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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Brooklyn Museum: Dig Diary, February 2, 2018


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Dig Diary, February 2, 2018:Just west          of the precinct's northwest corner, there is now a temporary          quarry where stonemasons are carving large blocks into paving          stones for the nearby sphinx avenues. This is probably pretty          much how the front area of...

Dig Diary, February 2, 2018:

Just west of the precinct's northwest corner, there is now a temporary quarry where stonemasons are carving large blocks into paving stones for the nearby sphinx avenues. This is probably pretty much how the front area of the Mut Precinct looked in the Roman Period and later when the temple buildings were being quarried for their stone. In one season alone we found over 450 stone fragments ranging from tiny chips to large blocks.

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Just as in antiquity, the work is all done by hand. The senior mason in the right foreground is uses a simple metal square to make sure all the corners are 90°.

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Last season we discovered that the Ramesses II doorjamb lying in the fill of the north wing of Temple A's 2nd Pylon had a Dynasty 25 inscription on its west face. The hieroglyphs at the very top of the inscription were hidden by an adjacent block of stone, so we took down part of the retaining wall this year to remove it. It turns out the block (with the arrow) and the one to its south both belong to the foundations of the pylon's facing and so had to stay.

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Jacobus (Jaap) van Dijk from Groningen has joined us again, his first day at the site being January 27. Undeterred by the narrow space between the pylon face and the block, which made work difficult, he managed to read the hidden hieroglyphs – or rather, hieroglyph: a single "r" that is outlined here. Archaeology is rarely comfortable or easy.

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On February 1 we were delighted to receive a visit from our long-time friend, Dr. Mamdouh El-Damaty, former Minister of Antiquities and former Director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and a group of SCA officials. After a tour of the site, they took a break in the shade of the Propylon. Dr. El-Damaty is in the center with Mohamed Abdel Aziz, General Director for Upper Egypt, to his right and Mustapha Saghir, Director for Karnak, to his left. I regret that I do not know the names of the other two gentlemen with them.

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The bricklayer began building the mud brick retaining walls in the Thutmoside gate square on the 27th. The work proceeded very quickly.

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By January 31 the retaining walls were done and the stairway in the northeast corner of the square was underway. It is being built of mud brick supported by packed earth.

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And here is the final result at noon on February 1. The bricklayer (foreground) is adding a couple of courses to the south and east walls and then we'll be done.

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Salah Salim (left) and Mohamed Abdu, our conservators, spent most of the week cleaning and consolidating weak areas of stone on the base of the Sekhmet they are restoring. This kind of work takes great patience and manual dexterity.

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The conservators inserted stainless steel rods into the lower piece of the statue base on Thursday. These rods, held in position by epoxy, will strengthen the join between the base's two sections.

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The Mut Precinct is home to a couple of dog packs, one of which has adopted the area at the west end of the Mut Temple's 1st Pylon as a favorite napping area. Since these dogs can be quite fierce, we are quite happy to let sleeping dogs lie.

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A second dog family has made itself at home right by the stairs up to our equipment storeroom. After several days of frenzied yapping they seem to have accepted us to the point where mama was content to nurse her pups with us sitting nearby.

Posted by Richard Fazzini

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