The most important part of a relationship between archaeological sites and modern communities is the people who embody it. The archaeological area of Abydos is a vast site complex covering around 7 square kilometers. In its scale and complexity one can think of it as something akin to the expansive, multi-component sites of the Mayan and classical worlds. Like most archaeological sites in Egypt and around the world, Abydos doesn’t stand in isolation from the modern world — it is very much a part of the fabric of everyday life around it. The northern region of ancient Abydos, which is the focus of our fieldwork, is located beside the modern Egyptian community of Beni Mansour. In recent seasons, we have had the privilege of beginning a dialogue with the teachers and students of Beni Mansour about the history of Abydos and the work of the Expedition. Together, we are taking the first steps toward building a foundation for greater engagement between archaeologists and local communities at Abydos — an engagement based on more than just living and working side-by-side, but thinking and sharing ideas about Egypt’s cultural heritage side-by-side, as well. The work of archaeology doesn’t end in the field — in fact, that’s just the beginning. The Expedition’s work continues year-round through lectures, publication, popular and social media, and through teaching and research initiatives at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU and Princeton University. Recent examples include features in the New Yorker and the New York Times; a National Geographic documentary on the Expedition’s discovery of a buried fleet of royal funerary boats from Egypt’s First Dynasty; and a long-term digital humanities initiative for building an integrated, open access archival database of the Expedition’s archaeological records, in addition to a full schedule of academic conferences and publications by the Expedition co-directors and team members. Be sure to check in with our blog and social media for updates throughout the year.
Text and images © Abydos Archaeology 2019