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Elaine Sullivan is one of Dr. Bryan’s Ph.D. students. She has excavated at sites in various parts of the world, including Italy and Syria, and is returning for her 4th season here at the Mut Temple. Elaine is working on her dissertation project this year, continuing work she began last season. Her project will attempt to uncover the remains of the ancient city of Thebes, located outside of the temple’s New Kingdom enclosure wall. Behind this wall, uncovered by the Hopkins teams in 2003 & 2004, likely remains the New Kingdom, Third Intermediate Period, and Late Period houses and workshops associated with the Mut Temple. Elaine will be in Luxor working on the material she unearths through this spring, supported by an American Research Center in Egypt fellowship.

South of the Sacred Lake

Elaine is working south of the temple’s Sacred Lake, expanding excavation units laid out last season. The grass behind the temple grows rapidly, so the first day of excavations was spent clearing the area around the trenches.

Removing a layer of soil

Here, Elaine’s work team, led by her “Gufti” Shergawi, removes one stratigraphic layer of soil, in an attempt to locate the extension of a wall (under Shergawi’s feet) uncovered last year. Elaine discovered a series of mudbrick walls, and is now attempting to expose more of the building to ascertain both its date and its function.

Discussing mud bricks

Elaine and Shergawi are discussing the mud bricks appearing on the surface of her trench. Mud bricks often are difficult to see, and excavating them can be tricky. They use a number of ways to see them better, including scraping the top layer of the bricks, as well as waiting for the sun to dry the bricks and make them appear lighter than the soil around them (which is what they are doing here – notice the dark soil splotches contrasted with the lighter colored brick on the bottom of the picture.

Taking pictures

After each layer of soil is removed, photos are taken to record each phase of the process. Here, Elaine’s workmen hold up sheets to block the sun and put her entire excavation unit in shade for a better picture.

Labeling ceramics

The ceramics from each layer are labeled to reflect how deep and in what location of the trench they originated. This allows archaeologists to associate the type and date of the ceramics with individual areas of a structure. Elaine is hoping to use this data to reconstruct the types of activities that took place in the buildings behind the Mut Temple.

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