Sunday, 30 November 2008

Recent Work of the American Research Centre in Khonsu Temple, Karnak – Pamela Rose, Brett MacLean

Pamela Rose
The current temple is a Ramesses III structure incorporating an Amenhotep II bark shrine. Recently they have been working looking at the foundations of the temple. There are three projects going on
1) Conservation of the wall paintings – Ed Johnson
2) Restoration and repair of the temple access – Danny Roy
3) Epigraphic study of the reused blocks – Chicago House
Pamela Rose is an archaeologist who is investigating and recording the foundation material. This work is not disturbing the temple in any way as they are using ancient holes that have been filled with rubble. Once they clear these they are backfilling with sand and repaving the floor. They have found mud brick and limestone blocks but as to giving a clear idea of what these things are it is like making a novel out of post it notes. A lot of her work can be called key hole surgery as some of the spaces are very tiny.

Temple Axis’s
In late Roman times they removed the paving and dug large pits, these are enormous and contain nothing pharaonic. It is possible they were looking for gold. At one point the hypostyle hall contained a church. They have found no foundation deposits only late Roman and medieval material. From this they are able to deduce there was a medieval occupation of the temple but they are not sure exactly what it was although the evidence points towards a domestic use. They also found a 1979 newspaper!

The construction follows set patterns and there are multiple layers of foundation including blocks, mud brick structures and debris

In the sanctuary there were lots of reused blocks and they have cleared a large area. There were mud brick platforms on a trench of soft sand. It is possible the stones were part of an earlier structure but not sure the purpose of the mud brick. There was a mud brick covering to a hole but it was empty except for a limestone plaque.

It is possible the earlier structure had lime stone blocks as the current temple is made of sandstone but these reused foundation blocks are limestone. They were only able to remove 2 blocks one of which was inscribed.

They have spent a lot of time clearing rubble and in it they found another piece of the late 18 dynasty triad which is now 15 cm taller.

Brett MacLean
He talked about the epigraphic survey. Although the temple was only partly decorated it was recorded in a survey done in 1924 of all Ramses III structures. It is built of reused blocks from
• Amenhotep III’s peristyle hall from his mortuary temple
• Amenhotep son of Hapi mortuary temple
• Ay
• Horemheb
There are reused and recarved pillar drums of Amenhotep and architraves of Horemheb. On the roof there is an Akhenaton chariot scene. Bark shrines of Tutmosis III, Amenhotep II, and Amenhotep III. They wanted to record these blocks in the floor of the temple while they were available as when the temple is backfilled and repaved these will be hidden again. There are 150 reused fragments in the floor and 70% have inscriptions. Some were extremely difficult to access; where possible they use clear plastic and take a 1:1 traced copy. In some places they had so little space; they used aluminium foil to take rubbings.

One block was a lintel with inscriptions of Tutmosis IV on one side. There was only a 1cm gap the other side making recording really difficult but they found it was Tutmosis III on the other side.

After they make the 1:1 they then make a smaller copy and double check each other’s results and Ray Johnson does the final check. Where possible photographs are taken with film and digital.

One limestone block had raised relief dating to the middle kingdom or very early new kingdom.

A door jamb fragment of Tutmosis III, with a piece of graffiti of Khonsu so they think there was an earlier structure to Khonsu on the site.

There are three square pillar fragments approximately 70-75 cm wide with Khonsu in raised relief on one side and sunk relief on the other side. There is Amarna damage and restoration. They are not sure which king as the piece that would contain the glyphs is missing. Another fragment with a falcon headed god which could be Khonsu or Montu which must have come from the same building.

There were 5-6 blocks with raised Tutmosis style with pharaoh and Khonsu showing Amarna damage that had been recarved.

Some blocks show Tutmosis IV recarved in a Ramses II style or Horemheb changed to Ramses II

All the blocks are in the back area so all part of a single previous structure

It is a closed set of blocks there are none in the walls or roof
Lots of Khonsu or a flacon headed god
So it is possible there was a previous temple is a style similar to the small Tutmosis temple in Medinet Habu

It was built by Tutmosis III and finished by Tutmosis IV, there was damage in the Amarna period and it was recarved. An Atum figure was left intact. Ramses II changed it adding his long transparent robe and changing the design of the kilt. He also changed the nose and ear of a Tutmosis king, carving it more deeply and making it look more like Ramses II. Ramses II added an annex that was original to him and usurped something built by Horemheb

These are prelimary conclusions as the work is not finished.

Next week Karnak the Quintessential Sacred City of Egypt by Sylvia Caville

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