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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

View of trench H.

In trench H the embankment continues to be revealed southwards, and Jay’s full photograph shows how much has been accomplished already this season. The stone is in good condition, and in the picture you can see on the right side what may be a staircase that led down to the water. This is not certain, however, and could be a result of incomplete preservation. Unfortunately we have standing water in the trench now, despite the pump directly next to the moisture. Work will continue wherever it can, but the ARCE engineers tell us that there is not much more that can be done here.

View of trench H.

Water in the trench.

Jessica and Emily's area.
Emily and Jessica.
Large stones in the trench.

Margaret Benson and Janet Gourlay who worked at the Mut precinct in the late 1890’s dug in the area where Jessica and Emily are supervising. The earlier investigators believed that there had been a staircase here leading down to the water and “fixed” the stones near the top to conform with that notion. Further down the hill, although we are still looking at fill, fallen large stone similar to those from the embankment to the east sit in the trench.  The baulk also shows blocks falling on a slope, and here we may have some indication that there had indeed been a revetment that stepped up. Despite our lack of features here, we will continue to work.

Attempting to move the block.   Attempting to move a block.

This is a story that I would prefer not to have to tell (or show, that is). In Shaina’s trench I, the embankment blocks have continued to appear, and the qufti there, Yasin, has noted several inscribed stones among them. These are reused, and it would be helpful to know the date of the original carving on them. One longer block showed inscription facing the block beside it, and we decided to upend its neighbor, to look at and photograph the text and decoration, and then replace the upended block. However, it became apparent soon that the blocks had heavy mortar between them (ergo the muna plaster pit in the square), and they did not move. After cleaning out a considerable amount of the plaster, it was still not possible to move the block, and the Director (that’s me) thought that we should stop the attempt. However, I did not insist, but rather succumbed to the challenge that the workers and the masons had taken on. Even with the careful work of Franck, Laurent, and Christophe, moving the stone next to the one we wished to view was difficult, and given that these blocks had been intermittently in water for two thousand years, it is not too surprising that it broke in half when lifted. 

The block breaks.
Not the end of the story, however.  On the bottom face of the broken block was the perfectly preserved relief face of a goddess, presumably Mut, which you see me and Franck looking at. Hiroko quickly arrived to clean this and the inscription we had wished to see. It was an unexpected gain, I suppose, but my decision was wrong. The embankment should have been left as found.   
Viewing the exposed relief.
Hiroko cleaning the inscribed block.

The columned portico in from of Mut Temple.

Franck will soon begin to rebuild the columned portico of Hatshepsut in front of the Mut Temple. He ordered new stone from the Gebel Silsila quarry, and the first group of stones has arrived.  Removing them from the large truck without motorization proved to be interesting, as Jay’s pictures illustrate. Please note that in Egypt EVERYTHING is recycled. The tires you see on the ground in this series of pictures were retrieved from the drained Sacred Lake earlier in the day, and now they find a new occupation cushioning the falling blocks. And Franck’s workers landed the huge blocks dead on them every time!

The stone arrives from the quarry.
Preparing to move the stones from the truck.
Pushing the stone.   The stone begins to fall.
Right on the target.
Another stone is pushed off the truck.
Hitting the tires square on.


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