Features: Mut Precinct, Dig Diary 2006

2006 Dig Diary: Week 5

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North mound of Mut's 1st Pylon

At the end of week 5, the mound north of Mut's 1st Pylon looks much different than it did even last week. The pylon's face has been cleared and the structures built against it are much more distinct. We clearly have four rooms (the baulk between squares 2 and 3 covers the wall between the 2nd and 3rd rooms from the left). The people on the right side of the picture are working in the space between the last room and the outside of Mut's East Porch. Some detailed shots follow.

Broken pottery in square 2

Under a collapsed mud brick wall or ceiling in the easternmost room (square 2) we found a mass of broken pottery that seems to have been in the room when the roof or upper walls collapsed. Pottery that has fallen in place is much more useful for dating its environment than pottery garbage tossed over a convenient wall, possibly over the course of many years.

Group of blocks

After removing a layer of burnt material in square 3's eastern room (3rd room from the left in the first photograph), we came on this group of blocks that were thrown into this area sometime in the past. In the foreground, south of the rocks and running partially under them, is an area of burning. To the north is what appeared to be a fall of mud brick, visible in the shadow on the right of the picture.

Circular brick feature

Random brick fall or a circular feature made up of concentric rows of brick? We still aren't sure. In this picture, with the stones still in place, the rows seem fairly definite.

Workmen with burnt bricks

When we removed the stones, however, we weren't as sure. Here, the burnt bricks in the foreground don't line up as certainly. The dampness of the soil can obscure color and texture differences, so we are letting this area dry for a few days to see if things become clearer.

Photographer with wall and shade cloth

Sometimes the sun doesn't cooperate with photography—it's either too strong or at the wrong angle. Here Mary directs a group of workmen holding a shade cloth (actually a bed sheet) to create an area of even lighting on the wall she wants to photograph.

Workmen with walls

This picture illustrates one of the frustrations of archaeology. In the northern area now called square 4, we have an east-west wall (foreground) that starts at the edge of the mound, runs for 3 meters, and then stops. Another stub of wall, this one L-shaped, also starts and stops abruptly. We can only hope that lower courses are preserved that will allow us to figure out how these walls relate, but that may be difficult. Whatever lies underneath has been thoroughly disturbed by the multi-roomed foxhole we uncovered in the first week.

Excavators having a discussion

This week Herman te Velde, retired professor of ancient Egyptian religion at the State University of Groningen in Holland, has joined us for a few weeks. He, Richard, and Jaap are discussing the work they will be doing this season on some of the site's Dynasty 25 and Ptolemaic inscriptional material.

Ben and Lisa on site

Ben Harer, a retired gynecologist with a particular interest in ancient Egyptian medicine and a long-time member of the Mut Expedition, also arrived this week. He is supervising the work in square 4. Before starting work, he is discussing restoration of the large fallen ram just inside the Precinct's gate with Lisa.

Working on fallen ram statue

In our first week at the site Richard discussed with SCA officials the conservation of the large, fallen ram statue just inside the Precinct's gate. Khaled and Lisa started work on the ram this week. They need to consolidate the damaged surface areas and fill many deep cracks to stabilize the beast before it can be righted.

LIsa injecting epoxy into a crack

Lisa carefully injects epoxy into one of the cracks on the ram's back. It is painstaking work.

Chapel's east jamb (front)

This is the front of the chapel's east jamb.

Jamb's inner corner

This photo reveals the jamb's inner corner. You can see what a careful job the conservators have done, even reproducing the inner corner's curved base. The final coating will be tinted to match the original sandstone.

Restorer working on a column

In addition to restoring the chapel's east jamb, we decided to repair the two columns in the chapel's front room, both in danger of collapse. The column on the left has been dismantled and we are in the process of reattaching the broken pieces of the column base; the belt holds the pieces together while the adhesive dries. Mohammed Gharib, the SCA restorer, is just beginning work on the right-hand column.

Positioning the column drum

It's a few days later. Repair of the left column base is complete, and it's time to lift the column drum back into position. These operations are always tense.

Workers standing by mounted column

Perfect! In the next few days the conservators will finish repairs to this column before tackling its partner (not visible).

Workers and statues by wall

We haven't forgotten about the Sakhmet statues in Mut's 1st Court. The wall behind the statues is finished and work on the new bases has begun. The bases are made of baked brick with bitumen cloth between courses (layers) to prevent water seepage. The brick will then be covered with cement (being applied here). Plastic sheeting will separate the cement from the statues.