The American Research Center in Eygpt

Year in Review 2014

Year in Review 2014

Year in Review 2014

The conservation and archaeology team working together on a recent find in the forecourt of TT 110. Photo: ARCE

Thanks to our members, supporters, and partners, 2014 has been a very productive year for ARCE.

Archaeology students of the TT 110 Field School learning how vessels are made and why they commonly take the shapes that they do. Photo: ARCE


Creating jobs for local villagers in combination with making site improvements was an idea motivated by the devastating downturn in the Luxor economy. By providing longer-term temporary jobs and at the same time improving the site visitation experience, we responded to the needs of the local community while fulfilling our mission of preserving Egypt’s cultural heritage. Over a period of two years, 1000 men, each from different families, participated in site improvement efforts in Qurna, Mut, and Deir el-Shelwit in anticipation of returning tourism. Of these, 152 workers learned additional skills that could be used when the improvement work was completed. These skills include stone masonry, carpentry, mud brick making and reuse of materials to name a few.

Boosting the local economy even further, from October 2011 to June 2014, 86% of equipment, supplies, and transportation each quarter were sourced in the Luxor area, mostly with small and micro businesses. And nearly 50 Ministry of Antiquities inspectors took part in archaeology and photography training.


A banner year for training, ARCE field schools trained 109 conservators who worked at both TT 110 and Mut Temple, 35 inspectors in the archaeological field school, and 3 in the photography field school, two of whom were hired at the conclusion of training to join the Luxor ARCE staff.

  Before and after images from a section of wall in TT 110's Transverse Hall showing offerings to the deceased (Djehuwty). Photo: ARCE

Archaeology students recevied focused training in osteology, ceramics, and archaeology through lectures, site work, and field trips. Photographers documented field work and completed conservation and archaeology records for the data management system. The conservators completed the conservation at the Isis Temple in Deir El Shelwit and also performed two statue restorations at Mut Temple. The trainees also started the conservation work in TT 110, the tomb of Djehuty, which is badly damaged. The state of the tomb provided a good example for the trainees to learn about many conservation phases and how to treat diverse conditions.

Excavation of the forecourt at TT 110 continues. The new stairway leading to the tombs original entrance is shown in the foreground. Photo: ARCE

The current archaeological work associated with the tomb includes the expansion of the excavation of the forecourt, clearing of the burial chamber, and the documentation of objects found during the excavation of the Pillared Hall and the forecourt. The ARCE archaeologists leading the site work and documentation are AERA trained supervisors. As part of the job creation component, approximately 100 workers from the local area have been hired to carry out this important work.

Djeuty Funerary Cone. Photo: Saad Bakhit

The expanded excavation has exposed many artifacts including a burial in the ground utilizing reused coffins from the 18th Dynasty. Other artifacts include over 100 funerary cones. Some were from the tomb of Djehuty (TT 110) but many others from individuals whose tombs have yet to be discovered.

Conservation, archaeology and photography professionals and workmen working collaboratively are forming colleagial relationships that will continue to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Antiquities.


Railings, lighting, and alter complete the conservation of the Red Monastery church. Photo: M. Jones

ARCE adopted the Red Monastery Church as the venue for a major recording and documentation, conservation, architectural, and archaeological project in April 2003. At the beginning of 2014 only the final stages of architectural conservation remained to be finished. Nicholas Warner supervised the plastering of the wall built in 1912 by the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe (the Comité) that separates the open-roofed nave of the church from the enclosed sanctuary. His team also re-erected a complete granite column and capital to create symmetry with the only column still standing in its original position on the opposite side of the entrance. Inside the sanctuary, the new altar table was completed and railings installed to protect the painted walls from encroachment by visitors.

Dina Bakhoum, architectural conservator, has continued to work with the clergy and community to foster an understanding of the project results at the local level.

Elizabeth Bolman has completed the manuscript for the publication which was submitted to Yale University Press to be published jointly with ARCE as a companion volume to her Monastic Visions: Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea and William Lyster’s The Cave Church of Paul the Hermit at the Monastery of St. Paul, Egypt.

These accomplishments officially conclude the thirteen year project at the Red Monastery.


Dina Bakhoum (far left) led three tours of Historic Cairo using an Arabic handbook developed for tour guides and Antiquities Ministry conservators and inspectors. Photo: ARCE

ARCE has been working in Historic Cairo since the inception of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded conservation projects beginning in 1995 and continuing with successive rounds until this year. Projects have included the Bab Zuwaila, the Minbar in the Mosque of al-Salih al-Tal’i‘, the Zawiya of Farag Ibn al-Barquq, Sabil-Kuttab Nafisss al-Bayda, Sabil Muhammed Ali, Bait al-Razzaz and the Mosque of Aslam al-Silahdar (the last in collaboration with Aga Khan Trust for Culture).

These have been some of ARCE’s most complex undertakings involving numerous stakeholders and interest groups. ARCE had originally intended to establish a visitors center in the Zawiya of Farag Ibn al-Barquq as a starting point for self-guided tours and to place directional and information signage in the streets.

This proved overly ambitious as processes for obtaining agreements from the various separate responsible bodies proved increasingly complex. To make the sites comprehensible to guides and visitors, the scope of work was altered to create an Arabic handbook and maps for use by Egyptian tour guides and Antiquities Ministry conservators and inspectors.


Newly completed exhibition gallery cases at St. Anthony's Monastery. Photo: M. Jones

ARCE contributed to the creation of an exhibition by Father Maximous el-Antony of historic artifacts collected during the long history of the monastery. The gallery is located on the first floor of a building originally constructed as a guesthouse just inside the nineteenth century walls of the monastery. The idea for such an exhibition formed part of the original scope of work of the St. Anthony’s Monastery Project funded under USAID. Though early results of wall conservation warranted  a complete focus on the wall paintings. The exhibition gallery was put on hold until 2009.

Director Gerry Scott and Archivist Rachel Mauldin participated in the initial sorting and creation of an object database. ARCE contracted exhibition designer Michaelangelo Lupo, well known to ARCE and the monastery for his previous work, to work with Father Maximous to design and supervise the installation of the exhibition. Objects on display include icons, processional and hand crosses, chalices, patens, censors, vestments, fishing equipment, and items associated with the production and storage of food. Information panels provide context for the collection. The exhibition scenario illustrates the liturgical and daily life of the monks before the age of modernization in the mid-twentieth century, and the interconnections of the monastery with the world beyond the remoteness of the desert. The project was completed in summer 2014.


Much of the archive material can be classified as vintage in light of the enormous changes that have taken place particularly in Historic Cairo and Luxor. Photo: M. Jones

Andreas Kostopoulos has continued working on the organization and sorting of the immense archive of photographic images, maps, plans, reports and digital files that comprise the records and documentation of twenty years of ARCE’s cultural heritage preservation and conservation projects under the successive USAID grants, Egyptian Antiquities Project, Antiquities Development Project and Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project: 1994-2014.

A historic house in Quseir photographically documented in 1998 (from the archives). Photo: ARCE

This archive is of inestimable value for scholars in archaeology, art history, architecture, conservation, urban preservation and planning, tourism studies and social and political sciences. Much of the archive is in conventional formats compiled before digital media were common, while other material has either been scanned and saved digitally or, in the case of more recent projects, was submitted entirely in digital form. The aim is to create a two-phase project that will firstly complete the scanning process to transfer all files into digital formats and to find the most appropriate ways to store and access the data. The second stage will be to make the maximum amount of material available on the internet for scholars and interested publics worldwide. This is a work in progress.


Erosion (yellowish areas are a powdery surface, brighter white areas indicate flaking) inside the Kom al-Shuqafa catacombs in Alexandria due to groundwater levels. Photo: M. Jones

Having worked at other sites with similar ground water issues including Historic Cairo and the Luxor and Karnak Temple complexes, ARCE is engaged in a new short-term archaeological assessment in advance of planned groundwater lowering projects at Kom Ombo Temple near Aswan and Kom al-Shuqafa catacombs in Alexandria.

These projects are part of a continuing collaboration including USAID, the Ministry of Antiquities and the National Water Authority to lower groundwater in and around major heritage sites in Egypt. The desk based assessments and site investigation monitoring are being carried out by a four-person team supervised by archaeologist Freya Sadarangani who is an Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) instructor. Team members are senior graduates of the Archaeological Field School conducted by AERA with funding from ARCE. This project is expected to continue into mid-2015 and forms part of a larger project to design an efficient system to lower the groundwater level at both sites, mitigating the threat water poses to these cultural sites.

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