines in which we store the archaeological finds. This means we can relax a bit after all the hard work, which is really enjoyable. What is a bit sad is that for most of us we don’t know when, or maybe even if, we will return to Abydos.

Over the past week I have been working with the pottery from the tomb of Senwosret III. By studying the pottery we can separate any ceramics that date to the burial of the pharaoh from the material that dates to when the tomb was robbed. This task is quite difficult. The best way I can explain it is to say that it is similar to having put all your jigsaw puzzle pieces into one box because each of your many puzzles was missing some pieces. Many years later you decide to sort them out and put them together again to see what is missing. For the pottery we sort the pieces just as you would sort the puzzle pieces - by size, colour, type - and then try to fit the similar pieces together. I am happy to say we had some success. It is a good day when you get two pieces to join together!

After today our work will be done because everything is locked away. This will give us some free time to explore the area and then to pack our personal belongings for the 8-10 hour train trip to Cairo. I think I might go visit the Seti Temple again. It is only a 15 minute walk away from our house. This temple has its roof and the coloured scenes painted on the walls are still bright. This is extremely rare for an ancient Egyptian temple that is about 3,300 years old. It is well worth a final visit!”

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