During the present project at Malqata we often have questions about certain architectural details, feature orientations, and conditions that are often critically important in making preservation and presentation decisions. Information that may have been present during the earlier excavations has since been lost and is unavailable to us today. The earliest site plans that we are still using date from the first MET expedition in 1910-11, but often we have questions about their accuracy, as some of the information they contain contradicts the conditions we see on the site today. Fortunately, we do have a collection of high quality photographs from that period; unfortunately these often lack proper identification and we are left again with more speculation. However, during our last day of fieldwork, Gina, our wonderful architectural intern, clearly identified two photographs that do provide us with important information, and we were able to record the same scenes as they exist today.
The first pair of photographs is of the area in the southeast part of the site, with ancient trash pits in the foreground and the south magazines beyond. Many of the features that were present in 1910 have either disappeared or perhaps have been reburied. The exact identification of this historic photograph, and the ability to replicate it today will help in future preservation work in this area.
The second pair of photographs is from the southeast corner of the central court looking into the suite of rooms to the west. Features such as doorways, walls, and decorative surfaces can be identified specifically and help us present features that are missing today. The presence of significant amounts of wall painting that existed in ca. 1910 will assist conservators in developing a better understanding of the overall schemes and the extent of the decorative surfaces, and will provide more information on areas where fragments of painting may yet remain.
January 23, 2016