Week 8: 25-28 February 2018
After everyone had calmed down from GARDEN by socialising with the other speakers, getting an early night, going to the opera, or in a last ditch effort, working on their papers, the semester started drawing to a close. On Monday the group collected at the Egyptian museum, where everybody presented their paper topics, ranging from beautifully inlaid coffins and golden belts to wooden stools and confusing Isis reliefs. Having all worked so hard on our papers, it was nice to be able to share our findings and frustrations.
All stories end, and ours did on de 27th, when we all gathered at the bus in the morning for the last time. At 6:15 in the morning, I might add. Our last excursion was a trip to the temple of Heliopolis, a site which has infamously not been as lucky as others have been, and unfortunately is almost entirely buried under either buildings or 13 meters of trash. I don’t know which is worse, but it makes for an interesting work environment. Dr. Dietrich Raue enthusiastically guided us through back alleys, around flocks of sheep, and over hills of refuse and somehow was able to evoke an image of what it would have been like to walk around the temple precinct before time and human effort took its toll. It was incredible how much work is still to be done, and under which conditions, but on seeing the incredible results we could not help but understand why the teams that work here come back every year.
Having gone home and gotten rid of the last remnants of Heliopolis that had clung to our shoes, we all assembled in the evening for a goodbye party on the roof of the NVIC. It was the perfect setting in which to present Marleen with a token of our gratitude for making possible these two amazing months: a full size copy of the Narmer palette. The evening was filled with great food, lovely recounting of memories, singing, and other merrymaking. Everyone realised just how much they would miss their time here.
Thus the last week of the semester has arrived, and all too quickly, disappeared. In the days after the party a few of us went back to Saqqara, others visited the Cairo citadel, everyone did their last shopping for gifts and memories, and we all spent as much time together as we could, wishing we did not have to leave. As I type this, I still haven’t quite realised and accepted that it is over. Egypt, Marleen, fellow students, you have been amazing, and I can’t wait to see you all again. Insha’allah, it will be soon.