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Egypt Summer Field School: Mendes

The Egypt Summer Field School falls under the aegis of the Akhenaten Temple Project, an umbrella organization covering archaeological work in Karnak, the Theban Necropolis, and the Delta. It is a hands-on archaeological practicum involving active participation in a formal excavation at Tel er-Rub'a (ancient Mendes) in the Nile delta. Drs. Don and Susan Redford have been directing excavations at Mendes for twenty years.  Students participating in the Field School earn 6 credits of 400-level coursework, which fulfills the 6-credit archaeological fieldwork requirement for the undergraduate CAMS archaeology option and ANTH field school requirement.

Mendes, one of the oldest cities in Egypt with a cross-section of Egyptian history through 5,500 years, is an ideal site for teaching purposes.  The site was founded in the 4th millennium B.C., and spans the period of state formation c. 3100 B.C. The ecological collapse of Egypt (c. 2200 B.C.) is well illustrated in the archaeological record at the site which shows fire, destruction and massacre. Mendes prospered in the 1st millennium B.C. down to 200 B.C., and provides much evidence for the international commerce with Persia, Greece and Rome. A core staff of professional archaeologists involves students in a teaching program encompassing such disciplines as stratigraphy, mapping, recording, palaeobotany, bio-anthropology, ceramics, osteology and geology. Each student is assigned 7 native workmen, and excavates and records under supervision of the core staff a unit. Afternoons are taken up by observing and assisting the various technicians in a scheduled round of activity. Lectures in the evening by various members of the staff will supplement the practical training of the day.

Students live on site, in a modern 20-room field institute building, which was constructed on-site in 1992 and has electricity, running water, and plumbing.  This Institute is a ten-minute walk from the excavations. Study trips to neighboring sites led by the directors are taken on the weekends, including overnight trips to the city of Alexandria and to the pyramid fields near Cairo. There is also a day trip to Tanis and the Suez Canal.

Finally, no one ever comes away from the Mendes dig without a smattering of colloquial Arabic.

For details about this field school, contact Professor Donald Redford or Dr. Susan Redford.

For further information and application details, go to Egypt field School (Summer) in Education Abroad at the Penn State Global Programs Office.

Student Testimonial

“I did not start at Penn State in the CAMS department but by the time my fourth semester came around I found myself declaring a major in CAMS because I loved the subject matter. The courses instructed by the CAMS faculty gave me many opportunities to challenge my thinking. (...)
The department offers a wide variety of courses with some taught every semester, while more advanced courses change constantly. All of these courses introduced me to the wide variety of topics covered in the field. The CAMS department has many courses focusing on the Ancient the Near East and not exclusively Greece and Rome. In fact, classes in both areas are requirements of the degree. This breadth of study gave me a strong base of knowledge on which to build. The CAMS major offers an archaeology option that fostered my interests and supported my secondary major in Archaeology. I was surprised to find so many opportunities to study abroad within the department. I went on my first excavation in Israel in 2008 with support from Penn State and I did not want to return. Archaeology in the Near East became one of my favorite subjects. Since 2008, I have gone on two more excavations sponsored by Penn State. Without these experiences abroad, I would have never discovered and developed my passion for the study of the Ancient Near East. Now that I have graduated with a B.A. in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and a B.S. in Archaeological Science, I shall continue my education by graduate work in Archaeological Studies at Yale University. The experiences and interactions that I have had in my years at Penn State in the CAMS department serve as the foundation for my future studies.”

Jane Skinner
2011 CAMS graduate

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