On 30 December 1961 an EES expedition led by Professor Bryan Emery returned to Buhen in the Sudan, as part of the UK contribution to the UNESCO campaign to save the monuments of Nubia. In two short seasons in the winters of 1961/2 and 1963/4, the team excavated the Old Kingdom town at this site better known for its impressive Middle Kingdom brick fortress. Emery only published only two very short descriptions of the work – one, which was not illustrated, in the editorial foreword to JEA 48 (1962) and another, with some photographs and a plan, in Kush XI (1963). He also included information about the town in his book Egypt in Nubia (1965). After completing the work at Buhen, Emery moved back to Saqqara and on his death in 1971 the excavations at Buhen remained unpublished. Professor Harry Smith, with colleagues, published the fortress in two EES volumes in 1976 and 1979, and he had, in 1972, invited David O’Connor, who had been one of the Field Supervisors, to publish the Old Kingdom Town. Pressure of work at the University of Pennsylvania delayed Professor O’Connor’s work on the excavation report which he had to base on the field notes and plans made by Emery and his team, but he sent his typed report and plate mock-ups to the EES in the mid 1980s. The non-appearance of the publication in the intervening 20 years has been due to a number of circumstances, including editors who took on the task and were unable, through their own pressure of work, to complete it, and the necessity of converting to a digital format a very long text originally typed on a manual typewriter.
When I became EES General Editor at the start of 2012, I was very keen to prioritise the publication of O’Connor’s volume to ensure that the EES excavation of this important Old Kingdom domestic site should be made accessible to other researchers, and as soon as I returned from Egypt at the beginning of April I began work on the material. This has involved, so far, scanning all the text figures and making a start on the scanning of the photographs for the plates, cleaning up the figures, and setting the text in InDesign – the desk-top publishing program which we use for EA and the EES Newsletter as well as Memoirs. I have set the first two chapters and am now working on Chapter 3 – perhaps about half-way through the volume.
Buhen, view of the excavation of the Old Kingdom Town
One of the pleasures of setting Memoirs for the EES is the opportunity to learn something new almost incidently and I am enjoying finding out about the Old Kingdom Town at Buhen as the work progresses!