Thursday, 14 February 2013

Malqata - Mummification Museum Lecture

Three members of the Joint Expedition to Malqata gave the presentation. Catherine Roehrig, Peter Lecovara and Diana Craig Patch. They have an excellent blog where you can loads of details of what is going on.

The team is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Michael Carlos Museum

Mansour introduced them and commented how important this excavation was because of the encroachment and lack of an accurate map because it was so large.


A number of the slides used Goggle earth overlaid with pointers, plans and maps. Personally i found this massively useful as I have never been able to get my head round this site and relate the floor plan of the king’s place to the actual site. Using Google was excellent. They also had some aerial photos provided by Barry Budd. As Catherine said the only way to really appreciate the site is from the air.

They are in their 4th season investigating the Temple of Amun, the Platform, North Palace, West Villas South and North Village amongst others, going as far south as Kom el Samak, including Birket Habu and the road to Deir el Shelwit. There is everything from Amenhotep III to Roman times. The name Malqata derives from the Arabic ‘to find’ and Catherine illustrated the lecture with a number of slides from the Metropolitan collection of moulds, rings, beads and pottery. Worth having a look at their website.

The site has been excavated by numerous teams from the 1880’s onwards including Percy Newbury and Robb Tytus, the Met under Winlock, Barry Kemp and David O’Connor and Waseda University.

Some of the previous excavations didn’t record things by the standards of today nor did they back fill so much information and sadly the actual structures have been lost to us. Catherine showed slides of earlier excavations and what is left today. Also things like the calf bench supports which have been removed from the site and are in the Cairo and Met respectively.

The temple’s full name was the House of Amun in the House of Rejoicing and had three shrines. There was sand over a brick flooring and they have door jambs ad lintels. The floors were plastered and appear to have been redone perhaps for the various Heb Sed’s. A new structure was added again perhaps for the third Heb Sed.

The south village was south of the French House and as they were left uncovered these have been scoured away by the winds.

Out in the desert there is a huge desert causeway which is clearly visible from the air and it focuses your eye on the three hills to the east on the other side of the Nile which have the same shape as the glyph for horizon and is the same axis as Birket Habu. There was some kind of big structure/platform on the east bank also on the same axis.

The overall impression from her lecture was that buildings of Amenhotep III at this time were all over Thebes, they were massive and nowadays very little remains.

Nest it was Peter and he talked about the Kings Palace. This had also not been back filled and although slightly protected by the excavation dumps it is suffering badly. Firstly from camel thorn which loves to grow (and destroy) the fertile mud brick. This mud brick comes in two sizes 30 and 36 cm and they are able it sue this knowledge to identify different building phases. They are going to put protective mesh on existing mud brick, overlay with new bricks and then back fill. The kings bed chamber has the best wall however the before and after photos showed huge deterioration from the original excavation to the condition today. It had been affected by the rain storms of 94/95, the protection of cardboard the guardians had used which had adhered to the brick work, insect and other damage. The plan is to restore, conserve and then cover and create a replica for the enjoyment of visitors whilst the original is kept safe. They want to make the site comprehensible to visitors. The new wall built by the SCA was protecting the site from further encroachment.

I have included one of my own photos form a few years ago where you can see camel thorn, the wall and cardboard, this was taken before the rain storm.

Lastly it was Diane talking about the north village. This had been excavated in 1917-18 by Ambrose Lansing but this was the early days of Egyptology and he left no notes. The village consists of one brick wide small houses, the action of the wind has meant they are lucky to get even one layer of brick and sometimes are only left with the impression in the mortar. There are indications of stairs but the strength of the walls means the roof was unlikely to have supported much more than a few sleeping bodies. Again aerial photographs using Barry Budd’s equipment have been very useful to understanding the site. Some roof pieces have been found as well as attempts at decoration with whitewashed walls with red dots. They were living on a hill and used a variety of methods to cope with that, terracing, ramps, fill or sometimes not bothering and leaving the slope. It has narrow streets and was rebuilt at one point perhaps for the second Heb Sed.

They found pits filled with rubbish, some of these seem to have been deliberately cut. Although this was a workers village it is nothing like Deir le Medina hardly any artefacts. The houses are less substantial, smaller, no bed platforms and no evidence of cooking!!!

I found this quite fascinating, sort of like accommodation provided for the Olympics.

Next week José Manuel Galán on TT11/12 remember NO PHOTOS

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