Tea on the terrace

Hotels and Egyptologists’ social networks, 1885–1925

Kathleen L. Sheppard
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Tea on the terrace takes readers on a journey up and down the Nile with archaeologists and Egyptologists. Travellers such as Americans Theodore Davis, Emma Andrews, and James Breasted, as well as Britons Wallace Budge, Maggie Benson, and Howard Carter arrived in Alexandria, moved on to Cairo, travelled up the Nile by boat and train, and visited Luxor. Throughout the journey, readers spend some time with them at their hotels and on their boats. We listen in on their conversations, watch their activities, and begin to understand that much archaeological work was not done at the field site or in the university museum, as many historians have argued. Instead, understanding the politics of conversation in the social studies of science, the book shows that hotels in Egypt on the way to and from home institutions and excavation sites were liminal, but powerful and central, spaces which became foundations for establishing careers, building and strengthening scientific networks, and generating and experimenting with new ideas. These are familiar stories to readers, but Tea on the terrace presents them in a new framework to show Egyptologists’ activities in a seemingly familiar but unknown space. A mix of archaeological tourism and the history of Egyptology, the book is based on original archival research, using letters, diaries, biographies, and travel guides as well as secondary sources.

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