Myrtle Broome letter to her mother, 13 December 1930

Myrtle Broome Correspondence

A Myrtle Broome letter to her mother, 13 December 1930
A Myrtle Broome letter to her mother, 13 December 1930

Myrtle Florence Broome (1887-1978) is known amongst Egyptologists as one of the finest exponents of the art of epigraphy.

Along with Amice Calverley (q.v.) she spent eight seasons copying some of the finest painted scenes in the temple of Seti I at Abydos, work which made possible the publication of this important material with an accuracy which almost surpasses photography.

This is one of the letters home, in which she also desribes her room at the house (in the tower), commonly known as “Garstang House”.

The work of Miss Calverley and Miss Broome was jointly organized by the Egypt Exploration Society, London and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago with financial support from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The results were published in four volumes appearing between 1933 and 1958.In this letter she writes, among other things, about her stay at the Chicago House.

It is not 100% clear if she’s speaks about the first or the current one, but considering the fact, that she speaks about 70 rooms, I suppose her stay was at the first Chicago House, on the West Bank of Luxor.

(I find this paper smudges on the
rulled side but is quite all right
on the back)
Arabah el Madfunah.
Dec 13th 1930.

Dear Mother
I am sorry to hear you have had another of those nasty attacks. have you any idea what caused it. did you get wet or anything. I hope you are taking proper care of yourself.

We are now back in our own camp& we do not at all regret the grandeurs of Chicago House, it is really a branch of the university & not a camp at all, it contains splendid library containing nearly every book on the subjects allied to Egyptology some of them very rare editions & the staff includes a librarian
One thing caused us a lot of amusement, there were two rocking chairs in our room, of course I promptly sat down in one & To my amazement found it was made of Tin painted & grained to imitate wood,!!we then examined the rest of the furniture & found it was all metal; chest of drawers – looking glass, writing desk

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bookcase etc. We learnt that there are 70 rooms, & They are all furnished with this metal furniture which came all the way from America & of which they are very proud. of course it is really excellent for The climate as the white ants cannot eat it; but it is so awful to have it made To so exactly imitate wood, even to grooving & Turning. & in the lounge they actually had imitation wicker work chairs made with metal wire painted To look like the real Thing. I don’t see why metal furniture shouldn’t have a special design of its own, it could be really nice.

Dr & Mrs nelson were very kind to us, if we wanted to do any sight seeing there was always a car at our disposal, (they have five) The chief colour artist very kindly showed us all his methods & gave us quite a lot of useful hints & we got quite a lot of information about retouching photos

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so we feel our visit was not a waste of time. Of course we enjoyed going to see Mrs Davis, she has a charming little house & has given us an invitation to go & stay with her some Time.
The first Two days after our reTurn we spent putting our house in order, we have made a really splendid book case out of a packing case, it is all neatly lined with brown paper & is really a handsome piece of furniture, I have made a stationary case to hang on the wall for our special paper, postcards, Telegraph forms etc.
I have also fixed a hanging wardrobe in my room & found some of my Woolworth purchases very useful.
We have now started work in the Temple, we are cleaning the walls ready for the colour work. The upper scenes are badly discoloured with smoke,

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the Temple was used a lot in Early Christian Times as a dwelling & Their cooking fires did a lot of damage to The walls, we have got quite a lot of the outer coating of smoke & dirt off by washing carefully with soft sponges & clean water, we keep two men busy constantly washing the sponges for us. Tomorrow we hope to finish cleaning the scenes we have to reproduce in colour.
All our people here were pleased to see us & gave us a splendid welcome, we have had endless callers, The Coptic priest, the Omdah, the Sheikh el Geffin, Sheikh Abdu Wahid etc have all been to pay their respects, our dog looks fat & well he is now promoted to a collar & is the envy of all the dogs in Arabah el Madfunah he was so pleased t see us again.
Bijou-Bast-Anta (the cat) is also flourishing, he comes in to see us each dinner Time & is

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very friendly while food is about.
Garden is looking very flourishing, Nannie is very disappointed that I have not brought any carrot seeds as they did so well last year & Amice says could you get some Tobacco plant seeds (nicotiana) as well as carrot seeds To send us.
I forgot to tell you that old Ahmed made most anxious enquiries after the health of both my parents & offered many thanks to Allah when I said you were well.
The wool has proved most disappointing it is no good at all out here, it dried up during the summer & split into tiny lengths when they tried to spin it. They couldn’t do anything at all with it, isn’t it a pity – Sardic is very sad about it.
Tell Pat I am simply longing to hear all her news about Mr Beazley etc , I am sorry to have such bad news of Miss Jonas, I do hope they will be able to save her thumb

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I expect you are preparing for Xmas, I don’t expect we shall celebrate it this year there is no time To arrange anything.
I hope now to send my letters more regularly, it was rather difficult while we were moving about so much.
Joey had an attack of indigestion through eating too much sand, he has had a dose of oil in his carboretta & two new plugs & is quite himself again, his first job was to take our electric light engine over to Nag Hammadi to have some repairs done, we brought out the spare parts but the mechanic who came over to see about it said They would have to be fitted at the workshop.
This is all my news for the present. Lots of love To you both & mind you get well quickly.

Your affectionate daughter

Have received L.H.J & two papers Thanks.

The Griffith Institute grants permission for a one-time use to the t3.wy Foundation for Historical Research in Egyptology to publish the Myrtle Broome letter about Chicago House on their website.

Myrtle Broome letter 96, reproduced with permission of the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford Broome correspondence project,

Thanks to Lee Young, for sending me the letter and transcribing it!