Sunday, November 16, 2014

Welcoming Visitors- TARA, MEHEN and Plymouth Egyptology Society

At Silsila, we are always so pleased when tourists’ boats moor up next to our Dahabeya and disembark with their guides to explore our fascinating site. There is so much to see on the West Bank including the Speos of Horemheb, Stele of Rameses III and Shoshenk, petroglyphs of bushy tailed giraffes and ostriches and lots of graffiti dating from the Predynastic through to the Modern day. All this is before you see the magnificent Roman quarries and the mini temples of Merenptah and Ramesses II just beyond them.   

This season, we have been delighted to welcome a great variety of special guests including David Coulson chair of The African Rock Art Association (TARA), and other members of the group. Naturally, they were particularly keen to view some of the rock art sites that Maria has been documenting and so I stayed on the boat with baby Freja to hone some of my babysitting skills while John and Maria brought the group to view some of the choicest Epi-Palaeolithic sites that we have at Silsila. TARA has been documenting the rock art of Africa for over 20 years and so they have brought us a great deal of interesting insights to understanding the different patterns and rock art styles that we are seeing at Silsila, including geometric patterns, bovids and humans.

Next, we were joined by the Plymouth Egyptology Society who was being guided by our good friend Lucia Gahlin, Chair of the Petrie Museum Friends. They arrived in the late afternoon at Silsila, so we had only a little time to show them what our site has to offer. The various graffiti and petroglyphs can be best seen at different times of the day, so with the increasing shadows, a new range of images are revealed. We enjoyed particularly spending time viewing the Roman quarries, and admired the East Bank that glowed orange with the setting sun.

We were thrilled to be able to welcome back MEHEN under the expert tutelage of Jan Koek and Huibert who had been touring the wadis of the West Bank of Luxor in search of graffiti. MEHEN spent an hour (!) enjoying the Speos of Horemheb before joining us for lunch. We then spent a happy couple of hours talking to the group about each of the special interests that we have on the West Bank site for this season (1) Rock Art Documentation (Maria) (2) Quarrying, Road Access and Transportation (John) and (3) Recording and planning the huts of Pottery Hill and its Surfaces Finds (Sarah). We then took the motor boat in order to visit the small temples of Merenptah and Ramesses II as we were a little short on time as there was so much to see and talk about.      

At Silsila, we are always very keen to welcome any interested visitors who wish to tour the West Bank with us. We plan soon to be able to receive a group of Egyptian tour guides to talk to them about the site, which is not generally very well known. We are currently designing a multilingual guidebook in order to increase understanding about Silsila and highlight the spots of interest, but also to indicate which areas should be avoided, both for safety and conservation reasons as much of the rock art in particular is under threat from trampling and wind erosion. If you or your group would be interested in visiting us while we are working, please do get in touch!

Sarah
Twitter: @sherd_nerd  

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