Saturday, February 20, 2010
Previously in our blog, I spoke about the main entrance to the North Village and how it served getting workers of Malqata up to the top of the terrace while also controlling access into the village (see the entry on February 13). When you climb to the top of the entrance ramp, immediately you face a series of mud brick walls heading in different directions. These belong to a small group of houses, whose number has not yet been determined. This terrace, by the way, is where Peter and I first thought there might be chapels. However we no longer think this is the case and that finding several sherds belonging to two different kinds of offering vessels in the first two days was a fluke. We haven’t found anything relevant since and instead these buildings have all the particulars of living areas.
Living on a hillside requires some adjustment in the way you build your house from those built on a flat surface. Very little of the North Village was developed on a flat area and perhaps twenty percent of the residences sit on the top of a desert terrace. We have found several different ways that these workers coped with living on uneven surfaces, especially to improve moving between rooms. Not surprisingly they made little mud brick staircases such as the one seen here.
In order to level walls on a slope, we find that they are very creative in the way they lay the bricks, cut the desert surface back, or add hard packed material in order to a level wall. In addition to the traditional headers and stretchers, these people turned the bricks on their sides and frequently cut them in half, using the half bricks in a variety of ways. These building techniques in all likelihood were well known methods for coping with hills in ancient Egypt. But for the archaeologist working more than 3,000 years later with only one layer of brick left, and often than not only a centimeter of brick, it can be sometimes be a challenge to recognize them.
-Diana Craig Patch