We want to take this opportunity to express our feelings about joining the great and well-organized field school held by AERA, the Ministry of Antiquities and the University of York. We were grateful for the support we received from USAID in Egypt. We were trained by Egyptian and foreign archaeologists as well as specialists in heritage site management.
Who are we?
We are a group of young archaeologists working at the Ministry of Antiquities who share an interest in site management. This is a new and important subject for us, particularly considering that here in Egypt we have seven sites listed by UNESCO.
Members of the Memphis Project AERA, USAID in Egypt and University of York teams.
As archaeologists, we thought that Memphis was just another archaeological site, but we were not aware of its importance for wider Egyptian heritage. The field school has shown us just how significant this site is and why it required protection and management. Its enormous temples and other monuments make it no less important than the famous temples of Karnak and Luxor.
Our group (a small cohort working alongside a series of other groups enrolled in the field school) focused on accomplishing two main tasks:
Managing the Ptah Temple West Gate:
When we arrived here we firstly cleaned the gate of vegetation and waste so that its standing remains became visible. After that, we tried to make it accessible for you (the visitor), and to make it possible to discover the interesting stories and narratives which surround this once impressive monument.
Managing the Mit Rahina Museum:
The Museum at Mit Rahina had wonderful objects and monuments on display, yet did not have clear information or a visitor route. Working within the scope and abilities of our project, we created themes for the different sections of the museum in order to highlight different objects and engage visitors. Many creative and innovate ideas were suggested, allowing us to show the importance of Memphis as a whole and not only its famous objects, such as the Colossus of Ramesses II.
Conducting this work was, at times, challenging. Our student Reham Zaki explained that: “We all have different backgrounds and experiences, but the most important and hardest thing in team work is the discussions we make before reaching the best and most suitable point of view”.
As part of our learning, we visited 4 sites and experienced them as a visitor would, in order to see which practices were being followed and how we could use them to benefit our site. We visited the sites of Karanis, Historic Cairo, the Imhotep Museum and the New Kingdom tombs at Saqqara.
Site visit to Karanis.
Dina Bakhoum gives a lecture to Field School 1 students, October 2015.
Site visit to the Imhotep Museum.
Ultimately, we learned how to manage and develop a site from A to Z, using hot interpretation to make interesting, exciting and attractive panels. We also had to take into consideration the need to include visitor facilities at the site and developed plans for the inclusion of basic elements, such as rest areas and rubbish bins.
Field school student Dalia Mamdouh believes that “Applying site management will make a big difference to the visitor experience. This visitor will share their successful experience at the site which will help us attract the maximum numbers of visitors”.
Field School 1 students take part in site training.
We really enjoyed and benefitted from our time working on the project. We appreciate every single second spent in this amazing working environment with the most worthy of company. We thought up, discussed and implemented our plans, and are now waiting for you to experience the results of all our hard work. Let us know what you think!