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12/31/12: Friends and colleagues

One of the things I like the most about Sudan is the community of Sudanese and foreign archaeologists working here. They are excellent in the field, nice and collaborative colleagues, and it seems like most of them are in Khartoum right now.

Today I visited the Sudanese department of antiquities, called NCAM, to discuss my plans for the season with some of my Sudanese colleagues. Everyone was busy with all the field projects starting, but I drank tea and talked with the new Director-General, Dr. Abdelrahman Ali, the Director of Excavations El-Hassan Ahmed, and Dr. Salah el Din Mohammed, the Director of an exciting new archaeological collaboration between Qatar and Sudan called the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project. They are great to work with.

I needed to get travel permits, which were relatively easy, and a license to excavate at the site (called a concession). That was more complicated, but finally worked out toward the end of the day, just before New Year’s festivities began.

Another great part of the archaeological community in Sudan is the Acropole Hotel in Khartoum, run by three Greek brothers—George, Makis, and Thanasis Pagoulatos. There is, surprisingly, a sizable Greek population in Khartoum. But the Acropole is great because of the Pagoulatos family, who are just extraordinarily efficient and welcoming. The hotel is a refuge, whether you’re arriving on a flight that arrives in the middle of the night, or returning from a hot and dusty trip somewhere outside Khartoum.

I’m not sure how they divide up the work, but George seems to be the one who fixes any problems that arise for guests. It’s partly because he’s so good at it, and has so many connections, that most archaeologists maintain connection with the hotel. So we all meet at the Acropole.