Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Old Mummification Museum Lecture - Chicago House 2007

Mummification Museum Lecture - Chicago House Report - Ray Johnson
Chicago House Report
The last lecture of the season took place 15th April 2007; I was very surprised that it was so poorly attended especially as Ray Johnson was speaking. I do want to thank the SCA and Mr Mansour Boraik for putting on these lectures, I thoroughly enjoy them and I know my readers do as well. We look forward to them resuming in the autumn, probably after Ramadam.
Founded in 1924, to continue Napoleons work of documenting, by James Henry Breasted. Dr Johnson then went to explain the methods used today

1) They start with large format photography which is then scanned. Some pictures can be published straight away but with others further work is needed called the Chicago House method.
2) Create a drawing of the enlargement
3) Use pencils on the drawing using raking sunlight with mirrors
4) Ink in the 3d – for raised relief a thin sun line followed by a thick shadow line, incised is the opposite. The sun is assumed to be top left.
5) Bleach the photograph away
6) Create a blue print, this is part of the correction process
7) Go back to the wall with collation sheets
8) Review
9) Decide what is acceptable
10) I seem to have missed step 10, can anyone tell me what it was
11) Collation Transfer
12) Directors Review

Progress Report on Medinet Habu
The temple of Ramses III is finished and they are now working on the 18th Dynasty Temple and the God’s Wives chapels
1st publication will be of the 6 painted sanctuaries at the back due this summer then the plan is
Volume 2 Ambulatory
Volume 3 Bark shrine
Volume 4 Kushite Pylon
Volume 5 Roman/Ptolemaic gateway

The sanctuary was for Hatshepsut and Thothmosis III. At a point in its history Habu was the centre of Christianity and had a cathedral, other temples in the complex were used as residences which preserved them better.

Ptolemy VIII put up the lintel which gave the temple a more impressive entrance. The temple is covered with ancient and modern graffiti. There are minor officials and priests who carved their names on the roof. Everything from Ramses III to the modern day. There is even one saying Flo Nightingale. All this has to be documented

Additionally there is a great need for preservation and conservation. When the temples were built Egypt had a dry climate and a low population, now it has a wet climate and a much higher population. In the mid 90’s there were a series of torrential rainstorms that aged the sites by centenaries in a single day. They were able to get a grant from the US government for conservation which ends now and they used this to seal the roof against rain. In doing this conservation work on the roof they activated the Ptolemaic roof drains. Then they started desalination and cleaning. There was lots of soot, these have cleaned up well and they will have some colour plates in the publications showing these.

Inside the sanctuary they replaced the floor (see my photo http://touregypt.net/teblog/luxornews/?p=477 ) and replaced the granodiorite dyad of Thothmosis II and Amun. This was in a bad state as Christians would often pull statues over looking for crypts, then they would fill in holes with the broken statues. The team found lots of pieces of the statues. Akhenaton probably attacked the Amun part of the statues, perhaps the head is in the scared lake. The granite naos was inserted into the sanctuary through the back wall in the time of Ptolemy IX. There was considerable effort to put it in but then they decide not to finish it. It was so heavy the floor could not take it and sunk between ¼ and ½ a metre. So the team decide to move it out record the walls and then put it back. They created a new footing at the right level. And put it back properly. At one pint in its life it had been tipped on its side and used as an oven. The walls of the sanctuary were in a terrible state and the team had to clean, strengthen and infill with lime mortar.

Adel Azziz from the SCA is heavily involved in this work.

Outside the lower courses of blocks had crumbled to such an extent they had to get new blocks from Silsila in some cases. Some were redeemable and they were treated with poultices to remove the salt. Sepiolile clay removes the salts but this is only a temporary solution as it needs doing every year. A dewatering project is needed for the entire West Bank. They are also trying to train others in these techniques.

The granite offering block of Shepenwepet II was put back in its proper place in the side sanctuaries of the God’s wives.

There are wells both sides of the temple with unique representations of Nile God’s. The southern well is in the worst state with foundation blocks that have completely turned to sand. They have to take it to pieces and rebuild it up again. The process is
1) take loads of photos
2) consolidate using gauze and chemicals
3) build scaffolding and mastabas to house the blocks
4) dismantle
5) put into protective storage

They are moving the storage away from the temple palace are and sorting the blocks as they go.

Progress Report on Luxor Temple
Publication of the Opet procession by Tutankamun where Amun travelled from Karnak to Luxor.

In 1958 modern Luxor was right up to the walls of the pylons and when the houses were removed from the temple are many blocks were found that had been incorporated into the house structure. In the 19th centenary these were not considered that important and blocks were piled on the ground where they are now decaying as a result of contact with the damp ground and it is quite possible that the corniche is built of left overs.. So the team is building mastabas with damp proofing so these can be stored properly. This has enabled them to sort the pieces. There is a hospital platform as contact with a decaying block can damage a healthy block like a virus so they must be kept apart. There are some oddities like blocks found at Luxor of Ptolemy XII who did not build at Luxor but at Karnak. All these blocks need conservation and eventual restoration. There are plans for an open air museum. There is a block of Thothmosis IV who also did not build at Luxor temple. It is important to identify the blocks that came from the East Garden which are in the block yard and Ted Brock is working on that.

The Eastern spur wall was like the leaning tower of Piza so they decide to buttress it with a brick core which would stabilise it but be very ugly although light. So they decide the make a façade of sand stone and put a fragment group back which is how the Khonsu wall came about.

With the provision of constant water as a result of the building of the Aswan dam and the over irrigation of the sugar cane fields plus the fact the Luxor is on ancient seabed’s water and salts are a huge problem. Salts used to be washed down to the Med at inundation but no longer. The destruction and wear that used to take 1000 years now only takes 5. The groundwater is only 3 meters below the surface. Money has been allocated to monitor the effects of the conservation.

Diocletian built a huge defensive wall around Luxor temple and the great Eastern gateway is part of this. Some of it is of stone but unusually some is only brick and mud brick. The northern bastion is not as good quality. The old park wall was built on the medieval wall and clipping the bastions. Dr Samir Farag kindly agreed to move it. They have found blocks of Nectanebo and thousands of pieces of sphinx.


The American Research Centre started this project which is a joint venture with Chicago House. Because of them it was started now as Chicago house had it planned for about 10 years time. It commemorates a state visit of Diocletian. During the 19th century it was thought to be a church. Nothing like these frescos survives not even in Italy. Next season the rest of wall will be cleaned.

thanks to chuck Jones for the comment which I have added in here

Your readers may be interested to know that the Oriental Institute has published - online free-of-charge - the first set of publications of the Epigraphic Survey, as a part of its committment to full open access publication of all the published results of its research. The first group includes the following four volumes. These are very large pdf files - so be prepared with a fast connection and patience to download them.
-Chuck Jones-

OIP 21: The Excavation of Medinet Habu, Volume 1: General Plans and Views. Uvo Hölscher, with Foreword by J. H. Breasted.

OIP 102: The Tomb of Kheruef: Theban Tomb 192, The Epigraphic Survey, The Oriental Institute Of The University of Chicago

OIP 118. Scarabs, Scaraboids, Seals, and Seal Impressions from Medinet Habu Emily Teeter

OIP 123. Temple of Khonsu, Volume 3. The Graffiti on the Khonsu Temple Roof at Karnak: A Manifestation of Personal Piety Helen Jacquet-Gordon

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