Excavations require such a diversity of skills, and take so much work, that they are always group efforts. The composition of our team has shifted throughout the season, with the Sudanese magnetometry team at the beginning and a switch in our Sudanese archaeological inspector from Murtada Bushara to Mahmoud Suliman (both good friends and great archaeologists). We now have our full complement of foreign staff too.
Rob Corrie is a PhD student at Oxford specializing in analysis of satellite images, and he’s been working to see if any images might give us hints about the location of settlement features. He’s also started a topographic survey of the area.
Tim Skuldboel is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Copenhagen. He was one of my students earlier in both of our careers, and we worked together in Syria for a number of seasons. He is here to see if a system of coring might be able to help us identify the ancient settlement. Coring is basically a metal tube that you bang into the ground, and then try to pull out to see what was in that section of the site. Theoretically it can go 5 meters (16 feet) deep, but in practice most soil is too damp or compacted to allow that depth.
Finally, Jack Cheng has his PhD in Art History from Harvard, and he’s here to draw what we find. As it happens, he has a bunch of other useful skills too—photography, videography, database, and planning architecture.
This is a small team by archaeological standards, particularly when we have hired 35 local men to help dig. It’s only possible because so much of what we’re digging is entirely free of objects—pottery, bone, and other small finds. The temple is mostly full of wind-blown sand, which has very few finds, and our excavation of the “palace well” has mostly been full of modern garbage.