A Day of Archaeology in Assasif (Luxor)

Since 2007 the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor has a permanent residence in the West Bank Of Luxor. It is known as “Beyt Italy” (“Casa Italia”).

Casa Italia

Casa Italia

All our archaeological days start from there. We wake up early and after full-moon nights we have the chance to see the moon setting. Large and milky against a pale blue sky it quickly disappears after the orange profile of the “Qurna”, the peak that overlooks the West Bank of the Nile in front of Luxor.

Full moon setting behinf the Theban peak

Full moon setting behind the Theban peak

We take shays, Italian, American, Egyptian, French, Brazilian and Slovenian coffees while mumbling each other greetings in several languages because we are a drowsy international team of Egyptologists, Archaeologists, Ceramologists, Architects, Photographers, Epigraphers, Conservators and Anthropologists.

At 6.45 am the microbus hoots out of the gate and it brings the team through the dirt streets of Gabauy. I have a Dayun motorbike and I follow it. We reach the mosque and cross the bridge over the wadi. From there we pass beside the two store-rooms of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Carter’s House recently renewed and transformed in an cafeteria for tourists. Some months ago, the last time I was there, they were excavating a large pit that had to host the replica of the Tomb of Tutankhamon. I do not know if I will go to visit it next season. Maybe I will do it, out of curiosity.

We cross the intersection from where starts the road to the Valley of the Kings and we drove along the cliff where once there was the village of Dra Abu el-Naga. Today only some alabaster’s factories and the gray ruins of those that once were colorful mud-bricks houses survive.

After a bend appears the amazing view of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri under the full light of the rising sun. We once used to see the parking lot in front of it full of buses. Since 2011 most days it is sadly empty.

Our microbus then turns to the left and takes the dirt road to the Assasif esplanade. It bends in front of the house of the Metropolitan Museum. From up there some of the members of the Polish Archaeological Mission greet us weaving their hands.

Most of the workmen are already there. I call them and after all these years I still make mistakes with their names and they laugh a lot. When I end the chief of the workmen shouts “Uahadu” (“He is the unique”) and the working day begins.

Egyptian workmen excavationg in  the courtyard of the Funerary Complex of Harwa and Akhimenru

Egyptian workmen excavationg in the courtyard of the Funerary Complex of Harwa and Akhimenru

I have been working for almost twenty years in the Funerary Complex of Harwa and Akhimenru and I am still excited of what we discover day after day. A lot has been done until now still a lot to do is ahead of us.

Relief with the Tjeref-dance

Relief with scene of a dance from the decoration of the Cenotaph of Harwa

At 10 am the workmen takes the breakfast and we with them. In the second part of the working day all activities slow a little.

At 1 pm we go back to Casa Italia where we take a light meal. Someone has then a nap, some others go visiting the monuments of the Theban area.

Activities are resumed at 5 pm with the work on documentation, the updating of the online databases and the meetings to exchange information.

Dinner is between 7.30 and 8.00 pm. We are usually so tired that we go to sleep after that. Few nights we spend some little time on the roof of Casa Italia chatting and drinking under the starry sky of Gabauy before going to sleep.

The Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor in 2012

The Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor in 2012

2 thoughts on “A Day of Archaeology in Assasif (Luxor)

  1. Dodie says:

    I was in Luxor this past February. As you were describing the drive to the work site, my mind’s eye was following along, remembering the canals, the first sight of Deir alBahri, the curve of the road leading to the Valley of the Kings. Wish I was back.

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