So that Tony could finish up the reconstruction of the suites of rooms on the western side of the Palace, we began cleaning one corner in room K1 that was buried under a mound of debris. Although many earlier expeditions had worked here –Tytus in 1901-2, the Metropolitan Museum in 1910-11, and Waseda University in 1985-88– we were surprised by the enormous number of fragments of painted mud plaster left behind.
Over the course of two days we removed several hundred fragments from this area. Unfortunately, they were not in their original position and there were all sorts of patterns and pieces mixed in together with modern rubbish. Still they give a fascinating and informative view of how the Palace was constructed and decorated. As we examine, measure, draw, photograph, and inventory these many fragments over the coming days we will be blogging about the more unusual items. Fortunately, at this time we have with us Alexandra Winkle, an expert on New Kingdom decorated mud plaster, and her help and advice has been invaluable.
For now, we will just mention the wall painting that was still in place in the corner behind all the fragments. Like many of the walls in the series of suites that lined the central hall of the Palace they were decorated with vertical stripes in blue, red, yellow, green and white with an undulating line below. One person looking at the image said, “what are all those mouse holes doing there?” They are not mouse holes, but rather the whole pattern is a simplification of a very ancient type of decoration known in Egypt as “palace façade.” This pattern in a much more elaborate form is found decorating the mud brick tombs of the First and Second Dynasties. It is in imitation of colored woven matting that would have been used to embellish early structures of reed and wood. The undulating line represents the rope that would have secured the matting to “curtain rods” running above and below the matting.
January 19, 2016