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2015 EES Lucy Gura Archive Internships

Thanks to generous donations from members towards last year’s Amelia Edwards Projects, this summer we were able to take on an intern to work in the Lucy Gura Archive. Fahema Begum joined us in August to catalogue the newly digitized 1931-32 Tell el-Amarna object cards. She was joined by Elina Rodriguez Millan who came to us through the UCL Advances Summer Internship Programme. Elina has spent her time with us cataloguing the 1937-39 Amara West object cards, which she scanned as a volunteer of the Society earlier in the year. Here they share an overview of their projects and experiences.

Elina (left) and Fahema (right) visited the British Museum to explore objects distributed by the Egypt Exploration Society.

This summer’s internship project was to catalogue some of the object cards now preserved in the EES Lucy Gura Archive. Many of the Society’s object cards were scanned during the 2014-15 volunteer programme and are now available via the EES Flickr feed (below). The object cards themselves record artefacts discovered during the Society’s excavations and cover sites such as Tell el-Amarna, Amara West, Sesebi, Buhen, Armant and more. The cataloguing work focused on two particular sites, namely Tell el-Amarna and Amara West and the artefacts discovered there during the mid-twentieth century. Transcriptions were provided by a crowd-sourcing project run through MicroPasts (www.micropasts.org) alongside the volunteer scanning project earlier in 2015. These transcripts were then collated and checked against the original object cards and then transferred into the Society’s new library and archive catalogue according to professional archival standards. Object cards from the Tell el-Amarna 1931-32 dig season, and the Amara West 1937-1938 and 1938-1939 seasons have been catalogued so far and are now available to search and view online. By cataloguing these seasons of the Society’s archives we have been able to cross reference them with corresponding details of the objects’ subsequent distribution following the excavations. This allows museum specialists to easily locate archive relevant to their collections.

Some of the Society’s object cards on Flickr

The internship consisted of a variety of tasks including cataloguing, environmental and pest monitoring, curating an exhibition based on the object cards, creating a website to supplement the exhibition, and giving a presentation about it to this year’s visiting Egyptian scholars. The exhibition based on the Tell el-Amarna object cards shed light on some of the artefacts, originally found during EES excavations at the site between 1921 and 1936, that were stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo during the Egypt Revolution in 2011. This was to highlight the fact that although the objects may be missing, we can still trace their story using archival material. The exhibition based on the Amara West object cards follows the progress of the excavation of the site during the 1938-1939 season, day by day, through Herbert Fairman’s dig diaries, as well as photographs and object cards from the archive.
This internship has allowed us both to gain new skills to complement our studies at University College London and help us consider new ways of engaging people with archive material. And now even more archive is available online to search and explore.

Fahema and Elina discuss cataloguing standards in the EES Ricardo Caminos Memorial Library

Fahema is currently studying for an MA in archives and record management at UCL and will build on skills she has gained at the EES to aid her career as a professional archivist.
Visit Fahema’s online pop-up exhibition here: www.endangeredheritage.wordpress.com

Elina is working towards her MA in principles of conservation at UCL and has used this experience to learn how cataloguing systems work and hopes all these new skills will help her develop a career in conservation of collections, or archives, an area which has been a great discovery for her.
Visit Elina’s online pop-up exhibition here: www. eesamarawestexpedition.wordpress.com

Publication date: 01.10.2015
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