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Monday, January 12, 2009

In Meredith’s square G Jay took a morning photograph of the plastered surface on the west side of the trench. Just as with the plaster layer in Ashley’s A extension square, this is a sloping surface that begins abruptly and appears to continue into the lake bed. Here it is better preserved than on the west side of the lake. Quick analysis on site indicates that it is a lime plaster, rather than a gypsum one. This would suggest that it dates late (Ptolemaic or Roman), just as our pottery and stratigraphy would direct.

View of the plaster surface in square G.
View of square G.

View of Shaina's square.

Shaina’s square is photographed early in the morning, and despite its lack of stone or brick large features, is helping us to define the lake levels in antiquity. The lower stone (right on the photograph) has yet to reveal a full story of any embankment in this area, but the upper region shows us variations in soil color. We can see a clear border of darker (even greenish) organic soil next to a true brown. Violaine and Shaina discuss strategy for the trench and then look at the soil together. The qufti Yasin has carefully defined a mass of small stones adhering together. This deserves more attention, and Violaine gives Shaina some suggestion for further excavation.

Violaine and Shaina discuss strategy.
Looking at a mass of small stones.

Today we are unable to work at the western quay. As we indicated earlier, the soil was so wet that excavating had slowed greatly. A new well and pump were placed north of the trench, but due to the heavy organic muck it was not pulling well. Attempts to clear it resulted in some local flooding, and we will need to wait for the area to dry out a day or two. A look at the pumps in action shows the large amount of water being sucked from the soil here. Today, however, this water is brownish because of the new well’s drawing silt. This will clean out quickly, but the amount of water will continue.

View of the western quay.
The pumps in action.

Moving a column drum.   Lifting a  section.
Lining up the sections.

Today Franck, Christophe, and Laurent began to move the column drums that will be reconstituted. The first task they faced was to determine the overall height of the columns originally, and Franck particularly wished to know the height BELOW the inscription – a question that Betsy never really addressed in her reconstitution of the texts! However, the expert masons solved this problem within two hours – 91 cm. is the exact length of the columns below the texts. One can only respect such a level of professionalism. Now they move the pieces slowly to begin rebuilding the column bases. First one, and then another.

Lowering the section into place.

Another one completed.



Hiroko at work on stone fragments.
Hiroko at work.

Hiroko is a bit overwhelmed by small stone fragments this season. Her room is running out at the mastaba area. But she continues to work nonetheless, manually cleaning dirt from the fragments and assessing the need for other chemical intervention. One of the most important elements, however, is documentation. Everything is mapped as to its location, so that we can find things when we need to. That has become essential, as we learn when something appears to be missing. So far we eventually find things, because the notebooks contain the information. Otherwise, one can only imagine!

Violaine and Betsy in discussion.

A brief moment for Betsy and Violaine to discuss where we are and where we’re going. These are important talks in the midst of so much localized activity. If we do not consider together what our results are suggesting to us, then decisions about where to work next are often less well informed. So, today Violaine and I are considering the role of trenches B and C (Chris’ area) in the Ptolemaic and Roman eras. Our exchange centers on what information we need to determine the lake edge and the nature of a “quay” in the periods in question. Our large structure in square C looks more like an embankment than a dock, and at this point our primary aim is to reach its bottom. For the moment, end of the conversation.


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