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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Jay Van Rensselaer in the main temple

So, welcome back to the JHU Hopkins in Egypt diary. We're doing things differently this year, because the university's calendar requires that we break our season into two parts. We have a small crew out now to do some completion of the major restoration work in the temple last year, and they are going to help us create a cleaner, safer, and more accessible Mut Temple setting. This shot shows Jay Van Rensselaer in the main temple, and the shot was taken from near the rear, looking back north toward the entrance to the enclosure. You can see in the distance the tent tops that cover the numerous blocks that we retrieved and restored during last year's three seasons (January-March, May, July-August).


Faces here are familiar to any of you who have seen our site before. Violaine Chauvet, our Field Director behind the Sacred Lake for the last two years is here doing mapping within the temple proper, and Katie Knight, former undergrad major, is here helping her. Later in the year we will be dismantling several walls in order to preserve more reused and buried New Kingdom blocks, but we must have very precise locations for any stones that may move, so that we can replace and rebuild the walls later.

Violaine Chavet and Katie Knight at work

View of rebuilt temple wall

Speaking of rebuilding walls, here is the result of a part of last year's effort that dismantled a crumbling perimeter wall of the temple's porch and then rebuilt it with newly quarried stone. The stone masonry was expertly carried out by Franck Burgos, formerly of the Franco-Egyptian Center at Karnak . He is a certified stone mason and member of the Guild, and his workmanship is superb, as anyone visiting the Open Air Museum in Karnak can see.

Blocks from first stone temple at Mut

During the 2006 seasons we retrieved more than 75 original blocks of the first stone temple at Mut, ca. Hatshepsut and Thutmose III (1479-1425 B.C.E.). The blocks had been used as reused building blocks to build a foundation extension around 700 B.C.E.. Now conserved, those blocks will allow us to reconstruct much of the first temple on computer, and many can be placed on display. So they now need a new home, and Katie is overseeing the preparations for this. An L-shaped area at the southeast corner of the temple will be cleared, archaeological soundings will be carried out, then the area will be built up with dirt, and low podia will be built on it to carry the blocks. They will be laid out to allow visitors to view them easily.


Blocks from first stone temple at Mut

Workers carrying stones on pallet

The whole area where Katie is working must be cleared of stone. The workers begin to place large stones on a wooden pallet and carry them up atop the temple's enclosure wall. Some are rolled up, other carried by hand, but eventually the entire area is cleared – except for any stones that have architectural details, such as moldings, cornices, jamb features, etc. Eventually all this stone will be used to refill areas of the temple that have been excavated.
Workers moving stones

Workers moving stones

Jay taking pictures

Just a quick pic of Jay atop his ladder from which he was shooting most of Thursday and today. His expertise is always making us look awfully good! But take a look at the next image. Is he losing it?


Violaine holding the phone for Ramesses II
Violaine and Katie at work?

Yes, it's Violaine back there holding the phone for Ramesses II (no doubt he would have had someone to do that), but surely Katie put her up to it. Where was Betsy when all this was going on? Well, look on to the next…


Comfortably ensconced on her sofa in her nearby flat, Betsy begins work on the website captions. So we'll try to look like we're working a little harder for you tomorrow. Betsy writing captions

Next Day

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