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Home > Research > Publications > Annual Reports > 1995-96 Annual Report

The Epigraphic Survey


Peter F. Dorman

"The mound of the fathers and mothers"--the Eighteenth Dynasty temple dedicated to the worship of Amun at Medinet Habu--was the primary venue of work during the seventy-second season of the Epigraphic Survey, which opened on October 2, 1995, and ended on April 1, 1996. This relatively small but most significant cult center on the western bank of the Nile, believed in antiquity to be the burial mound of the eight primeval gods of Egypt, continues to offer us surprises every year. In addition, progress continued on the preparation of our second volume on the Colonnade Hall of Luxor Temple, including occasional last-minute checks and photography at Luxor.

The collation of drawings this season concentrated almost exclusively on the areas of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple that are slated for publication in the first volume on that monument: the six interior chapels decorated by Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III, as well as the exterior facade of those chapels. Epigraphers John and Deborah Darnell, and Student Epigraphers Edward Castle and Stephen Vinson, joined when possible by Artist/Epigrapher Andrew Baumann and myself, completed collations on thirty-seven drawings, and Artists Raymond Johnson, Christina Di Cerbo, Susan Osgood, Margaret De Jong, Andrew Baumann, and Linda Cohn-Kobylecky undertook the penciling and inking on thirty-four additional enlargements, in addition to five graffiti. Most of these new drawing enlargements pertain to the exterior portions of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple: the bark sanctuary and the peripteros around it, which are to appear in a second volume on the temple. Seventeen drawings were given final director's checks (fig. 1), and we seem in a good position to complete the documentation of the six chapels by the end of the 1996/97 season.

The court in front of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple at Medinet Habu, which was built over in the first major expansion of the original building during the Kushite Twenty-fifth Dynasty (ca. 715-664 b.c.), has recently posed a number of interesting architectural questions. In the fall of 1993 it was discovered that the present flanking walls of the court, built during the later Ptolemaic period, consisted very largely of reused blocks containing Kushite decoration, and the suspicion remains that these stones were dismantled from that now-vanished Twenty-fifth Dynasty building. We were pleased to have Dr. Edna Russmann, an authority on the Late Period and Kushite iconography in particular, as a consultative art historian for portions of two seasons in 1993/94 and 1994/95. This past season Drs. Jean and Helen Jacquet were able to complete their preliminary investigation of the fleeting architectural traces of the Kushite building, and their report, which is appended directly after my own, will significantly alter our understanding of how the temple expanded during the later periods of Egyptian history.

Photographer Yarko Kobylecky was employed in reshooting a number of difficult scenes for enlargement purposes: the four columns in the peripteros, inserted at a late date by King Akoris of the Twenty-ninth Dynasty to prop up the sagging roof; the small Taharqa gateway located at the northwestern corner of the temple; the recarved Ptolemaic lintel of the temple facade; and the portions of the exterior walls that are now enclosed by the Ptolemaic annexes to the north and south. Yarko also made thirty-six drawing enlargements for the artists during the season and bleached forty-seven drawings for collation blueprints for the epigraphers. Other photographic projects included recording several new graffiti discovered by Egyptian conservators in the course of their work at the mortuary temple of Ramesses III and a number of documentary views of the Chicago House compound after the renovation (fig. 2).

Assisting Yarko in the photographic archives, Ellie Smith returned for two months this season to contribute her invaluable organizational skills, completing the registration of new negatives, lending a hand with the field photography, and compiling a list of glass and nitrate negatives that will require duplication. She also organized a series of prints, taken by former field director Charles Nims, of loose blocks from Hatshepsut's famous Chapelle Rouge at Karnak, which is to be reconstructed by the Centre franco-égyptien pour l'étude des temples de Karnak; the negatives were placed on CD-ROM by the CFEETK and a copy on disc was generously returned to the Survey by our French colleague, director François Larché.

At Luxor Temple a number of new discoveries came to light, thanks to Raymond Johnson's detective skills and interest in late Eighteenth Dynasty sculpture. At the invitation of our good friend Dr. Hourig Sourouzian and with the kind permission of Dr. Mohammed Saleh, director of the Cairo Museum, Ray was able to examine photographs taken by Dr. Sourouzian of certain statue fragments in the museum basement. Several of these fragments turned out to be directly relevant to our concessions in Luxor and Karnak. One lovely facial fragment (fig. 3) can now be rejoined to the largest sculpture in the Colonnade Hall, a colossal dyad of Amun and Mut (fig. 4); in antiquity the goddess's face had sheared off but was carefully reattached by dowels, then finally lost again, eventually being taken to Cairo. A plaster cast made by Dr. Saleh allowed Ray to confirm the join of the fragment in situ (the dowel holes on the fragment match those of the statue), and we hope to reattach the face to the statue next season, restoring a large measure of Mut's beauty. Two other blocks were identified as belonging to the missing torso and head of Mut in a smaller dyad in the Colonnade; but the surprise in this case is that the blocks are of much later date--perhaps even Ptolemaic--than the statue itself. This situation again testifies to a late repair undertaken to restore a yet more ancient statue deemed useful for the purpose of worship. And still another torso in the Cairo Museum, we trust, will eventually rejoin its statue group in the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak.

At the beginning of the season we discovered that the dismantling of the eastern colonnade of Amenhotep III at Luxor Temple by the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) had exposed the foundation blocks of the side walls, a number of which bore masons' graffiti in red ink; Yarko photographed nineteen of these for publication by Dr. Abd el-Halim Nur ed-Din, Secretary General of the SCA. Also of great architectural interest was the exposed northeastern corner of the temple podium belonging to the first building phase of Luxor Temple, prior to the addition of the sun court to the north.

Once again this season, Deborah Darnell devoted a good portion of her time to the management of the Chicago House library, whose collection continues to grow. It is primarily due to her organization, meticulous checking, and hard work in ordering books, cataloging them, and arranging payment that the library has been able to maintain the completeness and currency of its holdings. New accessions received this year totaled 203 books and offprints, raising the collection to 17,180 items. Debbie's tasks were made easier by a project she began with Nan Ray two years ago and which was brought to fruition this year: a database file that holds the titles to all of our journals and monograph series. This database now totals 360 different series titles, several of which contain over one hundred volumes each. Nan joined us for six weeks during the winter to complete the last entries and to pursue a number of other tasks, including reorganizing the library's offprint file. Other regular helpers in the more routine library duties such as reshelving, ordering, cataloging, and proofreading included John, Ted, and Steve. At the end of the season our good friend May Trad visited the house to arrange for a large shipment of new and damaged books to be sent to the binderies in Cairo over the summer, and her continuing supervision of this chore is an invaluable service for which we are truly grateful.

During the summer of 1995 and the spring of 1996, John Darnell and the author spent a good deal of time augmenting and editing the manuscript for the next projected volume on Luxor: The Facade, Portals, Upper Registers, Columns, and Marginalia of the Colonnade Hall , to appear in the subseries Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor Temple. While the first volume concentrated on the single unified theme of the Festival of Opet as it was celebrated under Tutankhamun and Sety I, the second is a remarkable potpourri of reliefs and graffiti of all periods and will document the many alterations suffered by the Colonnade Hall from the reign of Ramesses II to the ultimate destruction of the Hall at the hands of stone quarriers after the Roman period. A number of plates have already been prepared, showing the projected reconstruction of the facade with a number of fragments floated into place; the fragments were scanned and then printed in various reduced scales as an experiment funded by the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation to assist in incorporating computer technology into our current epigraphic method.

Physical conservation of the monuments in our concessions is becoming an ever more urgent priority. As part of a grant from the Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP) of the American Research Center in Egypt, we were very pleased to have conservator Dr. John Stewart of the National Trust of Great Britain at Chicago House for two weeks, in order to complete a condition survey on the block fragments he had worked on from 1985 to 1987. John carried out additional tests on the blocks (fig. 5) and set forth a series of proposals that will be used over the next four years as the basis of further consolidation and desalination, to begin on a larger scale next season.

In addition, the Survey was selected as the recipient of a five-year grant from the Egyptian Antiquities Project for major conservation efforts at the Eighteenth Dynasty temple at Medinet Habu. This new program will enable us to consolidate the subsiding walls of the Kushite court, to clean temple reliefs that were smeared with dirt by the torrential rains of 1994, to recover reused block fragments and prepare them for study and publication, to improve water drainage in the area, and to provide the temple with proper access and information for tourists when the task of epigraphic documentation is finished. For their very helpful advice and their efforts in helping to prepare and finalize the grant proposal, I wish to express my special gratitude to Dr. Chip Vincent, Dr. William Remsen, and Cynthia Schartzer of the EAP, as well as to the members of the Supreme Council for Antiquities who readily approved the project.

The daily operations of the household and the main office were in the hands of our administrator Ahmed Harfoush, who handled these very critical functions with skill, good humor, and imagination. Due to his fluent Arabic and outgoing nature, the Egyptian staff have rarely felt so integrated with the general activities of the expedition, and Ahmed also served the house extremely well in its logistics and personal relations aspects. The Survey lent assistance to several expeditions in the course of the season, among the most memorable of which was Dr. Carol Meyer's excavations at Bir Umm Fawakhir (see separate report). It was a pleasure having Carol, a former Survey artist, and her staff at Chicago House prior to, and after, their season at the Wadi Hammamat. An unusual opportunity for collaboration arose at the kind invitation of Dr. Vivian Davies, Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, who was working with the Belgian Mission to Elkab. Arrangements were made to send Yarko Kobylecky to Elkab for a day in order to make color transparencies of a monument first published over a century ago, the painted tomb of Ahmose son of Ibana, whose biographical text remains one of the chief historical witnesses to the military campaigns that hurled the Hyksos out of Egypt. Dr. Davies will be republishing the tomb as part of the Belgian epigraphic work at Elkab. As a cooperative effort with local inspectors in Luxor, Yarko also took a series of documentary photographs of the entire Medinet Habu complex for Dr. Mohammed Saghir, Supervisor of Pharaonic Antiquities for Upper Egypt, who has done much recently to consolidate the monuments at Medinet Habu and prepare sandstone pathways for tourists. In conjunction with this work, the Survey was also pleased to develop signage in English and Arabic for the entire Medinet Habu enclosure, providing both tour groups and individual visitors with the latest information on the temples, shrines, and domestic structures there.

Dr. Mohammed Saghir also cosponsored with the Epigraphic Survey a memorial lecture series in honor of the late Dr. Labib Habachi at the Cultural Palace in Luxor. Dr. Saghir himself led off the list of speakers, discussing his finds at the nearby site of Abuºl Goud, which yielded vital information on the vanished town quarters of ancient Thebes; John and Deborah Darnell gave a lively presentation on their epigraphic and survey work on the desert roads west of Luxor (see Theban Desert Road Survey report); and Dr. Nigel Strudwick spoke on his excavation of the tomb of Sennefer (Theban tomb 99) on the western bank. The logistics for the series were indomitably managed by Christina and by Dr. Henri Riad as local liaison, and their joint efforts made the entire series a remarkably well-attended success.

Our continuing fundraising efforts were most successful, thanks to the manifold talents and energy of Jill Carlotta Maher, whose informative and gracious public presentations in our library are matched only by her devotion to maintaining her correspondence with a huge coterie of Chicago House friends. Her humor and vivacity enlivened much of our season and were equally lavished on great numbers of tea and dinner guests, who seem only to approach our gates in increasing numbers.

The Survey received two important gifts this season that will facilitate the logistics of supply and administration. Through the kind sponsorship of Thomas Heagy and Norman Bobins, the LaSalle National Corporation of Chicago provided a generous grant to purchase a new fifteen-passenger Toyota minivan for Chicago House that will greatly alleviate the problem of importing spare parts for our two aging Land Rovers (now thirty-three and eighteen years old) and allow us to carry the entire staff in a single trip; the grant also included funds for vehicle registration and repair. The van arrived in Luxor in April, after the end of our season, but our delighted chauffeur, Abd el-Hay, has already purchased the booties for the rearview mirror. And in January Mr. Gilles Acogny, General Director of Xerox Egypt, approved the long-term lease of a new copying machine to replace a much older model (received in 1987), a gift that has already made a noticeable improvement in our office efficiency. We owe a great debt of gratitude to both LaSalle National Corporation and Xerox Egypt.

The long-range financial stability of the Survey received an enormous boost with the successful conclusion in June of negotiations with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for an augmentation of our existing operating endowment funds. In accordance with legislation passed by the United States Congress last year, USAID in Cairo has authorized a separate trust fund for the preservation of Egyptian antiquities, a fund that the Survey will administer jointly with the American Research Center. I am especially pleased and gratified that Thomas Heagy has graciously agreed to serve as the Chicago House representative to the Endowment Committee that will oversee the trust funds.

We were very pleased this year to welcome the American Ambassador, H. E. Edward Walker, and Mrs. Wendy Walker to the Friends of Chicago House tour over Thanksgiving weekend, which featured a memorable day trip to the magical site of Gebel el-Silsila, where John and Andrew led the group through the quarries and private shrines scattered about the sandstone cliffs overlooking the Nile. The now-traditional black-tie dinner dance in the residence courtyard proved to be a huge hit, as did the spacious quarters of the Winter Palace Hotel, where the group stayed. Once again, I wish to acknowledge the unbounded assistance and good will of Ibrahim Sadek of the American Research Center, without whose kind persistence and relentless organization the weekend would not have happened.

With tourism markedly up this year over last, 747 visitors registered their names in our guest book during the six-month season. We gave thirty-one library lectures to organized groups, and at least twenty-five more to smaller groups and individuals. In the course of the season we welcomed twenty-one overnight guests, most of them professional colleagues who were able to utilize our research facilities to the fullest, and who spent a total of 160 guest nights under our roof.

One of the great highlights of the season was a delightful reception and dinner hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Walker in March at their embassy residence in honor of Chicago House, providing us with a venue for meeting new business contacts and for speaking on the priorities of monument conservation and documentation. Special visitors to Chicago House this season included Barbara Breasted Whitesides, granddaughter of the founder of the Oriental Institute and the Survey; a tour from the Oriental Institute, which was observed with a special reception in our courtyard; and a visit to Medinet Habu from former President George Bush, whom I had the pleasure of showing the mortuary temple of Ramesses III.

It was a great pleasure for me to share the company and the efforts of a talented and dedicated staff this season, which in addition to the author as field director, consisted of: John Darnell, Deborah Darnell, Edward Castle, and Stephen Vinson, epigraphers; W. Raymond Johnson (Assistant Director), Christina Di Cerbo, Susan Osgood, Margaret De Jong, Andrew Baumann, and Linda Cohn-Kobylecky, artists; Yarko Kobylecky, photographer; John Stewart, conservator; Jean and Helen Jacquet, field architects (whose separate report follows); Ahmed Harfoush, house and office administrator; Jill Carlotta Maher, assistant to the director; and Elinor Smith, photographic archives assistant. I am deeply grateful to all of them. Saleh Suleiman Shehat, chief engineer, rendered invaluable services to the expedition that touched every aspect of our daily lives, and Dr. Henri Riad, our distinguished colleague and friend, continued to help us unfailingly with all matters dealing with the local constabulary, the Culture Palace, police security, and administering the Labib Habachi Archives on behalf of the Survey. I express deep gratitude in particular to Raymond Johnson, who cheerfully and capably shouldered the burdens of field director during my absence from Chicago House in January and part of February.

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 Antiquities; Dr. Mohammed el-Saghir, Supervisor of Pharaonic Antiquities for Upper Egypt; Dr. Sabry Abd el-Aziz, Chief Inspector of Qurna; Dr. Mohammed Nasr, Chief Inspector of Luxor; Dr. Abd el-Hamid Marouf, Chief Inspector of Karnak; 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, H. E. Edward Walker, and Mrs. Wendy Walker; Edmund Hull and William Cavness of the United States Embassy in Cairo; John Westley, Justin Doyle, and Randall Parks of the United States Agency for International Development; Gerald Vincent; Mohammed Ozalp of Misr International Bank; David Maher; David Ray; Mark Rudkin; Lucia Woods Lindley and Daniel Lindley, Jr.; Barbara Mertz; 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 and Florence Bonnick of the Oriental Institute. I would like to single out three institutions in particular that have provided fundamental assistance and support for a number of years, and of whose association with Chicago House we are especially proud: 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 1st to April 1st. 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 fax number is 381620 (011-20-95-381620). Net surfers can find our Oriental Institute home page at:

Architectural Report: The Later Constructions Added to the Facade of the Eighteenth Dynasty Temple

Jean Jacquet and Helen Jacquet

The Eighteenth Dynasty temple at Medinet Habu constructed by Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III consisted, in its finished form, of six rooms preceded by a bark shrine surrounded by a peripteral gallery, both oriented on an east-west axis. This complex was enlarged at the time of the Kushite kings of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty by further construction in front of the facade of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple, demarcated on the east by a small pylon. In its present state, this later addition forms an enclosed area limited on the north and south by walls that join the facade of the temple on the west with the Twenty-fifth Dynasty pylon on the east.

This ensemble had been examined and published as part of the extensive architectural study of the temples of Medinet Habu conducted by Uvo Hölscher and published by the Oriental Institute in 1939. Hölscher believed that the earliest addition to the Eighteenth Dynasty temple consisted of a small pylon to the east, connected to the facade of the temple by a long, windowless passage or gallery quite unlike other known architecture of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (fig. 6). Despite the evident care with which the author and his assistants studied the development of this monument, their observations, remarkably complete for the period before World War II when they were at work, were not always sufficiently detailed to come up to present-day archaeological standards.

A new survey of the pavement in the area between the facade of the temple and the Twenty-fifth Dynasty pylon, the stones of which have been greatly eroded since their discovery, was begun in 1994. The survey was extended this season, bringing to light additional elements which enable us to present an alternative reconstruction of this area as it must have been in the time of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, one that which differs in essential details from that originally proposed by Hölscher.

Plan 1 (fig. 7) shows, in the western face of the pylon, a shallow recess (marked A in the plan, called a "niche" by Hölscher) symmetrical with the axis of the entrance door and having a width of 5.45 m, a depth of 0.65 m, and a height of 4.60 m. Two registers of scenes are engraved on the inner face of its north wall (B), scenes which are at the present time incomplete, but which must originally have continued westward on a wall that is now destroyed. On the western face of the pylon, adjacent to the recess on each side, are to be seen the profiles of two high walls surmounted by cavetto cornices. Hölscher interpreted these traces as evidence of two long walls that extended the whole length of the court as far as the facade of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple, where he thought to have distinguished a mark corresponding to the profile of the southern wall; but we were not able to identify this mark.

On the other hand, a reexamination of the existing pavement proved that there exists a considerable variation in the depth of its foundations in different places. Up to a distance of 3.25 m from the western face of the pylon the foundations measured a minimum of 64 cm in depth and were placed on a bed of sand, whereas further west they were reduced to only 45 cm without any sign of sand underneath. We deduced from these observations that the walls whose profiles are visible on the face of the pylon did not extend westward beyond the limits of the deeper foundations; at that point they turned at right angles to create an enclosed area corresponding in width to the recess mentioned above and forming a vestibule (C) behind the pylon. The doorway is indicated by the presence of a large rectangular block (D) inserted in the floor at the center of what would have been the western wall of the vestibule: this is doubtless the foundation block on which was placed the doorsill, which is no longer present but was probably made of granite. Two lintels of the Kushite period, reused in the foundations of the Ptolemaic walls added later on the northern side of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple, could possibly belong to this door.

We must now consider the question of the two colonnades, the existence of which is proved by the traces still visible on the stones of the pavement, marking the emplacement of the column bases. Hölscher proposed to date the columns to the Ptolemaic remodeling of the court and the construction of the flanking walls that still stand. Apparently he did not notice the traces that connect the different columns to one another, proving that they were not freestanding elements but were connected by intercolumnar walls (F; compare fig. 8). These walls were approximately 50 cm thick and must have been sufficiently high to conceal the interior from the outside. The colonnades extended from the facade of the temple eastward to join the side walls of the vestibule. According to the remaining indications, a north-south passage (G) was left free between the last column on each side and the facade of the vestibule. Colonnades of this kind represent an architectural form much favored in the Kushite period, particularly by Taharqa, as evidenced by his great colonnades at Karnak.

With these new observations in mind, we can now suggest a revised plan for the Kushite additions. Instead of an enclosed passage leading from the pylon to the facade of the earlier temple, we can envisage an open space traversed by a double colonnade composed of six columns on each side (E) and connected by intercolumnar walls (F). On the east these colonnades joined the walls of the vestibule attached to the back of the pylon, with doorways (G) on both sides allowing for north-south circulation.

The erroneous date attributed to these colonnades by our predecessors was probably due to the fact that during their exploration of the strata under the pavement at the southeastern corner of the court just behind the pylon they found some reused Ptolemaic blocks, pointing to a late date for the colonnade. What was not taken into account was the fact that only the eastern side of the court, where these blocks were found, was restructured during the late Ptolemaic or early Roman period, as we shall see below, while the remainder of the court was left undisturbed.

Plan 2 (fig. 9) shows the same area as it appeared after the changes made in late Ptolemaic or Roman times. The vestibule (C) has disappeared, its walls being replaced on each side by two additional columns (H) prolonging the already existing colonnades; the grooves in the western face of the pylon, into which the architraves were inserted, are still visible on the northern tower. At the same time, the foundations of the lateral walls of the vestibule were repaired in order to support the new columns, repairs which account for the presence there of the Ptolemaic blocks mentioned above. The intercolumnar walls of the Kushite period were removed and their blocks were apparently reused in the foundations of two flanking walls (J) built outside the colonnades on the northern and southern sides, thereby forming a closed courtyard between the pylon and the temple facade. Two lateral doors, left uninscribed, were inserted in these walls at approximately the same level as those (G) which had existed previously in the colonnades. This disposition of the architectural elements is what we still see at the present time, although very much deteriorated.

Revised: February 7, 2007

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