You are looking northwest at the Taharqa Gate late Thursday morning. We are now down to the paving in the whole gateway, except for a small area in the center of the west side. As is true throughout the site, the sandstone paving has been badly damaged by ground water over the years: the bright yellow sand used to be stone. The meter stick is sitting on a flat block set into and partially covered with mud brick that may be the earliest phase of the brick constructions that once blocked the gate.
The area north of Mut’s 1st Pylon continues to be plagued by pits and animal holes. In the southern area (left) we have two new intrusions (left of and behind the meter stick); the lower seems to cut the south end of the mud brick wall running across the bottom of the photo. On the right, you are looking north at the northern area between the rows of limestone. We thought we might have found a bed of sand used to level the ground before foundations of a now-disappeared building were laid. Instead, we have an animal’s tunnel into which sand has drifted. This area remains enigmatic.
In the center of the area we’ve done more work on the curious installation of burned brick uncovered earlier in the season. To the south and east of the rectangular spaces (left photo) is a mass of collapsed and broken brick with pottery. Once this was removed (right) we could begin to define the center and eastern sections. We now think we have some idea of the installation’s purpose.
In the area around the installation we have found pieces of bronze and glass slag (left) and 5 ceramic moulds (right), including one for an animal’s eye (center row left) and another for a flower (center right). This suggests that the installation may have been used for smelting metal or making glass, perhaps for making jewelry or inlays.
In the past few seasons we uncovered the footing of the Mut Temple’s 1st pylon (arrow). Like the rest of the pylon, it was coated with plaster, traces of which remain. This week we dug a sounding between the walls of one of the rooms built against the pylon to find its foundations, something I have long wanted to do. This photo looks east along the pylon face, with the sounding in the foreground.
We succeeded. The pylon’s sand foundation bed was uncovered just over a meter below the footing.
The edge of the excavation into which the foundations were set (known as the foundation trench) is indicated by arrows in the photo on the left. Getting these pictures was something of a challenge for Mary, the dig’s photographer.
In the upper levels of the foundation trench we found this relief of Khonsu that dates (stylistically) to the late New Kingdom. This suggests that at least the present face of the pylon was not built until after the New Kingdom.
On the left, Mohamed (left), Sayed (2nd from right) and two assistants put one of the more shattered blocks of Chapel D’s lotus and papyrus frieze back together before it can be put back in place (right). Fifteen separate bits of stone, some of them very small, had to be consolidated, positioned and mortared into place.
On the left, Sayed positions a fragment of one of the larger, upper blocks that was re-installed this week. On the right, he, Mohamed and their assistant Feisal put lime mortar between the blocks to hold them in place. Khaled supervises the whole process.
At the start of the week, all the kings and deities were still headless. Here is their condition at noon on February 21. The siba supports the last block of the wall’s middle course, which is not yet aligned to the liking of Khaled, Mohamed and Sayed. If all goes well, the last two blocks of the top course will go up early next week.
Mary and Jaap have been trying to get a good photo of a stilted avocet, with its bright red legs, since the start of the season; Mary finally succeeded this week (left). From Jaap comes the photo on the right of a pied kingfisher, perched on a stub of reed. The birds of Mut continue to fascinate us all.