Sunday, April 20, 2014

End-of-the-season: The Temple

By the end of the season we had excavated two underground rooms of the building we’ve been calling a temple, following Reisner’s designation of it as a “mortuary temple”—a temple dedicated to the worship of a dead king.

We succeeded in excavating the two outer rooms of the temple, shown here in a nice kite photo that one of our team members (Kathryn Howley) took close to the end of the season. It shows the outer room, entered by a staircase from the east, with its northern wall collapsed by a flood. It also shows the inner room with columns--these rooms are about 15 meters (50 feet) long. Here's another photo, this one taken from the ground by Jack Cheng:

We also excavated most of the inner rooms of the temple—here is a draft plan of the underground spaces and a photo from one of the inner rooms. Unfortunately, these inner rooms were entirely empty of material that would have helped us date the structure or understand its function.

Here's a photo looking out from one of the inner (underground) rooms.

During the excavation we recovered a number of pots from a later level that was occupied perhaps 3 centuries after the construction of the temple (assuming we have the dating correct). I'll talk more about these in a later post. We have also continued the slow process of cleaning and carefully documenting the graffiti that was associated with this later level—it’s still 2000 years old! Here's one graffito that seems to represent cloth or maybe even a carpet:

For next season, we will plan to finish excavation of the two additional underground spaces as well as the “plaza” in front of the first room. We will make a major effort to properly clean, photograph, and catalogue all the graffiti and then to take steps to preserve the very soft sandstone into which it’s carved. Finally, we will begin planning for construction of a protective structure that will protect the temple and make it safe for visitors.

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