Lunch With Andrew, Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum

Written June 21, 2008, on train from Manchester, England, to Holyhead, Wales, for ferry to Dublin, Ireland

After a good veg breakfast the next morning, I took two buses to Salisbury, then continued on to Oxford. I walked from the train station to the Ashmolean Museum, where I met Andrew Hodges for a pleasant lunch. We hadn’t seen each other for six or seven years since he stopped at Mills College as part of his lecture tour for his book on Alan Turing.

The Ashmolean has a wonderful collection of 25th dynasty materials, which I photographed along with a few contemporary Assyrian items.

On Andrew’s advice, I took a walk through town to see the old campus halls, the church, and other beautiful buildings. Then, back to the station and on to Manchester.

Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and Back to London

Written on June 13, 2008, at Eat and Two Veg Restaurant, London, United Kingdom

This morning, I had to go to Cambridge and Sarah was off to Kent, so we said our goodbyes. I caught the train to Cambridge and met a nice woman named Emily Esche on the way. She is studying archaeology and is particularly interested in studying human remains. So, we could talk shop. She later sent me an email with great advice for sites around Stonehenge.

When I got off the train at Cambridge, I was stunned by the number of bikes parked outside the station (the pic shows less than a quarter of the bikes).

Bike Parking, Train Station, Cambridge, England Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

I walked to the Fitzwilliam Museum and, since the museum’s 25th dynasty expert is on leaving writing her thesis, I met with a fellow named Anders Bell, who showed me an Assyrian artifact from the museum’s store (i.e. storage area) then directed me to the ancient Sudan gallery and three ancient Egyptian galleries, excellent for research purposes.

Assyrian Artifact, Contemporary With 25th Dynasty Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Nubian Fertility Figurine, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Englad Nubian Bust of Female, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Faience Beads With Cartouches of Rulers, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Faience Beads With Cartouches of Rulers, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Pottery Vessels, Sanam, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England
Alabaster Vessels, Sanam, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Faience Amulets in the Form of Wedjat Eyes, a Hand, a Sistrum, Hathor and Bes Figures, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Glass, Faience, and Paste Necklaces, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England
Mirror, Copper Alloy, Sanam, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Faience and Steatite Necklaces With Traditional Egyptian Amulets, Sanam, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Pottery Vessel and Scarabs, Sanam, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Scarabs, Sanam, 25th Dynasty Sudan, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Copper Alloy Figure of Metal Worker and Wood Cubit Rod, Late Period From 746-336 BCE, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Wood Ptah-Sokar-Osiris Box Containing Papyrus Scroll, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Wood Ptah-Sokar-Osiris Box Containing Papyrus Scroll, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Wood Ptah-Sokar-Osiris Box Containing Papyrus Scroll, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Wood Ptah-Sokar-Osiris Box Containing Papyrus Scroll, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Fish on a Sledge, Probably Part of Coffin for Mummified Fish, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Faience Figure of Shu, God of Sunlight and Air, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Painted Wood Stela of Woman Offering to Re-Harakhty, Sun God of the Underworld, 22nd Dynasty Egypt, at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Amun Figure, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Rams Head Fitting, Probably Amun, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Prow for a Sacred Boat, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Ithyphallic Amun Min Figure, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Bes FIgure, God Who Protected Pregnant Women and Children, Painted Plaster and Wood,  New Kingdom Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Tawaret Figure, Goddess Protecting Women During Childbirth, Diorite, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Neith Statue, Goddess of Sais Associated With Warfare, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Kneeling Priest Figure, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Sekhmet Figure, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Kneeling Man Figure Holding Osiris Shrine, Serpentine, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Osiris Figure, God of Underworld, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Figure of Woman and Bes, God Protecting Pregnant Women and Children, Copper Alloy,  Late Period, 746-525 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Uraeus Cobra, Painted Wood Attachments, Late Period, 746-332 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Ear Stela, Limestone, Probably Dynasty 18 Temple of Hatshepsut, Found at Montuhotep Temple, Deir el Bahri, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Phallic Fertility Figures, Wood, New Kingdom, 1550-1070 BCE, Montuhotep Temple, Deir el Bahri, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Fertility Figures, Clay, New Kingdom, 1550-1070 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Statue of Priest Holding Large Sistrum in Form of Hathor, Granite, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Mendes, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Statue of Priest Holding Large Sistrum in Form of Hathor, Granite, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Mendes, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Statue of Priest Holding Large Sistrum in Form of Hathor, Granite, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Mendes, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Statue of Priest Holding Large Sistrum in Form of Hathor, Granite, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Mendes, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Statue of Priest Holding Large Sistrum in Form of Hathor, Granite, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Mendes, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Statue of Priest Holding Large Sistrum in Form of Hathor, Granite, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Mendes, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Relief of Amenirdas, Sister of Shabaka, or Shepenwepet, Divine Consort Making Offering, Sandstone, 25th Dynasty, 715-700 BCE, Amenirdas Chapel, Medinat Habu, Egypt, at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Amenirdas Cartouche, Faience, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Amun Relief, Originally Inlaid, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Saqqara, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Vessel With Marsh Scene and Nubian Identified by Short Wig, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Nubian Woman, Limestone Sculpture, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Figurine of Woman Holding Statue of Young Horus, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Figurine of Naked Woman With Crown, Probably of Fertility Priestess, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Shabti of Taharqa, Calcite, 25th Dynasty, 690-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Funerary Cone for Taharqa, Clay, 25th Dynasty, 690-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Figurine Probably of Taharqa, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty, Probably 690-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Figurine of Taharqa, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty, 690-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Detail of Figurine of Taharqa, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty, 690-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Archaized Relief of Sem Priest Looking After the Deceased, Limestone, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Archaized Portrait of Ruler, Basalt Statue, 25th or 26th Dynasty, 746-525 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Archaized Painted Head, Limestone, Late Period, 746-525 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Archaized Relief, Limestone, Late Period, 746-525 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Ring With Cartouche of Smendes, Copper Alloy, 21st Dynasty, 1070-1044 BCE, Egypt, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Statuette Inscribed With Name of Sheshonq V, Glassy Frit, 774-736 BCE, Saqqara, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Statuette of Boy Prince or Harpocrates, Limestone, Second Century BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Bes As Fountain, Marble, About 117-250 CE, Rome, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Ape Clinging to Cartouche Dish, Faience, Late Period, 746-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Color Palette Inscribed With Name of Ihy, Overseer of Recruits for the Palace, Slate, 5th Dynasty, 2504-2347 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Figure of Man, Limestone, About 3500-3000 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Bes Furniture Fittings, of Ebony, Wood and Ivory, New Kingdom, 1550-1070 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Locust Figure, Copper Alloy, Late Period, 746-332 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Magic Knives to Offer Protection, Ivory, 13th Dynasty, 1794-1648 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Cobra Wand Found With Magical Texts and Implements in Tomb 5 Under the Ramesseum, Copper Alloy, Middle Kingdom, 2119-1794 BCE, Thebes, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Ibis Wand, Wood, New Kingdom, 1550-1070 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Staff Terminals Decorated With Bull and Lotus Motif, Staffs Missing, Copper Alloy, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Figure of Isis and Horus Dedicated to Hatiufankh on the Base, Copper Alloy, About 200-100 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Horus Standing on Oryx, Dedicated by a Priest of Amun, About 200-100 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Horus Standing on Oryx, Dedicated by a Priest of Amun, Copper Alloy, About 200-100 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Ring Inscribed With Name of Wearer and Figures of Gods Including Amun, Gold, New Kingdom to Late Period, 1550-336 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Figure of Anubis as Jackal, Painted Wood, Third Intermediate Period, 1070-714 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Neo-Assyrian Cylinder Seals, About 950-600 BCE, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Neo-Assyrian Cylinder Seals, About 950-600 BCE, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Neo-Assyrian Stamp Seals, About 950-600 BCE, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Neo-Assyrian Stamp Seals, About 950-600 BCE, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England Nubian Fertility Figurine With Short Wig, Copper Alloy, 25th Dynasty, 746-664 BCE, Egypt, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Cemetery Objects, Napatan Period, 700-300 BCE, Sanam Abu Dom, in Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

The next blog entry has a special feature on Pakepu’s coffins. He was a Water carrier who lived in Western Thebes around 700-650 BCE.

I managed to finish my work at the museum in 2½ hours. On the way back to the train station, I took a few pictures of the Scott Polar Research Institute and the wonderful statue of a nude young man outside it.

Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England Statue of Nude Young Man, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England Detail of Statue of Nude Young Man, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England

I also walked a bit further down the street and visited the cathedral on the way to the train station.

Old-Style Building, Cambridge, England Cathedral, Cambridge, England Cathedral, Cambridge, England

Cathedral, Cambridge, England Interior of Cathedral, Cambridge, England

Then I hopped back on the train to London to check into the overpriced European Hotel near Kings Cross, into that small basement-level room with a loud bathroom fan and a musty odor with little room for anything else but the bed and the lamp next to it, all for the bargain rate of £45 (~US$90) per night. That’s actually a good deal in central London.

I massaged my body with a hot shower, then headed out to find free wifi, so I could search for vegetarian restaurants and queer bars. The Cafe Sosso closed just as I arrived, so instead I went to the (Quaker) Friends House cafe, which had also closed, but they let me site there in the courtyard and browse with my laptop. I found this excellent veg restaurant called Eat and Two Veg where I just finished an excellent meal of veg sausage on mashed potatoes with fresh-squeezed juice and a fruit cobbler topped with butterscotch ice cream for dessert.

London Is Expensive! British Museum and Egypt Exploration Society

Written on June 13, 2008, at Eat and Two Veg Restaurant, London, United Kingdom

I reluctantly left Sacrilege in San Francisco and boarded the plane to London via Washington, DC, on June 9, leaving late in the evening and arriving late the following evening.

Sarah, my friend from Zimbabwe, is working in London and kindly prevailed on her housemates to permit me to crash at their place for a couple of nights. One of her housemates, Caroline, is a schoolteacher and I didn’t meet the other housemate, who is apparently from Malaysia and was traveling in Amsterdam.

Sarah lives in a greenish northern suburb of London which is at least a half hour on the metro, or “tube? as they call it here, from central London. The tube ride costs £2 (~US$4) if you pay in cash, or only 90 pence if you use the Oyster card, a kind of metro debit card.

On my first excursion into town, I went to the Petrie Museum for Egyptian Archaeology. I arrived at 11:00 and left around 16:00 after examing ten artifacts up close and personal and many more exhibited in the public collection.

Next, I searched around for a hotel where I could spend Friday and Saturday night. The cheapest room I could find in the Kings Cross area with a bathroom “en suite?, i.e. in the room, not shared, was £45 (~US$90)! The place is called the European Hotel and the expensive room was in the basement, small, and perhaps a bit moldy.

I made it back to Sarah and Caroline’s place before either of them got back home, so I waited on the stoop until Caroline got home before Sarah did.

That evening, Sarah and I ate pizza with Caroline, then Sarah invited me to meet some childhood friends with whom she is still close. They even live in the same neighborhood in London. We went first to a typical English pub where I tried a draft ½ pint of ale. Everyone else drank at least twice as much as I. We met Antony at the pub, then went on to his cute little house and sat in the back garden with Antony’s brother Bobby, who I had met in Zimbabwe on an outing with Sarah to majestic Matopas, along with a girlfriend of theirs also named Sarah, who lived for awhile in Australia.

Antony is a great conversationalist, his banter littered with curses and his stories and political arguments quite entertaining. We drank and drank and drank, then Sarah and I walked home, so waking for our work the next day wouldn’t be too painful.

Next day, we walked again to the tube and she went to work, I to the British Museum. I got some good pictures of 25th dynasty Egyptian artifacts in Gallery 4.

Limestone Stela of Prince Meryre, Athribis, 25th Dynasty, British Museum, London, England Red Breccia Figure of Tawaret or Tuaret, Late Period, Egyptian Gallery 4, British Museum, London, England Shabaka or Shabako Stone, 25th Dynasty, Memphis, in British Museum, London, England

Kneeling Statue of Montuemhat, 25th or 26th Dynasty, Thebes, in British Museum, London, England Basin of Montuemhat, 25th or 26th Dynasty, Possibly Thebes, British Museum, London, England Granite Statue of Amun as Ram With Taharqa, 25th Dynasty, Kawa, in British Museum, London, England

I’ll go back there tomorrow (Saturday) to do more. I had an 11:00 meeting scheduled with Chris Naunton, Deputy Director of the Egypt Exploration Society. Their office is located on Doughty Mews, a cute little cobblestoned street with comfy old brick buildings. The library there had lots of resources to help me with my research, but best of all was the chance to chat with Chris, who has been researching 25th dynasty non-royal officials for at least eight years. Although he was delayed by an emergency meeting due to leadership change within the organization, and although he was obviously dealing with considerable stress over it, he made time to hang out and chat with me and provided a bunch of helpful materials.

I was scheduled to meet Sarah at 18:15 at Charing Cross station, so I managed to go to the Kings Cross station to purchase my round-trip train ticket to Cambridge for the following day, Friday.

I took the tube to Charing Cross to meet Sarah. While I waited, I ate a veggie pasty from a place in the station. Then, I took Sarah out to dinner at an Italian restaurant near the station.

After that, she invited me to a South African bar, where her friend Jeremy had invited a group of Zimbabwean and other friends since he was passing through town on this travels with his girlfriend and hadn’t sen many of his friends, now in London, for some years. It was all about drinking a lot of beer or cider, but surprisingly, people chatted a lot as well. We also tried Amarula Cream, a liqueur from a South African fruit that tasted like Bailey’s. Then Sarah and I left – I was really tired. I nodded off a bit on the tube and struggled to walk the rest of the way back to her place.

Radio Silence

I apologize for the “radio silence? since Khartoum, but I haven’t seen an Internet cafe since I left there headed north along the Nile for Egypt. I’m hale and hearty, except for a small cough probably due to all the dust in Sudan. All is well with my adventures. Since Khartoum, I took a bus past Shendi to explore the old Meroë pyramid cemeteries and ancient city by camel! near Barijawaya. On the next bus, I accepted an invitation from a fellow passenger to visit his home village near where Sudan’s President Bashir’s home is located. Escaping there from a near Islamic conversion experience, my friend drove me to a half-dozen hotels in Atbara – all of them full that evening. So, he put me up with his uncle in nearby Ed Damer and we visited more of his family the next day. The bus from Atbara went on a ferry across the Nile and through irrigated fields and the Bayuda Desert. I arrived in Merowe (not the same as Meroë) and explored the Nuri cemetery pyramids, including that of the great Kushite Pharaoh Taharqa and his great-grandson Aspelta. The next day, I crossed the Nile again by ferry to Karima where I stayed at a beautiful and expensive Nubian Guest House. Walking from the hotel that evening, I visited the Temple of Amun and the Temple of Mut at Jebel Barkal, the sacred mountain, which I climbed to see the scenery and the sunset. Near Jebel Barkal at El Kurru, the tombs of Tanwetamun and his mother Qalhata were very impressive and, although not much remains of Piankhy’s tomb, I enjoyed being there among the 25th dynasty characters for my novel. Next came a crazy ride on the back of a bokasi truck during haboob-like dusty desert winds of at least 60 mph. Near Dongola on the banks of the Nile, I saw the ancient city of Kawa. A donkey cart ride brought me to the large mud Deffufa structure and its surrounding ancient village at Kerma. With a stop at the village of Wawa for a walk over to the Nile and a passenger ferry to the temple at Soleb, I spent the night for free in a traditional Nubian home, then by bokasi the next morning to Abri and right onto a bus to Wadi Halfa in time to buy a ticket for the ferry to Aswan, Egypt, which leaves only once a week on Wednesdays. After a 16-hour ferry ride past Abu Simbel, I’m in Aswan, Egypt, with what appears to be a hi-bandwidth Internet location. :-)

In other good news, I finished the first full draft of the first part of my novel, although I have to fill in a couple of items after further research and writing. I hope you are all well. I’d love to read news from you by email. If it takes me some time to reply, don’t worry – I’m catching up with thousands of emails from when I had no Internet access.