Chicago House Bulletin
Issued by The Epigraphic Survey of The Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago
Volume VI, No. 3
August 15, 1995
THE 1994-1995 SEASON AT CHICAGO HOUSE
By Peter Dorman, Field Director
The 1994-1995 season of the Epigraphic Survey opened on October 3, 1994, and ended on April 1, 1995, marking our seventy-first year. During these six months of field work, our efforts were devoted primarily to the 18th Dynasty temple of Amun at Medinet Habu, where the painted chapels of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III have become the Survey's new priority.
Located in the innermost portions of the temple of Amun, the chapels are in remarkably well preserved condition, due partly to the temple's religious importance in antiquity and partly to the careful maintenance of its structure for secondary uses more recently. This happy circumstance poses problems for recording: inside the pitch-black chambers one needs a reliable source of electricity, and outages are a matter of frustrating routine on the west bank of Luxor. Staff members were forced to shift their ladders and equipment outside into the bright sunlight whenever the power gave out, to work on altemate drawings around the roofless bark sanctuary. Epigraphers Richard Jasnow and John and Debbie Darnell, as well as the author, collectively completed 43 collations, while the six artists -- Ray Johnson, Tina Di Cerbo, Sue Osgood, Margaret De Jong, Drew Baumann (a student epigrapher last season), and Linda Cohn-Kobylecky -- set up their drawing boards in each of the interior chapels and in front of many walls and pillars in the bark sanctuary and its surrounding peripteros. Altogether the epigraphic team worked on no less than 102 drawing enlargements this season, in all stages of penciling, inking, and collation, and of these 18 received final director's approval for publication.
Like all monuments built by Hatshepsut, the temple exhibits the extensive recarving, renovation, and repainting undertaken there in the course of 1500 years of changing religious purposes. Hatshepsut suffered a posthumous historical revision at the hands of Thutmosis III, and her names throughout the inner portions of the temple were altered to those of her father, Thutmosis I, or her husband, Thutmosis II; in other places her figure was entirely effaced and replaced by a fully laden table of offerings. Through the layers of later paint and plaster, however, traces of the original figures of Hatshepsut may be seen to varying degrees, often accompanied by the inscriptions that once commemorated the queen's devotion to Amun. Just one century later, the figures of Amun and his names and epithets were defaced in an attack initiated by theAton worshipperAkhenaton, and this damage had to be repaired by his successors. In numerous places on the walls ink notations can be seen, left by Ramesside scribes to guide the draftsmen in restoring the proper texts to the desecrated scenes. This double persecution has ensured that very little of the chapel walls may be seen today in theirearly 18th-Dynasty condition. At a much later time, large smears of rough plaster were added to plug the cracks caused by a late subsidence of the rear chapels, and certain walls were repainted in a distinctly Ptolemaic color palette, further obscuring the original details and resulting in painted overlays of different colors. The amount of paint and plaster on these scenes has truly put our standard drawing conventions to an unprecedented test.
Ann Russmann spent six weeks with us once again in February and March, continuing her research of last season on Theban monuments of the Late Period, especially those dating from Dynasties 25 to 30, in relation to the additions made to the Kushite pylon at Medinet Habu. Her art-historical perspective will prove most valuable to the epigraphic work still to come at Medinet Habu, and her preliminary findings will receive public airing during a British Museum symposium on Egyptian temples later this year.
Field photography at the temple of Amun remains an ongoing commitment, as many of the older photographs of the monument are unsatisfactory for the purposes of producing drawing enlargements. During this last season, photographer Jerry Kobylecky took 103 large-format views of the temple, many of them in cramped locations, difficult to square and to illuminate properly. The pace of the field epigraphy at Medinet Habu required him to make 87 drawing enlargements for the artists and to bleach 36 inked drawings in preparation for making collation sheets. He also produced a fine series of color slides of the temple for lecture purposes.
Although field work at Luxor Temple was completed last season, a number of final details were added to schematic drawings that will appear in the second volume on the Colonnade Hall. The facade of the Hall was a particular challenge in this respect. When Ramesses II added his first courtyard and double portico in front of the facade, he recut all the scenes below his new roofline, largely obliterating the offering scenes that had been placed there by Tutankhamun's successor, Ay. Given tall ladders and the right angle of the sun, cpigraphers over the years have been able to discem numerous traces of Ay's work, and this season Ray finalized his reconstruction of the scene (fig. 4) with the confirrnation of many details by Richard and John. Drawings of the inscriptions on the colossal columns were completed as well, showing the areas selected for decoration in sequence by Tutankhamun, whose cartouches were usurped by Horemheb; Sety I; Ramesses II; and Memeptah, usurped by Sety II.
The last documentary task at the Colonnade Hall will be the recording of the hundreds of fragments that belong to the upper, now-vanished registers of the interior decoration, which will doubtless serve to confirm or revise ideas about the architecture of the monument. In preparation for this future work, and under Jerry's supervision, our photographic assistant, Gharib, printed 639 small drawing enlargements at a scale of 1:5 that will eventually be used to document the decorated fragments from Luxor Temple and facilitate the reconstruction of the missing walls of the Colonnade.
The newly expanded library at Chicago House received over 220 accessioned books and offprints this season, some of them donated by visiting scholars and by expeditions in the Luxor area, bringing us to a total of 16977 items. As any librarian can easily imagine, the norrnal difficulties of keeping current with book catalogues and maintaining complete series of publications are magnified tenfold in our own case by having to order from the Upper Egyptian province of Luxor, billing through the Oriental Institute in Chicago, dealing with uncertain mails and fax lines, and paying exorbitant customs duties on book shipments. Despite these obstacles, Debbie Darnell's continuing dedicated management of the ordering and tracking of new books has ensured that our collection remains one of the most important Egyptological reference archives in the world. Nan Ray was truly invaluable this season in virtually completing the enormous database for all journal and monograph series, which now contains 347 complete series. Next year only smaller tasks remain: a new library map and shelf labels to assist visitors to the library in locating resources, additional encapsulation for older maps and newspaper cutdngs, and the completion of the pamphlet and offprint file.
Paul Bartko managed both the household affairs and multifarious office functions with aplomb, skill, and (perhaps most critically) great good humor, and his assistance with the arrangements for the annual Friends of Chicago House tour over Thanksgiving weekend was most appreciated. With his departure at the end of the season for the greener pastures of graduate school in business, we lose a fine administrator, friend, and coleague, whose absence next year will be noticed by many of our friends in Cairo as well. We were fortunate that,at the end of the season, Paul was able to train his replacement, Ahmed Harfoush, in the complexities of the computer, payroll, and accounting systems and to introduce him to the Egyptian staff and house routines as well.
Fundraising efforts remained among the highest of our priorities, particularly during the field season when our epigraphic work and facilities can be appreciated to their fullest effect. Especially serious to our local budget was the loss of fully a third of our operating income in Egyptian pounds, due to a marked drop in interest rates, at a time when we are still trying to build our endowment in U.S. dollars at home. Carlotta Maher, as ever, led the fundraising charge at home and overseas; her sparkling presence graced innumerable afternoon teas, receptions, and tours during much of the season, and her indomitable efforts have ensured an ever-growing following of faithful Chicago House friends. We were especially pleased that the beautifully refurbished photographic studio will be named after our dear friends, David and Carlotta Maher, thanks to a charitable annuity established by them for the benefit of Chicago House. Similarly, the newly renovated senior artist's studio was named for our long-time supporter, the late Carolyn Livingood, thanks to a special joint contribution in her memory from her sons, Charles and John.
In 1994 the Survey was awarded a multi-year grant for the continued presenation of the Luxor block fragments in the first round of proposals for the Egyptian Antiquities Project, a fund created under the auspices of USAID in Cairo and administered by the American Research Center in Egypt. A special debt of thanks is due to both Dr. Chip Vincent and Dr. Bill Remsen of ARCE for their continued advice on conservation procedures and human resources as we prepare to begin this project.
The 1994-1995 season was, like all others, distinguished by a number of unique events. Outstanding among these were the two catastrophic rainstorms that struck the Luxor area on October 8 and November 2, turning the Valley of the Kings into a raging torrent that damaged a number of royal tombs, flooded the mortuary temple of Sety I, and destroyed dozens of homes in the west bank town of Gurna (see Ray Johnson's account in the Chicago House Bulletin VI, no. 1, Dec. 15, 1994). Temple walls that were soaked in these storms took months to dry out. Even as late as March, on the walls of the painted chapels at Medinet Habu, long, spidery salt crystals grew rapidly in the dry air reminding us once again of how fragile these ancient stones are when subjected to salt efflorescence. Here and there along the west bank, sinkholes appeared even months after the sudden deluge, offering unexpected opportunities for archaeological exploration. The photo archives proved to be a boon in one instance: in the tomb of Pairy (Theban tomb 139), one painted wall containing a well known graffito dated to year 3 of Smenkhkare collapsed in large fragments on the floor. Prints made from our old negatives have enabled the fragments to be restored to their original position
In conjunction with our good friend DL Mohammed Saghir, Supervisor of Pharaonic Antiquities for Upper Egypt, Chicago House sponsored a lecture series at the Cultural Palace in Luxor that included Prof. Betsy Bryan of lohns Hopkins University, speaking on her work at the painted tomb of Suemniwet, Dr. Richard Fazzini of The Brooklyn Museum with a brilliantly illustrated lecture on Egyptomania, and Dr. Jadwiga Lipinska of the Polish-Egyptian Mission at Deir el Bahri, recoundng three decades of work on the fragmented reliefs of the temple of Thutmosis III. The logistics were indomitably managed by Tina and Richard, whose efforts made the entire series a remarkably well attended success.
Visitors to the house numbered only 490 this season, less than half of the pre-Gulf War totals, but professional colleagues dropped by in unusually large numbers, with the neighboring Pola Hotel exerting a special magnetism for Arnerican and Canadian expeditions. In Cairo, the beginning of our season was marked by a special celebration at the home of Tony Barrett and Marguerite Kelly, cohosted by Chuck and Twing Pitman of the Amoco Egypt Oil Company, at which prints of the Lost Egypt portfolios were exhibited. Chicago House was honored again in March, thanks to the generosity of the American Ambassador, H.E.Edward Walker, and Mrs. Wendy Walker, who sponsored a delightful reception for colleagues, friends, and government officials at the new ambassador's residence in the U.S. Embassy compound. Special visitors to Chicago House this season included H. E. Joan Spero, Assistant Secretary of State, and her husband, Michael Spero; the family and friends of Stephen Bechtel, whose firm in Cairo supervised the recent renovation; Jim Sopranos on a flying weekend visit from Cairo; and two special tours from the Oriental Institute, one led by the museum's Assistant Curator Dr. Emily Teeter, and the other by museum Archivist John Larson. Last but by no means least, the author was privileged to spend four hours with Vice President Al Gore, Tipper Gore, and their son, Albert III, on a whirlwind tour of the major monuments on both banks of the Theban region, while Richard, Ray, John, and Debbie guided four other busloads of high officials on a different itinerary. Back at the ranch, Carlotta entertained a delegation of Washington officials at Chicago House, including Ambassador Walker and USAID director Brian Atwood.
With the assistance of a generous award from the Getty Grant Program, the Survey's first volume on the reliefs of Luxor Temple made its appearance in September, initiating a new subcategory within the Oriental Institute Publications series, entitled Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor Temple: The Festival Procession of Opet in the Colonnade Hall . Richard and John spent much of the spring of 1995 preparing the manuscript for the second volume, The Facade, Pottals, Upper Registers, Columns, and Marginalia of the Colonnade Hall. This publication will incorporate "everything but Opet," that is, the remaining portions of the Hall still in situ, including fragments that belong to the monumental facade. Athird volume is projected for the architecture and the hundreds of fragments from the interior upper registers. As the culmination of our extended program of conservation in the photographic archives at Chicago House -- also sponsored by the Getty Grant Program -- the Survey published its Registry of the PhotographicArchives of the Epigraphic Survey in January in the Studies inAncient Oriental Civilizations series, supplementedby a reprint of the key plans devised by Harold Nelson, first director of Chicago House, for all Theban temples. A text version of the book will soon be available on the Internet through the Survey's home page.
This season in particular was a time of transitions for both the American and Egyptian staffs. In addition to Paul's departure, Richard has resigned from the Survey after six years as senior epigrapher to accept a position as Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University. We wish him every success in his new post, knowing at the same time how much we will miss his professionalism, steadiness, practical advice, and never-failing sense of humor. Fortunately his wife, Tina, has decided to remain with us, so that we will continue to enjoy her invaluable artistic and organizational skills, and can undoubtedly expect to see Richard on regular visits to Chicago House during the season. On a sadder note, our elderly chief cook and pastry chef, the incomparable Taya, passed away over the summer of 1994, leaving a noticeable gap in our lives and in the household routine that has not yet been entirely filled. Two other long-time employees of the Survey were retired for reasons of health at the end of the season: our second cook, AW el Zaher, whose indomitable cheerfulness and public salutations to the staff over the Christmas turkey will be sadly missed, and our devout night watchman, Wardani, whose previous employment included service as a guardian with the late Ricardo Caminos at Gebel el Silsila.
The staff this season consisted of the author as field director; Richard Jasnow, John Darnell, and Deborah Darnell, epigraphers; W. Raymond Johnson, Christina Di Cerbo, Susan Osgood, Margaret De Jong, Andrew Baumann, and Linda Cohn-Kobylecky, artists; Jerry Kobylecky, photographer; Edna Russmann, art historian; Jean and Helen Jacquet, field architects; Paul Bartko, house and office administrator; Jill Carlotta Maher, assistant to the director; Elinor Smith, photo archives assistant; and Saleh Suleiman Shehat, chief engineer, whose advice and services to the Survey continue to be inestimable. Dr. Henri Riad, our resident Egyptologist, again graced us with his presence for most of the season, assisting us in many matters dealing with the local constabulary, security, and even (now that Luxor has been established as a separate governorate) car registration, and administering the Labib Habachi Archives on behalf of the Survey. I express heartfelt thanks in particular to Richard, who cheerfully and expertly shouldered the onerous responsibilities of field director during my protracted absences from Luxor in November and January.
We are especially grateful to the many members of the Supreme Council for Antiquities who contributed directly to the success of the season: Dr. Abd el-Halim Nur ed-Din, Secretary General of the Supreme Council, Dr. Ali Hassan, Director of Pharaonic Antiquites; Dr. Mohammed el-Saghir, Supervisor of Pharaonic Antiquites for Upper Egypt; Dr. Sabry Abd el-Aziz, Chief Inspector of Qurna; Dr. Abd el-Hamid Marouf, Chief Inspector of Karnak and Luxor; and Dr. Madeleine el-Mallah, Director of the Luxor Museum.
In addidon to those mendoned for specific contributions, I gratefully express thanks to many other colleagues and friends: the United States Ambassador to Egypt, H. E. Edward Walker, and Mrs. Wendy Walker; Edmund Hull, Maqorie Ransom, and John Westley of the United States Embassy in Cairo; Mohammed Ozalp; David Maher; Mark Rudkin; Lucia Woods Lindley and Daniel Lindley, Jr.; Barbara Mertz; Tom Heagy and Norm Bobins of LaSalle Nadonal Bank; Louis Byron, Jr.; Terry Walz, Mark Easton, Ibrahim Sadek, and Amira Khattab of the American Research Center in Egypt; Fathi Salib of American Express in Luxor; and Bill Sumner, Cynthia Echols, Florence Bonnick, Diane New, and Dionne Herron of the Oriental Institute. Three institutions in particular have rendered fundamental assistance and support that have proved essendal to the success of the season: the Amoco Foundation, Inc., The J. Paul Getty Tlust, and The Xerox Foundadon.
As always, we will be very pleased to welcome members of the Oriental Insdtute and other friends to Chicago House from October 1st to April 1st. Please wnte to us in advance, to let us know the dates of your visit, and call us as soon as you arrive in Luxor, so that we can confirm a time for a library tour that is mutually convenient.
Addresses of The Epigraphic Survey
- October through March
- Chicago House
- Arab Republic of Egypt
- tel. (20) (95) 372525; fax (20) (95) 381620
- April through September
- The Oriental Institute
- 1155 E. 58th St.
- Chicago IL 60637
- tel. (773) 702-9524; fax (773) 702-9853