Two Weeks at the British Museum
On Friday 13 September 2014 Ameena Alabri, Asmaa El-Rabat and I arrived at the Imperial Hotel in London from Oxford, where I met Claire, Emma, Sylwia and Jana for the first time. They were wonderful and friendly welcomed me strongly. After meeting with them I went to the British Museum to see Dr. Ahmad Hussein, the Director of the Archaeology Department in Khartoum University, my teacher and my friend who came from Cambridge especially to see me.
In the evening the British Museum threw a dinner party for all participants and programme representatives. It was very exciting to meet all the participants who welcomed me warmly and sympathised with me about my initial difficulties coming on the programme. They are very friendly I wish I had been with them from the beginning. I also met great scholars in Sudanese archaeological fieldwork and research. Having heard about them in Sudan, I was happy and proud to finally see Drs. Derek Welsby and Julie R. Anderson face to face and have dinner with them on one table. I also got to know Dr. Mahmoud Hawari, Claire Messenger, Emma Croft, Sylwia and other staff. The party was wonderful, stylish, beautiful and very interesting. We all enjoyed it very much.
On Monday 15 September 2014 I started my individual, special ITP. Jana brought me to the BM where I met with Emma and Claire. We had a meeting, introduction, departmental tour and discussion of the programme.
At 2:00 I saw Susanne Woodhouse, Ann el-Mokadem Librarian, for an introduction to the library and research time.
In the 15 day period of the intensive programme, the ITP covered many aspects of training. This included libraries and research, collections management and storage with Collections Manager Evan York, a tour of “Ancient Lives” with Marie Vandenbeusch, curator, a discussion of the Sudanese collections with Derek Welsby, curator, and an overview of conservations work in the BM and in Sudan with Tracey Sweek, conservator. I was also able to visit other museums, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum with Sylwia. In the final week I had sessions in collection packing, scientific research with Philippa Ryan, principle investigator, Historical Background of the BM and Visitor Services with Emma Croft, ITP Assistant, and a session on human remains with Daniel Antoine, Physical Anthropology Curator.
During the training programme I visited two important UK Cities – firstly Manchester, a city of sports, and Birmingham, a city of industry.
I travelled to Manchester on the evening of the 19th of August by bus (which takes four and a half hours!) and spent two interesting days with my friends. The most important part of this trip however was an historical visit to Manchester United’s football stadium and museum – it was a wonderful weekend. I also got to know Birmingham on Thursday, spending all day visiting my sister and the Birmingham Art Museum.
Finally, I would like to thank Dr Abdelrahmen Ali, NCAM General Director, who nominated me for this programme. Great thanks to the British Museum – a museum providing well organised and interesting training courses and study programmes for professionals to achieve higher standards in their various specialities. Thank you to Neal Spencer, Director of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, Claire Messenger, Emma Croft and Sylwia Janik. Thank you to Jana Alaraj for her generosity, and for solving any issues I faced when first arrived.
A final thank you to my sponsor, Mrs Michel David-Weill.
Amani Yousif Basheer Idris
ITP Participant 2014