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Friday, January 29, 2016

Brooklyn Museum: Dig Diary Jan. 24

Dig Diary, Jan. 24

Sunset on January 21, the end of our first full week of work in the Mut Precinct. While the work has been interesting archaeologically (lots of levels, lots of pottery), it hasn't been particularly photogenic. So this will be a rather short post.

We made great progress in the east square this week. As you can see in the left photo looking southeast, we are almost at the bottom of the large wall running west from the Taharqa Gate. The feature parallel to the wall is an enclosure with a grey clay border that is a continuation of the same feature we found in 2011 (right). We haven't yet defined the eastern part of the border where it runs to meet the large wall. A similar feature found to the east in 2010 produced a large number of oyster shells.

We had two interesting small finds in the east square. First was a nice bronze figure of Osiris (left). On January 22 we found fragments of a lovely highly-polished vessel (right), possibly imported from Greece. Both date to the Ptolemaic Period.

In the west square we continue to go down through levels of debris. The only discovery of interest was this mud brick wall that runs precisely along the east baulk (side) of the square. It starts just south of the northeast corner of the square and continues to the southeast corner, and probably beyond. We have not yet reached the bottom. The depression on the right is a shallow, ashy pit dug into the debris at the face of the wall. Aside from a lot of pottery this square has produced two very interesting finds.

Papyrus was too expensive to use for everyday documents, so Egyptians usually recorded things like tax receipts, contracts, school exercises and the like, on flat pieces of pottery or limestone. These documents are called ostraca (singular, ostracon) and are often very informative about day-to-day life in Egypt. So far this season we have found four ostraca, all from our western square. The two smaller ones are single lines of Greek, but two are fairly long texts in demotic

Marina Escolano-Poveda, a doctoral candidate in Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University, who is with the Hopkins team this season, examines the first ostracon, which is an oath sworn to a number of gods. Marina has agreed to translate and publish both ostraca as no one in the Brooklyn expedition is a demoticist. Thank you, Marina.

The reeds in the sacred lake have to be cut back periodically to keep them from taking over most of the lake. That's a lot of reeds to dispose of!

Posted by Richard Fazzini

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