25th of December, 1938: Exciting Christmas Day finds

AW.PICT.38-39.a233Christmas Day. We worked till midday, and then ferried over with the men for the first part of the celebrations. The morning’s work, however, was by no means unprofitable.

From the northern room of the Sanctuary group (see photograph) came a small and rough statue, the head and shoulders of a ram. The figure is about 44 cm high and has a hole in its head, presumably for the fixing of a headdress. The work also produced quite a good scarab and an amusing and well designed head of a monkey in white faience. All three rooms of this group are filled with sand to about a foot above the floor level (which does not appear to be the same in each room), and then the sand gives way to dirty
occupation debris. AW075From this bottom layer we are finding a variety of small objects: beads, gold foil, many bronze nails and a small mortar and pestle.

The narrow room to the south proves to be a stairway up to the roof of the Temple. We noticed, also, that there are some inscribed stones built into the middle of the walls of these rooms and one loose block bore the name of Sethos I.

To-morrow, Boxing Day, there will be no field work. We will hold our traditional games for the men and boys on the work, and for most of the village as well, so it seems.

H.W. Fairman

Object cards of the objects found on the day

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24th of December, 1938: A new stela of Sethos I

AW.PICT.38-39.a182The Hypostyle Hall (see photograph, view from the first court) is practically clear of sand and debris and most of the men have been moved to the Sanctuary area. There I was disappointed to notice that all the blue colour on the king’s wig, which we had noted last year before we covered it up, has disappeared during the summer.

Some brick walls and pillars were found at a low level, in the south east corner of the Hypostyle, prove to be those of small, rectangular storage receptacles, similar to those already found in E.14.2, and are built over debris and have stone foundations.

Late this afternoon, having planned and photographed them, we began to move them and immediately raised about two thirds of the upper part of a stela (see photograph below), which shows a very spirited figure of Sethos I in the act of smiting a group of captives. It is most unfortunate that so much is missing, for the drawing is well done and this would have been one of our best finds. This fragment does not belong, apparently, to the other stela of Sethos I found a few days ago. On the north side of the Hypostyle we found a fragment of a stela incised in hieratic and semi-hieratic characters. A date, “year 3, 3rd. month of Shomu, day 28” is preserved, but no royal name. This fragment was found on a trough-like piece of stone built into the floor. Close by is another similar object, and another has been found loose in the debris. It is possible that these were the bases on which the stelae were stood.AW029

Most of the men are working in and around the Sanctuary, which has on either side a small room, while the southern one has a very narrow room or passage on its south side. In both the northern and souther rooms the lintels were still in position, but the northern one was thin and cracked and had to be removed: the northern one, though battered, is strong and solid and is in no danger of falling.

In the Sanctuary itself we have cleared away most of the sand and are down to the low-lying level of occuppation debris. No objects have been found there so far, but we have laid bare the large and well-built basis of the boat shrine.

We are also beginning to descend in the small court between the Hypostyle and the Sanctuary, and have been successful in restoring a number of blocks to their original positions. The quality of the reliefs, where preserved, in this part of the Temple is surprisingly good, but they are executed in plaster over very bad quality stone and much damage has occurred to them.

H.W. Fairman

AW022Fragment of stela incised in hieratic characters

Object cards of the objects found

20th of December, 1938: More stelae in the Hypostyle Hall

AW025Two more stelae were found in the course of the yesterday’s work in the Temple. The first (see photograph on the left) is an inscription of the viceroy of Nubia, User-Satet, in the reign of Amenophis II. The upper portion, containing the figure and cartouches of the king and the figures of Khum, Satis and Anukis, is in very low relief and much encrusted with salt. The text of 7 lines, however, is in perfect condition and only two signs have suffered damage. This is the first text of the XVIIIth Dynasty to be found here. The second stela (see photograph below) is of Sethos I and consists of 17 lines of texts and a few battered fragments of the first line. The date may just possibly be “year 12” but this at present is most uncertain. All the upper part of this stela is missing. The first part of the text is well preserved. but the middle and bottom are badly damaged. The text is of an historical nature. Both stelae were found in front of the northern section of the dividing wall between the First Court and the Hypostyle, and seem to have been employed by squatters as a protective wall.AW073

By the northern jamb of the east door of the Hypostyle we found another small stone shrine, at a lower level than the first one, and also empty. It is not yet possible to clear the surround or pedestal of either of these shrines. It is now clear that allor almost all the columns have been reworked.

To-day, yet another stela was found in the Hypostyle Hall (see photograph below). It is dated to the eleventh year of Ramesses III, is dedicated by the viceroy of Nubia, Hori, and also mentions the idnw (?) of Nubia, Paser son of Pennut. the reliefs are much damaged and the stela has broken in two in falling, but the text portion, though quite formal, is in good condition. Steady progress continues to be made with the clearing, but we have not reached the floor anywhere. We nooticed traces of many very badly damaged hieratic graffiti, all of which have been cleaned as far as possible and sprayed with celluloid solution. Many of these graffiti appear to lie below the paint, as though they may have been instructions to the workmen, but they are all without exception terribly damaged and hopelessly incomplete. The clearing has progressed sufficiently to enable us to establish that on the walls the lowest register of all was composed of the names of subject states. It now appears probable that the re-working of the columns was the work of Ramesses III.

AW.PICT.38-39.a158

We have made four interesting observations in the First Court, the eastern section of which is not yet clear:

  1. Traces of gold foil were found on some of the figures on the west face of the dividing wall.
  2. We found the beginning of the line of large hieroglyphs which forms the lowest band of wall decoration: it gives the date “Year 6, 1st. month of Shomu, day 25” of Ramesses IX. This presumably records the completion of the decoration of the temple.
  3. The jambs of the doorway in the dividing wall are sufficiently exposed to enable us to see that they bore the inscription “great portal of Ramesses II (wsr-mt-R, stp n R), whose life is long, he has made the temple of hard stone”. The hardness of the stone is a matter of words, not actual fact. There are signs of extensive repair work by later occupants, and the base of the south wall has been underpinned and built up with mud and with rough blocks of stone.

H.W. Fairman

Object cards of the objects found

18th of December, 1938: Stelae in the Hypostyle Hall

The first stages of E.14.2. having been completed yesterday morning, the men were set to work in the Hypostyle Hall. In the afternoon the other company reached a cross wall in the street south of the Temple, and as this formed a convenient stopping place, and as the Temple obviously needed more men, this company was also moved in. Each company has been given half the temple, each tips into a different railway and there is a great rivalry between them.

Yesterday, we exposed the cross wall that divides the First Court from the Hypostyle. It lies to the east of the last row of columns, i.e. to the east of the north and south door in the First Court. A very large amount of colour is preserved, many of the reliefs are in good condition and the whole appearance is already quite colourful and impressive. It is certain that the main decorative motif was the king smiting captives.  The northern section of this wall has suffered rather more than the southern, but we have been carefully numbering and storing all fallen blocks, and have restored to-day a complete line of blocks to their original position and restored the gateway approximately up to the level of the lintel, no traces of which, however, have been found apart from a fragment of the cornice. On the south thickness of the door we found two hieratic graffiti to-day. The smaller one is in black ink, painfully distinct and damaged, but it has been cleaned and sprayed with celluloid solution from the atomiser, with which we are experimenting with mixed success. The second graffito is incised and is much bigger and has not been completely uncovered: it seems to contain accounts of some sort.

AW.PICT.38-39a.153Beyond the wall lies the Hypostyle Hall, which proves to be smaller than we had expected. From west to east there are three rows of four columns and beyond these is another cross wall. High up in the debris on the north side, we found two good stelae. One, broken in two pieces (see photograph), is very good: below the figures of a king offering to Bast, Amen-Re and Horus, are several lines giving the titulary of Ramesses III and below this the Viceroy of Nubia, Hori, and some lines in praise of the king. The stela is dated to the year 5, and is the first inscription of Ramesses III to be found here. The second stela is not in quite such a good condition and is also of the viceroy Hori.

On the opposite side of the Hypostyle, a small stone shrine was found. This proved to be empty except for the basis on which a small statuette must once have stood. The shrine must be on a large stone pedestal, of which we have at present only seen the top, which is about four feet square, and has at its north east and north west corners small slabs of stone bearing the cartouches of Ramesses II.

The only other noteworthy finds were a small green faience scarab from the Hypostyle Hall and a fine axe-celt from the surface of the western portion of the town.

H.W. Fairman

AW.PICT.38-39a.154

The second stela, found behind the north jamb of the west door of the Hypostyle Hall

Object cards of the objects found

14th of December, 1938: Clearance of various rooms and the Chapel

The clearance of the Chapel has been completed down to the stone floor. The reliefs end about three feet above a stone floor. I have not yet have time to study the texts, but they appear to refer to the offering of oils and unguents. Against the west wall, with its surface level with the bottom of the register of reliefs, we found a stone stand. It occupies about two thirds of the width of the chapel, which thus presents an unsymmetrical appearance. It is complete with cornice, but is devoid of any other decoration, and its use is as yet uncertain. A large storage jar was found in a deep pit north of it.

In the area north of the First Court (E.14.2) the men are clearing a series of storage rooms and chambers. There are all built on the same level as the upper level in E.14.1. The remains consist of several small rooms with thin brick walls, numerous narrow passages, and a large number of rectangular encolosures and receptacles, some built in brick, some hollowed out of the town wall, and some plastered inside. Some of the rooms have stone floors, and all the walls, which are built on debris, rest on small pieces of stone, presumably as a precaution agains white ants. The eastern half of E. 14.2 appears to have been dig away.

In E.14.1 three rooms have been cleared to the ancient roof level of the Ramesside occupation, the Ramesside floor level being 8 to 9 feet below the surface. Originally, these must have been small store chambers entered from the street on the north, but they have suffered considerable modification, old doors have been bricked up, new doors made, and earlier walls have been made thicker. In one of the rooms we found that the arch over the door was complete except for the topmost brick, and both lintel and jambs bear the name of Ramesses II.  There are numerous walls in the street but it is now certain that all are subsequent to Ramesses II. Immediately south of the three rooms, which appear to have had flat roofs, we can see a narrow vaulted chamber, whose vaulted roof is almost complete. Above this is a mass of brick which appears to be the filling betwen the roof of the lower rooms and the floors of the upper storey, now missing.

The high wind and flying sand rendered cleaning and photography impossible to-day. However, Bell finished a sketch plan of the temple today, which you can find below.

H.W. Fairman

AW.DD.38-39.010b 2

Object cards of the objects found

12th of December, 1938: First glimpses of the Hypostyle Hall

In the First Court we reached a row of columns running across the court from north to south yesterday. As the decorative scheme on them is different from those hitherto exposed, I think there can be no doubt that they mark the end of the First Court and the beginning of the Hypostyle. All these columns have mud built up round their bases, but it is not yet certain whether it forms a continuous wall or is merely a support for the lower parts of the columns. It will be necessary to wait a few days before proceeding with the clearance of the Hypostyle, for two reasons: first, the debris in the Hypostyle is at least 9 or 10 feet thick above the first level we can find, it is full of enormous blocks of stone, and it is impossible and dangerous to work there until the surface has been clear somewhat; secondly, we cannot hope to get the Temple clean or to keep it clean as long as the area to the north of Temple remains unexcavated, already the sand has reburied our last few days’ work several inches.

Some of the men were moved and are clearing the area north of the First Court, and have begun to expose a few walls. Other men are engaged in breaking up and removing the bigger blocks that litter the surface over the Hypostyle.

AWPICT026To the north of the First Court lies a small chapel, to which access is gained by a gate in the north wall of the court (see photograph). We have commenced to clear this chapel. Between it and the First Court a small ante-chamber has been formed by the addition of two small stone walls. These were added after the decoration of the exterior of the chapel and temple had been completed, for the walls are built against the reliefs. However, the additional walls, and the chapel and the exterior of the Temple were all decorated by Ramesses II, for his cartouches are upon all of them blocked with brick, and from the souther one we obtained two thirds of a private stela (77 cm high) of no great importance.

South of the Temple (in E.14.1) we are gradually beginning to see our way more clearly. Parallel with the south wall of the Temple is a broad street or passage, and between this and the street that runs eastwards fron the West Gate are a number of small rooms.

H.W. Fairman

AWPICT027

Stela found at the chapel

Object cards of the objects found

10th of December, 1938: The fieldwork continues

Steady progress is being made in the First Court, and as the Hypostyle Hall is approached the debris becomes deeper. Many of the columns are not composed of complete drums or even half drums, but are made up of rectangular blocks of stone and the irregularities were filled up with odd pieces of stone or with plaster. Some of these blocks are clearly re-used, and on one we noticed the cartouche of Ramesses II, though his name is also on the columns proper.

AWPICT025Yesterday, the blocking of the West Gate was brushed and examined, and the outer one has already been removed. The central and inner blockings (see photograph), however, are but the last stages in a double process, the first stage being the deliberate narrowing of the gate by means of a thick brick jamb on the southern side.

The work in the Forecourt pursues its normal course. The low lying floor will, I think, prove to be rather a level of accumulation than an actual occupation floor.  In places it is missing and here we have found either the stone flooring, or holes in the floor. Tests show that below the floor level is an unknown depth of debris, even the foundations of the columns being built on debris. I feel this is an almost impossible state of affairs if the Temple is the first construction on the spot, and I think it is very likely that we will find indications of the existence of an earlier temple or buildings below the present one.

In the town the men continue to work in E.14.1. At present all that can be said is that we are working in rooms which are well built and equipped with stone door jambs. A small scarab was found here to-day.

H.W. Fairman

Object cards of the objects found

7th of December, 1938: The work of Merenptah

 Yesterday, the clearance of the gate provided a surprise. Last year, it will be remembered, we found cartouches on Ramesses IX on the inner side of the west wall of the temple, and an inscription of Merenptah at the east of end of the north wall of the gateway. We now find that the whole of the wall bearing the cartouches of Ramesses IX is an addition, the original wall surface being about two feet to the west. The new wall is apparently made up of reused blocks of stone, for there are battered reliefs on the surface built up against the original wall of Ramesses II. Since the inscription of Merenptah is written across both the old and the new wall, it is reasonable to suppose that the modification of the plan is due to him. Possibly we may find, when the levels have been thoroughly worked out and the brushing is completed, that all the repair and rebuilding in the Forecourt was the work of Merenptah also. On the west wall to right and left of the entrance, we found damaged texts which give the name of the gateway, “The great portal, Ramesses-mery-Amun, shining in Nun.”

AWPICT024The blocking of the West Gate was removed, and immediatly behind we found a second blocking (see photograph) which we have not yet cleared. There is a water channel in front of this gate and this is being traced out and cleaned.

A very high and cold wind and driving clouds of sand made work rather difficult and miserable today, but we continue to make good progress. In the Temple we have got down to a floor level approximately flush with the tops of the column bases. There is at least one other floor below this and the base of the columns, and below the columns and original floor there is unknown depth and debris.

Outside, south of the Forecourt, the men were engaged in clearing up (from this area came a small scarab of Amenophis III found yesterday). Since the wind and flying sand rendered cleaning a farce, they were then moved into the town, and started to clear parallel with the south wall of the temple, and between the wall and the West Gate. As far as can be seen at present this strip is composed of Magazines. Eastwards from the gate is a wide street bounded on its north side by a thick brick wall which appears, as yet, to have no door in it. This must be the rear wall of the Magazines which, presumably, were entered from the north, from a passage which we presume to exist between the Temple and these rooms, but which we have not yet found.

H.W. Fairman

AWPICT023

West gate and water channel

Object cards of the objects found

5th of December, 1938: Unveiling the First Court

AWPICT018Yesterday, further and more detailed examination and brushing of the gates and walls in the Forecourt produced an interesting and unexpected result. The supposed stairways in the north and south walls do not exist. Instead, we found that the clear division in the wall has been caused by the doubling of the entire wall (see photograph). The original wall was slightly less than half its present width: the later wall does not descend as deeply and seems to correspond to Level 1.

Outside the south wall of the Forecourt a gang of men has been busy for several days. They have now cleared up to the main wall and sufficiently south to expose the whole of the west gate in the great enclosure wall. This gate, like that of the Temple, is provided with massive stone jambs on which are the cartouches of Ramesses II. It is flanked by huge brick buttresses and blocked by a brick wall. The buttresses and blocking are both later additions, approximately on Level 1.

The work in the Temple has been ardous and slow. The centre of the First Court was an open space, and around this, in front of each wall, was a single row of columns. The tops of these fourteen columns are now visible, and the first, purely arbitrary level has almost completely been removed. The space between the columAWPICT021ns and the walls was originally roofed over, and the fallen roofing blocks filled the narrow space. All the roofing blocks seem originally to have been inscribed with a single line of inscriptions (titulary of a king, but no cartouche has yet been found), they have since been covered with plaster which has been painted blue-black and decorated with lines of yellow stars. In the upper sand we found to-day a headless, couching statuette of a man with hands on knees (see photographs). It is made of hard sandstone, and is inscribed down the back, down the front of the legs, and round the base.AWPICT022

We will not proceed further into the temple, into the Hypostyle Hall and Sanctuary, until the First Court has been cleared. As far as can be seen at present there is little colour on the columns, except for traces of yellow paint in the hieroglyphs, but the hieroglyphs themselves are quite well cut. The reliefs on the walls, especially on the south side, have suffered somewhat owing to the poor quality of the stone. As far as can be judged at present, only the last few inches of reliefs on the lowest register of scenes on the walls has been preserved here, below this there is a line of very large hieroglyphs, and the floor level is apparently three to four feet below this. From the depth of the debris in the rest of the temple it is clear that much more of the wall scenes in the Hypostyle and Sanctuary should be preserved.

H.W. Fairman

Object cards of the objects found

3rd of December, 1938: The forecourt unveiled

AWPICT017The work on the Forecourt progressed yesterday. In the south east corner of the court we found, just south of the stela, a brick stairway leading up into the south wall and protected on the west by a screen wall (see photograph).

By noon today, the Forecourt was cleared and the brushing and sweeping commenced. The men are now taking off the top layer of sand from the First Court of the Temple. The final stages in the Forecourt produced yet another stela, only a foot or two from the two we have already found. To-day’s find is a small votive stela in rather bad condition. The second tree pit was finally cleared and brushed. The final examination of these pits proves that the suspected drainage chanels were merly the holes made by the larger roots, and that the apparent stone marks in the root holes are only the remains of decayed bark. The second pit, unlike the first, sis not lined with stone. A nice scarab of Ramesses II was found loose in the town.

The brushing of the Forecourt is already producing results. Both the north and south walls appear to have rooms built into them. These have since been filled up, but the distinction between the old wall and the filling is clear. Possibly these rooms or spaces were for stairways. This discovery, however, makes it certain that the stairway discovered yesterday did not form part of the original plan.

H.W. Fairman

AWPICT016

Small votive stela

Object cards of the objects found