Walter Granger's 1907 Fayoum Expedition Dairy
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It was to be the first time that American Paleontologists had left the continental United States. Sponsored by the Museum of Natural History in New York, under the direction of Walter Granger, the small band of scientists set off in January, 1907, for the Fayoum region of Egypt, where fossilized remains were first described by A. B. Orlebar in 1845.
The first fossil vertebrate discovery made in the Fayoum was of whales by a German geologist named Georg Schweinfurth in 1879. His find was published in 1882. In 1898, with Egypt under British military rule, Egyptian Survey geologist Hugh J.L. Beadnell was sent in to survey the Fayoum and soon found more fossil vertebrates. British Museum of Natural History paleontologist Charles W. Andrews joined Beadnell in 1901 to help make the first extensive fossil collection from the Fayoum. They published their impressive results shortly thereafter and aroused world attention. A German team, led by Stuttgart's Eberhard Fraas and Richard Markgraf who had moved to the Fayoum, followed the British in 1905. Now the Americans were compelled to have their own look
The American Expedition was actually comprised of two parties consisting of the work party with Walter Granger as leader assisted by George Olsen and a group of native workers to be hired in Egypt; and the escort party of Department of Vertebrate Paleontology curator Henry F. Osborn, his wife and two children. They all reached Egypt on January 23, 1907. They proceeded into the Fayoum by caravan on January 31st, touring first through the pyramid fields along the western banks of the Nile. The Fayoum fossil site was reached on February 5th.
Though the team originally planned to stay in the Fayoum until about the middle of March, returning to the United States on the S. S. Celtic leaving Cairo on March 20th, Granger decided to stay a bit longer until April 21st, but later changed his mind and stayed until the end of May.
Granger's handwritten summary, called Notes from Diary -- Faym Trip, of his own daily Fayoum diary, survived and were "re-discovered" in 1977 among Granger's unpublished diaries and letters from the Central Asiatic Expeditions during the 1920s, all kept in his family after his death in 1941. The following is an edited version of Granger's Dairy.