Thursday, 24 July 2008

Discoveries at Luxor Temple

With permission from Mr Mansour Boraik of the Supreme Council of Antiquities I was taken over the mosque of Abu Hagag today.

I had read about the discoveries in the press but when I went there today I was stunned by what I saw. I have visited the mosque many times before and although you could see where the shape of column showed it was part of the structure. It was just tantalising as little or no detail or decoration was visible. There was only evidence in one or two places but little did I know or did the SCA know just how much there was until restoration started at the mosque.

Ibrahim Soliman also of the SCA took me round at Mr Mansour’s suggestion and I would like to publicly thank him as well, especially for helping me clamber over the site as it was tricky to get in and out.

It started as a project from the Islamic section to do restoration of this important mosque but as they took down the plaster to get back to the originals walls they found these were even more original than they thought. At that point Mr Mansour took over the project. It was very fortunate that the plaster that had been used was not made of cement and it was easy to remove. Indeed you could even see glimpses of colour on the newly exposed pillars. The area the mosque covers is behind the left hand side pylon. When I went there before the work started you could see 3 or 4 columns but now there are loads visible either partially or completely. The restorers have removed everything except the brick walls of the mosque to fully reveal the extent of the temple within the mosque.

The most interesting portion for me was that the prayer niche had actually been carved out of the temple column. I had been inside and seen that niche and had no idea anything pharaonic was behind it. It must be really unusual. When the mosque is completed in about 4 months this will be covered up again so this photo will be very unique.

Also this corner of the actual mosque had another column hidden behind the plaster.

Most exciting was this lintel. It has an elephant on it and I have personally never seen an elephant in Ancient Egyptian art and didn’t recognise it at first. Does anyone know how common this is, it is certainly fascinating.

The plan is that when the mosque is restored that the places within the actual mosque would be covered by something like wood to preserve the temple but as it would be haram to have them displayed within a mosque they do have to be covered. It is a very important mosque and needs to be treated with dignity and respect. I also find it quite poignant that worship has continued on this one spot all through the centuries by Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Romans, Christians and now Muslims. It makes it special for me.

So a big thank you to Mr Mansour Boraik, Mr Ibrahim Soliman and the SCA for letting me see all this.

BTW Mr Mansour will be publishing the discovery soon but until then I hope my snaps will give you some idea of the extent of the discovery.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 16th, 2007

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