For two months a year, Sussman worked extensively as a field archaeologist, particularly in Egypt. He started there after being invited, in 1998, to join a team digging in the Valley of the Kings on the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, the first expedition to dig new ground in the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922.
Though initially the team’s diarist, and despite holding no formal archaeological qualification, he found himself supervising the re-excavation of Tomb KV56. Discovered in 1908 by the English archaeologist Edward Ayrton, KV56, a burial chamber on a small scale, had yielded one of the most spectacular arrays of jewellery found in the valley, hence its nickname: the Gold Tomb.
I liked this quote:
“These are the remains not of living gods,” Sussman wrote, “but of the men who dug and decorated the tombs — people who went to work, sniggered at rude jokes, had a beer and a takeaway at the end of the day. People pretty much like you or me. That’s why I love archaeology: because it doesn’t just show us how different things were, but also how similar.”