Walter Granger's 1907 Fayoum Expedition Dairy
Wed. Jan. 23
Weather pleasant. African coast in sight at Sunrise. Anchored in Alexandria harbor at about 9 o'clock. Passengers were landed first and baggage was late in following. Everyone anxious to get his aboard the special train first. About a hundred native porters (Cook's & independent) to handle baggage. Greatest confusion -- regular bedlam. Baggage was dumped from lighter on pier and passengers obliged to select their own and employ the natives to take it to train. Special train did not leave for Cairo until 3:30 P.M. Arrived Cairo after Six & went to Shepheard Hotel.
Strolled about streets in evening. Night quite cool and overcoat very comfortable. Have just had a particularly cold spell so they tell us.
Thurs. Jan. 24:
Capt. [Henry George] Lyons of the Survey Dept. called on Prof. O[sborn] this A.M. Went with Osborn & Lyons to the Geological Museum (Branch of the Survey Department). Small Museum with fine display of invertebrates and vertebrates from the Fayum. One adult and two young Arsinoitherium skulls, very fine. Preparation work excellent. Done by man sent in from British Museum.
Prof. O. is negotiating with Cook's for an outfit. Capt. Lyons has sent up to Helouan for one Daoud Mohammed, [H.J.L.] Beadnell's Chief native assistant. He is to report at the Museum and be placed at our disposal for the Fayum trip.
Fri. Jan. 25:
Still negotiating with Cook's for outfit.
[George] Olsen and I spent most of day in sightseeing. Principal visit to the Zoological Gardens at Giza.-- beautiful grounds with abundance of semi-tropical vegetation -- well laid out and with splendid collection of animals and birds, principally African. 6 Soudan Elephants (young), fine lot of antelopes, primates and cats -- mostly out-door cages. Admission to garden is 1/2 piaster and it is much frequented by natives who appear to constitute four fifths of the attendance. A rather unique feature of the garden is the walks which are made of small smooth desert pebbles -- black and white, set in attractive patterns.
Sat. Jan. 26:
Drove with Prof. O. and Mr. W. [Arthur Weigall] to Lord Cromer's in forenoon. Cromer very cordial -- quiet & unpretentious man. Talked principally of conditions in Egypt. [He] spoke of Cape to Cairo Railway as good magazine material but of not much practical use. [He] hoped, personally, that coal and gold would never be found in Egypt because of the smoke and the bad European element sure to follow. Mentioned having been with [General Ulysses S.] Grant before Vicksburg. Offered to do us all service possible.
In afternoon Olsen and I take in town.
Night still cool, with temperature at 6 A.M. of about 40s. This week is the "Feast of Ramadan" (Mohammedan Christmas) and many public places, under Govt. control, such as the [Survey Department's] Museum, are closed to the public.
Sun. Jan. 27:
Mr. H[artley] T. Ferrar, a member of Capt. Lyon's field staff, called at hotel in forenoon. He is to go to the Fayum with us as guide, to remain during the period of Prof. O.'s stay in the desert.
Olsen, Ferrar and I work on list of provisions and outfit needed for the working party. Ordered these supplies from Fiburent Fils & Co. -- to be shipped to Tamia, Fayum, the nearest R[ailway] point to the bone beds. Plan is to hire camels here and send them on to Tamia. Prof. O.'s party is to start from Mena House and go up along Pyramid Field. Olsen and I are invited to join the party. Prof. O. has failed to make arrangements with Cook's for his personal outfit, is now dealing with one Mickawi Ali, a dragoman with a pocketfull of letters of recommendation and a cunning look in his eye.
Took tea with Mr. [Alfred] Lucas, Chief Chemist of the S.D. -- fine fellow.
Mon. Jan. 28:
To the Geol. Mus. in the morning with Prof. O. Mr. Daoud Mohammed arrives and is placed at our disposal. Also Talba, a sheikh [and caravan leader], of whom we are to hire camels. We hire 12 at 75 per day (15 piasters). They are to proceed at once to Tamia. Daoud with the boxes of supplies joins him there and then proceeds to the easterly bone pits to await us. Ali Mohammed, one of the Museum attendants, is loaned to us and is to be our cook.
The Survey people are most generous and offer tents, water tanks, tools, etc. Also a cooking outfit left in the Museum by Dr. [Charles W.] Andrews [of the British Museum]. This is most convenient for us. They also offer to make our [fossils] packing cases and ship out to us as we order them. Daoud will take three or four other men out with him as laborers. Forwarded 10 to Talba and 5 to Daoud. This advancing of money is necessary in hiring these people, it seems.
Tues. Jan. 29:
Prof. O. has completed arrangements with Mickawi Ali for an outfit. We are to start from Mena House on the 31st. Mr. Ferrar is to have camels and tents of his own.
Came out here to the Mena House this afternoon late. We find this hotel in some ways more attractive than Shepheard's and more reasonable in rates. Olsen and I spent the moonlight evening about the pyramids and Sphynx. Full enjoyment of this though is prevented by persistent natives who try to force donkeys and camels on us, and discourse upon the marvels of the monuments. Our window overlooks the Nile valley with Cairo on the opposite side -- a really wonderfull view.
Wed. Jan. 30:
A moderate sandstorm has been on all day and this evening it has changed to a heavy rainstorm. Mickawi and his caravan is camped alongside the Cairo road near here and will probably get wet. We are to start in the morning if the weather permits.
Have had a most interesting day. Spent part of the morning under the lee of Cheops talking to the natives who had plenty of leisure today because the storm kept the tourists away.
After lunch Dr. [Grafton] Elliot Smith came out from town and conducted Prof. O's party to Dr. [George Andrew] Reisner's house near the 3rd Pyramid [Mycerinus]. I was invited along. Met Dr. Buckhart [Dr. Ludwig Borchardt] at Reisner's. Intensely interesting conversation on Egyptian Antiquities and the work being done. Tea and then Dr. R. showed us over his excavations at the eastern base of the 3rd Pyramid. Said that probably the stone for all three pyramids came from quarry close by. [Limestone and marble] sheathing for 1st & 2nd [pyramids came] from Mokkatam hills. Showed us the quarry, now most filled with sand. Is like a great inverted pyramid.
Thurs. Jan. 31:
Camp tonight on the edge of the Nile bottom at Sakkara. Mr. Ferrar's caravan has just joined us.
Rain ceased before daylight this morning. I was up early and climbed Cheops before breakfast, without assistance. One young Arab went part way up and a second one insisted on going all way up with me. Couldn't fight him off -- no baksheesh [tip], though.
Started from Mena House at 10 o'clock with caravan -- 13 camels and 5 donkeys. Very imposing! Photographed at the Sphynx by a professional from Cairo. Two other Caravans waiting to pose also -- quite the thing. Trail from the Sphynx leads along the edge of Nile valley to Abusr Pyramids where we took luncheon. Met Herr [W.M.] Mller who is excavating at Abusr under Dr. Buckhart's [Borchardt's] direction. Reached here at Sundown. Camp ready. Have 5 round sleeping tents, a large green mess tent, rugs on the floor and interior of the tent decorated with Koran verses in colored cloth. Regular course dinner, with two waiters. Ferrar has 8 camels and three tents.
Tomorrow we are to go over the Sakkara ruins with Mr. [Dr. James Edward] Quibell.
Fri. Feb. 1:
Camp about a mile beyond Dashur Pyramids tonight. Spent entire forenoon at Sakkara where Mr. Quibell met us and accompanied us over part of his excavations. Visited all of the important tombs and an enormous excavation made by Quibell where several cultures are shown in stratigraphic form. Also an interesting Coptic temple or place of worship. Mr. Quibell is to furnish us with ten men for our excavation work. These men are skilled and will be of great service. They are to come out after we are settled in camp.
Lunch at Sakkara and a rapid ride on to camp, mostly along the Nile bottom.
Weird music by our camel men at Sakkara this morning.
Sat. Feb. 2:
Awakened before Sunrise this morning by wailing of women up in a cemetery near our camp -- professional mourners, so Ferrar says, from the village back of camp.
Start early and reach Lisht Pyramids (Northern one) for lunch. Mr. [Dr. Albert Morton] Lythgoe of Metropolitan Museum [of Art, NYC] who is conducting explorations here joined us after lunch. Invited to his house and are shown over the Pyramid. Work just begun. Work done by French excavation previously careless & not very successful. Tomb chamber very low and filled with water. We camped near Lythgoe's house. He and his wife and two assists. invited to dinner.
Tomorrow we strike across the narrow strip of desert and enter the Fayum. Weather comfortable in daytime but too cool at night.
Sun. Feb. 3:
Camped tonight just on the outskirts of Tamia. Lythgoe photographed caravan this morning just as we started. Saw Medum [Maidum] Pyramid to the south as we crossed desert. Lunch in desert about half way to Tamia and in sight of the Fayum. Tried [riding] the camels for the first time.-- don't think I had a good one. A party of [S.S.] "Cedric" people camped near us tonight -- paid us a visit.
Mon. Feb. 4: -- camp in the desert
Late start from Tamia. Found that Daoud had left with Talba and camels for the desert on the 3rd. Met the [Railway] Station agent (Hanna Mikhail) and the mamour of the province who inquired after our wellfare.
Olsen and I left Mickawis' outfit today. Hired two donkeys from him and are to use Ferrar's outfit untill camp is reached.
Caravan left the cultivation near the eastern end of the Lake [Birket Qarun (saline)] and struck north across the desert. Ferrar's men neglected to get water at ditch and have been sent back tonight to fill the tanks. Ferrar has telegraphed for 8 more fanitas [fantasses, or water containers] from the S.D.
Tues. Feb. 5:
In permanent camp at Easterly bone pits. Interesting ride through desert all day.
Took several 5 x 7 plates of Caravan. Met Daoud's camels between last night's camp and Qasr-el-Sagha -- returning to Tamia for water. Reached this camp about 5 P.M.[;] found tents up and men at work in one of the two quarries. Daoud has two old men from Tamia and three younger men from Helouan and Ali the Cook. We have three tents and good outfit.
Osborn's party is camped a short half mile up the wady [wadi, a usually dry ravine or watercourse] from us.
The men have already uncovered two or three fairly good specimens in the quarry. The Fayum cultivation is in sight So. of Camp, also the Lake [Birket Qarun].
Wed. Feb. 6:
Prof. O. down to the quarries this A.M. [I] started the men at work moving surface sand and began taking up the bones they have already uncovered. They are careless workmen and have been badly trained -- rip bones out as soon as discovered. One fellow brought me a fine palate of Saghatherium broken into many pieces. Bones are very soft and crumbly. Gum is almost useless and the shellac we brought does not dissolve well, possibly poor spirits. Two large quarries here, one on either side of the draw [Wadi Markgraf]. We call them Quarries A & B.-- A the westerly one.
They appear to be having trouble at the upper camp [Osborn's and family] over water. Have been obliged to send down for 3 fanitas [fantasses] of our water. Friend Mickawi is apparently just learning that he hasn't an ordinary tourist party on his hands. His water preparations were ridiculous. His donkeys can get water at pools 2 miles below here. New fanitas [fantasses] should be here in a few days.
Thurs. Feb. 7:
Olsen at work in Quarry A. With Daoud as guide, Prof. O., Mr. W[eigall], Ferrar and I walked westward toward other bone pits [later quarry C]. Mr. W. found first prospect.-- an Ancodon Jaw. We also located turtle shell and Arsinoitherium limb bones. Daoud showed us where the fine adult skull of Arsinoitherium in Cairo was found.
Quarry promises fairly well.-- best layers appear to be worked out. The strata are so uneven and irregular that it is difficult to follow them. There are alternating layers of clay and loose sand: the bones are in the sand -- only certain layers. Invited to the upper camp for dinner.
Overcoats still comfortable in the evening.
Fri. Feb. 8:
The worst feature of this camp is the fleas. I have been in misery for two days. Olsen appears to be immune. Ferrar suggests Keating's Powder and Prof. O. has ordered 1/2 cake (1 1/2 lbs.) from Cairo.
Both Olsen and I in the quarry A all day. Native method of work is exasperating -- dislike to use shovels but prefer to carry out dirt in baskets on their heads.
Faiyum quarrywork, 1907 (Granger standing, right; Olsen sitting, center).
Prof. O. and Ferrar prospect to the westward. At Ferrar's suggestion we sent two camels back to Giza. Camels in tonight with new fanitas [fantasses].
Twelve men from Mr. Quibell arrived about Sunset from Tamia. Had no shelter for them and they were obliged to sleep in one of Ferrar's tents. Question of wages settled. After much argument we sign agreement to pay.
Daoud & Ali -- 12 piasters each per day - Every other Friday off and one sheep per month.
Ibrahim Salim -- 10 [piasters per day]"
Hassin (boy) -- 5 [piasters per day]"
Others -- 8 [piasters per day]" - Ali (from Quft) to 9 pt. if work warrants.
From left to right: Daoud, Ali, Ibrahim, Hassin
Sat. Feb. 9:
Olsen took the 12 Quft men today and began work on the north end of Quarry B. Discovered rodent incisors. The first indication of this order of mammals in the Fayum. Quibell men show more skill and care than those from Helouan.
Stripping [methodically removing sand in layers] by Daoud and his men continued in Quarry A.-- Slow progress -- have requested more shovels from S.D. Still having trouble with shellac -- shall have to order some from Cairo.
Am making fairly good progress with Arabic. Quibell's men speak no English. Daoud and Ali very little.
Strong wind with considerable dust in the air. Work on the Quarries. Quarry B seems more barren than A and bones are in very poor condition -- one good rodent jaw just found. Daoud with Prof. O. to the Eastward to see the Middle Eocene locality beyond Qasr-el-Sagha.
Mr. Ferrar has loaned us one of his tents for the Quft men.
Mon. Feb. 11:
Intermittent showers in afternoon -- men worked only in forenoon. Air seems full of fine dust .-- probably from yesterday's wind. Had lunch with Mrs. O.
Daoud prospected in forenoon -- reports "timsali" (crocodile) jaws.
Prof. O. with Ferrar went in search of westerly bone pits.
Tues. Feb. 12:
Weather pleasant -- Olsen's outfit stopped work on north end of Quarry B and moved over to extreme south end -- uncovered several badly preserved bones and a jaw of a young Arsinoitherium with good teeth. In quarry A the men stopped stripping and began prospecting. Good Ars. vert[ebra] on north side and a good lower jaw of a new genus of creodont and two good jaws of "far" (mouse) in S.E. corner of quarry.
I went with Daoud in morning to gum a lower jaw of Tomistoma which he found yesterday 1 m. East of camp. Prof. O. down [from Upper Camp to fossil worksite] both morning and afternoon. Talba in with camels late tonight.
Wed. Feb. 13:
Osborn's camels returned this morning from Tamia. Brought us eggs and live chickens -- the latter we turn loose with hobbles on and they remain about camp because there is no where else to go.-- one of the Quft men claims to have been robbed of 2 last night by one of his fellows. Mr. Ferrar adjusts by promise to pay one half the loss if the man works well, the other half to be paid by the leader of their party.
Olsen continues to find bones in the south end of Q[uarry] B but in soft state of preservation. With Daoud's men I went over to an old bone pit of Beadnell's near what Prof. has termed Lyon's Butte [now Tel Agrab]. We shall call this quarry "C". The sand is white -- also the bones -- fragty [fragmentary], but hard. About 2 miles west of camp. Josephine Butte [now Tel Markgraf] 1/2 m. N.E. [of camp]. Ferrar Butte [now Tel Homar] 2 m. W. of Lyon's[,] and Fairfield Butte [now Tel Talib] 2 m. E of camp. All good landmarks.
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