Posted by: iMalqata Blog | January 26, 2016

101 Years Ago at Malqata

Catharine Roehrig

In the winter of 1914/15 the Museum’s excavation season was rather short-staffed due to the outbreak of the First World War in Europe. That fall, the first arrivals were Norman De Garis Davies, director of the Graphic Section of the Egyptian Expedition (Met Around the World-The Egyptian Expedition Graphic Section) and a young artist named Hugh Hopgood, both of whom were British. Wanting to employ as many of the Museum’s workmen as possible, Davies oversaw excavations in a number of tombs, including Theban Tomb 52, which belonged to a scribe and “astronomer of Amun” named Nakht who probably served in the reign of Thutmose IV and may well have lived into the reign of his son, Amenhotep III (Facsimile painting from the tomb of Nakht).

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Facsimile painting of a wall in the tomb of Nakht, Norman DeGaris Davies and Lancelot Crane, Rogers Fund 1915 (15.3.19b)

In 1914, the upper sections of the tomb were accessible, and the first chamber, with its charming decoration, was well-known. However, the shaft and burial chamber had not been excavated. In the debris that filled the shaft, Davies discovered a small, kneeling statue of Nakht holding a stela inscribed with a hymn to the sun-god Re. As one can see from the black & white photograph taken in Egypt, the paint on the statue was well-preserved, and the only damage to the text was the excision of the name of the god Amun which had occurred during the reign of Akhenaten only a few decades after Nakht’s death. At the end of the excavation season, this statue was given to the Museum in the division of finds. Tragically, it was lost at sea when the ship it travelled in was sunk by a submarine on its way to New York. (For a similar statue, see Statue of Roy)

Davies’s work in the tomb, including the watercolor facsimilies he painted of the decoration (now on display in the SE corner of gallery 135 at the Museum) were published as the first volume of the Robb de Peyster Tytus Memorial Series, which had been funded by the mother of one of Malqata’s early excavators (imalqata-Special Guests).

Part-way through the 14/15 season, another British member of the expedition, Hugh G. Evelyn-White, arrived and began excavating at Malqata in an area north of the King’s Palace on the other side of a cultivated field. Here, remains of another mud brick structure, built on a perpendicular axis to the King’s Palace, were visible on the surface. In the course of the season, a large structure with several outbuildings emerged. Now called the North Palace, it was dubbed White’s Palace in the excavation report. The North Palace is slightly lower in elevation than the King’s Palace. In 1914/15, it was between two cultivated fields. Consequently, it lies very close to the water table and the area is now covered with a healthy, and tenacious stand of halfa grass. At some future date, we hope to work in this area, but for the moment, we try to keep the halfa grass in check.

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“White’s Palace,” photographed early in 1915 at the end of the excavation season

January 26, 2016

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