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Home > Research > Publications > Annual Reports > 1993-94 Annual Report

The Epigraphic Survey

1993-94 Annual Report

Peter F. Dorman

The 1993-1994 field season, which marked the seventieth year of the Epigraphic Survey, opened on October 15, coinciding with the projected terminal date of the renovation of the Chicago House complex, and ended on April 1. The major achievements this year were the completion of epigraphic work on all remaining areas of the Colonnade Hall in Luxor Temple, bringing to a close many years of field work at that monument, as well as continued progress on the documentation of the small temple of Amun at Medinet Habu.

The summer of 1993 proved to be one of the most eventful periods for the Chicago House renovation (fig. 1), involving in part the expansion and partial conversion of the library building, which is the nerve center of our research and our scholarly resources. To assist in overseeing the work, James Riley and Sue Lezon returned to Luxor for the two brutally hot months of July and August, and I joined them there for ten days for a first-hand look at the construction. Several critical deadlines were met when the concrete slab for the library roof was poured on July 14 (fig. 2) and the concrete tests for the new guest house proved satisfactory. During this time, new floors were laid throughout the ground floor of the residence as well; the exterior walls of all buildings were stripped of their old plaster and resurfaced with a more durable finish; the walkways and driveways were repaved; and the darkroom was fitted with custom-built stainless sinks, improved lighting and ventilation, and double wired outlets that supply both 110v and 220v power for equipment brought from home or purchased locally. The logistics of making the buildings completely accessible to the contractors, of protecting our furniture and equipment over the summer, and of preparing the new facilities for a returning staff were again left to the incomparable organizing talents of Tina Di Cerbo and Richard Jasnow, and it is largely due to their hard work and coordination that the Survey was able to begin field work in October as scheduled.

Figure 1. Chicago House after the completion of the renovation. The original appearance of the 1930 facade as viewed from the corniche has been preserved.

Figure 2. The expansion of the library hall, seen here during construction in August 1993, entailed the reconstruction of the art-deco alcove in roughly its original position.

Finishing work on the buildings and grounds continued as late as mid-December, however, and even the library building was occupied only in phases. As workmen left an office or studio by one door, bookcases and desks would be moved in through another. Although the artists' studios were not ready for their occupants until early November, drawing tables were set up in the staff suites so that field work could proceed without delay - a contingency foreseen the previous spring. The library at Chicago House is now housed in two broad halls, with almost double the floor space and shelving of the old. The original hall, built in 1930, has been returned to its original appearance, with only the addition of badly needed fluorescent lights along the perimeter: the hall is again lined with its gray-green metal bookcases that reach up to meet a long-concealed curved molding, and its French ceramic arabesque plaques are clearly visible on the walls. The new hall imitates the architecture of the old, with a ten-meter ceiling (a passive air conditioning measure), towering false arches, and high windows for natural light (fig. 3). Filled with beige metal bookcases to maximize shelf space, the room also holds seven new readers' tables and is adorned by the original art-deco alcove rescued from the demolition of the old building and carefully reconstructed in its new position. Grading and landscaping of the grounds added the final touch to the renovation, and within a year or two the gardens and climbing vines of Chicago House should look well established. Eighteen months of construction came to an end in mid-December, remarkably on target for a project with extremely tight scheduling stipulations, which were required in order to minimize interference with ongoing field work during the winter months. The success of the project owes much to the daily supervision of the work by Engineer Ahmed el-Refaei, the site supervisor from Bechtel Egypt who rendered such dedicated service to us, as well the great personal interest taken in the construction by Mr. Ashraf Ghonima, General Manager of Bechtel Egypt, and Mr. Sami Saad, president of the general contracting company.

Figure 3. Members of the Friends of Chicago House weekend in November 1993 were given a complete tour of the facilities, including the new library hall, seen here.

Field work at Luxor Temple revealed one or two interesting surprises as the last checks were made to the drawings that will be published in a second volume on the Colonnade Hall, incorporating the decoration of the facade of the hall, the great northern portal, the upper registers, the colossal columns, their architraves, and the graffiti and marginal inscriptions. Director's checks were accomplished on all the drawings save one, and a preliminary plate layout and manuscript notes were prepared for Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor Temple, Volume 2: The Facade, Portals, Upper Registers, Columns, and Marginalia of the Colonnade Hall. The great bulk of these drawings consisted of the vast offering scenes on the columns (fig. 4) (fig. 4A), the large graffiti on the facade (see (fig. 5) (fig. 5A); the inscriptions of the High Priests of Amun, Pinodjem and Sheshonk, and the dedicatory relief of Khonsu-Ij were mentioned in last year's report), some sixty-five block fragments, and graffiti from a variety of locations and historical periods. Epigrapher Debbie Darnell also completed her survey of cartouches and a synthesis of all fourteen columns in the hall.

Figure 4. In the great offering scene on one of the fourteen colossal columns in the Colonnade Hall, Sety I presents ointment to Amun-Re and Mut.

Figure 4A. Same as Figure 4 above, but image is displayed at higher resolution. WARNING: 400+ kilobyte file.

Figure 5. The moon god, Khonsu, as a child is the focus of a Ptolemaic period graffito on the facade of the Colonnade Hall. An earlier inscription left by the High Priest of Amun Sheshonk appears to the upper left.

Figure 5A. Same as Figure 5 above, but image is displayed at higher resolution. WARNING: 400+ kilobyte file.

Epigraphers Richard Jasnow and John Darnell worked in particular with artist Ray Johnson on the wooden scaffolding erected against the Colonnade Hall facade, finalizing decisions concerning the traces of the original Eighteenth Dynasty relief still visible there, beneath the later recarving by Ramesses II. Ray also drew up the reconstructions of the missing portions of the great Colonnade facade, floating the pertinent block fragments into place where they were originally located. Together with Ray, artists Tina Di Cerbo and Margaret De Jong penciled and inked the sixty-five facade fragments, which were all collated and approved by the end of the season. It was of considerable interest to discover that the western side of the facade, demolished almost to ground level during the medieval period for the reuse of its stone, displays the same kind of Greek graffiti that is to be found on the better preserved eastern side, and in the same respective place: above the roof line of the Ramesside court, but within convenient reach of visitors whiling away their time by scratching inscriptions into the stone. Perhaps the most intriguing of these Greek graffiti, preserved now only on a fragment of carved relief, reads "a proskynema to the king of the world (kosmos)"; incised across the huge double plumes of Amun-Re, these words probably refer to the god's common epithet nb pt, "lord of heaven," and represent an homage to him.

A Coptic graffito, located on the eastern side of the great northern portal and first recorded by the Survey several years ago, has now been recognized to contain an indiction number, a type of chronological reckoning based on fifteen-year cycles beginning in the early fourth century a.d. (fig. 6). Its location is of extreme interest: the inner thickness of the portal in a place where stone has been stripped away for reuse, but very close to the level at which the gradually rising ground level halted the stone robbing. If this inscription can be dated by internal evidence, we will have a very good idea of the time at which the Colonnade Hall ceased to be used as a convenient quarry for local building, possibly during the period between the eighth and the tenth centuries a.d. Two Arabic graffiti may also confirm such a date as well, one on the northern portal and the other on one of the column shafts, both located fairly high above present ground level.

Figure 6. An abraded indiction inscription, located in the thickness of the northern portal to the Colonnade Hall, may provide a chronological clue to the destruction of the walls.

With Richard and John, artist Tina Di Cerbo also examined the long western exterior wall of the Colonnade Hall and discovered sixteen hitherto unnoticed graffiti of different periods; these were all recorded and approved for publication. Likewise, a fragment of one of the enormous roofing blocks from the hall was found to contain fifteen graffiti left by various temple priests, several of whom who carved the outlines of their feet or sandals into the sandstone as they stood on the roof, perhaps waiting for the appearance of the processional barks from Karnak during the festival of Opet. A good number of these sandal outlines are filled with personal names, and one (fig. 7) provides the names of the two second priests of Amun-of-Opet, Padihorpakhered and his father, Horsiese, two members of a family known from other inscriptions in the Theban area.

Figure 7. The names of two Second Priests of Amun-of-Opet, Padihorpakhered and his father, Horsiese, are carved within the outlines of sandals on a fragmentary roof block from the Colonnade Hall.

Despite the continuing interest contained in even the more informal texts at Luxor Temple, the primary efforts of the artists were centered at the small temple of Amun at Medinet Habu, where documentation progressed in five of the six painted chapels of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III and on many of the square pillars that surround the bark sanctuary. Artists Susan Osgood, Margaret De Jong, Jay Heidel, and Tina Di Cerbo placed priority on the interior walls, but in case of electrical failure - a fairly common phenomenon on the western bank - they had to remain flexible enough to switch to an exterior column scene whenever they were plunged into the dark. Despite these inconveniences, twenty-six drawings were inked this last year and collations were begun by the epigraphers on many of them; likewise, an additional twenty-seven were penciled at the wall or set aside as summer work for the transfer of corrections. All the epigraphers, including student epigrapher Drew Baumann, devoted much of their time to collations, and even the field director managed to wrest a few hours at the wall from an otherwise distracting schedule.

In the course of last year, a team of conservators of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, led by the very able Raîs Farouk, has been trenching around the foundations of the small temple in an effort to expose the buried stones and dry them out, subsequently filling the trenches with gravel that will assist in the drying process and minimize the activation of salts caused by contact with fresh ground water. To our surprise, the foundation courses of the Ptolemaic hall directly to the east of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple consist largely of reused blocks, many of which display carved and painted relief of the Kushite Twenty-fifth Dynasty (fig. 8) or from the Ptolemaic period itself. The archaeological reports published in the 1930s by Dr. Uvo Hölscher on the small temple make definite but fleeting reference to decorated blocks; the possibilities of full documentation, however, are most suggestive. These newly uncovered stones consist of both raised and sunk relief, that is, they represent both interior and exterior walls, and with photography and careful epigraphy it may well be possible to reconstruct on paper the decoration of the vanished Kushite monument that once stood on the present site of the Ptolemaic hall and that was presumably attached to the Kushite pylon, which still stands in situ. To this end, the Survey's new photographer, Jerry Kobylecky, was sent into the trenches for the unenviable task of taking precise photographs of underground blocks with very little space to maneuver (fig. 9). With the help of archival assistant Ellie Smith, he finished photography on some seventy blocks in the last weeks of the season. Among these are included at least three blocks from a Ptolemaic kiosk gateway that once stood in the vicinity of the small temple, but whose exact location must remain a mystery for now. It may well prove that the recently recovered notebooks of Dr. Hölscher (see Emily Teeter's report elsewhere in this Annual Report) will supply additional information to answer some of the questions that have been raised during the present season.

Figure 8. Upside-down yet still serene, a Kushite king gazes from one of the reused blocks in the foundation walls of the Ptolemaic court of the small temple. Epigraphic research may provide new information on the decoration of the now-vanished Kushite monument there.

Figure 9. The challenge of field photography - in this case, underground documentation of reused blocks at the small temple of Amun at medinet Habu - were easily handled by photographer Jerry Kobylecky.

We were delighted once again to be able to work with Jean and Helen Jacquet, who, following their season at North Karnak for the French Institute, offered their services at Chicago House for several weeks. The Jacquets completed an elevation drawing of the western wall of the Colonnade Hall that will be used for plotting the new graffiti and, in conjunction with the (re)discovery of the Kushite blocks at Medinet Habu, they began a meticulous architectural survey of the Ptolemaic hall, searching in particular for traces of walls or doorways that may give a clue to the original configuration of the Kushite monument. Together with the reconstructed wall decoration, their new plan will eventually be used to reconsider the development of the small temple of Amun during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty.

It was also a great pleasure to welcome Ann Russmann as a colleague during the months of February and March, expanding the scope of the Survey's work by her unique insights. As an art historian, Ann's special expertise in the Kushite period proved invaluable to our deliberations about the small temple, and it was fortunate that her stay at Chicago House coincided with that of the Jacquets. She also spent a good deal of time examining the reliefs of the portico in front of the Kushite pylon, looking for signs of recarving and usurpation that may help to explain the architectural chronology of this later period, in preparation for the epigraphic documentation to come.

Photographers Sue Lezon and Jerry Kobylecky faced the pleasant task of setting up a completely renovated darkroom at the beginning of the season, with all support systems and sinks having been custom designed by Sue during the last two years; the new building indelibly bears her mark. Her departure in November marks ten years' dedicated service to the Survey, and her absence will be greatly felt at Chicago House, both personally and professionally. Fortunately, she continued to work on the Lost Egypt portfolios after her return to the United States and mounted a set of historic Chicago House prints for display in the new library. In the course of the season, Jerry kept up with the voracious demands of the artists and epigraphers, producing twenty-two new joined drawing enlargements for the work at Medinet Habu and blueprinting and bleaching as many more for collation. In addition to the field photography at the small temple of Amun, he made supplementary prints for the Lost Egypt portfolios, enlargements of the sixty-five facade fragments from the Colonnade Hall for drawing and collation, and at the end of the year undertook the huge task of final photography on all approved documentation from Luxor Temple, involving ninety-one negatives of one hundred seventy-eight individual drawings. Jerry also set up another contact printer from old equipment found in the Chicago House magazines and trained his assistant, Gharib, in its use.

Ellie Smith continued her invaluable work in the photographic archives, her first task being to move the Survey's entire holdings of negatives and prints into their new storage facilities in the library building. Prints and negatives are now properly housed in separate rooms, with nitrate films kept apart from acetate films; for the first time in decades, photographic materials are filed in logical sequence and under archival conditions. Ellie completed the reorganization and renumbering of almost eight hundred of the glass plate negatives according to site information, and entered six hundred forty-six records on our small-format films onto computer, most of it from the Habachi archives, which is still in the process of identification and registration. Assisting Sue and Jerry in many of their routine tasks, Ellie took an active hand in setting up the field photography at Medinet Habu and keeping careful track of the fragment locations; she also typed out guidelines for darkroom procedures and continued to refine the main archival database.

In addition to her epigrapher's duties, Debbie Darnell again oversaw the management of the library, with the assistance of Richard, Tina, John, and Drew. The library books, stored in the residence building during the summer, were transferred to their new home by Tina and Richard and their crew of Chicago House workmen in the course of two weeks, but a manufacturing error delayed the delivery of some of the bookcases, necessitating some double-shifting of many volumes in November. Volumes that have long been held in dead storage for lack of space were reintegrated into the shelves, so that all books may now be found in sequential order. Debbie's efforts in the library were prodigious: 441 book titles were entered into the registry (more than any previous season), included virtually every new title that we received in Luxor. The total now stands at 16,756 items. The accessioning was greatly accelerated by Drew Baumann's help in stamping and labeling volumes, typing library records, and proofing catalogue cards. Debbie also initiated a separate database for all the library serials, which total over 350, for the purposes of standardizing entry criteria, ensuring the completion of series' entries, minimizing accession time, and facilitating the ordering and tracking of new volumes. Since existing series databases have proved unsatisfactory, administrator Paul Bartko devised one using Double Helix that is adapted precisely to these purposes, and which can be converted to another program if desirable. Volunteer (and free-lance editor) Nan Ray typed in entries for no fewer 185 series on this program, a deceptively small figure, since even the Bibliothèque d'étude series of the French Institute contains 105 titles alone. The remainder of the database will be completed next season, at which time all journals and series will be available on line for library users. Debbie also organized the encapsulation in mylar of 29 fragile maps with the help of Ellie and Nan, a project that will continue as time permits.

Paul Bartko again supervised the administrative and logistical functions of the expedition and brought his special interests to bear in the setting up of the computer network that now links the administrative offices with the library, the public-access computers, the photographic archives, the epigraphers' offices, and the artists' studios. The routine management of the house and kitchen was left largely in Paul's very efficient hands for much of the season, and he assisted greatly in coordinating the Friends of Chicago House (FOCH) tour in November, as well. My wife, Kathy, who in the past has taken on these household duties, was resident in Luxor with our daughters, Margaret and Emily, for only two months and was able to ease Paul's responsibilities during December and January.

I am particularly grateful to Richard Jasnow for agreeing to serve as acting field director during my two absences from Chicago House, for three weeks in November and for another three weeks in February. His able management of Survey affairs ensured the continued smooth progress of field work and all house functions. Back at the Oriental Institute, we were very fortunate to have former artist Carol Meyer on hand to manage the Survey office during the field season. She kept us in touch with latest home developments, distributed the winter Bulletin, and coordinated the mailing of needed supplies to us in Luxor.

Carlotta Maher continued as our key person for development activities, and she truly graced our presence at Chicago House for much of the winter. The hundreds of postcards and personal notes that flow from her pen have kept many of our supporters in touch with the Survey's activities, and she was instrumental in the success of our November Friends of Chicago House tour as well as in the organization of the exhibit of the thirty printed images from our Lost Egypt portfolios. The Lost Egypt exhibit opened in September at the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago to a very large audience, and since then it has opened at the Sony Gallery at the American University of Cairo, the American Cultural Center in Alexandria, and the Central Exchange in Kansas City, Missouri. Nan Ray has rendered outstanding support to many of our fundraising efforts, and I also wish to thank Dr. Emily Teeter for facilitating arrangements for the exhibit during our inconvenient absences in Luxor.

One abiding concern throughout the season was the fact of continuing acts of random violence, most frequently aimed at the Egyptian security police this year, rather than tourists in particular. The number of foreign visitors in Luxor remained very low, and the Chicago House library welcomed only three hundred seventy-three guests (down from a usual high of over a thousand), and we held only three house receptions, including those for the November Friends of Chicago House tour and for the trustees of the American University of Cairo. Only thirty-three library tours were given to groups and to individuals passing through Luxor. Life in town seemed otherwise normal, however, and those who did arrive in Egypt as tourists enjoyed the most spectacular winter weather in memory. In fact, we managed to entertain twenty-one overnight guests during the five-and-a-half-month season, for a total of one hundred nine guest-nights. The most unexpected guest was surely Ambassador Madeleine Albright, United States Representative to the United Nations, who arrived with just twelve hours notice on the last day of the season for a brief and thoroughly enjoyable tour of Luxor Temple with fifteen of her personal staff.

During the winter and spring, the manuscript was completed for the inaugural volume on Luxor Temple, Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor Temple, Volume I: The Processional Festival of Opet in the Colonnade Hall. The one hundred thirty plates were printed in June by Hennegan Press of Cincinnati, and the accompanying booklet and portfolio box will be produced this summer. Because of the numerous foldout plates, the volume promises to be the largest ever published by the Survey, weighing in at over twenty-one pounds. Another publication, The Registry of the Photographic Archives of the Epigraphic Survey, in production this summer, will mark the formal end of the conservation of the photographic archives at Chicago House, a project made possible thanks to a grant awarded to the Survey in 1989 by the Getty Grant Program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. This catalogue of the main photographic holdings maintained at Chicago House will appear as a printed volume, and the information in it will also be made accessible as a computer file to scholars internationally, to facilitate the kind of database searching that a book does not permit.

The staff this season consisted of the author as field director; Richard Jasnow, John and Deborah Darnell, and Andrew Baumann, epigraphers; W. Raymond Johnson, Christina Di Cerbo, Susan Osgood, James Heidel, and Margaret De Jong, artists; Susan Lezon and Jaroslav Kobylecky, photographers; Edna Russmann, art historian; James Riley, engineering advisor; Jean and Helen Jacquet, field architects; Kathy Dorman and Paul Bartko, house and office administrators; Jill Carlotta Maher, assistant to the director; Elinor Smith, photographic archives assistant; and Saleh Suleiman Shehat, our irreplaceable chief engineer, whose advice and services to the Survey have been inestimable. We were very fortunate, too, that our invaluable friend and resident Egyptologist Dr. Henri Riad was on hand for most of the season, to assist us in the areas of local contacts and liaison; he also continued to administer the Labib Habachi Archives on behalf of the Survey. I wish to express a special debt of gratitude to all the members of the Epigraphic Survey, who were able to carry on the field work in such a professional and dedicated manner, despite the confusion and inconveniences caused by the ongoing renovation of the facilities.

We are especially grateful to the members of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization who contributed directly to the success of the season: Dr. Abd el-Halim Nur ed-Din, Chairman of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, Dr. Ali Hassan, Supervisor of Antiquities for Upper Egypt; Dr. Mohammed el-Saghir, Chief Inspector of Antiquities for Upper Egypt; Dr. Mohammed Nasr, 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 addition to those mentioned for specific contributions, I gratefully express thanks to many other colleagues and friends: the United States Ambassador to Egypt, His Excellency Robert J. Pelletreau, Jr., and Mrs. Pamela Pelletreau; Edmund Hull, Marjorie Ransom, Gilbert Sherman, and Paul Thorn of the United States Embassy in Cairo; Ashraf and Henny Ghonima; Nadia Mostafa; Mohammed Ozalp; David Maher; Mark Rudkin; Lucia Woods Lindley and Daniel Lindley, Jr.; 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 Cynthia Echols, Evada Waller, and Florence Bonnick of the Oriental Institute. Three institutions in particular have rendered fundamental assistance and support that have proved essential to the success of the season: the Amoco Foundation, Inc., The J. Paul Getty Trust, and The Xerox Foundation.

As always, we will be very pleased to welcome members of the Oriental Institute and other friends to Chicago House from October 1 to April 1. Please write 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. Our address in Egypt: Chicago House, Corniche el-Nil, Luxor, Arab Republic of Egypt; the telephone number is 372525 (direct dial from the United States: 011-20-95-372525) and the facsimile number is 381620 (011-20-95-381620).

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