Armchair archaeologists can witness a dig at an ancient Egyptian temple from the comfort of their home computers.
Throughout January, a Johns Hopkins team will chronicle its excavation with daily progress reports and photographs posted on the World Wide Web. The team's Web site, "Hopkins in Egypt Today," is expected to have daily updates starting about Jan. 2. The URL is www.jhu.edu/~neareast/egypttoday.html.
As she has since 1994, Betsy Bryan -- Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology and chair of the Near Eastern Studies Department at Johns Hopkins -- will lead the two-and-a-half-month excavation, assisted during January by a team of undergraduate and graduate students. While the students are there, the "Hopkins in Egypt Today" site will document the team's work in the Precinct of the Goddess Mut at Luxor, Egypt.
This is the third year daily updates will be posted online and the third year Bryan's group is exploring the area surrounding the Temple of Mut at South Karnak. Through a combination of excavation and examination of carved inscriptions and relief scenes on the temple's sandstone blocks, the group aims to determine what the temple looked like between 1500 and 1200 B.C. The Johns Hopkins team will continue to explore the temple's gateway as well as the ancient brick houses behind the temple's sacred lake, searching for clues to the daily lives of ancient Egyptians. The excavation work is a collaboration of Johns Hopkins and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Each evening, university photographer Jay VanRensselaer and Bryan will review the day's discoveries. Photos and written summaries are then e-mailed to the university's Homewood campus in Baltimore, where Macie Hall, senior information technology specialist (also VanRensselaer's wife) assembles the site, which registered more than 34,000 hits in January 2002. The Web site also includes an aerial view of the site, a reference map and background on the temple.
For now, last year's photographs and data are still available online at www.jhu.edu/~neareast/egypttoday.html.
While in Egypt, Bryan, who is also the guest curator of the traveling exhibit "The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt," and her crew can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To speak with Bryan through Dec. 24, call Amy Cowles at 410-516-7160.
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