Monday, January 21, 2013
Today we really began to work at the North Village, the settlement of small structures that is widely considered to have housed Malqata’s palace workers. The new growth of camel thorn, less than last year, was largely removed yesterday. Now we have a clear view of the settlement’s irregular surface which is made more so by the clean sand we heaped over the exposed walls of the houses at the end of last season to protect them temporarily from the scouring action of the wind. Most of the sand is still in place, except again for the highest points where, even though we added lots more than we did in 2010, the wind still exposed a few of the highest bricks in several structures, such as the largest remains of a staircase.
In 2010, the last time we excavated at the North Village, Peter Lacovara and I focused our efforts on the structures located on the prominence in the settlement. Only at the end of the season, did we move northward and down into a lower area, whose badly scored surface indicates that part of the area serves as drainage for unexpected storms, in other words, functioned as a small wadi. Catharine, who is working at this site this season, and I discussed this point today because on first consideration one wonders why the ancient Egyptians would build in a wadi. But one must remember that Malqata is a site constructed for temporary occupation for a specific event, the sed-festival of Amenhotep III, and the chance that rain would sweep through these low areas in antiquity during the short time the site was occupied was probably quite unlikely.
In this northern section of the village, we found evidence of two phases of building in a small street in 2010 and today’s work indicates that the house that abuts that street had two levels of building as well. The workman, Mahmoud, cleaning below the floor level of this house (the original floor is missing) found a stratum with only a few sherds, a rare event at Malqata, and some of which are from the beautiful blue painted pottery vessels like those on display at the Metropolitan Museum in Gallery 120. He also discovered a tiny piece of a shank from a brilliant blue faience ring. Cleaning in the last corner of the square, Mahmoud found part of a ring bezel bearing the sign for mn, suggesting the ring original bore the name of Amenhotep. Amazingly the broken bezel fits the fragment of shank.
Diana Craig Patch