Monday, February, 13, 2012
One of the main things I am working on this season is recording the brickwork in the palace. Although plans of the palace have been drawn by a number of earlier expeditions, they have all been schematic renderings. Tedious though it may seem (and often is!) drawing every brick to scale is essential for understanding the building history of the palace as well as recording the current state of its deterioration. Such drawings will allow us to better monitor its condition and devise strategies for its conservation and restoration.
The close examination required to make such detailed plans sometimes reveals features that have been previously overlooked. This happened to us the other day in cleaning the entrance corridor (Room A) that Tytus originally cleared of debris.
One of our adept workmen noted a bit of wood in the wall while brushing the brick on one side of the entrance. When we cleaned it further, we discovered that there were the remains of two wood beams that had been set perpendicular to one another: one juts out from the wall and the other lies across the first into the brick structure of the wall in order to brace it. When we examined the opposite wall we found the same system of acacia logs in the same position. We realized that these were braces to hold the doorjambs for the main doors for entering the palace.
Security was, of course an important feature of the royal palace and its entry was controlled by a doorkeeper. This was no mere doorman, but an important official. Like other titles, such as sandal-bearer to the pharaoh or fan-bearer to the pharaoh, that of doorkeeper belonged to a privileged individual because of his proximity to the living god. The doorkeeper controlled access to the royal palace and the king’s daily routine and was the intermediary between him and the officials of the highest rank.
The text known as “The Duties of the Vizier” relates the daily meeting between the king and his chief administrator:
“…and the exit of everything exiting from the Domain of the King there is reported to him and the entry of everything entering the Domain of the King. As for anything entering or leaving the territory of the Residence, it is his commissioner that controls the entry and exit. The overseers of dispute, officers, and overseers of districts report their affairs to him. Then he is to enter for the greeting of the Lord, (may he be given) life, prosperity and health, when the condition of the Two Lands is reported to him in his house daily. He is to enter the palace with the treasurer standing at the northern pillar. Until the vizier proceeds from the east from the gate of the Double Portal… I have report of the timed closing and opening of strongholds by every authority. Once the two officials have reported to each other, then the vizier is to send word to open every gate of the Domain of the King, to permit entry of all to enter, all to exit likewise.”