Posted by: imalqata | February 18, 2012

Mud Bricks are Fragile

February 18, 2012

Today Joel made some measurements of the walls and the corner of the large building we’ve relocated in the South Village. This evening he will see if we have enough information to tie the old site plan of this area to the overall plan of Malqata. In order to preserve these walls, we ‘ve started covering them with a layer of clean sand that should keep them safe until we return. This has been very effective in protecting the fragile bricks that were uncovered at the North Village two years ago.

Covering a Wall of the Large Building in the South Village

One of our problems finding buildings in the South Village is due to the fact that our predecessors who worked at the site seldom covered what they found. Mud brick, if properly maintained, can be a very sturdy building material. During our last season, in 2010, we found that the floors at the Amun temple had been covered with a thick layer of coarse mud plaster, then with a thin layer of finer plaster. This plastering had been renewed at least once. The remains of these plaster surfaces, and the overlay of sand that blows in from the high desert every year, have kept the bricks beneath in reasonably good shape for 3500 years. However, when bricks are left uncovered, they very quickly disintegrate in the wind, and melt away when it rains.

Well Preserved, Stamped Paving Bricks at the Amun Temple, 2010

We cannot talk about mud brick without speaking of our friend and collaborator, Charlie Evers, who wrote a blog entry two years ago telling the woeful tale of mud brick that has been exposed to the elements (see Feb. 24, 2010 below). Unfortunately for us, and everyone who knew him, Charlie passed away suddenly only a few weeks after returning from Egypt in 2010. We shall miss his great enthusiasm for and knowledge of this most essential and ubiquitous of ancient (and modern) building materials.

Catharine Roehrig

Peter Lacovara

Diana Craig Patch


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