Diana Craig Patch
Sadly, this is the last day of the 2017 Joint Expedition to Malqata. The equipment is packed and ready to store and we are putting things into our suitcases for a midday flight out of Luxor tomorrow. As always, it is a bit sad to leave our site and our friends in Egypt.
I do not want to end on a gloomy note, so I offer here another interesting observation about the molds coming from the Industrial Site. With the first trowel scrape in 2015, we discovered a small pottery mold used to make a faience decoration. We have found quite a few molds since then, several of which I shared with you last season. This year was no exception and we found numerous molds for rosette, petal, and leaf shapes. The most common by far, however, are molds for openwork beads.
In the last level of N155/E180, two of the molds that were found raised an interesting question. What is used to make the impressions in the pottery that ultimately creates the mold? I had not thought about this question until I found two little rosette molds that must have been made with the same stamp. They look identical in size and style and each seems to have the same small tick on one petal.
So how were the designs in molds created? There must have been master stamps made from a hard substance that could have survived repeated use, especially for the forms that are so repetitive: rosettes, leaves, petals, mandrakes, and openwork beads. Possibly a master stamp would have been carved in a soft stone, like steatite, which allows for the addition of fine details. Steatite also could be baked to make the completed design harder. Then this design could be attached to a handle. I do not see any fingerprints in the pottery surface, which you would expect to see if you used the stamp with your hand.
I have never heard of a piece, however, that has been identified as a master stamp. Perhaps we haven’t recognized it yet, but these two small rosettes suggest one did exist, at least for one pair of rosette molds at Malqata.
ADDENDUM: In a few hours, we leave for Cairo and the United States, and we just wanted to say goodbye to our dedicated followers. We had a great season, and we look forward to sharing our next one with you. Here are a few pictures from our last dinner at the New Memnon. We want to thank Sayed and his wonderful team for making our stay so much fun.