The dig will be chronicled online starting this week.
Johns Hopkins University archaeologists, a photographer and an information technology specialist will once again work together to bring the university's 10th annual Egyptian dig to the World Wide Web with "Hopkins in Egypt Today," located online at www.jhu.edu/~neareast/egypttoday.html.
The daily progress reports and photographs chronicling the excavation at the Precinct of the Goddess Mut in Luxor, Egypt, are expected to be posted online beginning this week, and will continue for the rest of the month. A short video about creating the site is available online at www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/audio-video/egypt.html.
As she has since 1994, Betsy Bryan — Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology and chair of the Near Eastern Studies Department at Johns Hopkins — will lead the two and one-half month excavation, assisted during January by a team of three undergraduates and 10 graduate students. The excavation is supervised by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, led by its secretary general, Zahi Hawass. The "Hopkins in Egypt Today" site will document the team's work.
The Web site is truly a team effort. Each evening, after a full day of fieldwork and after shooting dozens of digital photos, university photographer Jay VanRensselaer and Bryan will review the day's discoveries. VanRensselaer and Bryan choose about 10 to15 images. Bryan composes captions and summaries which are then e-mailed with the photos to the university's Homewood campus in Baltimore, where Macie Hall, senior information technology specialist (also VanRensselaer's wife) assembles the site. "Hopkins in Egypt Today" registered more than 55,000 hits in January 2003. The Web site also includes an aerial view of the site, a reference map and background on the temple.
Two undergraduates who participated in last year's dig are returning to Luxor with the group this year. They said the "Hopkins in Egypt Today" Web site kept them connected to their friends and family back home while educating armchair archaeologists from around the world.
"It was really cool to realize that while I was over there doing everything that people back here could see what was going on," said senior Maria Malbroux, 21, a biology major from West Lake, La. "It gives you a picture commentary of what goes on every day. Even if you were in high school, it would be a great teaching tool for a class just to say these are actual people who are actually digging up these sites that we're learning about right now."
Kathelene Knight, 20, said the Web site provided some peace-of-mind to her family back home in Fairfax, Va. "My father is a little overprotective and was extremely concerned about his little girl going away to Egypt, especially with the global situation. So Jay made sure to put up a bunch of pictures of me in the very beginning." Knight, a junior majoring in anthropology and Near Eastern Studies, is participating this year with the financial assistance of a Provost's Undergraduate Research Award, one of the university's grants of up to $3,000 awarded to encourage undergraduates to engage in research activity. Bryan is Knight's faculty sponsor for her project, "The Investigation of New Kingdom Occupation at the Temple of Mut in Luxor, Egypt." The third undergraduate participant is Katherine Rydstrom, 21, of Hollis, N.H. She is a junior majoring in natural sciences with a concentration in behavioral biology.
This is the fourth year daily updates will be posted online and the fourth year Bryan's group is exploring the area surrounding the Temple of Mut at South Karnak. Through a combination of excavation and examination of carved inscriptions and relief scenes on the temple's sandstone blocks, the group aims to determine what the temple looked like between 1500 and 1200 B.C. The Johns Hopkins team will continue to explore the temple's gateway as well as the ancient brick houses behind the temple's sacred lake, searching for clues to the daily lives of ancient Egyptians. The excavation work is a collaboration of Johns Hopkins and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Photographs and data from the 2001, 2002 and 2003 excavations are still available online. While in Egypt, Bryan, who is also the guest curator of the traveling exhibit The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt, and her crew can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information, call Amy Cowles at 443-287-9960.
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