The end of a short season

paving jan 30

Because of potential unrest, no foreign missions were allowed to work in the field on Saturday, January 29, so we weren’t able to get back to the paving until Sunday. By late morning Abdel Aziz and Mamdouh had taken down the southern half of the small baulk between their 2 areas and had reached the paving across much of the area.

paving on Jan 30

And here is the square at noon on Sunday. Although a few blocks are somewhat decayed, the paving is generally in pretty good condition.  We had to cut steps into the baulk between the two sections of the square to allow the workers – and Mary – to get into and out of a square that is over 2 meters deep.

lighting for paving

To get even lighting on the paving on a windy day, at noon, when shadows are narrow, took a complicated arrangement of sheets, galabiyas and scarves. Our workmen, as always, showed great good humor and willingness to cooperate with our odd requests.

paving on Jan 31

It was much easier to take this south-looking photo of the paving early on Monday morning, when the sides of the square itself provided sufficient shadow. The angle of the Dynasty 25 paving to the later Ptolemaic wall is very evident, as is a narrow drainage channel cut diagonally across the paving, a feature not found in the areas closer to the gate.

paving view from west

As we suspected, the displaced block projecting from the west baulk of the square and forming the bottom of the large pit is, indeed, a displaced paving stone. Its original position was probably the now-empty space under the right end of the meter stick.

DD5 gen view of wall

In this January 27 photograph taken from the enclosure wall, the continuity between the eastern section of the boundary wall of the approach to the Taharqa Gate (left) and the part excavated this season (right) is clear. In the foreground are the remains of the late Ptolemaic/Roman Period houses.

DD5 plate bowl

Although our excavations this year were intentionally limited, we did find some interesting pottery and objects. Here are the shallow, black-glazed Hellenistic bowl with impressed decoration and the slightly larger stone bowl mentioned in the posting of our first week’s work. The bowl appears to be serpentine, not diorite as we had first thought.

DD5 juglet DD5 colander

From the unexpected pottery cache found during our 2nd week came this rather elegant, highly burnished juglet with blue decoration; and a Ptolemaic colander (right). Like modern colanders it even had 2 horizontal handles (one shown here) by which you could hold it while shaking the water out of your lettuce.

DD5 bowl

Mary’s favorite piece of pottery is this carinated bowl, found at the bottom of the large pit in the square west of the Taharqa Gate. While its shape is simple and the pottery fairly coarse, the potter took the time to press a subtle pattern of radiating lines into the underside, making it rather special.

DD5 faience objects

We only found 2 faience objects this season. The small amulet of a falcon-headed god (left) came from the southern excavation area. The musician was found in the square west of the Taharqa Gate. When complete, the harp would most likely have rested on an oversized phallus; such erotic figures, in faience or stone, were quite common in ancient Egypt.

DD5 object 24MW51 DD5 object 25M25

Last year’s “mystery” object was the item on the left. We had no idea what it was, or even which way it stood. This year we were at least able to answer the second question: it is the rear end of a hollow terracotta animal (possibly a dog). We still don’t know its purpose.

Montuemhat crypt

Once the paving was fully exposed and photographed on January 31, we were able to spend our last few days at the site on other matters. I had a chance once again to examine the so-called “Montuemhat crypt”: a small chapel within the Mut Temple built by and dedicated to Montuemhat. Such chapels are extremely rare. Auguste Mariette, one of the founding fathers of Egyptology, published drawings of the chapel’s texts and scenes in 1875.

treasury wall from Mariette

The copy of Mariette’s book in the Wilbour Library was annotated and corrected by Charles Edwin Wilbour when he visited the site in the late 1880s. Here is Mariette’s drawing (with Wilbour’s notations) of one of the most interesting scenes: the relief on the rear wall that may show an inventory of ritual objects and sculptures within the temple.  (In Mariette’s book the reliefs are reversed; they are shown here in their correct orientation) I am particularly interested in comparing what Mariette and Wilbour saw with what is preserved today.

treasury wall today

Although these scenes are very poorly preserved and difficult to light, we were able to get usable photographs of them that will assist in their study.

Not a bad end for a study season.

With the work done, Mary and I headed home on February 4 by way of Doha and Paris – a somewhat roundabout but interesting itinerary. Our last Flickr posting to “Mut 2011: Sights at the Site and Beyond” includes a few photos taken on that trip.