Features: Mut Precinct, History

Preservation and Restoration

One of the great tasks facing all archaeologists, in Egypt as elsewhere, is preserving and restoring the monuments uncovered-making them "live forever" as their creators intended—so that future generations may study and wonder at them. Like other sites, the Mut Precinct's monuments are threatened by rising groundwater levels and by the increasing salinity of the soil in which the monuments sit. While it is impossible to protect buildings completely, conservation and restoration are two of the primary goals of the Brooklyn Museum's Mut Expedition. Preservation projects have included: the reconstruction of the Contra Temple, a small building abutting the Mut Temple; the rebuilding of the inner face of the enclosure wall where it had collapsed on a row of sphinxes first restored by Maurice Pillet; and the partial rebuilding of the mud-brick wing of the Mut Temple's second pylon to a height of nine feet. The expedition also continues to create safe outdoor storage for the many blocks of temple decoration that cannot be re-positioned in the walls but should be available for study by visitors.

Over the years, the Brooklyn expedition conserved and re-erected several individual Sakhmet statues. In 1999, however, the expedition began a long-term project to clear the dirt around all the statues of Sakhmet in the Mut Temple, to stabilize their damaged areas, and to mount the statues on bases that will isolate them from further salt and water damage. The expedition's conservator conducted a thorough survey of the statues during that season. Since then, the expedition has been systematically conserving and moving onto new bases the Sakhmet statues in the areas of the Mut Precinct that are Brooklyn's responsibility. The Johns Hopkins University expedition is carrying out similar conservation work in its area of the precinct.

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The west wall of the Contra Temple before conservation

The west wall of the Contra Temple before conservation

Wall after conservation and restoration by 1990 Mut Expedition

The same wall after conservation and restoration by the Mut Expedition in 1990

Conservator Bruno examining a statue

Brooklyn Museum Conservator Lisa Bruno examining a statue at the excavation site

Sakhmet statues near the Mut Temple's First Court, 1978

A 1978 view south of the Sakhmet statues on the east side of the Mut Temple's First Court

Sakhmet statues near the Mut Temple's First Court, 2001

A view north of the same area in 2001