The Epigraphic Survey
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The Epigraphic Survey based at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt, is directed by W. Raymond Johnson, PhD, Research Associate (Associate Professor) NELC and Oriental Institute.
The mission of the Survey since its founding in 1924 has been to produce photographs and precise line drawings of the inscriptions and relief scenes on major temples and tombs at Luxor for publication. More recently the Survey has expanded its program to include conservation, restoration, and site management. In addition to the field director, the professional staff of the Survey normally includes three to four epigraphers, four to five artists, two photographers, an architect, a librarian, several conservators, stonemasons, and IT consultants. The epigraphers and artists include both graduate students and post-doctoral scholars who have received training in all aspects of Egyptology. The Epigraphic Survey is currently conducting its 90th archaeological field season.
Epigraphic Survey/Chicago House Professional Staff 2012-2013. Top row, left to right: Samir Guindy (administrator); Essam el-Sayed (senior accountant); Samwell Maher (assistant administrator); Girgis Samwell (chief engineer). Second row from top, left to right: Melinda Hartwig (visiting scholar);Tina Di Cerbo (epigrapher/artist); Jen Kimpton (epigrapher); J. Brett McClain (senior epigrapher); Krisztián Vertés (egyptologist/artist); Keli Alberts (artist). Second row from bottom, left to right: Marie Bryan (librarian); Anait Helmholz (librarian assistant); Frank Helmholz (stone mason); Margaret De Jong (senior artist); Ellie Smith (photo archives registrar); Lotfi Hassan (conservator); Joia Samir Andraos; Nahed Samir Andraos (conservator); Jay Heidel (architect/artist); Ray Johnson (director); Hiroko Kariya (conservator); Yarko Kobylecky (photographer). Photo by Sue Lezon.
2013-2014 Field Season
October 27, 2013
All is well with us in Luxor as the Epigraphic Survey begins its 2013-2014 archaeological field season. We are enjoying a long, slow opening, in part due to the Eid al-Adha holiday in mid-October, which delayed the completion of the paperwork by about a week, giving us some extra time to settle in. I was in Cairo at the beginning last week signing the contract for the season at the Ministry of State for Antiquities and meeting with our MSA, ARCE, USAID, and US Embassy friends. We received our work permissions and all of our security clearances, and I delivered copies of the signed contract to the east and west bank inspectorates a few days ago. We are all set to resume our epigraphic, conservation, and restoration work at Medinet Habu tomorrow (Monday, October 28th) when we will transfer our equipment to the temple site, meet our MSA inspectors, and reopen the small Amun temple and blockyard. We will also be opening the Chicago House library.
Egypt is a very different place from when the team was last here in April, but we have been warmly welcomed back. There are modern, armored troop carriers everywhere, in front of churches and hotels, and security is excellent. The mood is calm, even in Cairo. Luxor is quiet, but not entirely bereft of tourists. There were tour groups on my flights to Luxor, and the official word from the Luxor governor is that tourism is 12% now, up from 2% last month. We've seen a couple of tour boats on the Nile, and I saw a bus full of tourists the other day. It will take some time, but more and more countries are easing their travel restrictions, and we expect to see a steady increase as the weeks go by.
The days are warm, but the nights are unseasonably cool, even in Luxor (not a complaint!). The house and grounds are clean and beautiful, thanks to the efforts of our workmen and Tina Di Cerbo, who came a month early to supervise the opening and maintenance work. The kitchen plumbing (from 1930) failed at the end of last season and had to be completely replaced. Since the floor tiles had to be torn up they were replaced as well, the stove fan was replaced, and all the woodwork was redone. The kitchen is now sparkling new and fully functional, again thanks to Tina and our intrepid, skilled workmen.
But there has been sadness as well. On October 16th, on his way to work, Chicago House assistant cook Ibrahim Elias had a heart attack and died before the ambulance could get him to the hospital. A big, burly, gentle man, Ibrahim began work with us in 1995 and was one of the pillars of our staff. He always arrived around 5:00 AM each day to start the prep work in the kitchen and feed the early risers, and was one of the most sweet-natured human beings I have ever known, always smiling, always with a good word for everyone. A number of us attended his funeral at the new St. Malak Church and his burial in the historic St. Pakhom Monastery (Deir El Shayeb) cemetery outside of Luxor. He leaves a real hole in our ranks, and we will miss him terribly.
Otherwise, everyone else is well. The workmen are cleaning and preparing the ladders, scaffolding, and other equipment for transport on Monday, and we are looking forward to resuming our work at the temple sites.
I will be in touch again next month with an update on our activities. In the meantime, best wishes to you all for an excellent autumn from everyone here. Happy Halloween!
Best from Luxor,
Ray Johnson, Director
September 1, 2013
I am pleased to report that despite the disturbances in Egypt during the month of August, Chicago House remains secure and safe. Our Egyptian administration staff, Samir Guindy and Samwell Maher, and senior accountant Essam El-Sayed report that Luxor is peaceful and quiet. Our Egyptian workmen, who double as guards during the summer months we are away, have done a beautiful job of protecting the Chicago House facility, and things are getting back to normal. The annual Chicago House audit with KPMG started this past Sunday, August 25th in Luxor and is scheduled to finish on September 5th. I am departing for Egypt on Monday, September 2nd and will be present for the conclusion of the audit on September 4th, our usual program. While in Luxor I will touch base with our antiquities friends and colleagues, visit the new Antiquities Ministry Luxor director and the new governor, and arrange for our archaeological field season. I will spend two days in Cairo afterward and will see more colleagues there, and be back in Chicago on September 11th.
If things remain peaceful we plan on returning to Luxor to resume our documentation and conservation programs at the usual time, October 15th – April 15th. If the situation changes, we will modify our program accordingly. Tina Di Cerbo is arriving in Luxor the first week of September to resume maintenance work at the house (all the kitchen water pipes are being replaced) and start the opening and cleaning process.
Thank you all for your thoughts and concern. Things are good in Luxor, and Chicago House is well-guarded, by our workmen and by the Luxor City police. As is usual during the summer months the house is still closed (except for the finance and administration office) and the foreign professional staff members are all in their respective home countries for the summer: the USA, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and France. We are all looking forward to returning in October to resume our preservation work in Luxor, inshallah.
I will keep you all posted, and will be in touch again in early October. Best and thanks for your concern, your friendship, and your support.
Ray Johnson, director, Epigraphic Survey
The current Epigraphic Survey professional staff are: W. Raymond Johnson, director; J. Brett McClain, senior epigrapher; Jen Kimpton, Christina Di Cerbo, and Christian Greco, epigraphers; Richard Jasnow, epigraphic consultant; Boyo Ockinga and Susanne Binder, archaeologist/epigrapher consultants; Margaret De Jong and Susan Osgood, senior artists; Krisztián Vértes, Egyptologist/artist; Keli Alberts, artist; Julia Schmied, blockyard and archives assistant; Jay Heidel, architect; Yarko Kobylecky, staff photographer; Susan Lezon, photo archivist and photographer; Elinor Smith, photo archives registrar and photography assistant; Carlotta Maher, assistant to the director; Essam el-Sayed, senior accountant; Samir Guindy, administrator; Samwell Maher, assistant administrator; Marie Bryan, librarian; Anait Helmholz, librarian assistant; Frank Helmholz, master mason; Johannes Weninger, assistant mason; Lotfi K. Hassan, Medinet Habu conservation supervisor; Nahed Samir Andraus, conservator at Medinet Habu; Hiroko Kariya, Luxor Temple conservation supervisor; Alain and Emmanuelle Arnaudiès, Chicago House Digital Archives database consultants; Louis Elia Louis Hanna, database architect; Conor Power, structural engineer; Jean Jacquet, consultant from afar; and Girgis Samwell, contractor.
The Epigraphic Survey began its long collaboration with the Egyptian Antiquities Organization (now the Ministry of State for Antiquities) in 1924, initially with documentation work in the mortuary temple of Ramesses III, and we maintain an ongoing commitment to the recording and conservation of all of the monuments that form part of the Medinet Habu complex. Over the years, however, the Survey has also devoted considerable effort to the recording and preservation of inscribed material from other sites, including Karnak, Luxor Temple, the Theban Necropolis, the Sakkara Necropolis (during the 1930s), and the Nubian salvage campaign (during the 1960s). At present, we have ongoing projects, in collaboration with the MSA, at the following four sites:
In 1970 the Epigraphic Survey completed its record of the reliefs and inscriptions in the principal buildings of Ramesses III’s mortuary temple, comprising Medinet Habu Vols. I-VIII. The temple enclosure nevertheless contains a number of lesser monuments, dating both before and after the 20th Dynasty, which still await documentation, and for this reason in the early 1990’s the Chicago House team resumed activity on the site, focusing on documentation of the small 18th Dynasty Temple of Amun with its later extensions. In 1995, a conservation component, funded by ARCE and USAID Egypt, was incorporated into our work on the Amun Temple, focused on cleaning of the painted reliefs within the temple’s inner chambers. Starting in 2006, with a grant from USAID Egypt, this program was expanded to include restoration of the subterranean wells, gateways, and other minor structures within the precinct, as well as cataloguing and conservation of over 4000 loose inscribed stone fragments found throughout the enclosure. Current projects thus include the epigraphic documentation of the small Amun Temple, for which the first volume, Medinet Habu IX, appeared in print in 2009, along with analysis and publication of fragment groups assembled in the on-site blockyard, with several articles on this material now in press. Conservation and restoration initiatives, aside from continued monitoring and restoration of the 18th Dynasty temple, include the dismantling, consolidation, and reconstruction of the sandstone gates of the Roman emperors Domitian and Claudius, physical reconstruction of numerous fragment groups, particularly those originating from the Palace of Ramesses III, and the creation of a small open-air museum for display of these reconstructed monuments. Our conservation plan also includes an ongoing training program for young Egyptian conservators employed by the MSA. We will continue both the epigraphic documentation and conservation efforts at Medinet Habu on a long-term basis as our primary mission in the years to come.
In the late 1970’s, the Epigraphic Survey applied for and received permission to document the 18th Dynasty reliefs in Luxor Temple, which date mainly to the time of Amenhotep III and his successors. The great Colonnade Hall, with its festival scenes carved during and after the reign of Tutankhamun, was the primary focus of the Chicago House team throughout much of the 1980’s and 1990’s, resulting in the publication of Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor Temple, Vols. I-II. Throughout the same period, we have undertaken the systematic cataloguing, conservation, and analysis of the more than 40,000 inscribed stone fragments, collected from all over the Theban region, which are now stored within the Luxor Temple precinct. From 1995, a project funded first by USAID Egypt and ARCE, and then by the World Monuments Fund, permitted proper storage platforms to be created for all of the fragmentary material, emergency conservation measures to be undertaken for the most threatened pieces, and made possible the creation of an on-site open-air museum. It has also been possible to reassemble selected fragment groups in their original locations on the standing walls of the temple. Study and conservation of the Luxor Temple fragment corpus is ongoing, in particular a project to analyze and reconstruct fragments of the Church of St. Thecla, which once stood north of the Pylon of Ramesses II, an undertaking kindly funded by Nassef Sawiris and initiated in 2010. Within the temple proper, Chicago House partnered with the American Research Center in Egypt from 2005-2008 to facilitate the cleaning, preservation, and documentation of the unique Late Roman fresco paintings, dating to the First Tetrarchy, that are partially preserved in the central section of the monument. In 2013 we began the process of making detailed facsimile drawings of these paintings for definitive publication thereof, as well as of the underlying 18th Dynasty reliefs. Our continuing work on both the fragmentary material and the standing monument is part of the Epigraphic Survey’s long-term commitment to the preservation and publication of Luxor Temple.
Khonsu Temple, Karnak
Since the 1920’s, the Epigraphic Survey has undertaken a number of documentation projects within the great temple complex of Karnak, including the temples of Ramesses III in the first court and in the Mut enclosure, the Bubastite gate, the battle reliefs of Seti I, and the temple of Khonsu, located in the southwest corner of the main temenos. Our work in Khonsu Temple has resulted in the publication of two volumes on the wall reliefs, The Temple of Khonsu Vols. I-II, along with a third volume on the rooftop graffiti by the late Helen Jacquet-Gordon. In 2008 the Chicago House team resumed work on the site in cooperation with the American Research Center in Egypt and the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The focus of the present documentation program is the large corpus of inscribed blocks, originating from earlier monuments, which were used as building material when the present temple was built during the reign of Ramesses III. The foundations, floors, walls, columns, and pylons of Khonsu Temple consist almost entirely of reused fragments, many of which still bear their original decoration; and some of this decoration is still visible, exposed in the partially damaged 20th Dynasty walls, or reachable through cracks in the walls and flooring. Our current task is to document as many of these pieces as possible while they remain accessible. So far we have identified groups of material from other known monuments, such as Amenhotep III’s mortuary complex and that of Ay and Horemheb on the west of the Nile, but we have also discovered fragments of previously unknown structures, the most important of which appears to be an older Khonsu Temple, constructed during the 18th Dynasty, expanded during the 19th Dynasty, and then completely dismantled under Ramesses III, its blocks re-used to construct the present monument. The methodologies used to record this material are described below. As of 2013, we have completed the documentation of over 200 in situ blocks in the foundations, floors, and walls, and we have registered nearly 300 loose fragments found in and around the temple. The goal in upcoming seasons is to complete the documentation of all accessible reused fragments in the upper walls, roof areas, and pylons, material that will continue to enrich our knowledge of the history of Karnak and of the monuments of Thebes.
Tomb Of Nefersekheru (TT 107)
In the years 1959-1970, the Epigraphic Survey added to its program the documentation of the tomb of Kheruef (TT 192), a senior courtier of the reign of Amenhotep III, whose beautiful reliefs, carved in limestone, exemplify the high standard of artistic achievement that characterized the late 18th Dynasty. Interest in stylistic and historical parallels from the same period, along with our objective of preserving the information contained in monuments that are particularly threatened with damage or destruction, has led the Chicago House team to undertake a program in the nearby tomb of Nefersekheru (TT 107), a contemporary of Kheruef and steward of Amenhotep III’s jubilee palace at Malqata. The construction of Nefersekheru’s tomb, though planned to be as large as that of Kheruef, was never completed, and only a small section of the reliefs on the tomb’s façade were carved before the monument was abandoned. The few completed scenes, however, exhibit some of the finest relief carving ever executed in ancient Egypt, comparable to that of Kheruef’s tomb and of the well-known tomb of Ramose. These reliefs are unfortunately in very poor condition, the limestone cracked and fractured by a combination of seismic movement and salt decay. The tomb thus merits special attention, so we began a program of photography and facsimile drawing in the tomb in 2010, the goal of which is the complete documentation of the surviving decoration and of the tomb’s architecture, prior to systematic structural consolidation of the monument and conservation of its decorated surfaces. Epigraphic work and architectural survey of the tomb will continue through the 2013-14 field season and beyond.
Founder James Henry Breasted committed the Epigraphic Survey to the preservation of Egypt's cultural heritage by non- destructive means: through documentation so precise it could stand alone as a replacement in the absence of the original monument. Large-format photography (8x10, 5x7, and 4x5 inch negatives) is an essential tool in this process, and one of the first goals of Chicago House was to create a photographic archive of as many of Egypt's accessible standing monuments as possible, photographed inside and out. Breasted understood, however, that photographs alone cannot always capture all the details of the often damaged or modified wall scenes of individual monuments, since the light source that illuminates also casts shadows that obscure details. To supplement and clarify the photographic record, precise line drawings are produced at Chicago House that combine the skills of the photographer, artist, and Egyptologist. First the wall surface is carefully photographed with a large-format camera whose lens is positioned exactly parallel to the wall to eliminate distortion. From these negatives, which are digitally scanned and duplicated, photographic enlargements up to 20x24 inches are produced, printed on a special matt-surface paper with an emulsion coating that can take pencil and ink lines. An artist takes this enlarged photographic print mounted on a drawing board to the wall itself, and pencils directly onto the photograph all of the carved detail that is visible on the wall surface, adding those details that are not visible or clear on the photograph. Then, in the studio, the penciled lines are carefully inked with a series of weighted line conventions to show the three dimensions of the relief, and damage that interrupts the carved line is rendered with thin, broken lines that imitate the nature of the break. This can now also be accomplished digitally (see below). In the case of hard-copy drawings, when the inking is complete, the entire photograph is immersed in an iodine bath that dissolves away the photographic image, leaving just the ink drawing. The drawing is then blueprinted, the blueprint is cut into sections and each section is mounted on a sheet of stiff white paper. These "collation sheets" are taken back to the wall where the inked details on the blueprint are thoroughly examined by two Egyptologist epigraphers, one after the other. These epigraphers pencil corrections and refinements on the blueprint itself with explanations and instructions to the artist written in the margins. The collation sheets are then returned to the artist, who in turn takes them back to the wall and carefully checks the epigraphers' corrections, one by one. When everyone is in agreement, the corrections are added to the inked drawing back in the studio, the transferred corrections are checked for accuracy by the epigraphers, and the drawing receives a final review by the field director back at the original wall. Consultations between artist, epigraphers, and field director, the consensus of all skill sets combined, ensures a finished facsimile drawing that is faithful to what is preserved on the wall in every detail. This is the essence of what is generally referred to as the "Chicago House Method." The corrected ink drawings, photographs, scans, text translations, commentary, glossaries, and duplicate negatives are then taken back to Chicago for processing and publication in large folio volumes for distribution worldwide. These publications are available for sale in hard copy and now also for free distribution in electronic format, part of an exciting new program recently inaugurated by the Oriental Institute, and generously funded by OI Visiting Committee Members Lewis and Misty Gruber.
In some instances, as with the reused fragments in the floors and walls of Khonsu Temple, it is not possible to photograph the surface that is being recorded, or to observe it directly, since the stone in question is masked by an adjoining architectural feature. For such cases we have developed a special method of recording by indirect observation. Sheets of aluminum foil are inserted into the interstice and used to make rubbings of the carved surface, a labor-intensive process that results in the extraction of enormous amounts of completely hidden carved information. The impressions thus produced on the foil are then slipped beneath sheets of clear diacetate and traced as if they were the original surface of the block. Once a field drawing on diacetate is completed, the artist copies the original tracing onto another piece of diacetate in the studio in order to refine the ink lines of the original. At this stage the drawing, still at one-to-one scale and thus potentially rather unwieldy in size, is submitted to the photographer, who makes digital photographs of the drawings at a high enough resolution to ensure clear reduced printouts. These printouts are used by the epigraphers as collation sheets. In addition to collations of the drawings, the epigraphers also make notes on the content and condition of the reliefs, as well as measured isometric drawings of the blocks on which they occur. After the collation is completed, the epigraphers and the artist examine the block together to consider the suggested corrections and to reach an agreement regarding the changes to be effected on the drawing. In the last step of the field process, the field director makes a final on-site check of the corrected drawing. The diacetate is then scanned, reduced to scale, and overlaid with vellum, on which the lines of the inscription and other features are inked using the normal Chicago House drawing conventions. This method produces the most accurate possible copies of inscribed surfaces that cannot be seen by eye or camera, and would otherwise escape documentation.
Recent advances in computerized drawing equipment and graphics software now make it possible to perform many of the stages of the Chicago House Method using digital technology. In the updated version of the Method, photographic enlargements are still used by the artist to pencil in the essential outlines and details of each scene or text by direct observation of the original. The penciled enlargement, however, rather than being inked in pen, is instead scanned at high resolution, and this image is used as the background for “inking” the sun-and-shadow lines digitally, using a large format drawing tablet. The artistic conventions used for raised and sunk relief, traces, damage, plaster, and other features of the decorated surface remain the same, and the care and skill required of the artist are as great as those required for inking on paper, but the digital drawing gives a greater flexibility in how the “inked” drawing can be manipulated, allows the transfer of the information in multiple scales and formats, and makes any necessary corrections go much more quickly. Collation sheets can be printed directly, avoiding the necessity of using (now hard to find) blueprint paper, and prints of the facsimile drawing in whole or in part can be used for a variety of other field research purposes as well. All digital files are carefully backed up in multiple locations, ensuring the security of the data, which adds an important archival loss-prevention component to the methodology. Then, when the drawing is complete, having undergone the same series of wall checks outlined above, it is already in digital format, and thus ready to be sent directly to the publishers for layout, avoiding the need for costly and technically difficult scanning of inked enlargements. This digital modification of the traditional Chicago House Method is now fully in place, thanks to generous grants from the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago and Dr. Marjorie M. Fisher, which have permitted the purchase of the necessary high-end tablets and computer systems. Digital epigraphic recording promises both to open new possibilities in terms of the accuracy of our recording and the breadth of information that can be captured, and to streamline our documentation process at a time when the need for rapid salvage of the threatened monumental material is increasingly urgent.The publications of the Epigraphic Survey are universally recognized as setting the standard for epigraphic recording. With our most recent volume, Medinet Habu IX. The Eighteenth Dynasty Temple, Part I: The Inner Sanctuaries (OIP 136, Chicago 2009), the Survey has resumed its series of publications dedicated to the reliefs and inscriptions of the Medinet Habu complex, a series inaugurated in 1930 with the publication of the war scenes and earlier historical records from the mortuary temple of Ramesses III (Medinet Habu I. Earlier Historical Records of Ramses III, OIP 8, Chicago 1930). The Ramesside temple and the High Gate were to occupy the efforts of the Survey for the next four decades, ending in 1970 with the appearance of Medinet Habu VIII. In resuming the Medinet Habu series, the Survey initiates what is envisioned to be a sequence of volumes documenting the Eighteenth Dynasty temple of Amun and subsequent additions thereto, culminating with the inscriptions in the forecourt of Antoninus Pius, carved in the mid-2nd Century A.D. The drawings and photographs slated to appear in the second and third volumes of this series, Medinet Habu X and Medinet Habu XI, are currently near completion.
Other recent publications include The Temple of Khonsu, Volume 3. The Graffiti on the Khonsu Temple Roof at Karnak: A Manifestation of Personal Piety (OIP 123, Chicago 2003), by Helen Jacquet-Gordon. Graffiti incised on the roof blocks of the temple of Khonsu at Karnak, written in the hieroglyphic, hieratic, and Demotic scripts and accompanied by the outlines of pairs of feet, caught the eye of Champollion and other early voyagers who succeeded in clambering up onto that part of the roof still remaining over the colonnade of the first court. Such graffiti have usually been interpreted as mementos left by ancient visitors passing through Thebes. A complete survey of all the graffiti on the roof and a detailed study of the inscriptions, carried out over a considerable period of time, revealed the unexpected fact that far from being casual tourists, it was mostly the priestly personnel of the temple itself whose graffiti have been preserved there. The inscriptions record the name and titles of the person whose footprints are depicted, as well as the name of his father and sometimes that of his grandfather, but only in three cases does the name of his mother appear. Prayers addressed mainly to Khonsu himself demonstrate the firm belief of these priestly servitors in the lasting protection afforded them by the god in whose sacred precinct their graffiti have been carved. The 334 graffiti recorded in the volume are richly illustrated by photographs and facsimile drawings. Transliterations, translations, line notes, and commentaries are provided, and the text concludes with general, name, epithet, and title indices.
The latest volume in our Luxor Temple series, Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor Temple, Volume 2: The Facade, Portals, Upper Register Scenes, Columns, Marginalia, and Statuary in the Colonnade Hall (OIP 116, Chicago 1998) contains 99 plates of drawings and photographs as well as a booklet of text translations and commentary. The diversity of material in this volume makes it one of the most exciting publications in the history of the Survey. This volume (RILT 2) completes the documentation and publication of all the standing wall remains in the great Colonnade Hall of Luxor Temple, one of the largest, most beautiful, and most threatened monuments in Luxor. Its companion volume, Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor Temple, Volume 1: The Festival Procession of Opet in the Colonnade Hall (OIP 112, Chicago 1994), GIVE HYPERLINK contains 128 plates and a text booklet. The Opet volume, the Epigraphic Survey's largest ever, documents in detailed drawings and photographs the first register of decoration in the hall, built by Amenhotep III but largely decorated during the reign of Tutankhamun and his successors. It is one of the very few monuments of Tutankhamun to survive to the present day. The first register reliefs, executed in the lively style of the late Amarna period, commemorate one of the most important annual festivals in the Egyptian religious calendar, the great Festival of Opet, the occasion when the god Amun-Re traveled from his "palace" at Karnak to his birthplace at Luxor Temple to experience rebirth and rejuvenation. The Opet reliefs document in particular detail the lavish water procession associated with this festival, when Amun-Re, his wife, the mother-goddess Mut, and their son the moon-god Khonsu traveled from Karnak to Luxor Temple and, at the conclusion of the festival, back to Karnak in great, gilded divine barges towed by the elaborate royal barges of the king and queen. The royal barges in turn were towed by numerous smaller boats manned by dozens of oarsmen, while the entire water procession was escorted by a cheering populace on the riverbanks. It is hard to see on the wall now unless the light is just right, but you can see it all in our publication!
Under Lanny Bell's directorship more than twenty years ago, the Epigraphic Survey added conservation to its program and a conservator to the staff. Now, because of rapidly changing conditions in Egypt that are causing the monuments to decay at an ever faster rate, we have expanded our conservation programs even further. From 1996 to 2006 the Epigraphic Survey received a grant from the Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), administered through the American Research Center (ARCE) and generously approved by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), for documentation and conservation of the Thutmoside temple at Medinet Habu and its later additions. Thanks to this grant, Chicago House was able to seal the rooftop of the small Amun temple against rainwater (a more frequent occurrence recently) and clean the salt, dirt, and soot-stained painted reliefs below. As this cleaning was finished, newly exposed painted details were added to the drawings that have recently appeared in Medinet Habu IX. A current grant from USAID now supports the documentation and conservation in the small Amun temple plus the new blockyard storage area, the southern well of Ramesses III, and two Roman-period gates. Our program at the Medinet Habu small Aumn temple also included the restoration of the sandstone flooring in the two central chapels, which were largely missing since antiquity. This necessitated the careful cleaning of the floor debris, made up of the backfill from the excavations of our predecessors in the 1930s. Among the more interesting finds in the floor debris were six large and two-hundred medium to small fragments of a colossal granodiorite seated dyad of Thutmose III and the god Amun. During the 2000-2001 season, conservator Lotfi Hassan and stone cutter Dany Roy joined the largest base fragments and secured them with stainless steel dowels 2 centimeters in diameter and almost a meter in length, which were epoxied into place. The joined statue base was raised and moved into the exact center of the central sanctuary, where the dyad had originally been set up, over a damp-coursed, reinforced concrete foundation. On March 24, 2001, the top section of the statue was winched into position and epoxied, completing the joining of the six largest pieces of the group. The reassembled dyad, broken at the top, stands almost 3 meters in height, even without the heads. INCLUDE PHOTOS OF DYAD REASSEMBLY FROM EXISTING WEBSITE Analysis of the smaller fragments, including sections of the king's legs and kilt, will be completed in future seasons, after which they will be joined to the core statue. It is a rare opportunity to restore a piece of Egyptian sculpture to its original architectural setting. Because this particular dyad was an integral part of the architecture of the central sanctuary, it is a dramatic addition to the room.
In 2010 we noted that the 1st century AD sandstone gate of the Roman Emperor Domitian, reassembled in the late 19th century by Georges Daressy from scattered blocks behind the Small Temple, was in danger of collapse due to groundwater seepage and salt-induced decay of its foundations. After consultation with the MSA/SCA, conservator Lotfi Hassan, master mason Frank Helmholz, and our structural engineer Conor Power, it was decided that the gate had to be completely dismantled in order to replace the foundations with new sandstone, protected from groundwater infiltration by subterranean damp-coursing. Permission was granted by the MSA/SCA to begin that work in 2011. During the winter of 2012-13 Frank Helmholz and the Chicago House workmen cut and shaped seven new replacement blocks for the lowest courses of the gate, and put into place the bottommost course on a new reinforced concrete footing, installed in 2011-2012. One old stone was salvaged and joined to a new block, and all new stones were bolted to the new damp-coursed foundation with steel pins. The remaining blocks from the gate, stored nearby, will be consolidated by the conservation team, and then will be reassembled along with additional newly cut stones during the coming field seasons. Another Roman-period gate from the time of the Roman emperor Claudius outside the Medinet Habu eastern enclosure is in bad condition due to ground water salt decay and will also be dismantled and restored.
Although the Epigraphic Survey has in the past dealt exclusively with standing wall remains, an exciting opportunity presented itself at Luxor Temple to incorporate fragmentary material in our publication program. The upper walls of the Colonnade Hall and other parts of Luxor Temple are mostly missing, quarried away in the medieval period when stone was needed for house, church, or mosque construction. Excavations in the 1950s and 1960s, which exposed the southern end of the sphinx road linking Luxor and Karnak temples, also exposed hundreds of buried stone foundations made up of reused block fragments that had been torn off the upper walls of the temple. When the excavations were finished, the fragments were piled in dozens of rows around the temple for future analysis. From this pool of material, the Epigraphic Survey has identified over 1,500 sandstone fragments from the Colonnade Hall alone, and is including them in the publication of the hall. Each block fragment is drawn by the Chicago House team the same way a wall section would be drawn using photographic enlargements or the digital drawing tablet, and when the drawings are collated and finished, each fragment drawing is photographed (or scanned) so that scale prints of the drawings can be reassembled for the publication. Many of the fragments join like huge, stone jigsaw puzzles to form long strips or sections from numerous identifiable scenes, and augment considerably our understanding of the decorative scheme of the missing upper registers. RILT I, our publication of the Opet Festival reliefs, features joined fragment groups from the first register of the hall, and RILT 2 illustrates joined fragments from the Colonnade Hall facade that preserve important information about its original decorative program. The third volume in the Luxor Temple Colonnade Hall series will be devoted primarily to the upper register fragment groups, one of which is over 75 feet long, and to an architectural study of the hall.
In 1995 the Epigraphic Survey received a five-year grant from the Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP), USAID, ARCE, and the SCA for conservation and consolidation of the deteriorating decorated sandstone fragments in our Luxor Temple blockyard. Originally under the supervision of conservator John Stewart, the project is now overseen by head conservator Hiroko Kariya. In 1998 we erected an onsite conservation lab, which now allows greater control of the fragment treatment, and we also received permission from the SCA to expand our fragment documentation and conservation efforts at Luxor Temple. Between 1999 and 2009, thanks to Robert Wilson matching grants and the World Monuments Fund, we largely achieved our goal of raising all the fragmentary material around Luxor Temple up off the ground onto protected storage platforms, by category, for documentation, treatment, and eventual reconstruction. Another recent milestone, also supported by the World Monuments Fund, is the Luxor Temple blockyard open-air museum, three years in preparation and opened to the public on March 29, 2010.
Among the fragment groups found in the Luxor Temple blockyard is a series of architectural components originating from 6th Century A.D. Coptic church dedicated to St. Thecla, which stood originally in front of Luxor Temple. Its surviving sanctuary foundations, which are themselves made of reused Pharaonic blocks, can be seen just beyond the present entryway to the Luxor Temple precinct. The sanctuary foundations were the focus of a previous Chicago House conservation condition study, and many decorated blocks in the blockyard appear to come from that area of the church. Conservator Hiroko Kariya has cleaned and conserved several of the blocks from the Thecla Church, and, thanks to a grant from Nassef Sawaris, architect Jay Heidel is currently undertaking a complete analysis of the fragments, including detailed drawings of the decorated surfaces of each block, as well as AutoCAD reconstructions of the joined architectural fragment groups. It will eventually be possible to reconstruct on paper a number of major architectural components from the church, and we envision being able to reassemble at least one of the large arches of the apse in its original location before the pylon of Luxor Temple.
Chicago House, the Oriental Institute headquarters in Egypt, functions as a major center of Egyptological studies for Egyptian and foreign scholars alike, and is open from October 15 through April 15 every winter season. The research library, among the finest in Egypt, has more than 20,000 volumes. The Chicago House photographic archive is a major research collection containing over 21,000 negatives and 21,000 prints ranging in date from the late-nineteenth century to the present. A project to conserve, register, and provide proper archival storage for the collection was funded by the Getty Grant Program and a catalog of the archival holdings, The Registry of the Photographic Archives of the Epigraphic Survey, was published in 1995. Beginning in 1999, we undertook the process of scanning all of the negatives in the archive for inclusion in our Photo Archives database, a work of many years that has now been extended to incorporate other photographic collections housed in our facility, such as the Labib Habachi archives and the photographs of Helen and Jean Jacquet.
The Epigraphic Survey is the flagship field project of the Oriental Institute and demonstrates a commitment to long-term documentation and conservation projects of the highest quality that benefit the entire field of ancient Near Eastern scholarship. Partly funded by the University of Chicago, the Epigraphic Survey relies heavily on tax-deductible private and corporate support for its continued efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of ancient Egypt.
For further information on contributions to the work of the Survey, contact the Development Office at (773) 702-9513 or email@example.com.
For online donations, go to https://oi.uchicago.edu/getinvolved/donate/. Click 'Pledge online,' and check the "Epigraphic Survey/Chicago House" box. Thank you!
Visitors to Chicago House are always welcome, but please contact us in advance for the most convenient times for a visit. Feel free to contact the director, Dr. Ray Johnson, directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him (in Egypt, direct dial from the U.S.) at: 011-20-122-322-5019. Our field season is from October 15 to April 15. Weekday hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 12:00 noon, then 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm; Saturdays 8:00 to 12:00 noon; closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Direct dial from the U.S.: 011-20-95-237-2525; fax 011-20-95-238-1620.
Revised: November 7, 2013