Mummification Museum Lecture - Amenhotep III temple Dr Hourig Sourouzian
The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation project.
DR Hourig Sourouzian
The aim of the project is to preserve and eventually present these areas to the public. The team is a huge one 230 workman and 28 team members.
2002 season they were working on the 2nd and 3rd pylons and peristyle hall
2003 cleaned the colossus and studied the cracks; the northern colossus is the real ‘Memnon’ and has huge cracks in the roman restoration. There is a 40 degree difference between day and night and together with the vibrations from the car park and earthquake potential put a lot of pressure on the monument. The team undertake regular soundings underneath the plinths and during this saw a protruding foot, a Greek inscription was found. The bases have been left uncleaned for study purposes. The team needed to know what was happening underground. There has also been a study of the polychrome on the colossus.
The study of the torso of the northern colossus:- the original upper part fell in 27 BC, it was 700 tons, restored in Roman times with layers of blocks, some of which were reused stones. A report on this will appear soon.
We were shown some slides one of which was taken from Goggle earth showing the temple and are therefore available. The temple was on the top 100 endangered list in 1998/99 and 2004
At the gate of the second pylon there was a fallen colossus, possibly fallen at the time of Rameses II, this has been eaten by salts and plants. During 2003 they managed to open it up and joined two parts of the nemes head cloth. It was in a better state of preservation under the Nile silt. They hope they find the face.
In 2004/5 they lifted the torso after removing the head, it was 450 tons and they lifted it 1m 90 using air cushions. This process was very complicated technically. Part of the foot remained underneath. By 2005/6 they lifted it 3m 20 and after removing the foot found a lovely queen. This has now been moved 11m 50 to the north leaving behind a mound of gravel and you could even see the negatives of the air cushions. They need an aerial view of the site and to investigate why and when it collapsed.
The team have found literally thousands of fragments; they are going to leave the undecorated ones and will work on the decorated ones.
The brick pylon does exist and had 2 niches with granite foundation blocks for flag poles.
They have tried using various geo techniques but this has not proved useful.
There was a colonnade leading to a peristyle hall (similar to Luxor temple).
They have a regular problem with water; the site is underneath the level of the surrounding fields. There was 1 ½ steps up to the court which had many bases of colossus statues and columns. !00,000 new fragments have been discovered but it is impossible to reconstruct with the current water problem.
They have a dewatering project for the peristyle and hypostyle halls using porous pipes and the water being pumped out into the nearby carnal. In some cases because of the condition of the limestone blocks the trench line had to be moved. In other the blocks could be removed and restored and then replaced. They also removed the storage Mastaba and found artefacts underneath. A brick wall was found near the peristyle hall similar to that between the temple and magazines at the Ramasseum and Merenptah indicating that there must have been magazines.
Last season the water level had reduced 3 meters revealing foundations and walls, There was a statue between each pillar, which were bunched papyrus bundles. More foundations might be revealed as the water level drops further.
This temple has been neglected for 30 years but the current work is revealing more and more, things which had been lost are being returned including the eyes of a large head which had been taken out of the country.
Decided to re-erect the Northern Steele in the Eastern side of the peristyle hall. It is possible that after the foundations are sorted this season this stele could be re-erected. There is a ramp going from the portico and it is possible that this lead to the stele.
Last year 62 Sekmet statues were found and they are still finding more, during the Ramaside period they took walls, foundations and pylons but not statues. This removal left trenches and it is possible that the statues then fell in these.
They have removed architectural parts onto benches and covered with sand awaiting further funding.
I asked a question about the possibility of there been part of the temple under the road and if there was what would they do.
Dr Hourig confirmed that the road actually went through part of the peristyle hall and pylon.
Mr Mansour Boraik announced that the SCA had acquired 85 acres of land to the north of the colossus and there was now a chance to investigate further. The road could be moved next to the Rameses canal, although there would still be problems getting to Habu. This acquisition is very exciting and could mean a lot of changes in the infrastructure of the roads on the West Bank.
BTW apologies for the rather disjointed notes, this lecturer spoke so quickly I had real difficultly and I was not able to cheat and gets her notes as she didn’t have any
I do think the SCA is to be congratulated on this seasons lectures they have been really interesting.
Posted by Jane: - 7:14 pm - Edit| No Comments »
February 16th, 2007