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Onderka, Pavel - Vrtal, Vlastimil: Preliminary Report on the Fifth Excavation Season of the Archaeological Expedition to Wad Ben Naga (2013)

Onderka, Pavel - Vrtal, Vlastimil: Preliminary Report on the Fifth Excavation Season of the Archaeological Expedition to Wad Ben Naga (2013)
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  3 1 This work was financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (DKRVO2012, National Museum, 00023272).The Archaeological Expedition to Wad Ben Naga wishes to express its sincerest thanks and gratitudeto the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (Dr. Hassan Hussein Idris and Dr. Abdel-Rahman Ali), the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of the Sudan in the Czech Republic (Dr. PetrPelikán), the Honorary Consulate-General of the Slovak Republic in the Republic of the Sudan (Dr. Nasreldin Shulgami), the Sudanese-Czecho-Slovak Friendship Society (Khalil Hassan Ibrahim)and last but not least the Delegation of the European Union in the Sudan (H.E. Tomáš Uličný) fortheir enduring help and support. 2 Contact: PhDr. Pavel Onderka, National Museum – Náprstek Museum of Asian, African andAmerican Cultures, Curator of Egyptian and Nubian Antiquities; e-mail: pavel_onderka@nm.cz. ANNALS OF THE NÁPRSTEK MUSEUM 34/2 • 2013 •(p. 3–18) PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE FIFTH EXCAVATION SEASON OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPEDITION TO WAD BEN NAGA 1 Pavel Onderka 2 – Vlastimil Vrtalwith Jiřina Dašková – František Vacek – Alexander GatzscheA BSTRACT :The fifth excavation season of the Archaeological Expedition to Wad BenNaga focused on the continued excavation of the so-called Typhonium (WBN 200) andthe continued conservation of the so-called Palace of Amanishakheto (WBN 100). Theexcavations of the Typhonium uncovered a substantial part of the temple buildingproper, including its main sanctuary. An intentionally destroyed statue of the seateddyad of the Nubian Amun with a ram’s head and his consort Mut with the doublecrown of Upper and Lower Egypt was discovered in the temple ruins, as well asnumerous stone architectural features. The conservation within the Palace focused onthe southern entrance hall (WBN 154). Throughout the framework of the season, a geological survey of the concession and its surrounding was carried out.K EY W ORDS : Wad Ben Naga – Nubia – Meroitic culture – Meroitic architectureThe fifth excavation season of the Archaeological Expedition to Wad Ben Naga tookplace between 7 October and 23 December 2012. The archaeological and conservationworks were launched on 13 October and were concluded on 16 December. The period  4  between 17 and 22 December was dedicated to processing finds and study material,and to recording the orientation of the buildings at Central Wad Ben Naga.The season was carried out under the guidelines of the “archaeological excavations”as defined by the Ordinance for the Protection of Antiquities of 1999 of the Republic of theSudan.The mission was headed by Dr. Pavel Onderka (director), Vlastimil Vrtal (chief archaeologist), Alexander Gatzsche (chief conservator) and Mohamed Saad AbdallaSaad (inspector of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums). The teamfurther consisted of (in alphabetical order): Dr. Jiřina Dašková (geologist), MarieHlouchová (archaeologist), Ramona John (archaeologist), Jakub Pečený (anthropologist),Dr. Pavel Ressner (archaeologist / expedition physician), Eric Spindler (archaeologist)and Dr.František Vacek (geologist).The work of the fifth excavation season focused on [1] continued excavationswithin the complex of the so-called Typhonium (WBN 200), [2] conservation work inthe area of the southern entrance to the so-called Palace of Amanishakheto (WBN100), which had begun in the second season, and [3] geological survey of the site andits surroundings.Several site management projects were pursued, including the preparation of thesite for the addition to the serial cultural property of the  Archaeological Sites of the Islandof Meroe , which has, since June 2011, been included on the UNESCO World HeritageList. Fig. 1: Central Wad Ben Naga (after Hinkel – Sievertsen 2002).  5 1 Excavation of the so-called Typhonium (WBN 200) The archaeological works confined to the exploration of the so-called Typhonium(WBN 200). 1.1 Excavation history During the third and fourth seasons of the Archaeological Expedition to Wad BenNaga, three squares (T4–T6) of 10 by 10 m were excavated in the area of expectedlocation of the so-called Typhonium (cf. Onderka 2012; Onderka 2013). The temple wasknown to exist due to observations and plans of 19 th century visitors to the site, namelyFrédéric Cailliaud (Cailliaud 1823–1827), Linnant de Bellefonds (de Bellefonds 1958),George Alexander Hoskins (Hoskins 1835), Giuseppe Ferlini (Ferlini 1981) and CarlRichard Lepsius (Lepsius 1849–1859), etc. Current excavations have revealed remainsof a complex religious building with multiple rooms and long history of use. 1.2 Individual squares (Fig. 2) During the fifth season, four squares of 10 by 10 m were excavated. The squareswere delimitated to the south of T4 and T6 with respect to the orientation of the mainaxis of the temple. The excavations revealed that the main entrance to the temple andits central part were situated in this area. Square T7 (Pl. 1) The excavations in T7 revealed the main entrance to the building. Remains of a pylonflanking the main door were identified. The pylon, as well as walls, were built of a mudbrickcore with a redbrick casing and were srcinally coated with plaster. In between thepylons, a large sandstone threshold was located. The door was srcinally two-winged,as indicated by two stone fixings with iron door pivots and another stone located in thecentre with two holes and tracks of doorstops abrading the floor. A few large and manyfragmentary violet sandstone blocks, some with relief decoration (a winged sun-disc;Pl. 2), were found in T7. These probably formed the srcinal doorframe. The gate onceopened to a large hall or possibly an open courtyard –  pro tempore labeled as Room N  .A few more sandstone objects were discovered in the room, namely a massive windowgrill with four square holes (cf. Welsby 2000: 7) and a small bark-stand. On its floor, twoflat redbrick keyhole-shaped features were located symmetrically, but their functionremains a matter of discussion. They may have been used as support or platform forcolumns or pillars (?), or as planters, but could be secondary as well. Evidence of heavy burning (including burned beams), contextually related to the first destruction of the building, was noted in many areas. Square T8 The excavations in T8 unearthed walls forming part of a large room (or an open court),an antechamber and the main sanctuary of the temple, as well as adjacent subsidiaryrooms towards the east. Room N  was separated from Room J   by a relatively thin wall of which only a redbrick foundation layer and remains of sandstone threshold werefound. To the east, an entrance to a small Room O was located. The room comprised of a narrow staircase corridor srcinally leading to the roof. Only three steps werepreserved in situ , the rest of the corridor was filled with mudbrick fragments. Several  6 large vessels were found by the entrance. In Room J  , forming the porticus to thesanctuary, fragments of a deliberately smashed statue made of violet sandstone andtreated with painted polychrome plaster were discovered. The statue depicts the godAmun in his cryocephalic form, dressed in a short folded kilt, and his consort, thegoddess Mut, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt and a long closefitting dress. Both divine figures were shown seated on thrones (Pl. 3). Traces of sinks Fig. 2: Exploration of the Typhonium (Illustration by Vlastimil Vrtal).  7  by an axe were obvious on the surface of the statue attesting to its intentionaldestruction. The srcinal height of the statue was around 1.5 (Egyptian) cubits, i.e.approximately 75 cm. The statue most likely flanked the door to the main sanctuary( Room M ), from which Room J  was separated by a massive wall. The position of doorswas indicated by a large sandstone threshold, pivot stone and tracks of doorstops inthe floor. The floor of Room M was paved with small sandstone blocks and was onlypartially preserved due to subsequent mining activities. Finds from this part of theroom (a faience vessel, glass and beads) indicate cultic activities are likely to have beentaking place in this area. To the east, another two rooms ( Room P and Q ) were located.They were separated by a door, which was secondarily blocked. These probably actedas service rooms for the activities connected with the maintenance of the cult. Thisfunction is indicated by a presence of three large vessels sunken into the floor and filledwith ash, burned wood and bones. i.e. a clear evidence for cooking and other domesticactivities. By the wall separating Rooms O and P , a part of a sandstone libation offeringtable (decorated with lotus flowers in raised relief) and another block with a curledhair-lock (?) were found. Square T9 The square (located to the west of T7) covers the south-east section of the templeproper and adjoining areas. It comprises two rooms ( Room K  and P ) and an outsidespace ( Room S ). The main massive wall with north-south orientation most likelyformed the outer extent of the building. It was interrupted only by a single entrancewith a sandstone threshold. It was built of mudbricks with a redbrick casing on theoutward facing side (the west side). To the west, a large open area with remains of a low rectangular podium (probably of cultic significance) was located. Many postholeswere identified there. These were embedded into the floor as well as into the podiumindicating the existence of a light shelter or structure, the form of which cannot yet bespecified. To the north, a rectangular pen was built by the wall. Outside near the mainwall, a large finely worked sandstone lion’s head shaped gargoyle (Pl. 4) was found. A mud brick wall continued further west of the pylon which may indicate the presenceof external buildings on the temple’s western side. The open area was used secondarilyas the location of two burials of children. Square T10 The square is located to the north of T8. It covers the eastern part of both the mainsanctuary ( Room M ) and a corridor-shaped side room ( Room Q ). In the course of theexcavations, two massive walls were uncovered in this area. The walls were made of mudbricks with a redbrick casing, for the most part on the outer wall-face (the easternside). The surface treatment of the walls was well-preserved in this part of the templeand the excavations yielded large and beautiful examples of highly complex,sophisticated and vivid polychrome decoration (Pl. 5 and 6) applied on white plaster.Some parts of the depictions were even gilded. In the corridor room, an almostcomplete terracotta ankh -sign libation basin was found. To the east, an open area waslocated (designated as Room T  ), probably outside of the actual building. Several largevessels inserted into the floor were unearthed in this area. Later burials were locatedabove the main sanctuary (cf. Fig. 3).
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