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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Brooklyn Museum


http://brooklynmuseum.tumblr.com/post/170799751482/dig-diary-february-12-2018-we-finished-the-new
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Dig Diary, February 12, 2018:We          finished the new retaining walls and stairway down to the          Thutmoside gate on February 6. We installed a post and rope          barrier around the area for the safety of visitors as the          excavation is quite deep. At last people...

Dig Diary, February 12, 2018:

We finished the new retaining walls and stairway down to the Thutmoside gate on  February 6. We installed a post and rope barrier around the area for the safety of visitors as the excavation is quite deep. At last people will be able to get a close look at this important monument, one of the earliest standing structures in the Mut Precinct.

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We were very lucky that Julia Harvey was willing to come again this year even though there is no pottery for her to sort. She arrived on site on February 3 and was an immense help with the final documentation and photography of the site's Sekhmet statues. Here she is dusting off the lap of the large and famous statue in the Mut Temple's 2nd Court so I can photograph it.

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In 2001 we painted inventory numbers on all the Sekhmet statues then visible at the site. On February 6, Julia and I added numbers to the statues found since then but not numbered. The tools of the trade for documentation: brushes to clean dust off surfaces about to be photographed or numbered, a mirror to cast good light on inscriptions, and paint for numbering. On the right, adding its number to the large statue Julia dusted a few days ago.

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Speaking of Sekhmets, Jaap found two pieces of a Sekhmet inscription lying on the mastaba (platform on which stone blocks are kept) at the front of the precinct. It only took him a few minutes to realize that they belong to a badly damaged statue in the Mut Temple's 1st Court.  Incredibly, he also found a fragment of the statue's base nearby; the pieces fit perfectly! Congratulations, Jaap!

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Most of the effort this week has centered around the restoration of the Sekhmet statue in Temple A. Putting the two sections of the base together was the most nerve-wracking as the stone remains fragile even after consolidation. On the left, Mohamed Abdu pours epoxy into the holes in the rear part of the base to hold the stainless steel rods once the two pieces are joined. Then comes the painstaking effort to lower one piece onto the other. Breaths were held all round.

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The two pieces are almost together (left), after careful adjusting to make sure everything lines up properly. Once the pieces were in place, Salah Salim (left) and Mohamed Abdu (center) filled in the cracks in the join. They are justifiably proud of their work, as is Ayman Farouk Sharid (right), the Qufti who is working with them.

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Even though the block of stone is much larger, putting the body of the statue onto the restored base was child's play by comparison to fixing the base. The two pieces were joined, aligned and attached over the course of work on February 5.

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Much to our delight on our last day of work (February 7), I found Sekhmet's left hand sitting on a block in the temple, and the conservators found her right ankle among the miscellaneous chunks of diorite nearby.

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Mohamed, Salah and I check to be sure that the hand really does fit. It snapped into place beautifully.

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By February 6th, the detached pieces of knee, right leg and back were in place, and on the 7th, Mohamed and Salah re-attached what is left of the statue's torso. Now instead of just a lower half, we have an almost complete statue. Here is how she looked at the end of work. An improvised funnel on her right knee allows epoxy to be infused into a deep crack between the knees and the body of the statue.

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As you can see from the picture of the statue's right side, there is still considerable work to do to fill in the many cracks in the stone, some shallow, some deep. Mohamed has the painstaking task using an epoxy colored to match the stone. Without this infilling, moisture and dirt can infiltrate the cracks and cause further damage to the statue. He and Salah will stay on at the site to finish the work after we have gone.

Posted by Mary McKercher

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