Ancient Egyptians

A day of Egyptian temple reconstruction……

I want to outline a little backstory before I get to my day. For the past five months I’ve been working on the reconstruction of the 2000 year old temple unearthed in el-Hibeh, Egypt as part of my Master’s of Digital Media research project. Only the lower third of the temple was relatively intact, so a large portion of the reconstruction has involved extrapolating from research into Egyptian architecture (with helpful guidance from my supervisors; Michael Carter, and Jean Li). There was a German expedition led by Hermann Ranke in 1914 that photographed and documented what remained of the temple at the time. This information has been the foundation for my work (in addition to books by Arnold, Wilkinson, et al).

A recent photo of the temple site at el-Hibeh

Initial construction of the temple.

Now back to my day….which began earlier….at 6:00am. When I rolled out of bed I went straight to my computer to check my e-mail. I was excited to find updates from the entire team in my inbox (I’ve been fortunate to have assembled a small group of highly talented CG artists to help me in the final push). I was happy to find the latest models from Sean Zhang. He has been working on building the digital avatars for the temple’s priests.

My initial sketch, and Sean’s blocking of the avatar.

Joe Chao, had sent me a finished model of the sanctuary’s barque.

And Carlos Santos sent me progression of the surrounding environment, including the mud brick wall that encircled the temple.

After finishing the e-mails and rushing to leave the house, I was off to Ryerson University where I’ve been doing a large portion of the digital work. I spent the majority of the day bringing the main temple into the Unreal Engine. A large portion of the time involved a lot of double checking naming structures in Autodesk’s Maya, and problem solving (I’m relatively new to Unreal….so there’s a bit of a learning curve).

I noticed issues with the floor blocks (which I’ve been toiling over). I think this is caused by the way the game engine handles occlusion, which is making the floor look like a quilt. Hopefully, I don’t have to fully rethink my approach. Regardless of the small setback it’s still a milestone for me, as it signifies the beginning of the final stage….VR testingJ

 

For more information please check out the official Hibeh Project site at: http://www.hibeh.org

 

And for updates on the reconstruction process, check out my para-data blog at: https://elhibeh.blog

Analysing and Digging Amarna

A day late – but I was under particular time consraint both today and yesterday. My university requires every current PhD student to submit a “substantial piece of written work” by the end of today, and I can now say – it’s done! I submitted a chapter on the spatial analysis of artefacts relating to high-status industries found within the Main City North, a suburb of the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna. Using the awesome open source GIS package Quantum GIS have been able to establish where in this suburb industrial activity took place, where new, unknown working areas may be located, and, to a certain extent, how raw materials as well as finished goods have been distributed. My research aims and objectives can be found on my website.

The distribution of metal artefacts in the Main City North

The site, which is located in Middle Egypt, is currently being excavated by Barry Kemp and the Amarna Trust, this has been the case since the 1970s, but it has been subject to excavations since the 1890s, when Petrie undertook work at Amarna.   I was extremely lucky to participate in the Spring 2012 excavation season at Amarna. A preliminary report, written by Barry Kemp can be found here, and I have also published my own photos on Picasa.

The house of Pawah at Amarna

The famous bust of Nefertiti was discovered on December 6th 1911 by Ludwig Borchardt and his team within the house of the sculptor Thutmose (within the Main City North) and was subsequently brought to Berlin, which is why the 100th anniversary of its discovery will be marked with an exhibition on Amarna, which I am looking forward to visit.

Networking and more networking

Clay Cobra figurine originally from Amarna Egypt, now in the British Museum

I find that much of my time is spent writing emails, networking, and well, more emails. Today, I have had to write emails regarding an upcoming trip to Egypt to do GPR work with a colleague in glaciology. The emails had already gone out, but the relevant person is on holiday, so now have to be resent. Aaargh.  I’ve also had to write to a potter with whom I will be working. She is going to make replicas of the cobra figurines I am working on (let’s see if I can figure out how to attach an image– this one from a poster I made. I can’t figure out how to place it, so it’s somewhere below). She is going to make 40 of them and then colleagues from engineering will perform fracture experiments. These figurines have been said to have been ‘ritually’ broken. We’ll see if we can tell! Anyway, tight communication is required to make sure we are on the same page!

One of my students also dropped by to get advice from me. This is why I use my office to do admin and teaching related activities — research I save for when I am home, away from the inevitable interruptions and knocks on the door from people saying ‘can I see you for a minute?’.

I’ve also had the opportunity to ‘hang-out’ with three other archaeologists using Google-hangout. This was after taking a break to go to a retirement party for some colleagues. Toasting with wine is also part of the job *grins*. Anyway, it’s a great tool to see what other people are up to, share ideas, debate, etc. Ironically, I ended up chatting to someone who is also in the same town I am in, and I know his partner very well. Small world indeed!

Right back to the tedious grant proposal…