Saturday, February 11, 2012
Visitors to Malqata are few since it is off the beaten track. However, some people do come by, usually our colleagues, and occasionally people who are very interested in the overlooked monuments of Western Thebes. Today, we were delighted to welcome Lawrence and Nancy Coolidge of Boston, Massachusetts to the site. Mr. Coolidge is the grandson of Robb de Peyster Tytus who excavated the Palace of Amenhotep III at Malqata between 1901 and 1903.
Tytus was an important figure in the history of Egyptology. He was truly a renaissance man – an artist, a scholar, and a statesman. Born in 1876 to a prominent family in Asheville, North Carolina, he was sent to St. Mark’s School in Southboro, Mass. after his father died at a young age. After graduating, he went on to Yale University where he majored in Art. In 1899 he made a trip up the Nile with his mother and was captivated by the monuments of ancient Egypt.
In 1901, Tytus was given permission to excavate the palace at Malqata, which had already been partially exposed in 1888. During his time at the site, he uncovered significant sections of the palace and found much of the original painted mural decoration. His astute and careful recording of the palace was remarkable at the time and his publication on the work was illustrated with many beautiful watercolors and ink drawings that Tytus did himself.
Sadly, Tytus died at the young age of 32. In his memory, his mother, Charlotte set up a fund at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to record and publish the decorated tombs in Thebes in beautiful facsimile copies.
A house that Robb de Peyster Tytus designed and built in the Berkshires burned down in 1952, but the beautiful gardens he planted around the property have been restored and are open to the public and serve as a fitting memorial to this remarkable individual.
Diana Craig Patch