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Home > Research > Publications > Annual Reports > 2000–2001 Annual Report

The Epigraphic Survey

2000–2001 Annual Report

W. Raymond Johnson

On 15 April 2001, the Epigraphic Survey completed its seventy-seventh six-month field season in Luxor, Egypt. At Medinet Habu the epigraphic work this year resumed at the small Amun temple of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, where the drawing and collating continued in the bark sanctuary and ambulatory of Thutmose III and was initiated in the Saite portico of the Kushite pylon. Restoration work continued on the rooftop of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple, as well as cleaning and conservation of the painted reliefs in the two southernmost chambers of the sanctuary below. New sandstone flooring was placed in the two central rooms, and six large fragments of a colossal granodiorite dyad of Thutmose III and Amun recovered from the floor debris last season were reassembled in the first chamber, its original architectural setting. At Luxor temple, conservation continued on deteriorating block fragments in the Epigraphic Survey blockyard, several fragment groups were prepared for reassembly on display platforms in the blockyard, and the northern end of the eastern wall of the Amenhotep III sun court was consolidated in preparation for the in situ restoration of a large fragment group featuring the bark of Amun.

Small Amun Temple of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III at Medinet Habu From 15 October 2000 to 15 April 2001 the epigraphic team of Egyptologist/epigraphers, photographers, and artists continued the documentation work in the small Amun temple of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III at Medinet Habu. The artists and epigraphers continued to pencil, ink, and correct facsimile drawings of the bark sanctuary and ambulatory reliefs that will be published in the proposed second volume of the small Amun temple series (fig. 1). In March the artists transferred their operation from the interior of the bark sanctuary to the Akoris doorway on the north of the ambulatory, and to the east, the “Saite” porch of the Kushite Pylon "porch" (fig. 2), which will be published in the proposed third volume of the small Amun temple series. We started with the screen walls between the papyrus-bundle columns, which present some very interesting epigraphic problems; all were recarved and stylistically ‘updated’ in the Ptolemaic period from earlier reliefs, which from the style of the traces seem to date either to the Twenty-fifth or Twenty-sixth Dynasties. To make matters more interesting, the cartouches have all been erased (leaving a scooped-out area) and are recarved with Nectanebo I’s names, although he is not the originator of the reliefs. There are additional indications that the screen walls, made of smaller blocks than the columns, are not original to the porch, but were modified (shortened in some cases) to fit the new columns. It is hoped that close scrutiny of this material as it is recorded will answer some of our questions about the history of this intriguing monument. One new Egyptologist/epigrapher, Harold Hays, and one new Egyptologist/artist, Will Schenck, were trained on-site this season. Ahmed Ezz, Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Inspector, who turns out to be a very capable artist, also practiced penciling on-site and will continue to learn our drawing conventions next season. A total of twenty-three new drawings were penciled at the wall by the artists, eight of which were inked during the season, and fifteen of which will be inked over the summer. Forty-four additional drawings were collated and checked at the wall by the epigraphers and artists, all of which will appear in the second volume projected for the small temple of Amun at Medinet Habu, devoted primarily to the Thutmoside bark sanctuary area, including the ambulatory pillars (fig. 3).

This year staff photographer Yarko Kobylecky, assisted by Photo Archives assistant Ellie Smith, photographed the upper restoration inscription of Ptolemy VIII inside the bark sanctuary, the northern lintel of the Kushite gateway to the north and west of the Kushite pylon (fig. 4), and the granite doorjambs piercing the northern wall of the Ptolemaic hall. for publication and drawing enlargement production. Yarko also produced drawing enlargements of the west interior wall of the Thutmose III bark sanctuary for volume 2; and for volume 3: the Kushite pylon mast emplacement and cornice inscriptions, east, north, and south sides; the Kushite pylon “Saite” porch screen walls; the north and south sides of the Kushite gateway; and the Ptolemaic hall granite doorjamb inscriptions, north exterior, and thickness.

The 2000/2001 season marked the fifth year of a five-year grant approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP) of the American Research Center for documentation and conservation of the small Amun temple at Medinet Habu. The conservation work this season continued on the rooftop over the Thutmoside sanctuary, and inside the painted chapels. Senior conservator Lotfi Hassan, assisted by conservator Adel Aziz Andraws and new conservation trainee Nahed Samir, completed the cleaning of the painted reliefs in the southeastern chamber, and cleaned two walls in the southwestern chamber (fig. 5). Following our standard procedure, the wall reliefs were first examined and documented, primarily with color photography and scanned, reduced drawings. Conservator Adel Aziz and Nahed Samir assisted in the cleaning and replaced old deteriorated mortar between the wall courses with hydraulic lime (Lafarge) and sandstone powder, particularly in the lower wall courses affected by humidity from high groundwater. In some areas where the stone had decayed leaving gaps, hydraulic mortar was injected made up of Acrylic emulsion (Primal AC 33) in distilled water. The cleaning process of the reliefs themselves included mechanical cleaning by soft brush, scalpel, and gum eraser to remove the dust and light grime on the surface. Sepiolite and distilled water poultices were applied to wall surfaces for cleaning and desalination. Chemical cleaning of the soot and dense grime included 5% Butilamyne in distilled water and Dimethyle Formamide (DMF) in more sensitive areas. Limited consolidation was necessary for some fragile pigments using Acrylic resin Acryloid B72 in Acetone. The goal for next season is to finish this room and the front central sanctuary chamber, started year before last.

Stonecutter Dany Roy supervised several projects for the Epigraphic Survey this season in the small Amun temple. First, he completed the grouting with liquid mortar of the sanctuary roof area, particularly the new roof blocks over the King’s Chamber, replaced two season’s ago, which reactivate an ancient Ptolemaic drainspout on the north side. He also placed several new patch stones over the breezeway between the back sanctuary and the bark sanctuary, replacing ancient Ptolemaic ones removed since antiquity, while Egyptologist/artist Tina Di Cerbo continued to study and plot the roof blocks on her master plan of the roof along the front of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple, and the two Ptolemaic “wings.”

In the sanctuary area of the Eighteenth Dynasty temple, Dany coordinated the laying of new sandstone floor slabs, 10 cm thick, in the two central sanctuary chambers (fig. 6). In the back central room, sixteen slabs (= 13.3 sq. m) were laid on a bed of sand, and in the front room, seventeen slabs were laid, with the four corners left open until next season (total area of room = 22 sq. m). The remains of four original paving stones found subsided in the floor debris last season along the north side of the chamber, too fragile to raise in the restoration of the flooring, were used as a guide for the proportions and orientation of the new slabs in that area. In each room a distance of 10 cm was left between the stone slabs and the walls for the emplacement of electrical wiring for future lighting, and this space was filled with clean sand. Additionally, PVC tubes 5 cm in diameter were laid under the thresholds to receive the same wiring. After each room was fitted with new sandstone flooring, the slabs received a final sanding and were covered with plywood boards for protection.

Last season, in preparation for repaving the sanctuary, Tina Di Cerbo coordinated a careful examination of the floor debris in the two central chambers and the recovery of six large and two hundred medium-to-small fragments of a colossal granodiorite seated dyad of Thutmose III and the god Amun. The two largest fragments were published by Uvo Hölscher in The Excavation of Medinet Habu II, The Temples of the Eighteenth Dynasty (OIP 41; Chicago, 1939), the result of the University of Chicago’s work there in the early 1930s under Hölscher’s direction. Hölscher moved the uppermost fragment, which preserves the torsos of the king and god, outside the temple to the north, and left the much larger lower body section buried in the floor debris, which we raised and moved last season. The largest pieces were placed in the bark sanctuary, which was fitted out with new slatted gates for their protection, for storage over the summer, while the smaller fragments were stored in the sanctuary.

In November and December of this season I studied and sorted the statue fragments prior to reassembly, after which conservator Lotfi Hassan cleaned the pieces with distilled water, consolidated a few (with Acryloid B72), and joined some of the smaller pieces (with epoxy resin: Araldite AY 106). In January Dany Roy constructed a steel scaffolding and winch to test the joins of the largest pieces. Reassembly began in February, supervised by Dany and Lotfi. In the bark sanctuary a fragment from the base of the statue was joined to the back of the largest fragment (over three tons), and secured with a 75 cm stainless steel dowel 2 cm in diameter, the emplacement for which was drilled by Dany, and the epoxying of the dowel into its final position by Lotfi. The large fragment was then placed on its back, a joining base fragment was winched into place, and two dowel emplacements were drilled for the insertion of two 95 cm dowels. Another base fragment was attached to this piece with a single steel dowel 90 cm in length. The three large fragments were then transferred to the central sanctuary, within which Dany’s steel scaffolding had been erected. The largest piece was placed on its back, and the two base fragments were permanently doweled and epoxied into place. The joined statue base was raised on 20 March and moved into the exact center of the room, over a damp-coursed, reinforced concrete foundation prepared last season by Dany. Another, fourth section of the base, preserving the front, was epoxied into place, and on 24 March the top section of the statue was winched into position and epoxied, completing the joining of the six largest pieces of the group (fig. 7). Tina Di Cerbo then drew the reassembled statue in section, adding the dowel emplacements for the record.

The reassembled dyad, broken at the top, stands just shy of 3 m in height. Next season the analysis of the smaller fragments will be completed, after which they will be joined to the main group. It is a rare opportunity to restore a piece of Egyptian sculpture to its original architectural setting; this particular dyad was an integral part of the architecture of the sanctuary and is an imposing addition to the room.

Luxor Temple

This season marked the sixth year of an extended five-year grant approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Egyptian Antiquities Project of the American Research Center, for the preservation, documentation, and consolidation of deteriorating decorated sandstone fragments at Luxor temple.

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

Luxor Temple Structural Condition Study

In response to our growing concerns over questions of the structural stability of the Luxor temple monument in light of rapidly changing environmental and demographic conditions, this season the Epigraphic Survey sponsored a structural condition study of Luxor temple. Starting in early December, structural engineer Conor Power, who worked with Chicago House in the first stage of our EAP funded conservation project at Medinet Habu five years ago, and his wife Marcia spent three weeks intensively surveying the temple (even scrambling inside the pylons; fig. 9) and scrutinizing our photographic archives to determine its condition since the nineteenth century. His findings, submitted to the SCA by us as a separate report, indicate that there may be serious structural problems with the pylons of Ramesses II at the front of Luxor temple, particularly the eastern tower, which will have to be monitored closely during the next few years.

Conor and I returned to Luxor after our season ended for a historic groundwater workshop 16-17 May sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture, USAID, and the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The meeting, coordinated by the Agricultural Policy Reform Program, addressed the increasing threat to Egypt’s antiquities by the salt-laden groundwater, as well as increasing urban and agricultural development, and was attended by representatives of the Egyptian Ministries of Agriculture, Irrigation, Land Reclamation, and Antiquities from the regions of Aswan, Luxor, Qena, and Sohag. Also present were the Governor of Luxor Dr. Mahmoud Khalaf; USAID Egypt Director Bill Pearson; ARCE Director Bob Springborg; a team of Swedish SWECO water engineers currently studying how best to lower the groundwater around Karnak and Luxor temples; Hierakonpolis Director Renée Friedman; and Kings’ Valley Egyptologist Ted Brock. Conor Power and I gave a site tour of Luxor temple at the end of the first day’s session, focusing on the conservation and structural problems (groundwater induced); Conor showed the group where the new cracks have formed all over the great Luxor temple pylons; Conor and Chicago House, in collaboration with the SWECO engineers and the SCA will continue the monitoring process next season. Since that meeting, other meetings have occurred at the highest levels; Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ubaid even paid a visit to Luxor in June to study the problem. The ball is definitely rolling, and we are pleased that the Epigraphic Survey has been able to assist in this important process.

Chicago House

Photographer and Photo Archivist Sue Lezon, assisted by the absolutely indispensable Ellie Smith, continued to supervise the Chicago House Imaging Center and Photo Archives, and the scanning onto CD-ROM of our entire Photo Archives, in kind cooperation with the Franco-Egyptian Center at Karnak, courtesy of its Director, Dr. François Larché. Sue is also transferring the newly scanned images to our Photo Archives database. As of 12 April 2001, 16,411 medium to large format negatives have been scanned to CD-ROM out of 17,653; as well as 290 rolls of 35 mm film out of 1,400. The large-format scanning will be finished next season, marking a major milestone in our Photo Archives upgrade.

In addition to the Labib Habachi photographic archives housed at Chicago House, we are pleased to announce that a digital photographic archive of Jean and Helen Jacquet will also find a home in the Chicago House Photo Archives. Covering a professional career in Egypt and Nubia spanning more than fifty years, the Jacquets’ archive of 6 x 6 inch and 35 mm negatives, like the Habachi archives, contains a tremendous amount of information about material now lost or changed irrevocably. With a new database designed by Jason Ur during the summer (based on our own database, also designed by Jason), Sue and Ellie began entering data on the Jacquet database last summer, and the scanning of the Jacquet negatives began this past season. In March, volunteer Mary Grimshaw assisted Sue in the Photo Archives and conservator Hiroko with the coordination of illustrations for her EAP final report, due next year, for which we are very grateful.

Thanks to the generosity of our friend and colleague Fred Giles, the Imaging Center was able to update its computer setup this winter with the addition of a Macintosh G4 computer (533 MHz) with 512 MB of RAM. This has speeded up the work tremendously. Thanks as well to friends Dan and Lucia-Woods Lindley, the purchase of two Olympus C3030z digital cameras allowed Epigraphic Survey conservators, epigraphers, and photographers to utilize the new digital technology for reference and study shots on-site; a number of those images have been utilized in this report.

Between 15 October and 1 April librarians Briant and Karin Bohleke cataloged 436 new titles for the Chicago House Library. In addition to supervising the upkeep of the library and dealing with the requests of our colleague patrons, their chief project this season was to continue the computerization of the Chicago House library holdings. Utilizing L4U conversion software from Kelowna Software, by the end of the season a total of 2,469 volumes had been entered. This process will allow a standardized cataloging of our holdings, which will ultimately make all of the library material easier to access, and much easier to catalog in the future.

Thanks to assistant to the director Emily Napolitano, who ran the Chicago House main office and gave most of the library tours this season, and Safinaz Ouri, who manages the finance office, I was able to devote much more time to fieldwork, and I will be able to devote even more time to it next season. Dr. Henri Riad continued his analysis and invaluable ordering of the Habachi photographic archive this season, while Helen and Jean Jacquet graciously shared their considerable expertise and put the finishing touches on Helen’s long-awaited manuscript for the third volume of our Khonsu Temple series, which documents over 350 rooftop graffiti of priests and officials from the later New Kingdom. Staff photographer Yarko Kobylecky is presently printing all of the publication photographs for the work.

Chicago House visitors this season included the Governor of Luxor, Dr. Mahmoud Khalef; Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Ali Gaballa; American Ambassador to Egypt the Honorable Daniel Kurtzer and family; Italian Ambassador to Egypt the Honorable Francesco Aloisi de Larderel and wife Vittoria Buffe; friends Lisa Giddy, Jack Josephson, and Magda Saleh; and of course many colleagues working the area, including Amarna Royal Tombs Project Director Nick Reeves; Andreij Niwinski, Director of the Polish “Cliffside” Mission to Deir el-Bahri; Francesco Tiradritti, Director of the Italian Mission to the tomb of Harwa in the Assasif; ARCE President Richard Fazzini, Betsy Bryan, and the Mut temple crew; and former Epigraphic Survey director Lanny Bell. Former Epigraphic Survey field director Peter Dorman paid us a brief visit in December to study a Ptolemaic private statue found during our cleaning work at Medinet Habu several years ago, now housed in the SCA Gurna magazine. Colleague Melinda Hartwig from the University of Memphis stayed with us from 18 December to 10 January and continued her work with Theban tomb decoration, and former Epigraphic Survey epigrapher Lorelei Corcoran, now heading the University of Memphis Egyptology department came by later in the season.

Additional visitors included friends Barbara Mertz, Dennis Forbes, and Joel Cole who joined us for Christmas and New Year dinners, as well as my sister Liz and friend Jay Heidel. Other guests included Chicago’s Penny Pritzger and family; Ros and Jac Janssen; Boyo and Susanna Ockinga; and Nozumu Kawai. Later we were very pleased to welcome Oriental Institute friends Jim and Angie Sopranos (Angie’s first visit to Luxor) to Chicago House, as well as Arthur and Lee Herbst, Jim and Louise Glasser, and a contingent from BP Egypt (formerly Amoco, longtime Chicago House corporate supporter). The Oriental Institute tour, led this year by Robert Ritner, arrived in Luxor on 9 February, and Chicago House hosted a library talk and courtyard reception for them on 11 February. Site visits of course included Luxor and Medinet Habu temples, where we showed the group our fieldwork. Robert was able to return for a week’s research in Luxor after the tour ended, on 17 February, and it was a particular pleasure to have him join us on-site at Medinet Habu for consultations on some tricky Ptolemaic inscriptions. Later a US Congressional Delegation headed by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), US Appropriations Committee, came to Luxor to see how money allocated by Congress through USAID for conservation projects in Egypt was being spent. This was a golden opportunity to show them firsthand how important, and how crucial, US funding of this sort is for Egypt, particularly at this critical time, with decay of the monuments accelerating so rapidly. EAP Director Chip Vincent and I conducted on-site briefings with them on the AID-funded projects in Luxor, and as many other sites in the area as we had time for that day. They left Luxor with a new knowledge, and appreciation, of what our US aid money is funding, with the promise to look into ways to keep that funding coming. In late February former Epigraphic Survey epigrapher Hratch Papazian returned to Luxor with friends John Rowe and his wife Jeanne; and in March Tom and Linda Heagy brought a tour organized by the Oriental Institute and led by Emily Teeter and husband Joe Cain.

The news of the tragic and untimely passing of former Epigraphic Survey staff member Bill Murnane in Memphis, Tennessee, in November came as a total shock to us out here, and to the Egyptological community as a whole. Bill was epigrapher and then senior epigrapher with the Survey for fifteen years from 1973. In 1986, he was appointed Visiting Associate Professor of Egyptology at the University of California at Berkeley, and the next year joined the History Department of the University of Memphis, where he was promoted to full professor in 1994. There was almost no one in our small community who did not know him, or was not touched by him in some way. A true gentleman scholar, Bill treated everyone as an equal, and crossed all boundaries within the field. He had an insatiable curiosity about absolutely everything, and a spirit of generosity and sharing that was truly infectious, and which will be terribly missed. We had a small memorial for Bill at Chicago House in November, and on 7 February the American Research Center in Egypt sponsored a Cairo memorial service for Bill at which Bob Springborg, Richard Fazzini, Chuck Van Siclen, Peter Brand, and I spoke.

The professional staff (fig. 10) this season, besides the field director, consisted of Ted Castle, Ph.D., as senior epigrapher; Briant Bohleke, Ph.D., as epigrapher and librarian; Karin Bohleke, Ph.D., as librarian; J. Brett McClain and Harold Hays as epigraphers; Christina Di Cerbo, Margaret De Jong, Susan Osgood, Bernice Williams, and Will Schenck as artists; Yarko Kobylecky as staff photographer; Susan Lezon as photo archivist; Emily Napolitano as assistant to the director; Jill Carlotta Maher as assistant to the director; Safinaz Ouri as finance manager; Marlin Sarwat Nassim as accountant; Moataz Abo Shadi as finance consultant; Elinor Smith, Nan Ray, and Mary Grimshaw as assistants for the Photo Archives and Library; and Saleh Shehat Suleiman as chief engineer. Lotfi Hassan, Adel Aziz Andraws, Nahed Samir, John Stewart, and Hiroko Kariya worked with us as conservators; Dany Roy as stonecutter; and Conor Power, P.E., as structural engineer consultant. Special thanks go to Dr. Henri Riad, Egyptologist in residence, and to our dear friends Drs. Helen and Jean Jacquet. To our partners in preservation, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, we owe a great debt of thanks: especially to Prof.-Dr. G. A. Gaballa, Secretary General; Dr. Mohamed el-Saghir, General Director of Pharaonic Monuments in the Nile Valley; Dr. Sabry Abdel Aziz, General Director of Antiquities for Upper Egypt; Dr. Mohamed el-Bially, General Director for the West Bank of Luxor; Mr. Bakit, Director of Karnak and Luxor Temples; Mme Nawal, Chief Inspector of Luxor Temple, and Dr. Mohamed Nasr, Director of the Luxor Museum. And special thanks must go to our inspector Mr. Ahmed Ezz, with whom we have worked for several seasons now, and who has become an invaluable member of our team.


At the dawn of this new millennium, I would like to express my thanks to the many Friends of Chicago House whose support has allowed our preservation work to continue into the twenty-first century. Special thanks must go to the American Ambassador to Egypt, the Honorable Daniel Charles Kurtzer, and Sheila Kurtzer; Reno Harnish, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Cairo; Haynes Mahoney of the US Embassy; Bill Pearson, Director of USAID Egypt; David and Carlotta Maher; David and Nan Ray; Mark Rudkin; Dr. Barbara Mertz; Dr. Daniel Lindley and Lucia Woods Lindley; Dr. Marjorie M. Fisher; Tom and Linda Heagy; Donald Oster; Eric and Andrea Colombel; Nancy LaSalle; Dr. William Kelly Simpson; Kelly and Di Grodzins; Dr. Ben Harer; Roxie Walker; Louis Byron, Jr.; Dr. Robert Springborg, Ray Salamanca, Mary Sadek, and Amira Khattab of the American Research Center in Egypt; Dr. Chip Vincent, Dr. Jarek Dobrolowski, and Cynthia Schartzer of the Egyptian Antiquities Project; and all of our friends back home at the Oriental Institute. I must also express our sincerest gratitude to British Petroleum, the Getty Grant Program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Bechtel, Xerox, and LaSalle Bank for their invaluable support. Sincerest thanks to you all.

As always, Oriental Institute members are welcome to stop by to see us during our field season in Luxor, and we suggest that you write or call the Oriental Institute Development Office (773-702-9513) in advance to schedule a meeting that is convenient to all. Chicago House is open from 15 October until 15 April, and closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Our address in Egypt: Chicago House, Corniche el-Nil, Luxor, Egypt. The phone number is (from the USA) 011-20-95-37-2525; fax 011-20-95-38-1620.

The newly updated and lavishly illustrated Epigraphic Survey home page is located at:

Revised: June 6, 2007

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