Fazzini

Dig Diary, March 10, 2017:

It is very hot in Luxor right now, so the team often takes a break under the marquee that the Hopkins University team has loaned us (thank you, Betsy!). From left to right are Dr. Jacobus van Dijk of Groningen, who is studying the Sakhmet statues and their epithets with me; our senior Egyptian inspector, Mme Shemaa Mahmoud Ahmed; our second inspector, Mr. Yusuf Mohamed Ahmed; and me. Mary McKercher, of course, is behind the camera as usual.

While we’re not excavating this year (the season is too short), we are carrying out a few useful, small projects. First, at the request of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) we began on March 4 to cut back the reeds that have once again taken over the northern ends of the sacred lake, particularly on the east side. You can see how thick and tall they have grown in the past year.

Our second project is to clean off the dirt that has accumulated over the past 35 years or so on a Ramesses II doorjamb that we discovered lying on what’s left of the mud brick core of Temple A’s 2nd Pylon. We’ll build a small wall around it to prevent further encroachment. We decided to remove the large undecorated block standing beside it because it obscured a re-used relief in the pylon’s stone facing.

This was no easy task as the rock is not only heavy but awkwardly shaped. However, our workers were able to get it up and out fairly quickly; they do this kind of thing all the time. We admire both their strength and their skill.

To our surprise, we found that the bottom of the Ramesses II block, which we had never cleared, was also decorated! The way the block is lying, the “new” scene, probably from the east face of the 25th Dynasty pylon, is upside down. Seen right side up here, it consists of the crowns of 2 facing figures and several columns of text. The tall plumes on the right probably belong to Amun, and the plumes and sun disk are probably a king. Unfortunately no names are preserved.

You are looking southeast at Temple A’s 2nd Pylon, built in Dynasty 25. The blocks came almost entirely from earlier monuments, including the Ramesses III temple southwest of the sacred lake, which was no longer in use. The reliefs and sculptures were split apart when necessary and their rear surfaces smoothed to form the face of the pylon. This is most obvious in the pylon’s north wing (bottom of picture) where the decay of the mud brick core has made the blocks more visible. The south wing seems to have been built entirely of stone.

Here’s a more detailed view of the inner side of the east facing. The two torsos and upside down head came from the Ramesses III temple. Other reliefs date from earlier in the New Kingdom. The relief on the left, by the way, is the one that was partially hidden by the block we moved.

At the end of a long, hot day, we sit on our hotel balcony and watch the sun set. One evening recently, this enormous flock of ibises flew by heading north. There must have been hundreds altogether.

At the end of a long, hot day, we sit on our hotel balcony and watch the sun set over the Nile. It is a sight that never fails to awe and amaze us.

Posted by Richard Fazzini

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Dig Diary, March 16, 2017:

French archaeologist Maurice Pillet found and restored this Sakhmet statue in Temple A in the 1920s. Unfortunately, the restoration failed and the statue has been lying broken for decades (top). This season we decided at least to move it onto a platform to get its parts out of the dirt. Even half a Sakhmet is too heavy to be moved without help, so we brought in the siba (tripod and winch) to get the statue pieces up onto the platform.

Here it is after the move was completed. The base is lying on its side (left) and what’s left of the torso is on the right. We hope to restore the statue in a future season.

Jaap van Dijk left the dig on Monday, but before going he and I had a chance to examine the newly revealed left side of the statue. Unlike the right side, the text on the left is completely preserved. It is the standard formula of the king being beloved of a form of Sakhmet, (in this case “Sakhmet-Bastet, Mistress of her Fields”), but has never been noted or published before this.

Mary and I have spent most of this week working on the Sakhmet statues. We have been making careful measurements of each statue and noting relevant details of decoration, style, etc. The work, while very time-consuming (there are over 250 statues), is essential for us to be able to publish them properly.

The air was crystal clear at 6:30 on Thursday morning, giving us a fine view of this village across the river in the Theban hills. It is mornings like this that remind us how lucky we are to be able to work here even for a short season. Work finishes up on Monday, so this will probably be the last post this year.

Posted by Richard Fazzini

This is, strangely, my favourite sculpture. It’s a bronze & brass sculpture called La Ressurezion by Pericle Fazzini (commissioned 1977 by Pope Paul VI). It can be found in Sala Nervi near Papal Basilica of St. Peter, Vatican City.

Can you believe it’s actually 66 feet wide by 23 feet tall. I really want to go and see it. So, who’s taking me to The Vatican? Pretty please.