Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fwd: Dig Diary, Jan. 31:Taking a balloon ride over the monuments at...

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Subject: Dig Diary, Jan. 31:Taking a balloon ride over the monuments at...
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 2016 09:00:31 -0500
From: <Brooklyn Museum>

Dig Diary, Jan. 31:Taking a balloon ride over the monuments at...

Dig Diary, Jan. 31:

Taking a balloon ride over the monuments at dawn is a popular tourist activity. Sometimes, however, the balloon has to land unexpectedly. This one almost ended up in the Nile in the middle of our 3rd week of work. The January 23-28 work week has been interesting. 

Looking west through the Taharqa Gate you can see the progress we've made in our east square: we are less than a meter above the original Dynasty 25 paving. With luck we'll reach the paving early next week.

Our western square has become much more interesting. Early in the week we discovered a wall that runs diagonally across the northwest corner of the square, visible in the left photo. To its south is a layer of debris full of large pot sherds, some of which are in the baskets in the foreground of the left photo. The wall seems to have been built on this debris. Then on January 27, in this same level, we came on a grouping of complete and almost complete pots (right).  This all may not sound exciting, but pottery is very useful in dating the structures or strata with which it is associated and whole pots are particularly useful.

Removing these fragile vessels takes great skill and patience. Foreman Abdel Aziz (left) has a container ready for the large vessel Qufti Yehia (right) has just unearthed.

Aside from ostraca, of which we now have 11, the small finds this week have been fairly banal. An exception is this rather charming pottery juglet with 3 knobby feet, found in the western square in the same level as the large vessels shown above. You can still see the potter's fingerprints on one side of the handle (right).

We are rebuilding the face of the north enclosure wall west of the precinct entrance to protect the sculptures in front of it from falling earth. On the left, workers clear the rubble that has drifted down since we were last here in 2013.  By January 28 (right) the bricklayer and his assistants had built about 20 meters of wall. They should finish the wall by early next week.

We are using the same materials for this task as in antiquity: baked brick for the foundations and mud brick for the rest. The mortar is prepared on site (left) and is simply a mixture of earth, water and finely-chopped straw. To make mud bricks you simply use less water. A wheelbarrow takes the mortar to the building site. It will take about 4,000 mud bricks to build this wall. Imagine the number of bricks it took to build the original enclosure walls.

While the excavation and restoration are going on, we are also carrying out other tasks. I am doing the final checking of the inscriptions in the Montuemhat Crypt (left), while Jaap van Dijk is making detailed records of the small finds. We are bundled up because the week has been unusually cold and very windy.

Mary McKercher, the expedition's Assistant Director and Photographer, is rarely seen in the dig diaries as she is normally behind the camera. This week Jaap and I were able to take a couple of pictures of her at work. Field photography is sometime awkward. To get even lighting across an area, we use a shade cloth, supplemented by the galabiyas of the workmen when the cloth isn't wide enough. On the left, Mary has to peer over the cloth to take the actual picture. And sometimes she literally has to get down and dirty to get the shot she wants, in this case the picture of Yehia and Abdel Aziz that appears above.

Posted by Richard Fazzini