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Report from Malqata
Submitted by Diana Craig Patch, Peter Lacovara, Catharine Roehrig, and Janice Kamrin
February 29, 2015
Today was our last day on at Malqata, the ceremonial palace complex of the 18th Dynasty king Amenhotep III on the west bank at Thebes. This vast site, which stretches for over 7 km along the edge of the low desert at the southern end of the Theban necropolis, was constructed for the celebration of this king’s first festival of rejuvenation, or heb-sed, in his 30th year on the throne, then reconfigured and re-used in years 34, and 37, for his second and third heb-seds. Features of the complex include an immense harbor, the Birket Habu; three palaces; two massive mud brick platforms; administrative buildings; a Temple of Amun; and the scattered remains of numerous residential areas.
Restoration work in the King’s Palace
Our work this year focused in three areas. Peter Lacovara, working with mud brick expert Tony Crosby, oversaw continued reconstruction work at the King’s Palace. Supported by an AEF grant, the team here used newly-made mud bricks (clearly stamped JEM to distinguish them from the ancient ones) to cap existing walls. In most places, only a course or two is added to the ancient remains; this serves to protect the remaining ancient brick and to clarify the palace plan for future visitors. This year, Peter’s team raised the North Gateway (the monumental entrance) more than a half meter; and completed most of the restoration planned for the western half of the palace, including the entrance corridor, "Harim suites" K1-P1 to K4-P4, the rear wall of the “King’s Robing Room,” and the western perimeter wall. We would like to express our gratitude to ARCE for their generous support of this work. With the assistance of surveyors Christopher Gray and Joel Paulson, the team also drafted a new plan of the palace.
Another crucial part of the work here is being carried out by Anthony Crosby and Hiroko Kariya, who are collaborating to develop new methodologies to stabilize the extensive remains of decorated mud plaster that still clings to the surfaces of some of the walls.
Carnelian from west of the Pavilion
To the north, in the area to the west of the Audience Pavilion, Diana Craig Patch and Catharine Roehrig carried out test excavations in the hopes of finding a manufacturing installation that might account for the extensive surface scatter of carnelian flakes noted in previous seasons. Although we did not find an installation, we did recover lots of carnelian, as well as large quantities of material from faience and glass manufacture in the archaeological spoil heaps from the last century.
Janice Kamrin supervised work in a new area just west of Diana and Catherine’s site that had been discovered through a magnetometer survey in 2012. Only the foundation bricks remain here, but the plan of a regularly laid-out area with good-sized rooms and mud plaster floors is beginning to emerge. At some point, the walls seem to have been dismantled, probably so the mud bricks could be used elsewhere; most of the artifacts we have found so far are pottery sherds, many of which are from incomplete palace ware vessels. Currently, we think this area may have been used for storage of some sort, but hopefully this will be clarified in future seasons.
Overview of the West Settlement
Our season ended on a high note, as we had the pleasure of a visit from an enthusiastic ARCE delegation: ARCE Director, Gerry Scott; Associate Director, John Shearman; Assistant to the Director for ARCE, Cairo, Jane Smythe; and Director of Publications, Kathleen Scott; along with ARCE Board member Beverly Hamilton and her husband Lyman. It was a treat for us to show them our work, just ahead of the workmen who were covering the vulnerable parts of the site with sand!
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF MUSEUMS
The International Council of Museums, in an effort to fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods, compiles the Emergency Red List of Egyptian Cultural Objects at Risk. This list aims to help art and heritage professionals and law enforcement officials identify Egyptian objects that are protected by national and international legislations. View the Red List for Egypt.