Sunday, January 20, 2013
Another brick in the wall
Hassan with the newly produced restoration bricks
To prepare to begin the restoration of the palace, the mud bricks that will be used had to be made months earlier to give them time to properly dry. They were produced under Hassan’s supervision in the village near to the site. The method of making mud bricks has not changed since ancient times- a rectangular form is placed on the ground and filled with wet mud and when the form is lifted off, the new brick is left to dry in the sun.
Making mud bricks from the tomb of Rekhmire (TT 100). Facsimile painting by Nina de Garis Davies. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.4.77).
Our bricks, all 10,000 of them, are marked with ‘JEM’ to distinguish them from the bricks of the original palace. They also contain a quantity of coarse straw, which makes them look different from the ancient bricks used in the palace, which were made of almost pure, fine, dark grey silt. We will also add a bed of modern plastic mesh between the layers to further distinguish our reconstructions from the original foundations of the building. The bricks were made in 2 main sizes: 36 x18 x 9 cms. (about 14 x 7 x 3 ½ inches) for the outer palace walls, the court and side rooms and for the King’s bed chamber and adjoining rooms and the throne dais; and 30 x 14 x 9 cms. (about 12 x 5 ½ x 3 inches) for the entrance corridor and paving bricks.
Our new bricks will be transported to the site and then put in place with mud mortar by trained builders. Although 10,000 bricks is an impressive number, we will go through them quite quickly. This season will be a test of the process and we will mostly be rebuilding, strengthening and covering the original parts of the enclosure wall of the Palace of the King. Hopefully, next season we can raise more funds to produce many more bricks to restore the palace’s interior.
A number of other mud brick restoration projects are being undertaken in Luxor, including the conservation of the Mortuary Temple of Thutmosis III, a collaborative project between the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt and the Academy of Fine Arts of Seville, Spain.