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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]


Ickes ’96 found calling — and a 2000-year old mummy — in the land of the Pharaohs

By Laura Gifford '00

Karl Ickes ’96 sits astride a camel at the Great Pyramids at Giza, Egypt.
Karl Ickes ’96 may be just beginning his career as an Egyptologist, but he can already say he’s discovered a 2000-year-old mummy. While studying at the American University in Cairo from August to December of last year, Ickes toured the site of a Roman-era cemetery in Hawara. As he walked along with Hawara’s director of antiquities, he noticed a piece of cloth protruding from the sandy ground.

“I played with the cloth just a little bit, and then the director came and shook the cloth,” Ickes said. “And there was a mummy right under the sand."

Ickes has been interested in archeology since childhood, and after completing an associate’s degree at Pierce College— Puyallup in 1993, he came to PLU to study history and anthropology. While at PLU, Ickes met anthropology professor David Huelsbeck, who served as a mentor.

After PLU, Ickes went on to do graduate work in anthropology at Western Washington University, earning his master’s degree in 1999. Next fall, he will begin a Ph.D. program in Egyptology at Brown University.

Ickes has participated in excavations at a number of sites in the United States and abroad, covering a variety of periods. In July 2000, he was interviewed for a popular BBC program titled “Meet Your Ancestors” while excavating Roman ruins in the English town of Silchester. But Egypt is the region that has sparked his imagination, ever since he first learned about King Tut in the late ’70s.

Ickes would like to focus his studies on the dynastic period of Egyptian history, beginning in approximately 3100 B.C. Specifically, he is fascinated by the Amarna Period—the era of the Pharaoh Akenaten and his wife Nefertiti, probable parents of Tutankhamen.

Regardless of where graduate school takes him, Ickes plans to spend more time in Egypt in the future. “Ideally, I would combine university teaching with seasonal excavation work,” he said.

Pacific Lutheran University Scene
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