Monday, 19 December 2011

Mummification Museum Lecture - Merenptah Sarcophagi Reconstruction - Edwin Brock

Merenptah Sarcophagi Reconstruction – Royal Ontario Museum – Edwin C Brock Director
It was wonderful to be back at lectures again and with a brand new projector and screen. Mansour Boraik welcomed us all back; he also mentioned that whilst the trouble has been going on Luxor has remained safe and quiet for the antiquities and visitors alike. Ted Brock and he had worked together at Memphis and more recently on the dewatering project due to be published soon. Mansour hopes to reopen the tomb at the end of February. There was an attendance of about 100.
Ted Brock then started the lecture. Permission for this project came just before the revolution so consequently work did not start until April. Merenptah was he 13th son of Ramses II and his eventual successor; he reigned for 10 years and was middle aged when he came to the throne. Unusually he had 4 stone sarcophagi; Ted has been studying for a dissertation on royal sarcophagi of New Kingdom pharaohs after Akhenaton. In 2003 there had been a project to restore the sarcophagus of Ramses VI KV9 run by USAID and ARCE. The inner coffin had been smashed to pieces so that the outer coffin of red granite could be reused. That had a 1 meter thick base. (There is a piece about this and here

With Merenptah there are 4 sarcophagi 3 of red granite and the 4th of Travertine, Egyptian alabaster. The lids are
• 1st lid in chamber H( where it had been left after the 3rd box had been moved to Tanis in XXI dynasty
• 2nd lid cartouche shaped with an effigy of the king left in situ in chamber J on modern limestone blocks found in 1903 on its side by Carter
• 3rd lid (and box) was reused by Psusennes I however the remaining glyphs show that it was originally made for Merenptah when he was crown prince. It also has a effigy of the king
The fragments of the sarcophagus were stored by Carter in chamber FA. Aidan Dobson has a line drawing of the various lids in his book about mummies and they hope to do the same for the bases. The decoration on the third box, because it was made for Merenptah as a prince, shows a difference collection of gods and goddesses than would be for a pharaoh.

The sarcophagus were moved into the tomb AFTER it was carved and decorated and this created a lot of problems as the door jams were not wide enough. Larges squares were also carved out to allow for the wooden beams that were used to get it into the tomb. The door jams were then replaced by sand stone blocks.
Ted had started back in the 1980’s to sort the heap of fragments into by box. He then followed with test assemblies. New fragments were also found by the French cleaning the lower chambers and the SCA excavating outside the tomb. The test assemblies and fragments groups were drawn by Lyla Pinch Brock. Once documented the proper assembly could be made, they used epoxy resin and sometimes drilled and pined with stainless steel rods.

When complete they then decided where to place it. The second sarcophagus lid had been left in situ supported on limestone pillars, it was decorated inside and out, the end of the lid echoes the tomb ceiling. This was moved (easy to say but difficult in engineering terms to do). The pit where it was then cleared, the travertine piece left in situ, modern limestone blocks put in place to hold the box, the broken corner of the travertine was also repaired. A new floor was made, the size of this was guessed at using the damage done to the decorated tomb to estimate the original height of the box at 42cm. The entire floor was not put in place just that needed to support the walls of the box. The fragment groups were put in place using levers and rollers much like the ancients would have done. The floor trimmed to fit. They have managed to restore about 1/3 of the box and you can see the scorch marks where fire was sued in conjunction with cold water to crack the stone.
The lid could not be put back in place on top of the box as that would have raised the height so much that the effigy would no longer be visible so they have put it to the side on a plinth and expect to install mirrors and lights so the inside decoration can be seen by visitors. Lyla has also drawn on the empty spaces outlines of what would have been there.
In the question and answer Ted noted that it is was very unusual to have some many stone Sarcophagi.
Mansour also mentioned that the beard of Psusennes had been found and restored in place.

The next lecture will be Francesco Tiradritti on the tomb of Harwa and will take place Monday 26th December

As ever I welcome corrections

No comments: