Our restoration goal in the King’s Palace is twofold: preserving for the future the fragile mud brick walls with surviving plastered and painted surfaces, and presenting the site for visitors in a way that makes the complicated mud brick building understandable.
Because it is a famous site, Malqata has always had tourists, some of whom inadvertently knock over mud bricks or damage the remaining paintings. Once the MSA has decided to open it for public view, we want visitors to enjoy the King’s Palace, so our goal is to create a safe pathway through the Palace that gives the visitor the opportunity to view a number of different rooms. Presentation plans impact our ongoing restoration efforts because we must take into consideration the best circulation pattern through the Palace, one that will give people an understanding of how the structure was designed and used while protecting the site from wear and tear.
We plan in the upcoming seasons to produce replicas of some of the beautiful paintings that decorated the Palace and hope to install them where they were originally found. Also we want reproduce column bases, bathing slabs, and other features of the Palace that would give people a better sense of what the building originally was like.
Signage will be another significant element of the presentation. We want to place a large sign at the entrance displaying an overall plan of the Palace as understood from multiple seasons of excavation. Then as the visitor walks along the modern pathway, smaller signs will highlight individual components of the Palace so that visitors will be better able to interpret what they are seeing on the ground in front of them. We have been studying various signs posted at other archaeological sites in Egypt, to see which ones are the most durable, readable, and affordable. Some of the most successful signage we have seen is represented in two large panels installed at Luxor Temple by our friends at Chicago House. Made of aluminum, the text and images are printed on a white or colored background with electrostatic paint. Electrostatic paint works by giving the paint a positive charge and the surface a negative charge. This draws paint particles to the surface, and creates a strong, lasting bond.
As you can tell from this blog, restoring the King’s Palace is a long and complicated process. Every day Tony Crosby, Diana, and I discuss the current state of the work and review which walls will need reconstruction that goes beyond simply protecting the surviving ancient mudbrick and its decoration, so that future visitors will get a clear sense from the scattered remains of what King’s Palace at Malqata was once like.
January 10, 2016