First People’s Expedition in Egypt
Recently, the first scientific expedition ended in Egypt, which was carried out at the expense of public funding. Excavations near Egyptian pyramids are under the guidance of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the our Academy of Sciences since 1996. However, last fall due to problems with financing the season was under the threat of a breakdown, and archaeologists had to seek help to Internet users on the BoomStarter website. Common efforts people collected in favor of science 319,000 rubles. As a gratitude for the help of sponsors will receive memorable prizes: photos from the ancient Egypt tomb, scientific reports and books on expeditions in Giza, certificates of sponsors, commemorative T-shirts and calendars. The most generous benefactors fulfilled the dream of any ancient Egyptian: their names were written by hieroglyphs on fragments of local limestone and entered bricks into a special pyramid, which archaeologists laid out in the immediate vicinity of the legendary pyramids and sphinx. Grate Archaeologists have created a group of VKontakte: it tells about the progress of the expedition, photos, films are published, and there is an opportunity to see Egypt with the eyes of the Egyptologists.
The correspondent of "My Planet" contacted one of the participants of the expedition – a young historian and a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the our Academy of Sciences Maxim Lebedev: It was he who saved an expedition, told about it on the Internet. Today, Russia has very few of their own expeditions outside the country. In connection with understandable events, the work of our archaeologists in Iraq and Syria ceased, more and more difficulties arise when working in the CIS countries, where our and American experts replace our archaeologists. In this regard, the Institute of Oriental Studies of the our Academy of Sciences, which was able to preserve its archaeological expeditions in Yemen, Egypt and Sudan – an important exception. We talked about the profession of archaeologist, the peculiarities of life in the expedition, amazing finds and discoveries, ancient people and perspectives of crowdfunding in our science.
– What is she – the nomadic life of the archaeologist?
– Professional archaeologist Most of the year seeks to carry out in the fields. Excavations, exploration, observation or perennial academic projects – many of our colleagues have a life in constant traffic. It is not easy, but I can say for sure: in life there are not so many things that can be compared with the smell of spring fire, with evening songs under the guitar, with wind noise over a tent.
– where expeditions of our archaeologists pass abroad? Where on the planet the most interesting place for excavations?
– abroad, alas, there are not so many our expeditions. In addition to Egypt and Sudan, our specialists operate in Yemen (Socotra), Palestine (Jericho), Azerbaijan, Svalbard, Ukraine, in Abkhazia, Central Asia, Mongolia and some other countries. It seems to look good, but in fact not to compare neither Germany or France, Austria, England, Italy, USA or Poland. Very much from them in this respect. Interesting places with unique archaeological monuments on the planet a lot, and for each specialist it has its own. There are recognized archaeological meccles like Pompey, the valleys of the kings, the great Novgorod or the Mileta. For me, this is Egypt – necropolis in the lower and middle flow of the Nile, as well as the eastern desert. And for someone it is the coastal opening on Chukotka, where, for example, specialists from the museum of the art of the nations of the east are leading their excavations. In general, the most interesting monument is untouched monument.
– For many years, excavations are being carried out in Egypt, there are more Americans there. Can I still find something else? How long will the expedition continue?
– There would be no problems with financing, and we will have enough work for many years ahead! It only seems that Giza is gone to tourists along and across. In fact, very large areas still remain unexplored. I love to repeat that the archaeological discovery of ancient Egypt only begins. Count on the discovery of the new tomb, such a tomb of Tutankhamon, today is already difficult (although it is not excluded). However, now at our disposal there are such technologies that allow you to extract a qualitatively different amount of information from rackable monuments. Pollen, remnants of plants and insects, water deposits give us the opportunity to judge an ancient climate, the bones allow you not to just restore the history of human life, but also to penetrate his genome, to identify hereditary diseases and related ties, to determine the foods that he fed, and her Origin, to establish the nature of stress that has experienced its body.
Having found today a bronze arrow, we can establish the origin of the metal from which it was made, as well as the place of production. Geophysics can make plans of ancient settlements and necropolias before the start of excavations, and chemists – to identify the composition of the ancient paints and determine the place of production of used dyes. If you add to this the fact that most of the ancient Egyptian monuments are not only not investigated, but not even open, the picture with the most exciting perspective will rise before his eyes. And this is Egypt. Sudan is even more interesting. The relatively small study of Sudanese antiquities suggests that the most important discoveries in the field of African archeology of the XXI century can be made precisely there, south of Egypt.
– What are the results of expeditions in Egypt and Sudan, what’s new you learned about the life of ancient people?
– We managed to get quite a lot of new information about the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians and Sudanese, about the conditions of their life, on the production technologies, on construction techniques, the contacts of the local population with foreign countries. We had a lot of interesting things. In Egypt, these are new, previously unknown tombs with reliefs and inscriptions, and fragments of statues, including royal, and unique painting, and untouched burials, including rare burial with a severed head. In Sudan, we attacked the traces of the temple, which existed in approximately the IV century BC.NS. – IV century n.NS.
Over the past few seasons, the drums of columns with images and texts, the statues of Lviv, numerous vessels, painting, the remains of the drainage system, the powerful stone facility – possibly the floor of the temple, as well as a whole series of later burials of the VI-XII centuries. Among the graves, in particular, you can note the discovery of the last season – the burial of a woman with a perfectly preserved brain. This is a very rare case, because usually all soft tissues disappear. The body of a woman was laid in non-standard deep grave for these places (more than 1 m), the bottom of which fell into the layer of lime. Apparently, this is this circumstance and allowed the brain to preserve.
– How arranged by archaeologists in Egypt and Sudan?
– In Egypt, we live in an ordinary private house quite European look, with a kitchen and even bathroom. It is just seven minutes walk away, directly opposite the Sphinx. Better and wish can not! What is before Sudan, then there are conditions much more Spartan: we live in a real village, in two houses from an unreleased brick and manure, with a roof of palm logs and leaves. These houses are constantly gnawing the beetles-naviters, and in the rooms there are lizards who are stunned as strangely as huge cicadas. Sometimes scorpions are crap, but in general in winter there are few them, they sleep. But many flies, from which in the afternoon you can only escape under the canopy above the bed. Mosquitoes with malaria are found only by the water, we have no them in the desert. Water only from Nile. To wash it, it is necessary to pour the chlorine there in large quantities. That is, bleach, because the chlorks are not. Otherwise you can pick up a schistosome – very unpleasant parasites that settle in the blood. Restroom in the desert, but above all this night stars amazing – there have not seen such big anywhere! And all constellations are inverted over, and in the morning the southern cross is shown. In Egypt in November-December, when our season passes, it is already very comfortable in terms of temperatures, and at the end of the excavation even cool. In Sudan and in December, the heat usually, so that night is enough one sheet. Although the last season was extremely cold and windy. It happened that it was impossible to write from the cold, nor to draw: the pencil fell out of the hands. Archaeologists have such belief: I found a burial – wait for the winds. It’s like the law of meanness, because with a strong wind clears the skeleton, and then draw and photograph it – very and very hard. That’s how this year and happened.
Locals everywhere are very friendly. In Egypt, we have long known all the inhabitants of Giza. Can say even care about us. In Sudan, we are still a big attraction, especially in local boys, many of which are not learn at school, and from the small years they work with parents in the fields. But with provisions in Sudan the problem: in our village you can only buy salt and coffee. Canned, water and bread are in the next village, but because, unlike the Germans or French, we have no car, we can only reach the trucker to it.
– How was the idea of resorting to the crowdfunding and how satisfied with the result?
– The idea was born spontaneously after I accidentally entered one of the our crowdfunding sites. Such a confluence of circumstances. Just at this time, our team collided with an unexpected problem: we were announced that the Institute had money for work in Egypt. Finding in this situation a large sponsor was almost hopeless things, because the budgets of large companies by the end of the year are always painted and closed. And then this site. Considering and attaching the chances, I decided to take a chance. Although we had no experience in crowdfunding, the result exceeded our expectations. Today we are very grateful to all those who supported us in a difficult moment – friends, colleagues, completely unfamiliar before people. We were able to spend the season, and this is a great achievement. But even more important, probably awareness of the fact that crowdfunding in the field of science in our country is possible.
I do not get tired of repeating that we would not have happened if there were no people who are ready not just to observe what is happening in science, but also to invest their money for the sake of obtaining results. And one more important result of collecting funds is that academic science has made a new step towards society. During the preparation for the expedition, during the excavations and now we communicated very much with interested people, read lectures, told about our works, sent photos and small souvenirs, all sponsors received a large report on the past season to their email addresses. I think that such work on popularizing scientific research is very important. As for the future, we, of course, will have crowdfunding in mind and, if necessary, we will resort to this means and in the future. However, it is necessary to understand that any long-term scientific project requires confidence in tomorrow and a plan for several years ahead. Dig with the idea that every season can be the last, not quite efficient. We will try to find major sponsors. After all, the French are digging in Egypt with the support of the Paris Metro and Shell Petroleum Company, maybe someday will come.
There are still rumors that in Giza, under the pyramids themselves are the catacombs. Of course, ordinary tourists find out this will not succeed, but you can touch the legend, having been in the very monastery of archaeologists. You can reach them from Cairo on the metro line 2 to the station Giza Station and then 15 minutes by bus on Al-Haram Avenue. From the center of Cairo to Catacombs you can also get to a taxi.
Mikhail Kozhukhov, TV presenter