Visit Us | Contact Us | Membership | Make a Gift | Calendar | Order Online | What's New

Print this Page

Home > Research > Projects > The Epigraphic Survey

The Epigraphic Survey

CHICAGO HOUSE BULLETIN

Issued by The Epigraphic Survey of The Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago

Volume XII, No. 1

September 1, 2001


THE CHICAGO HOUSE SEASON, OCTOBER 2000 TO APRIL 2001: A MONTHLY DIARY

By W. Raymond Johnson, Field Director



October/November

Thanks once again to the good graces of Egyptologist Tina Di Cerbo, who came to Luxor two weeks early to open the facility and to supervise its cleaning, Chicago House officially reopened its doors on Monday, October 16. I arrived in Cairo on October 10 and for the next few days finished up the paperwork for the season at the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) and signed the season contract with the Egyptian government at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) headquarters in the district of Abbassiya, near Heliopolis. Credit must go to ARCE Assistant Director Amira Khattab, who, as always, made sure all of the paperwork was in order, and who coordinated our trips to and from Abbassiya; without Amira all of this would simply take forever, and we are greatly indebted to her.

While in Cairo I met with US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer and some of the staff of the US Embassy Security who have been good friends to us in Luxor. I also had a very pleasant meeting with newly appointed ARCE Director Bob Springborg, and arranged for his and Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP) Director Chip Vincent's visit to Chicago House on October 15. I flew to Luxor the evening of the 14th and hit the ground running the next day with Bob and Chip, who reviewed our Luxor Temple and Medinet Habu projects as well as those in the Valley of the Kings. Both gentlemen stayed with us that evening and departed the next day.

After delivering the season contract to General Director Sabry Abdel Aziz at the East Bank inspectorate and to Gurna Director Mohamed El-Bialy on the West, we reopened the small Amun temple at Medinet Habu on Wednesday the 18th. We were all pleased that Ahmed Ezz, our inspector from last season, was reassigned to us this season. He and I supervised the unblocking of the sanctuary entrances, and when we unlocked the doors we found everything untouched and dry as a bone. Conservator Lotfi Hassan did an immediate condition study of the monument and found everything stable. That same morning we transported all of our ladders and equipment to the temple and stowed everything away. Ahmed Ezz and I reviewed the Ramesses III wells, which we found had been entered in our absence despite the wooden doors we had installed; luckily we noted no damage. Work at the small Amun temple resumed the next day.

During the first few weeks back in Luxor, the house, which has been `asleep' for five long months, slowly (sometimes VERY slowly) revives. Telephones, computers, water heaters, and plumbing often take some time to become totally operational. Up until the last week in October our telephones still weren't all functioning (our telephone man skipped town and couldn't be lured back from Cairo until then).

On October 31 Chicago House hosted our annual Halloween party, the first big gathering of the Luxor field season and a terrific icebreaker. Expeditions in attendance: the Franco-Egyptian Center at Karnak; the Polish Mission to Deir El-Bahri; the Franco-Egyptian Documentation Center Mission to the Ramesseum and Ramesses II's tomb; the Italian Mission to the Tomb of Harwa; Ted and Lyla Brock; the Amarna Royal Tombs Mission; Deputy Director of the German Archaeological Institute Daniel Polz; and Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo (AUC). It was as always a great success, and the perfect opportunity to catch up with our friends and colleagues.

The next evening I flew to Cairo to give the keynote address at the Fulbright 51st Anniversary Alumni dinner held in the great `Aida' ballroom at the Cairo Marriot Hotel on November 2. My talk, entitled "Chicago and Luxor: Partners in Preservation" focussed on the work of the Epigraphic Survey and Oriental Institute in Luxor, past, present, and future. I was also able to discuss some of the challenging preservation issues presently facing Egypt, which we are all working together in trying to solve. The dinner was attended by over 700 of Cairo's CEOs, diplomats, and Egyptian Ministry officials, many of the people we keenly wish to know about the Oriental Institute's documentation and conservation efforts in Luxor. We are honored that Fulbright chose us to be their first `featured friend' at this annual gala event, and I am pleased to report that the response was excellent.

Our new staff members, Assistant to the Director Emily Napolitano, Egyptologist/epigrapher Harold Hays, and Egyptologist/artist Will Schenck have settled right in and are each doing very well. Both Harold and Will started wall work at the small Amun temple, and Emily is totally indispensable in the office. I am pleased to announce that we also have a new accounting manager, Safinaz (Safi) Ouri; she has replaced Moataz Abo Shady, who continues to work on a part-time consulting basis for Chicago House. A Jordanian, Safi was Moataz' boss at Coopers and Lybrand in Cairo, and, like him, specializes in non-profit organizations. We have been extremely fortunate with our new staff this season, and I couldn't be more pleased.

The number of tourists in Egypt is simply staggering, and cannot adequately be described. We have already had several tours to Chicago House for library talks, and former Epigraphic Survey field director Lanny Bell passed through with another one last week, and dropped by for tea. It is very good to be back in Egypt, and even better to be back at work, especially now that the temperatures are going down.

The evening of my last day in Cairo (November 7) I was pleased to attend a special election night gathering hosted by US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer and Mrs. Kurtzer at the Embassy residence. Over 700 guests dined on American hot dogs and hamburgers in the red, white, and blue bedecked tent outside in the garden and watched three large screens with election results coming in. The Ambassador told me that President Mubarak had asked him to telephone him with the results, no matter how late...! Who would have thought we would all still be waiting!?

Back in Luxor work continues at the small Amun temple at Medinet Habu on all fronts. The epigraphic team is currently recording and collating the Thutmoside reliefs in the bark sanctuary and ambulatory, some of which were renewed in the Ptolemaic period. Rookie epigrapher Harold Hays is now working at the wall, honing his penciling skills on the Thutmoside pillars, both raised and sunk relief. This week Harold will begin reviewing finished collation sheets prior to collating his own. Artist Will Schenck also began penciling work at Medinet Habu but took three weeks leave of absence to work north with Alain Zivie and his French team recording rock-cut tombs in the Saqqara escarpment, and pottery drawing with the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) at Memphis. He is now back with us at Medinet Habu. Artist Sue Osgood also returned to us at the end of the month. Photographer Yarko Kobylecky is currently preparing photographic drawing enlargements for Volume 3, the Kushite additions to the small temple.

EAP grant-supported conservation work has also resumed in earnest. Grouting of newly restored roof blocks continues on the small Amun temple roof top, while Egyptologist Tina Di Cerbo continues her mapping of the entire roof area; she is presently concentrating on the eastern end over the bark sanctuary. Below, stonecutter Dany Roy began the laborious task of cutting and shaping new floor blocks for the central two sanctuary chambers, where the flooring was destroyed in antiquity by medieval treasure hunters; the back sanctuary floor will be finished soon. In the two southern chambers conservator Lotfi Hassan assisted by Adel Aziz continued the cleaning and gap filling of the painted reliefs of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III. This month the team was joined by conservation student Nahed Samir Youssef, who is the first of several local Egyptian conservation students we hope to train during the next few years.

In mid-month I began the sorting and analysis of the more than two hundred granodiorite fragments of the colossal dyad of Amun and Thutmosis III, which we found in the floor debris of the first two chambers last season. The fragments range in size from small slivers to huge chunks weighing several tons, and I am pleased to say that many of them are coming together, with the smaller pieces filling in many gaps between the larger joined fragments.

On November 25 structural engineer Conor Power and his wife Marcia arrived to begin a three-week structural condition study of Luxor Temple which the Epigraphic Survey is sponsoring this season. This study will enable us to understand more fully how the temple structure has been affected by the high levels of salt-laden groundwater which has caused so much accelerated surface decay of late. If the structural stability of this mighty monument has been affected as well, we need to know about it, now.

Photographer and Photo Archivist Sue Lezon continued to coordinate the scanning onto CD-ROM of our entire Photo Archives (in kind cooperation with the Franco-Egyptian Center at Karnak) and the transfer of those images to our Photo Archives database. This month she prepared the glass-plate negatives in our collection for scanning, which should be completed during the next two months. At the end of November she and Yarko were lent to the ARCE/EAP office for three days of consultations with EAP Technical Director Jarek Dobrolowski on the archival storage of the EAP Photo Archives.

I should mention that stonecutter Dany Roy was honored in Cairo on November 6 for his restoration of the tomb of Civil War veteran Erastus Sparrow Purdy Pasha, who died in Cairo in 1881 and was buried in the American Cemetery there. Mr. Purdy was one of 50 veterans of the American Civil War, both northerners and southerners, who served in the Egyptian army in the 1870s at the invitation of Khedive Ismail. The restoration of the obelisk-topped monument was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who tapped Dany for his expertise over the past summer. The tomb rededication, with full military honors, was presided over by US Ambassador Kurtzer.

Italian Ambassador to Egypt Francesco Aloisi de Larderel and wife Vittoria Buffe (an archaeologist who works in Yemen) paid us a return visit this month. Roving EES reporter, friend, and colleague Lisa Giddy spent a pleasantweek with us on her bi-annual fact-finding mission; my younger sister, Liz, has just finished a two-week stay, her first visit to Egypt, and is heading home tomorrow. Friends Jack Josephson (ARCE) and Magda Saleh and eight of their friends joined us for a reception on the 20th, and we were later honored with a very pleasant visit (at our invitation) by the Governor of Luxor, Dr. Mahmoud Khalef, who received some of his military training in Virginia and Texas, and had much to tell us about his plans for Luxor.

The latter part of the month marked the beginning of the holiday season. We celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving Day and turkey feast on the 23rd, and guests included the Amarna Royal Tombs Project crew; Andreij Niwinski of the Polish Mission to Deir El-Bahri; Francesco Tiradritti of the Italian Mission to the tomb of Harwa in the Assasif; and Dr. Jose Galan from Madrid. That was followed on the 27th by the beginning of Ramadan, the Moslem holy month of fasting.

The news of the tragic and untimely passing of former Epigraphic Survey staff member Bill Murnane in Memphis, Tennessee came as a total shock to us out here and to the Egyptological community as a whole. Bill was epigrapher and then senior epigrapher with the Survey for 15 years from 1973. In 1986 he was appointed Visiting Associate Professor of Egyptology at the University of California at Berkeley, and the next year joined the History Department of the University of Memphis, where he was promoted to full professor in 1994. There was almost no one in our small community who did not know him, or was not touched by him in some way. A true gentleman scholar, Bill treated everyone as an equal, and crossed all boundaries within the field. He had an insatiable curiosity about absolutely everything, and a spirit of generosity and sharing that was truly infectious, and which will be terribly missed. To honor his memory we hosted a small memorial at Chicago House on November 19.

December/January

Most of December was taken up with the holy month of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting (during the daylight hours), which can often affect the work schedule. While the house staff worked reduced hours, we were lucky at the Medinet Habu temple site; like the last few years, our workmen volunteered to work their usual schedule (for which they receive overtime), so our temple schedule was not set back at all. As a result we got a tremendous amount of work accomplished during a time when one fully expects to get less. This season, in keeping with the Ramadan spirit of sharing, Chicago House hosted two iftar breakfast/dinners. The first, on December 3, was for the 38 Chicago House local staff, in appreciation of their hard work in the house and at the temple sites, which allows us to get our work done. Guests included Nick Reeves and Mohsen El-Sayid (who had just finished their season in the Valley of the Kings), and Renée Friedman of the Hierakonpolis Expedition. The next one was for our Supreme Council of Antiquities friends and colleagues based in Luxor, all the Directors, Chief Inspectors, and heads of the museums, with whom we work on a daily basis, and who have facilitated our documentation and conservation work for many years. Both iftars were held in the residence courtyard, buffet style around a huge table laden with delicacies produced by our amazing kitchen staff, and both were very well received.

Former Epigraphic Survey field director Peter Dorman paid us a brief visit in December to study a Ptolemaic private statue found during our cleaning work at Medinet Habu several years ago, now housed in the SCA Gurna magazine near Howard Carter's old house. Structural Engineer Conor Power and wife Marcia finished up their condition study of Luxor Temple in mid-month, sponsored by Chicago House and the SCA, and are writing up the report now. Preliminary results indicate that for the time being, the Colonnade Hall is fairly stable, which is very good news. The bad news isthat the Luxor Temple pylons of Ramesses II are not in good shape and will require further monitoring, and possible stabilization work later on. Colleague Melinda Hartwig from the University of Memphis stayed with us from December 18 to January 10 and continued her work with Theban tomb decorative programs from the reigns of Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III.

Christmas was made even more festive this year by the presence of our dear friends Barbara Mertz, Dennis Forbes, and Joel Cole who joined us for Christmas and New Year's dinners. Other guests included Chicago's Penny Pritzger and family; Ros and Jac Janssen; Boyo and Susanna Ockinga; and Nozumu Kawai. Sue Osgood's husband Mark Chickering and Will Schenck's friend Jamie also joined us for the holidays.

The end of Ramadan, the three-day Eid El-Fitr festival, came two days after Christmas, and only a few days before western New Year's. This year we celebrated the REAL turn of the century and new millennium with a dressy dinner, movie-watching, and much pleasant conversation; additional guests included former Chicago House artist Jay Heidel, the Mertz party, and Charlie and Adrienne Herzer (ARCE). After New Year's came Coptic and eastern Christmas on January 7, completing the round of holidays. I will admit to breathing a huge sigh of relief when they were all over!

During the months of December and January the epigraphic and conservation work intensified at the Medinet Habu small Amun temple. Both new epigrapher Harold Hays and new artist Will Schenck finished their "basic training" and have been producing real work for some time now. With the return of epigrapher Brett McClain in mid-January we are now a full complement of trained epigraphers and artists, and it shows; the place is buzzing with activity. On January 24 we had an onsite meeting of all the epigraphers and artists during which we discussed the small Amun temple project in detail: long- and short-term goals, what we've accomplished, where we are now, and what we still need to do. During the meeting we discussed the different ways we would be documenting the temple and its additions in the four volumes in the series (Vol. 1: 18th Dynasty sanctuary; Vol. 2: 18th Dynasty bark sanctuary and ambulatory; Vol. 3: 25th Dynasty/Kushite additions; Vol. 4: Ptolemaic and Roman additions), some of the problems we have encountered representing certain carved and architectural anomalies, and the conventions we have created or modified to address those problems. This meeting led to several other meetings back at the house and will be a regular part of our program from now on.

I am pleased to report that the artists are making excellent progress on the final drawing enlargements for Volume 2, the 18th Dynasty bark sanctuary and ambulatory. Artist Bernice Williams is currently penciling the facade of the 18th Dynasty temple, while Will Schenck, Sue Osgood, and Margaret De Jong have temporarily moved on to Volume 3 drawings in the eastern "porch" of the Kushite pylon. They have some drawing left to do in the bark sanctuary, but last week were obliged to move out of that sanctuary, where I have been working piecing together fragments of the colossal granodiorite statue of Amun and Thutmosis III. Dany has erected an I-beam scaffolding and winch emplacement there which will be used in the restoration of the statue, beginning next week.

In preparation for the dyad's restoration in its original location in the first sanctuary chamber, last season Dany laid a reinforced concrete, damp-coursed foundation for the statue in the center of the room. This week he finished laying a new stone floor over that foundation made of new sandstone blocks cut and shaped by him for this purpose; the far chamber is already finished. He left the four corners of the front chamber unpaved, where the scaffolding for re-erecting the dyad will be set up when we get to that stage. While conservator Lotfi Hassan cleans and consolidates the larger fragments prior to their re-joining, Dany is cutting and preparing the corner floor stones for later insertion.

Lotfi, assisted by Adel and Nahed, continued to clean systematically and gap-fill the painted reliefs of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III in the two southern sanctuaries. This month the eastern of the two rooms was completed, as well as one and a half walls in the western room. When sections are finished, photographer Yarko Kobylecky carefully photographs them with color and color transparency film, which he and recently returned photo archives assistant Ellie Smith did this week.

On the Luxor Temple front, conservator Hiroko Kariya and assistant Nan Ray arrived this month and have resumed the Luxor Temple fragment consolidation project, also funded by EAP. Currently Nan is tracking and numbering fragments while Hiroko does a condition survey of the deteriorating fragments which require consolidation. Conservator John Stewart arrived later in the month to assist in the process.

This past month we were very pleased to welcome Jim and Angie Sopranos (Angie's first visit to Luxor) to Chicago House, as well as Arthur and Lee Herbst, Jim and Louise Glasser, and a contingent from BP Egypt (formerly Amoco), long-time Chicago House corporate supporters. Jim Sopranos and Arthur Herbst are on the Oriental Institute Visiting Committee, while Jim Glasser is a University of Chicago Trustee.

February

On February 7 the American Research Center in Egypt sponsored a Cairo memorial service for Bill Murnane, and the occasion was well-attended by a wide cross-section of Bill's friends and colleagues. ARCE Director Bob Springborg said a few words, then Richard Fazzini introduced the speakers: first former Epigraphic Survey field director Chuck Van Siclen, then me, and finally Peter Brand, who has succeeded Bill as Director of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Epigraphic Project. Chuck told stories about his and Bill's experiences as students, his qualities as a scholar, and as a friend. I spoke about my experiences with Bill at Chicago House, and related some of the stories of his own experiences there which he so loved to tell. Peter talked about Bill as a teacher and mentor. Reminiscing made us even more mindful of what we, and the field of Egyptology, have lost.

The epigraphic and conservation work in Luxor continued full throttle on both temple sites this past month. At Medinet Habu the artists continued work on the Akoris doorway on the north of the ambulatory, and on the porch of the Kushite Pylon, which will be published in Volume 3 of the small Amun temple series. We started with the screen walls between the papyrus-bundle columns which present some very interesting epigraphic problems; all were recarved and stylistically "updated" in the Ptolemaic period from earlier reliefs, which by the traces seem to date either to the 25th or 26th Dynasties. To make matters more confusing, the cartouches have all been scooped out and recarved with Nectanebo I's names, although he is certainly not the originator of the reliefs. There are even indications that the screen walls came from elsewhere and were modified to fit the new columns! These are the sorts of problems which are tailor-made for the Epigraphic Survey, and I suspect that as the recording and collating proceeds we will be able to shed some new light on its enigmatic history (since no one looks at these monuments quite as closely as we do!).

The epigraphers continued the task of painstakingly collating drawings from the 18th Dynasty bark sanctuary ambulatory, particularly the square pillars which preserve scenes of Pharaoh Thutmosis III being received by Amun and individually, by various gods of the Theban pantheon. In every case except two (Re-Horakhty and Atum), the gods were chiseled away during the time of Akhenaten, and were restored after Akhenaten's death. This process, much of it begun during Tutankhamun's reign, called for smoothing back the stone, spreading a layer of plaster over the damaged areas, then recarving and repainting the figure. Where the painted plaster has in some cases fallen away, carved traces of the earlier and later versions of the deity can often be seen, and of course both phases are carefully recorded by our epigraphic team. Because in some damaged areas the hieroglyphic characters might be unclear, the epigraphers have also started a digital, hieroglyphic paleography file of images from parallel monuments with well-preserved inscriptions for use as a guide in our own recording work. Once the images are photographed (with an Olympus digital camera) the images are downloaded to a zip disk, categorized according to the Gardiner sign list, and eventually will be burned onto CD-ROM for reference.

Also at the small Amun temple, Dany Roy and Lotfi Hassan drilled dowel hole emplacements in the three largest statue fragments in preparation for reassembly and glued the first of the base pieces to the body of the statue. Dany moved the large body and base fragments into the first chamber of the sanctuary, where they will be put back together after the Bairam holiday.

At Luxor Temple conservator Hiroko Kariya and assistant Nan Ray continued the monitoring and treatment of the decaying decorated sandstone fragments in the Epigraphic Survey blockyard. They were joined by Nan's husband David, who very kindly helped track and move the various fragment groups, and conservator John Stewart, who has coordinated the fragment consolidation work for the duration of our EAP grant, and before, under Lanny Bell. On the 13th EAP Director Chip Vincent, EAP Technical Director Jarek Dobrolowski, and ARCE Director Bob Springborg visited Luxor for a two and a half day review of the local EAP projects, including ours.

Photo Archivist Sue Lezon returned to us in mid-month after a trip home for the holidays and will be with us till the end of the season. She has resumed coordinating the digital scanning of all the negatives in our Photo Archive, the entry of scanned images onto our database, and the cleaning and conservation of the glass-plate negatives currently being scanned.

The Oriental Institute tour, led this year by Robert Ritner, hit Luxor on February 9, and Chicago House hosted a library talk and courtyard reception for the group on the 11th. Site visits of course included Luxor and Medinet Habu temples, where we showed the group our work in progress. Robert was able to return for a week's research in Luxor after the tour ended, on the 17th. It was a particular pleasure to have Robert join us onsite at Medinet Habu for a look at some tricky Ptolemaic inscriptions, and we look forward to more sessions in future seasons.

Visitors this month included Lorelei Corcoran of the University of Memphis and Janet Richards of the University of Michigan/Kelsy Museum Mission to Abydos. US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, his family and some friends were in town for three days the weekend of the 16th; Ted Castle gave them a tour of the West Bank the first day, while I guided them through the East Bank sites during the next two days. On the 17th we hosted a reception for the Ambassador in the Chicago House residence courtyard, and were delighted when the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Gaballa, dropped by with SCA Director of Upper Egypt Sabry Abdel Aziz. One of the things we discussed was the Luxor groundwater issues roundtable which the Ambassador and Chicago House is planning to host on March 18.

A couple of days later a US Congressional Delegation came to Luxor headed by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who was a key player in convincing Congress to allocate some AID funding for conservation projects in Egypt a decade ago; they were here to see how that money was being spent, and what the reaction to the appropriation had been. This was a golden opportunity to show them firsthand how important US funding of this sort is for Egypt, particularly at this critical time, with decay of the monuments accelerating so rapidly. The other Senators in the delegation were Pat Roberts (R-Kansas); Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado); Conrad Burns (R-Montana); and John Warner (R-Virginia). EAP Director Chip Vincent and I conducted onsite briefings with them on the AID-funded projects in Luxor, including our two EAP-funded documentation and conservation projects at Luxor and Medinet Habu temples, and the current EAP Flood Mitigation Project in the Valley of the Kings, and as many other sites in the area as we had time for that day. They left Luxor with a new knowledge, and appreciation, of what our USAID money is funding, with the promise to look into ways to keep that funding coming. Keep your fingers crossed!

The last two days of February former Epigraphic Survey epigrapher and University of Chicago Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Ph.D. candidate Hratch Papazian returned to Luxor with friends John Rowe and his wife Jeanne. John serves on the Oriental Institute Visiting Committee, and is President and Co-CEO of Exelon Corporation. During that time we were pleased to show them our work, and have them to dinner with us on the 28th. They were having a terrific time with Hratch, and I was amused to find out that John had been head of Central Maine Power Company in the mid-80s, based in Augusta, Maine, where I had earlier attended High School! Small world...

The temperature has been steadily rising, and has been in the upper 80s for a while now! Yikes!

March

On March 1 our dear Mary Grimshaw returned for a month's volunteer work with us and is now working with Emily Napolitano in the front office and Sue Lezon in the Photo Archives. She adds a special element to this place, and it is a special treat to have her back.

The LaSalle Bank tour organized by the Oriental Institute and led by Emily Teeter and husband Joe Cain arrived early this month. We had all twenty-one of them for a library talk and a courtyard dinner on the 4th, and I took them through the Amenhotep III mortuary temple and the small Amun temple at Medinet Habu the next morning. Because we were in the middle of the great four-day Bairam Festival (which is finished on Thursday), no one was working onsite, but I was able to describe our work, and show them our current projects. I took them to Luxor Temple on the 6th, before the group headed south to Aswan. On the night of their dinner we presented Tom Heagy, Chair of the Oriental Institute Visiting Committee, with a special photograph taken of our crew posed around (and on top of) the Toyota minivan which the LaSalle Bank donated to Chicago House six years ago, by way of thanks. We now wonder how we ever managed without it, and our appreciation is heartfelt.

We are now beginning the last few weeks of the 2000/2001 Chicago House field season, usually among the busiest weeks of the season as the epigraphy, conservation, and restoration work wraps up and is squared away.

The groundwater issues roundtable scheduled for March 18, to be hosted by Chicago House and US Ambassador Kurtzer, was cancelled by the Ambassador when the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Gaballa, was called away elsewhere and could not attend. There will be another meeting in mid-May, for which I will return to Egypt, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, the Agricultural Policy Reform Program, and the SCA. The meeting will address issues of de-watering around the Luxor antiquities sites on both sides of the river, with briefings by various agencies implementing these measures and their embassies, Egyptian and foreign, as well as the foreign archaeological missions working in those areas. Chicago House will present the findings of structural engineer Conor Power regarding the architectural problems of Luxor Temple which must be taken into consideration during the de-watering process. I am hoping that Conor himself will be able to present his findings.

On Saturday, March 24, the upper section of the statue of Thutmose III and Amun was rejoined to its body in the small Amun temple at Medinet Habu by stonecutter Dany Roy, conservator Lotfi Hassan, and our workmen Ali, Saber, Hassan, and Sayid. This completes the reassembly and restoration of the largest pieces of the group (the lower section was rejoined and went up on March 20) in its original architectural setting-the first sanctuary chamber-and it is quite a presence! I had hoped that we would at least get the base together this season and the rest next October, so we are actually considerably ahead of schedule. Next season we will re-attach the smaller fragments from all over the statue, for which there is no time now.

April/May

Where did the time go? On April 15, 2001, the Epigraphic Survey completed its seventy-seventh, six-month field season in Luxor. As staff members began to depart, Egyptologist Tina Di Cerbo immediately began the laborious task of closing the house down for the summer, which she finished at the beginning of May. March was unseasonably hot - in the 100 degrees Fahrenheit - but for the most part April was, thankfully, unseasonably cool, which made the season's end infinitely more pleasant for everyone.

This was an extraordinarily productive season. At Medinet Habu the epigraphic team of photographers, artists, and Egyptologist/epigraphers made excellent progress on the documentation work in the small Amun temple of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. A total of twenty-three new drawings were penciled at the wall by the artists, eight of which were inked during the season and fifteen of which will be inked over the summer. Forty-four additional drawings were collated and checked at the wall by the epigraphers and artists, all of which will appear in the second volume projected for the small Temple of Amun at Medinet Habu, devoted primarily to the Thutmoside bark sanctuary area, including the ambulatory pillars.

During the latter part of the season, staff photographer Yarko Kobylecky, assisted by photo archives assistant Ellie Smith, photographed the upper restoration inscription of Ptolemy VIII inside the bark sanctuary, the northern lintel of the Kushite gateway to the north and west of the Kushite pylon, and the granite doorjambs on the north side of the Ptolemaic hall for publication and drawing enlargement production. Yarko also produced drawing enlargements of the west interior wall of the Thutmosis III bark sanctuary for Volume 2; and for Volume 3, the Kushite pylon mast emplacement and cornice inscriptions, east, north, and south sides; the `Saite' porch screen walls; the north and south sides of the Kushite gateway; and the granite doorjambs of the Ptolemaic hall.

Within the two southernmost painted chapels, conservator Lotfi Hassan, assisted by conservator Adel Aziz Andraws and trainee Nahed Samir, completed the ARCE/EAP-funded cleaning of the painted reliefs in the southeastern chamber, and cleaned two walls in the southwestern chamber, with wonderful results; the rooms are quite transformed with the newly revealed color. Adel and Nahed also replaced old deteriorated mortar between the wall courses with hydraulic lime and sandstone powder, particularly in the lower wall courses affected by humidity from high groundwater. The goal for next season is to finish cleaning the southwestern chapel, as well as the front central sanctuary chamber, started year before last.

Stonecutter Dany Roy and his workmen completed the grouting with liquid mortar of the sanctuary roof area, particularly the new roof blocks over the northeastern chapel, the `King's Chamber,' replaced two season's ago, which reactivates an ancient Ptolemaic drain spout on the north side. He also placed several new patch stones over the breezeway between the back sanctuary and the bark sanctuary, replacing ancient Ptolemaic ones removed since antiquity.

In the sanctuary area below, Dany coordinated the laying of new sandstone floor slabs, 10 centimeters thick, in the two central sanctuary chambers. In the back chamber, sixteen slabs were laid on a bed of sand, and in the front room, seventeen slabs were laid. In each room a distance of 10 centimeters was left between the stone slabs and the walls for the emplacement of electrical wiring for future lighting, and this space was filled with clean sand. Additionally, tubes 5 centimeters in diameter were laid under the thresholds to receive the same wiring. After each room was fitted with new sandstone flooring, the slabs received a final sanding and were covered with plywood boards for protection.

Field conservator Hiroko Kariya coordinated the ARCE/EAP-funded Luxor Temple Fragment Project from January 26 through April 15 and was joined by project supervisor John Stewart from February 19 to March 8. This season Hiroko surveyed and monitored all 1,540 fragments in the Epigraphic Survey blockyard recorded on our computer database. Ninety-two fragments (one or more faces) were treated with Wacker OH, including re-treatment; all of the fragments were examined and recorded before and after treatment. All treated fragments were placed in covered areas for protection, as well as additional fragments which will require future treatment. This season Hiroko and John consolidated part of the eastern wall of the Amenhotep III sun court, on which a group of over a hundred joined fragments will be restored starting next season. The fragments from this group have received treatment over the last few years in preparation for their reconstruction. The re-joined group will complete a large offering scene before the bark of Amun now only partly preserved on the wall, originally carved by Amenhotep III, destroyed by Akhenaten, recarved by Tutankhamun, appropriated by Horemheb, and enlarged by Sety I. Several other fragment groups from the Colonnade Hall currently receiving treatment will be restored on special damp-coursed display platforms along the front of the Epigraphic Survey blockyard for public view and study. Reassembly and restoration of whole scenes and wall sections is the final step in the preservation of any fragmentary material, and it is a real pleasure to be getting to this stage of the fragment treatment.

Hiroko was assisted this season by Nan and David Ray, who helped track and move fragments, updated the fragment database, and increased the signage around the site. At the north and south ends of the Epigraphic Survey blockyard illustrated signs were set up which explained the University of Chicago's fragment documentation and conservation project for interested passers-by.

I returned to Luxor in mid-May for an historic groundwater workshop (May 16-17) sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, USAID, and the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The meeting addressed the increasing threat to Egypt's antiquities by high, salt-laden groundwater, and was attended by representatives of several Egyptian government ministries (Agriculture, Irrigation, Antiquities) from the regions of Aswan, Luxor, Qena, and Sohag; the Governor of Luxor; ARCE Director Bob Springborg; USAID Egypt Director Bill Pearson; EAP Technical Director Jarek Dobrolowski; a team of Swedish SWECO water engineers currently doing a study of Karnak and Luxor water problems; Hierakonpolis Director Renée Friedman; KV Egyptologist Ted Brock; World Monuments Fund Technical Director Mark Weber; and Chicago House structural engineer Conor Power. Conor and I gave a site tour of Luxor Temple at the end of the first day's session, focussing on the conservation and structural problems (as a result of groundwater), which brought home the enormous problems which must be faced. Conor was able to show the group where new cracks have appeared all over the great Luxor Temple pylons.

As a result of the meeting, Conor is now in contact with SCA engineers and the SWECO group and will assist them in coordinating the necessary monitoring of the structure as drainage measures are planned and implemented. It was heartening to see the communication among so many different parties and exchange of data and ideas since, as everyone agreed, only by working together can we find solutions to these problems. Additional meetings were planned, and several have already taken place; the ball is definitely rolling, and we are very pleased that the Epigraphic Survey has been able to play a positive role in this process.

The professional staff this season, besides the field director, consisted of Ted Castle as senior epigrapher; Briant Bohleke as epigrapher and librarian; Karin Bohleke as librarian; J. Brett McClain and Harold Hays as epigraphers; Christina Di Cerbo, Margaret De Jong, Susan Osgood, Bernice Williams, and Will Schenck as artists; Yarko Kobylecky as staff photographer; Susan Lezon as photo archivist; Emily Napolitano as assistant to the director and office manager; Jill Carlotta Maher as assistant to the director; Safinaz Ouri as finance manager; Marlin Sarwat Nassim as accountant; Moataz Abo Shadi as finance consultant; Elinor Smith, Nan Ray, and Mary Grimshaw as assistants for the photo archives and library; and Saleh Shehat Suleiman as chief engineer. Lotfi Hassan, Adel Aziz Andraws, Nahed Samir, John Stewart, and Hiroko Kariya worked with us as conservators; Dany Roy as stonecutter; and Conor Power, P.E., as structural engineer consultant. Special thanks go to Dr. Henri Riad, Egyptologist in residence, and to our dear friends Helen and Jean Jacquet. To our partners in preservation, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, we owe a great debt of thanks: especially to Prof. Dr. G. A. Gaballa, Secretary General; Dr. Mohamed el-Saghir, General Director of Pharaonic Monuments in the Nile Valley; Dr. Sabry Abdel Aziz, General Director of Antiquities for Upper Egypt; Dr. Mohamed el-Bialy, General Director for the West Bank of Luxor; Mr. Bakit, Director of Karnak and Luxor Temples; Mme. Nawal, Chief Inspector of Luxor Temple; and Dr. Mohamed Nasr, Director of the Luxor Museum. And special thanks must go to our inspector Mr. Ahmed Ezz, with whom we have worked for several seasons now, and who has become an invaluable member of our team.

Members of the Oriental Institute and Friends of Chicago House are always welcome to stop by and see us during our field season in Luxor. We suggest that you write or call in advance to schedule a meeting that is convenient to all. Chicago House is open from October 15 until April 15, and closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays. To arrange a visit, please call the Oriental Institute Development Office at (773) 702-9513. We can be reached at the Oriental Institute during the summer months at (773) 702-9524. Our address in Egypt is Chicago House, Corniche el-Nil, Luxor, Egypt. The phone number (from the USA) is 011-20-95-37-2525; fax 011-20-95-38-1620.


Addresses of The Epigraphic Survey
October through March
Chicago House
Luxor
Arab Republic of Egypt
tel. (20) (95) 37-2525; fax (20) (95) 38-1620
April through September
The Oriental Institute
1155 E. 58th St.
Chicago IL 60637
tel. (773) 702-9524; fax (773) 702-9853

For information on contributing to the work of the Survey, contact the Development Office at (773) 702-9513 or oi-membership@uchicago.edu or submit the Pledge Form

Revised: July 30, 2007

Home > Research > Projects > The Epigraphic Survey