From Cairo, it’s only about three hundred miles to Abydos, in Upper Egypt, but the distance feels much greater. This region has been a world apart ever since Pharaonic times.
It was the cradle of Egyptian civilization, and the earliest known hieroglyphics, dating to around 3200 B.C., were discovered inscribed into relics that had been buried here.
It’s also attracted looters during times of political instability. In February of 2011, as the revolution gathered strength in Tahrir Square, all across the country the police disappeared, and in the Buried teams of looters opened more than two hundred pits. It wasn’t until the end of March, after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and the national situation had stabilized somewhat, that village police resumed patrols of the site.
Nearly two years later, in January of 2013, a team from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University arrived to undertake an archeology of the revolution. …