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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kent works on foundation block

Not really just relaxing in the temple foundations! Kent is working to consolidate the face of a painted and carved reused block at the northeast corner of the temple porch. Careful attention to any surface losses results in work to preserve both stone and pigment. The block will then be wrapped before its removal.

Kent at work

Moving blocks
Stacking blocks to be reused
Betsy and Chuck

The wall is coming down slowly but surely. Franck oversees the movement of each block as it is lifted by the winch. Blocks that are decorated and had been reused in the Twenty-fifth dynasty wall are placed on the cart to be moved to a mastaba. Those that are strong enough to be returned to the rebuilt wall are stacked next to the wall on the existing mastaba. Those that have no decoration and are disintegrated will fill subfloor areas within the temple. With the rapid removal of the wall by courses, new scale drawings must be made every couple of days. Chuck works to complete the drawing of Level 4 before its stones are lifted, and each block is numbered to facilitate Franck’s reconstruction of the wall. After the blocks are lifted, if there is decoration, an additional D-number is assigned to it, and Betsy keeps a description of any inscriptions and sculpted elements along with a list of the Decorated block numbers.

Moving a decorated block
Placing the block on the mastaba

Franck and his crew move a decorated block on the cart out to the First Court mastabas and then gently ease it into place. The dirty block only hints at the finely sculpted decoration showing a king’s striding leg with the bull’s tail behind and an inscription behind it. A few minutes later Kent covers the decorated surfaces of the stone with cloth to reduce the sunlight and then covers the entire block with plastic to preserve the dampness and retard salt crystallization. We look forward to the result of the conservators’ efforts after many months of treatment. The present open air display of our work from the last two years gives us great hope for these newly retrieved stones.

Close view of decorated block
Protecting the blocks with plastic sheets
View of open air display

Franck discussing work

Franck is discussing future work at the temple with another stone mason from the Franco-Egyptian Center at Karnak. Next winter we must complete the stabilization of the west and southwest walls of the temple. You can see here the foundation slippage that has occurred as the result of subsidence. The two stone masons will work together to restore the walls, after which we will refill the ground level to its height in the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, during which periods the last changes to the rear of the temple were made.

Looking at foundation walls


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