Documenting the painted decorative surfaces on the ceiling in TT 65, the late-Ramesside private tomb of Imiseba

Aug 10, 2020

Documentation methods need to be flexible enough to be adapted to suit unusual field conditions. The basic principles of any given method, however, must be respected throughout the entire process, no matter what portion of the material they are applied to. As long as the artist adheres to these principles, modifications of the procedures used to create the final drawings can provide a wide and flexible range of approaches to a variety of field documentation tasks.⠀ ⠀

Sometimes, decorated surfaces occur in hard to reach areas as was the case with documenting the ceilings in the tomb of Imiseba. In the transverse hall of TT 65, the ceiling provided an exquisite collection of ornamental patterns, typical of the era's private burials. Arranged to align with the theoretical South and North, a flock of pigeons and ducks tending to their nests were also part of the ceiling's elaborate design. ⠀ ⠀

In order to create the facsimile drawings of these scenes, a large scaffolding (curtesy of the Epigraphic Survey) was installed between two adjacent columns giving just enough room to trace the ceiling while lying on my back. Luckily, the sides of the architrave provided enough vertical surface to hold the edges of the large transparent paper sheets used for penciling the decorative elements. Additionally, double-sided tape was installed within damaged areas to give extra support to the paper.⠀ ⠀

The drawing process was slow and painful as one's hand simply couldn't be held upwards in one stretch for more than half an hour. The situation that was already quite unpleasant and claustrophobic was further complicated by having a piping hot halogen lamp right next to my ears... Nonetheless, most of the ceiling was documented in one 4-week long season with more than 10 20x20 Inch samples taken from the various ornamental designs.⠀

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