Digging diary, week 11 february- 17 february 2012

Repair work and heavy blocks

Stable weather with relatively mild temperatures allowed us to make great progress with our various projects. The team of our architect Nicholas Warner finished their repair work on Thursday: all the damaged doors, boxes and locks have been replaced and renewed, the roofs of the Raia forecourt and the Ptahemwia chapels have been topped up with a layer of white cement (instead of the previous layer of mud plaster which did not survive the torrential rains of last April), and the painter has given most of the woodwork and the steel constructions a fresh coat of paint. Meanwhile the carpenter has made some shelves and tables to help us use the space inside our storerooms in a more economic way. The wire mesh over Horemheb's inner courtyard has been replaced by a finer variety which will not allow the birds to enter and roost on the priceless reliefs inside.

New door of the chapel of Iniuia

At the same time we continued checking the contents of our storerooms for reliefs and objects. Especially the heavy blocks stored in the central chapel of the tomb of Maya and in the east chapel of that of Pay proved a serious strain on our poor backs, but in the end we got them neatly stacked and thereby gained a lot of space. All register numbers of reliefs and objects have now been entered in spreadsheets on our computers, so that in the future we shall have no difficulty in tracing their whereabouts. We did the same job in the central magazine of the Saqqara Inspectorate of Antiquities, adjacent to the Imhotep Museum. By comparing the various lists we shall finally be able to establish which objects were taken by the robbers who plundered our storerooms during last year's revolution.

Maya chapel D after the revolution

One result of these exertions was also that we managed to retrieve a fragment of Tatia's stela which had been reported missing a couple of years ago. Together with some other fragments recovered earlier this week this will enable us to restore the stela and chapel of this priest of Ptah, a project which has already been started under the supervision of Vincent Oeters (who is writing a paper on this interesting monument). At the same time, the restorers have repaired the lid of Raia's sarcophagus, which had been pushed open by the plunderers and snapped in two halves when we tried to push it back.

Among this week's visitors to the site were our colleague Lucas Petit from Leiden, curator of the Near Eastern department at the RMO, and representatives of the Dutch Embassy who have kindly paid for some of the repair work. On Monday we greeted our team member Lyla Brock who has come over to give Barbara a hand by drawing some of the pottery. And the time has come already to say goodbye to Vincent (who is leaving for Luxor) and Ladislava (who finished her study of the 2010 Coptic burials and the skeletal remains from Ptahemwia burial chamber). Many thanks to all of them for their help and good spirits, and we hope to see them again!