It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young(ish) archaeologist, in possession of nothing but dirty clothes and vast student debt must be in want of a husband – preferably one that owns a car and can be useful when bailiffs call. I was musing on this truth today as I excavated Individual 288; a large, smelly, bearded man; which is generally what I think of as my type.
The tragedy is that in the pursuit of such a dream, the lands of Egyptology are barren wastes where the few flowers which bloom tend to be stunted and peculiar. As a non-Egyptologist, chasing (remunerative) historic science where ever it leads, the case of Egyptology stands distinctly out for its lack of romantic potential. First there is the crushing gender bias, which tends to see around four women for every man on most digs, but there is in addition a tendency for the field to attract unsuitable candidates, with every male Egyptologist I know being either married, homosexual or French.
Things don’t always seem to have been so bad. Egyptology used to attract sturdy adventurers, men who weren’t afraid to run about Egypt with a trowel, a wide hat and very little intention of writing anything down. But those days are gone, and frankly I blame Napoleon.
John Pendlebury is a good example of what a girl wants out of an Egyptologist. John worked at Tell el-Amarna in the 1930s. He could walk forty miles a day, ride about in the desert shooting animals, and excavate a small town in under a week. Despite losing an eye in a pencil-related incident, the details of which remain obscure, John still managed to become an Olympic-class high jumper and get himself shot as a spy by the Nazis. That’s what I call a man.
You have my pity, frustrated, single, female Egyptological community (usually just referred to as the Egyptological community, the rest being implied). I suggest some sort of out-reach programme aimed at attractive (bearded) heterosexual eccentrics.