Sunday, February 5, 2012
Today we started cleaning in the Palace of Amenhotep III. While, in the popular imagination, archaeology is done with shovels and pickaxes, our work is mostly done here with brushes and brooms. We are clearing off sand and surface debris from the tops of the soft, unbaked mud brick walls that made up the palace. Our goal for the work in this area this season is to record the architecture of the palace and look at the various ways it has deteriorated over time. Many expeditions have worked here, but since was first exposed by Robb De Peyster Tytus in 1903, the palace has been left unprotected to the elements and has been subject to erosion and damage from animals and people.
One of the long-term goals of our expedition is to conserve and partially restore the palace in order to preserve it for the future and make it more understandable for visitors who come to see it. Before any conservation or restoration work can be done however, the existing structure must be carefully documented and the first step in that process is to clear it of decayed brick, sand, dirt, and plant material that obscures the details of the original construction.
Already, cleaning has revealed some features. We started in the southwest corner of the great enclosure wall that surrounded the palace and in it we found a number of mud bricks that had been stamped with the names of Amenhotep III.
A number of stamped bricks were found in the earlier excavations and some are now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
As our cleaning project continues we are sure to find more interesting aspects of the
Palace architecture that will help us interpret what was found in earlier work at the site and help us formulate a plan to protect and preserve the palace for the future.