Wednesday, December 31, 2008


May these sunset images from Luxor find you bidding a "fond" farewell to 2008 and anticipating a hopeful, peaceful, healthy and prosperous 2009!

Signs of the Times 1

Seen on my walk to Karnak Temple on Sunday!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ho Hum!

A little sensory overload? Late afternoon in the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple. But what great seating!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Holiday Wish for You...


Just a quick note about the genuine day-to-day friendliness of the Egyptians I encounter. No matter how often during the course of a day I run into someone I am always acknowledged with a smile, a wave of the hand and an "Ahlan!" or "Marhab!" I could be recording the temperature and humidity at the weather station near the front gate or passing through the library or getting something from the fridge. It's almost a game to see which of us can get the greeting out first! This hospitality/neighborliness is one of the qualities I value most highly about the people I've met here in Egypt.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I have to be thankful for...

...on this Thanksgiving Day (and every day)!

A beautiful place to live...

...and work...

...with an 84-year history of important contributions...

...outstanding colleagues and friends...

...including some very young ones...

...surrounded by amazing monuments...

...and astonishing vistas...

...and nature that just won't quit...

...and that's just in Egypt!!

I hope you all feel as blessed as I do--today and every day...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tony Hillerman, Novelist, Dies at 83

Please excuse this detour from things Egyptian, but I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of my all-time-favorite mystery writers. Whenever I would visit New Mexico I would re-read Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and at least one of Tony's mysteries (my favorites are Dance Hall of the Dead, The Thief of Time and Skinwalker). It's hard to believe that we will no longer meet up with Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee...

My last trip to New Mexico coincided with the opportunity to hear Tony speak and to chat briefly with him at Left Coast Crime, which was held in Alburquerque in 1999. He will be sorely missed!

Halloween Tradition Continues at Chicago House

We celebrated Halloween on October 30 this year--so "been there, done that" well before you've put your costumes on. CH hosts a major party for all the missions and any of our friends who are in town. Dr. Ray considerately scheduled the party for last night so that our guests would have all day Friday to recuperate (Fridays are the weekly holiday for everyone except us--we take Sundays)! Most of the preparations, decorating and the "pumpkin" carving (no pumpkins here, only squash) took place yesterday afternoon:

I'm not even going to try to identify all the pictures taken at the party:

And here's our youngest guest, Gioia:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Your Mark...Get Set...GO!

I hit the ground running for my fifth season at Chicago House. Sam from American Express delivered me safely at about 3:40 a.m. on Sunday, October 19 (this middle-of-the-night arrival is the only downside of the direct flight from Paris to Luxor). Luckily, Sunday is our day off (unlike all the other missions that follow the Arabic custom of Friday holidays--we work Fridays so that the library can be open for our fellow egyptologists and Egyptian grad students)! But I was still up for traditional Sunday-morning pancakes! Sunday was also the day when I learned that the Mudhir wanted the library open for business on Wednesday!! But I'm nothing if not flexible and up for a challenge...

Here's a picture of the library before the grand opening:

This is the original library built in 1931 as part of the transfer of Chicago House from the West Bank (behind the Colossi of Memnon) to the East Bank (fronting on the Nile).

And the view from one of the windows in my new office:

Familiar sounds make me feel at home quickly. The first was early on Sunday morning when the call to prayer wafts from the nearby mosque. The second was the whoosh of the burner on one of the hot air balloons which frequently make their way across the Nile from their launch area on the West Bank:

This one seemed to be sinking quickly towards an unplanned landing!

I've already had visitors from Woodland! These are new friends (thanks to Gerry Flory) Kusum and Narayan Rau. They consulted with me about their trip to Egypt back in September and were excited to see Chicago House and the library firsthand. They are bringing lots of literature with them to share with mutual friends back home.

Wow! I'm exhausted just reading about all that's happened in just over a week....And there's more to come--reports on the betrothal ceremony I attended last night and the upcoming CH Halloween party. But enough for this post...

"Ahlan wa sahlan" from Luxor, Egypt!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

King Tut Tomb Fetuses May Reveal Pharaoh's Mother

Two mummified fetuses found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun will undergo DNA testing to determine their relation to the famous pharaoh, Egyptian officials announced today.

Rest in peace, Seti

A programme is in place to protect the sacred site of Abydos, as Nevine El-Aref finds out.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sailing into eternity...

Visitors to the Giza Plateau will be able to view Khufu's second solar boat through a tiny camera 4,500 years after it was buried to ferry the king to eternity. Nevine El-Aref takes a look.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Let's all have tickets to the universal museum

"It's pointless trying to work out who owns ancient art objects. We need to share them around the world."

An article by Ben Macintyre on TimesOnline.

Multinational Team Creates the First 3-D Model of Egypt's Oldest Pyramid

The first "Virtual Step Pyramid" is to be used by architects, restorers, and archaeologists as part of efforts to save and restore the Step Pyramid in the face of threats from centuries of erosion and the fragility of the stone and clay body of the pyramid, exposed after the protective outer casing was removed by stone robbers in ancient times.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Archaeologists Find Silos And Administration Center From Early Egyptian City

ScienceDaily (2008-07-02) -- An expedition at Tell Edfu in southern Egypt has unearthed a large administration building and silos that provide fresh clues about the emergence of urban life. The discovery provides new information about a little understood aspect of ancient Egypt -- the development of cities in a culture that is largely famous for its monumental architecture.

The staff of Chicago House had the opportunity to visit Tell Edfu last season. Nadine Moeller provided an interesting and hospitable tour of the site. Unfortunately, all my photos were on the laptop that crashed at the end of the season. I'm still trying to recover them!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Those Crazy Ancient Near East Guys!

However you say it–Poisson d'Avril or April Fools Day–the folks at Eisenbrauns did themselves proud this year! Check it out at:

New and Notworthy from Eisenbrauns

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Tale of Two Stations

In preparation for the story of my weekend visit to Abydos earlier this month, I thought it might be fun to show readers the two train stations I experienced: Luxor and El-Balyana.

Here's Luxor:

And here's El-Balyana:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Scenes from a Winter Garden...

It's hard to believe it's still technically winter here in Luxor. We've already reached highs in the 90s, although it's cooled back down to the 80s with comfortably cool nights (good sleeping weather). Here are some views of our thriving "winter" garden at Chicago House.

(left: A charming mix of cosmos and nasturtiums)

(right: Bombax ceiba - Silk Cotton Tree)

(left: Hollyhock)

(right: Lantana camara)

(below: Thunbergia grandiflora - Sky Vine)