One of the most common features of the ancient Egyptian monuments is their capacity to face the passing of time through the overlap of multiple layers of use. A well-known example is the case of the famous temple of Luxor, whose function as a cultic place for Amun-of-Ipet came to vanish and then became a fortress for Roman legionaries in the 2nd century BCE and later –during the Fatimid Caliphate period (909-1171 d.n.e.)– it gave place to a mosque dedicated to the sheikh (i.e., saint) Yussuf Al-Haggag, a local figure of whom it is said that he was the introducer of Islam into Luxor. The complex overlapping of societies, cultures, and materials poses a convoluted enigma for historians, philologists, and archaeologists, although the search for “the historical” through the material strata and social episodes is one of the incentives for research. Surely, this feeling is what has taken us here…
Today we got a very productive morning. The southern corner of Djari’s courtyard has revealed the lower part of the sealed entrance (closed in modern times: 23/12/1995), which we found last week and hope to open and examine soon. According to the extant plans, this sector of the complex included a subsidiary structure (maybe a tomb for a dependant of Djari?) with a short corridor and a small chamber. We will examine and document the structure so that we can include it to the latest plans and reconstructions of the tomb.
José Alba and Laura will supervise the cleaning of this sector and the documentation of this subsidiary structure. They will also continue cleaning the northern side of the transversal hall, in which some mudbricks marking a later burial chapel have been found.
In the tomb of Dagi, Raúl, Carmen and Jaime continued at full speed with the documentation and cleaning of the entrance space between pillars 2 and 3. On Thursday, they almost finished the cleaning of the floor between these two pillars, and today they completed the task, revealing bricks that were once used to level the surface where the gebel descended dramatically, as well as a kind of perforation in the floor, probably produced by Coptic monks from the monastery of St Epiphanius who modified several rooms for their incorporation into the activities of production, exploitation and seclusion that characterize their lives in this place.
This morning the conservation team were joined by our restoration inspectors for the season, Karima and Ahmed. They work in the Manager Restoration Office supervising the inspectors of the area. They both visited the site last week to discuss plans for the treatment of the wall paintings, and today they helped the team to refine their recipe for a repair mortar. Using the mixture they had developed on Thursday, the team began making slight variations to the composition in order to identify the ideal working properties, strength, and color of their plaster.
Ahmed and Karima have a lot of experience working with local materials, and were invaluable to this process. They proposed a new way of incorporating straw into the plaster, and when the team was considering how to achieve the desired color, Ahmed went to another area of the mountain and collected hib from a different source. This hib has a warmer color and finer texture which will help the plaster blend into the walls. The goal tomorrow will be to incorporate this new hib into the mixture they have developed. With every test, the team is learning more and more about these important local materials.