Posts Tagged ‘ceramics’

Choose the short straw…

Posted on Oct 5, 2014

By Rudeina Bayoumi, Rehab Ahmed Mohamed and Aisha Mohamed Montaser (MSA ceramic students)

Our supervisors in the ceramics team gave us some topics to read and discuss together the following day. They also assigned pages or topics for every one of us.

One day they gave us some pages with a lot of topics, and they asked us to divide it between ourselves. But we didn’t know how to do that! If we divided it by pages the topics would not be complete, and if we divided it by topic some of us would have more than 5 pages and the others less than half page. So what could we do?

The ceramics group at work in the Mit Rahina courtyard. Left to right: Rehab Mahmoud, Walid Abd el-Bary, Sherif Abdel Moneim (supervisor), Rudeina Bayoumi and Aisha Mohamed Montaser.

The ceramics group at work in the Mit Rahina courtyard. Left to right: Rehab Mahmoud, Walid Abd el-Bary, Sherif Abdel Moneim (supervisor), Rudeina Bayoumi and Aisha Mohamed Montaser.

The break time came and the answer also came with it. Guess what? It is “the short straw” game we decided to play, to divide the topics by luck. We played it and finally Rudeina was the unlucky person in our group, because she got the biggest part of these articles. Better luck next time!… READ MORE »


Volunteering Time At Giza

Posted on May 18, 2011

Posted by Steve LaPidus

I have spent the last six weeks as a volunteer on the AERA Giza Plateau Project with some of the most interesting and knowledgeable people I have ever met. I went on a site tour set up for the team early on in the schedule. We had a chance to walk through the sites, to listen to presentations and to ask questions on the project’s operations. It was easy to understand why there was a requirement by the Egyptian Government and AERA to submit your security paperwork six months in advance. It is obvious how much thought goes into the selection of the team members because there are multiple openings on the project and for each opening, there is a specific expert with just the right background and interest.

Site tour. Photo by Hilary McDonald

For the first five weeks, I shared a local apartment with a Swedish human osteologist Johnny (“Bones” for all of you who watch the TV show). He explained to me how he reviewed the excavated burials and drew the skeletons while determining the sex, age at death and whether there was any obvious disease before he had to remove the bones quickly as they easily crumbled apart if left for too long.… READ MORE »


Ancient Lives Revealed: Finding Old Kingdom Fats

Posted on Feb 9, 2011

Posted by Valerie Steele

Sampling plaster from the Hypostyle Hall

I arrived in Giza in the early hours of Monday morning on my first visit to Egypt. I never imagined I would visit the pyramids and yet here I am, not just visiting but doing a job I really enjoy right next to a pyramid (actually two)!  What am I doing here?

My work involves looking at the organic residues that have been preserved in ancient pottery. These residues are the degraded remains of plant or animal material – everything from food and drink to cosmetics, medicines, waterproofing materials, glues, dyes and, elsewhere, even Neolithic chewing gum made from birch bark.

Pottery is a great place to look for these materials because unglazed pottery is full of holes like a sponge so anything liquid inside the pot tends to soak into these pores. Once inside organic material is semi-protected from the effects of water, sunlight, bacteria, air – in fact most things that might degrade them.

Of course over long periods of time some materials do degrade or disappear. For example sugars and starches are very soluble in water and easily get washed away during burial while proteins are easily broken down by bacteria and rarely survive. … READ MORE »


Archaeology is not pretty

Posted on Mar 28, 2009

“Ceramics can tell you everything! Well, not everything but a lot.” So says AERA’s Polish ceramics team, led by Dr. Anna Wodzinska.

Old Kingdom pot from the pyramid settlement.

Old Kingdom pot from the pyramid settlement.

People often ask when you work in archaeology, “What are you discovering?” They have the romantic notions about finding tombs and treasure. 

“Archaeology is not pretty,” Anna told me. The treasure being sought today is not pretty things, but information about our past.

She told me a story from several years ago about sitting surrounded by hundreds of pottery sherds at Saqqara. A woman walked up and asked what she did on the project. 

“I study ceramics.”

“Oh, where are they?” 

We have little awareness of the things we use every day but they tell a story about us. A pen, a spoon, a screwdriver, or a Tupperware bowl all say something about how we negotiate the mundane tasks of living. Looking at ancient every day objects brings us closer to the people who used them. 

For example, Aleksandra Ksiezak and Edyta Klimeszewska related how ancient ceramics speak volumes about cultures that did not toss things away as easily as we do. 

“In the Sudan,” Edyta told me, “we find these wonderful pots that have been repaired with string.” 

Aleksandra continued, “Some have holes in them and they would not hold liquids any more but can hold dry things.READ MORE »